And that’s barely skimming the surface. “The Story of Adidon” — unleashed after Drake mentioned Pusha’s fiancee in this past weekend’s “Duppy Freestyle,” which was itself a response to Pusha resuscitating the Drake ghostwriting drama on his recent album “Daytona” — uses an old (and apparently real) photo of Drake in blackface for cover art.
On Wednesday night, Drake posted an Instagram story of an iPhone Notes app screenshot that explained the image and its existence. He and a Sudanese friend named Mazin Elsadig had taken the photo in 2007 — when the rapper was an actor using his full name, Aubrey Graham — to represent “how African Americans were once wrongfully portrayed in entertainment.”
The two “were attempting to use our voice to bring awareness to the issues we dealt with all the time as black actors at auditions,” he wrote. “This was to highlight and raise our frustrations with not always getting a fair chance in the industry and to make a point that the struggle for black actors had not changed much.”
But what was that about ghostwriting drama, you ask? Oh, boy. There’s a lot to unpack, given that Drake and Pusha have been at odds with each other since 2011, which doesn’t even include an older beef between Drake’s mentor, Lil Wayne, and Clipse, a duo consisting of Pusha and his brother, No Malice. Don’t worry, we can do this. It all starts with . . .
Lil Wayne wearing BAPE (2006)
In a 2006 cover photo for Vibe magazine, the rapper wore clothing by BAPE, a Japanese streetwear brand often worn by Clipse and popularized by their frequent producer Pharrell Williams. That year, the rap duo released the Pharrell-produced “Mr. Me Too,” which, according to Billboard, accused Lil Wayne of copying the Virginia group’s “style from the shoes to the watches.”
Complex asked Lil Wayne about Clipse’s allegedly claiming they started “BAPE and coke rap” later that year, and Lil Wayne vehemently denied rapping about either subject: “Stop coming at me about that . . . man. That’s how you get beef started man.” (Narrator: He was right.)
Self-proclaimed legend Lil Wayne eventually said Clipse had to do a song with one of Wayne’s Cash Money Records label mates “to get hot.” (Clipse was featured on the song “What Happened to That Boy?” by Baby.) Cash Money Records signed Drake in 2009.
After a few years, we entered an era of . . .
Pusha and Drake periodically insulting each other (2011-2017)
Pusha freestyled in 2011 over the beat of “Dreams Money Can Buy,” a single intended to be on Drake’s sophomore album, “Take Care.” Though Pusha didn’t name a specific target, many have theorized that certain lyrics refer to Drake’s ego: “Rappers on their sophomores, actin’ like they boss lords / Fame such a funny thing for sure.”
The next year, Pusha once again attacked both Drake and Lil Wayne in “Exodus 23:1.” Using words we cannot publish in this family-friendly paper, Pusha (presumably) criticized Drake’s contract with Young Money, Lil Wayne’s imprint under Cash Money Records. Lil Wayne responded with an equally profane tweet.
Drake finally responded in 2013 with “Tuscan Leather,” the first track on his album “Nothing Was the Same.” He warns anyone attacking Lil Wayne — so, Pusha — to stop: “I’m just as famous as my mentor / But that’s still the boss, don’t get sent for / Get hype on the tracks and jump in front of a bullet you wasn’t meant for / ’Cause you don’t really wanna hear me vent more / Hot temper, scary outcome.”
Pusha let that simmer for a few years before responding in 2016 with “H.G.T.V Freestyle,” which is short on the homeowner drama but filled with the aforementioned ghostwriters drama (!!!). The rapper revealed himself to be a ghostwriter truther when he questioned whether Drake actually writes his own lyrics: “It’s too far gone when the realest ain’t real / I walk amongst the clouds so your ceilings ain’t real / These [expletive] Call of Duty ’cause their killings ain’t real / With a questionable pen so the feelin’ ain’t real.”
Let’s break that down. The first line probably refers to Drake’s “So Far Gone,” while “the clouds” recalls the album cover of “Nothing Was the Same.” Pusha challenges Drake’s past claim to being “the realest” by pointing out the irony of his potentially not using his own words. (Again, this has not been proved.)
Drake followed a few weeks later with “Two Birds, One Stone,” which dissed both Pusha and Kid Cudi. (Cudi had criticized Drake’s alleged ghostwriter use as well.) Drake accused Pusha of making up fake stories about dealing drugs: “But really it’s you with all the drug dealer stories / That’s gotta stop, though / You made a couple chops and now you think you Chapo.”
And that brings us to . . .
The current Pusha and Drake debacle (2018)
On Friday, Pusha released his well-received, Kanye West-produced album “Daytona,” which notably uses an image of Whitney Houston’s drug-filled bathroom as cover art. The album’s last track, “Infrared,” revived the ghostwriting theory in the opening verse: “The lyric pennin’ equal the Trumps winnin’ / The bigger question is how the Russians did it / It was written like Nas, but it came from Quentin,” referring to rapper Quentin Miller. Basically, Pusha alleges Russians helped President Trump win the election just like ghostwriters supposedly helped Drake throughout his career.
Nicki Minaj — who previously dated onetime Drake nemesis Meek Mill, a rapper who also accused Drake of using ghostwriters — nevertheless voiced support for her Young Money label mate on Twitter: “Knock it off. Challenging the chosen ones only awakens the sleeping giant.”
Drake couldn’t possibly let Pusha get away with this absurdity, so he immediately responded with “Duppy Freestyle,” which he starts by saying: “I’m in shock. The nerve, the audacity.” He sighs, quite dramatically, and gets on with it.
It appears Drake might have contributed to Kanye’s upcoming album: “What do you really think of the [expletive] that’s makin’ your beats? / I’ve done things for him I thought that he never would need / Father had to stretch his hands out and get it from me/ I pop style for 30 hours, then let him repeat.” (Kanye publicly thanked Drake in 2016 for helping him out on “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1″ and “30 Hours,” both from “The Life of Pablo.”)
Drake also acknowledges that he worked on lyrics with Miller, who was “at Kroger working double time,” to help his career. (Miller clarified on Twitter that he was actually working at Publix, but the sentiment stands.) Drake name-drops Pusha’s fiancee, Virginia Williams, and ends “Duppy Freestyle” by requesting money from Kanye and Pusha for the attention the dis track would bring to “Daytona.” Pusha tweeted that Drake should go ahead and send him an invoice, so, naturally, Drake did.
And that, readers, brings us to “The Story of Adidon,” which sent pop culture Twitter into even more of a frenzy Tuesday after a crazy day of “Roseanne” drama. Drake has yet to respond but, according to Fader, Pusha went on the radio program “The Breakfast Club” Wednesday morning and said that “all bets are off” because of “Duppy Freestyle” naming Williams. He dragged Drake for the secret baby allegations — “I don’t even hang with my friends who have child support issues; I’m big on kids” — and expressed no regret for the vicious lyrics.
“I definitely didn’t get too far with anything,” Pusha said. “I’m here for the sport of it, but when it gets personal, it gets personal. I’m not censoring myself, but there’s more content if it’s needed later.”