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Pusha T's evolving villainy is impressive

Trey Alston

 // Oct 19, 2018

Google // Free use

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company.


For the past decade, Drake has brandished rap's most polished armor. The royally intricate suit is adorned with owls on its cuirass, wings outstretched on either side of the helmet, and depictions of Toronto's CN Tower on the vambrace and lower pauldron. Drake's armor is more than highly decorated, it's been impenetrable. No weapon formed -- whether it's accusations of having ghost writers, or an alleged incident with Diddy -- has placed a chink in its chiseled surface. In the span of a few months, Pusha T has figured out a way inside of its protective embrace and attacked Drake in such a way that he's on the precipice of changing the public face of a rapper, who's built a career appearing as the calmest in the room. It's a feat of pure villainy that continues to grow more perplexing at every turn.

Pusha and Drake's feud transcends the back-and-forth rap battle that the world's been following with baited breath. It's an attack on character of the worst kind. When Bane tricked Batman in The Dark Knight Rises into meeting the villain on his turf, he had an idea of the righteous adversary that he was dealing with. Pusha has shown a similar sense of clairvoyance at every corner. Drake's been a public figure for the better part of a decade and he's built the prestige associated with rap's Mt. Rushmore. What started with some stray lines has become a constant battle with not Drake, but the idea of perfection. Pusha's latest response shows that no matter how far Drake tries to distance himself from the circus, he'll always be a member of it.

Their hectic summer battle involved the identification of spouses and the revelation of hidden children. But, the lasting impact wasn't that there was a side to Drake that the world didn't know about. It was that through all of the shenanigans involving Kanye West these last few months, the Chicago iconoclast was, indeed, a snake of the worst kind, as he outed Drake's secret for no clear reason. Drake knew better than to continue prodding Push. He chose to attack West, someone who he knew would be above the beef. West was also someone who Drake believed was responsible for the situation he was in. The Views rapper went on HBO's "The Shop" and spoke with LeBron James about the situation, as West's presence reigned heavy in the room even though the situation was about Pusha's raps. It was clear that loyalty was the issue at hand and the issue transcended Pusha. Kanye's conscious revelation-- for no reason -- was key.

Or, at least, it was until Pusha responded on "The Joe Budden Podcast" with a groundbreaking revelation: Drake had a child with a woman who was sleeping with his right-hand man Noah "40" Shebib. As many Drake fans already know, 40 is Drizzy's go-to producer and someone who he considers a brother. Apparently, 40 spilled that he was also frustrated with Drake and his tendencies -- among other things. Besides the right timing of his rebuttal, Pusha's revelation strained the ties that have existed since the beginning of Drake's career. Not everything is peaches on the home front, contrary to what Drake's verse from "God's Plan" tries to make clear. Pusha's approach to chinking this armor comes in the form of a thousand lashes. This was but the latest in what looks to be a continued battle to get Drake out of here.

The first of Pusha's assaults came over the course of a few bars on "Infrared" this summer and tested whether Drake would have the audacity to strike back. The next one was the revelation of Drake's hidden child named Adidon. This reveal strained Drake's trust with his collaborators, as well as the public who believed that he was open with them. If Drake had no one else to turn to, he could huddle with his circle that was comprised of familial bonds untarnished by nearly a decade in the industry. Pusha's latest lash on "The Joe Budden Podcast" tests even those, which a year ago wouldn't have even been thought possible. It's dark, dank stuff that should warrant some kind of response from Drake's camp, lest he's okay with OVO being buried under a grotesque pile of memes.

Drake going on "The Shop" was the best thing that could have come from Pusha's initial diss and the worst possible thing for Drake to do when his image is still on the recovery. Though not much of the episode revolved around the Pusha situation, the clips that are circulating pertain to the feud and they went viral nearly immediately. Prior to that, the feud was largely extinguished publicly. Drake had bounced back from "The Story of Adidon" and released conversation-starting visuals for his new album Scorpion that featured viral dances and nostalgia for forgetfulness sake. It worked. Adidon faded from public vernacular, and Sophie Brussaux disappeared from Google searches, as well. He hadn't emerged unscathed from the feud, as he had when he took on Meek Mill. Drake received a flesh wound that needed time to heal. He took it easy, but frequented shots at West, which caused West to angrily respond because Drake didn't deflect rumors that he had slept with Kim Kardashian. With Drake nearly back at 100%, the absolute worst thing that he needed was to give Pusha a reason to jump back into the fray.

Along with making Drake's circle look fragile, Pusha's response did something else – it made Drake look stupid. His last bout with beefs came with Meek, and Drake's ability to reframe all of Meek's shots and hit him where it hurt bolstered the belief that Drake was some sort of twisted evil genius with eyes everywhere. Push crawled under his skin and revealed that Drake doesn't even know what's happening with "his own people." This kind of reveal has to hit where it hurts because Drizzy's illusionary control was tested this summer. Now, it's come back around again, maybe even slightly stronger.

What makes the situation with Pusha decidedly more insidious is that each of his attacks are thinly veiled as defenses because he prodded Drake in the first place. After some subtle shade, Pusha revealed Drake had a son. Pusha prodded the public to respond to Drake's blackface. Now, he's revealed that Drake was wrong about his suspicions and that Drake's own circle isn't as tight as he believed. Only Bane could psychologically decimate an opponent on this scale and not appear as if he's actively seeking retribution. For Drake to retaliate, he has to drop the all-knowing, suave guise that he depicts and get to the nitty-gritty. But, he's never done so. He did explain the blackface though. For him to rectify the situation with his circle, Drake has to step into territory that he never has; something that Pusha knows, too, and probably bets Drake won't do -– just as we all do. This makes Pusha a dangerous foe who seems to be more than a few steps ahead, reading the playbook to know what to expect next. The fact that he's goading Drake to respond should be a gigantic red flag that Toronto's finest should avoid. Or maybe, he's bluffing. Or maybe it's a double feint. There's no knowing and that's what makes it genius. It's a new kind of evil for the new age.

I know that Pusha is somewhere twirling the edges of his mustache, while he watches twenty five different TVs connected to cameras surrounding Drake, documenting the musician's descent into madness. Over the past few months, Pusha has found a way to get through that suit of armor and slice clean flesh to make it clear that Drake isn't the godly musical menace the world has made him out to be. Instead, he's human and perhaps more vulnerable than anyone else. You can't destroy Drake's music and then his character –- it has to be the other way around to truly see success. Pusha's response may be the beginning of the end for the mysterious Drake as we know it, ushering in an era of a man who has come to terms with his musical mortality and limits of celebrity. The destruction of this contemporary icon will be glorious.


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