Last week on Joe Budden’s podcast, Pusha T reminded us that rap beef may not have rules, but they can have nasty consequences. Pusha was on Budden’s podcast responding to Drake’s appearance on LeBron James’ The Shop show in which he retrospectively discussed their war of words that unfolded this past spring on diss tracks like “Duppy Freestyle” and “Story Of Adidon.” Most of the hip-hop world was awestruck by Pusha’s latest revelation — that a woman close to Drake’s producer 40 told Pusha about Drake’s baby Adonis — but another portion of the interview struck my attention.
Nearly two hours into the interview, Pusha played several clips of who he said were people he knew speaking to Drake’s team, who were allegedly offering $100,000 for dirt on Pusha. One of the men in the tapes bluntly stated that $100,000 wasn’t enough for him, and “I gotta be able to move my family because it’s nothing but gunplay after this.” Though Pusha said he didn’t “condone” the man’s statement, the implication was that there would be violent consequences for pushing the contentious beef further into what Drake’s nefarious investor and Rap-A-Lot music founder J. Prince deemed “the pig pen.”
Hip-hop is more mainstream than ever, but it’s still a genre teeming with artists, label heads, and entourage members whose traditional method of conflict resolution can get way more intense than a diss track. While hip-hop fans reveled in the hysteria of the Pusha T vs. Drake feud with memes, speculation and armchair advisory, there was a real chance of violence that would have likely never reached the public. Sometimes rap beef simply dissipates with time, but when the wrong people are involved they can lead to fights and gun violence that rarely reach the blogosphere. “This is something you’d never hear about,” Pusha noted about the tapes. Budden agreed, and later noted that, “the listening and viewing public only ever cares about the bloodshed.” That bloodlust can put undue pressure on artists to supply it, but it does no one any good to let things get that far.
Drake’s alleged dig for dirt was simply aiming to reciprocate the sting of Pusha’s “Story Of Adidon” diss, which exposed his child and possibly torpedoed an impending Adidas deal, but it could have ended up with people aiming and digging in totally different manners.
It wouldn’t have been the first time that a beef Drake was involved in turned nasty beyond the public eye. In the heat of Drake’s 2015 clash with Meek Mill, Drake shouted out Meek’s fellow Philly rapper Ar-Ab on “Back To Back.” Ab and his OBH (Original Block Hustlaz) crew already had tension with his friend Meek’s Dreamchasers crew based on local, non-rap beefs and rumors that Meek was telling industry people not to sign Ab. Drake seized the moment to use their fracture to his advantage on “Back To Back,” rhyming, “I came through in the Wraith bumpin’ Ar-Ab.” The line compelled Meek to say “f*ck Ar-Ab” at his next show, and from there, tension between the Dreamchasers camp and OBH spilled over in Philly.
Ab, who was nabbed by the FBI last week on drug trafficking charges, reflected to DJ Vlad last October that before they squashed their issues on a 4-hour phone call, it got “bloody” between the camps with shootings and fights. While hip-hop fans saluted Drake’s “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” chess move, then moved on to the next story as the beef died down publicly, there was real violence taking place. People could have lost their lives or freedom because of music — a genre created as an alternative to violence. And while the reaction of people in Meek and Ab’s entourage isn’t in Drake’s control, he had to have known that violence was a possibility when he shouted Ab out, as he was previously involved in a fatal shootout that nearly cost rapper Cassidy his freedom in 2005. Was fueling that fire worth a pseudo-tactical advantage in a rap beef that’s now squashed?