By now, it’s likely you’ve heard Pusha T’s scathing diss track responding to Drake’s “Duppy Freestyle,” “The Story Of Adidon,” and equally likely you’ve got an opinion. That’s what the track was meant to do: Provoke a reaction in the moment. It shocked some with its art, with its surprising revelation of a year-old, unproved rumor about a secret child, and with its controversial, derogatory darts toward Drake’s longtime producer, 40 Shebib. It did, by most measures, what a diss track is supposed to do.
However, while it was incisive, cold-hearted, mean-spirited, and cruel — as a good diss track should be — it was also disappointing, all flash, little substance.
It was disappointing because its barbs were surface level, shock tactics more appropriate to a Love & Hip-Hop catfight than a rap battle, and because at the slightest scrutiny, its disses and snipes reveal that Pusha isn’t fighting from the high ground here. In fact, Pusha has taken up residence in a great, big glass mansion with a pocket full of stones and seems to be doing his best Henry Rowengartner impression and if he’s not careful, he might bring the whole thing down around himself. “The Story Of Adidon” may have “revealed” a secret about Drake, but it probably says more about Pusha — and the rap audience clamoring for more juicy “dirt” than actual battle-worthy rhymes.
Let’s address the elephant in the room first. There is no evidence that any of what Pusha has said regarding the “secret child” of Drake is true and the audience’s unquestioning acceptance of his claims as fact is a problematic look into a wider problem whose problems are still plaguing many of us to this day. We just received an object lesson in the dangers of believing unsourced, “fake” news and while this situation isn’t quite as urgent as, say, a presidential election, I’d just as soon wait to receive confirmation from a more reputable source than Bossip before repeating Pusha’s claims verbatim.
His claims, and the reaction to them remind me a bit of an old idea called The Big Lie, which is that if you make a lie audacious enough, people will believe it without an ounce of skepticism because “who would tell a lie that big?” Even in something as frivolous as a rap battle, I’d prefer the contestants come with their facts straight, as well as at least some evidence to back up their boasts, or then anything goes. How hurtful can “dirt” be if it can’t be proven and what’s to stop the claims from getting bolder and wilder as the battle continues? There has to be some sort of standard or it becomes impossible to judge a winner or loser.
And since when is it gangsta for a forty-year-old, ex-drug dealer to sit around reading gossip blogs all day like a housebound grandmother? Where I come from, the gangsters generally frown on that sort of behavior, and in previous eras of battle rap, the salacious bits at least related to things the rappers did to each other, ie. Jay-Z’s relationship with Nas’ ex. Does Pusha want to be a reporter for US Weekly or a rapper? It’s unclear.