To emerge unscathed, Drake took post-scandal cues from Rick Ross and Kanye West
His best bet was to ignore. That’s right: ignore your past as a correctional officer, a Trump supporter…you get the idea.
The night of May 29, 2018 was probably one of the toughest to deal with of Drake’s career. His arch nemesis Pusha T had just released “The Story of Adidon” and set Twitter on fire with one of the most volatile disses in recent memory. After seemingly gaining the upper hand with the “Duppy Freestyle,” Drake found himself being exposed by Pusha T’s verbal undressing of the Canadian superstar. For a feud that has been close to reaching a boiling point for years, this wasn’t where Drake expected to be. After torching Meek Mill in 2015, Drake found himself in the precarious position of being the laughing stock of the internet.
Everyone wanted an immediate response to King Push’s scathing diss. Would Drake answer the allegations about having a secret child or the image of him in blackface? How would he rebound from the ultimate lyrical gut punch knowing that he has an album on the way? Days passed without a word. Then a week. All we got was a bunch of words explaining the blackface but nothing in response to Pusha T. And then, seemingly out of nowhere, the proverbial white flag was raised. But it wasn’t from Drake, it would be the respected Rap-A-Lot CEO J. Prince who would ultimately suggest that this beef didn’t need to go any further. Prince suggested that things were on the verge of getting really ugly and Drake had a response in the can that would have ruined the careers of both Pusha T and Kanye West.
In the time that has passed, the internet has continued to ridicule Drake for not responding. But, truthfully, Drake is almost bulletproof, regardless of what is being said on social media today. And you can look no further than both Kanye West and Rick Ross for crash courses on how to create enough distance from a problem and allow the music to make people forget how they originally felt.
Once upon a time, the curtain was pulled back on Rick Ross to reveal that he wasn’t necessarily the dope boy that he portrayed in his rhymes. In fact, he was a corrections officer and not the individual that Noreaga owed 100 favors. The surprising report surfaced in 2008 and threatened to bury the career of the Bawse. After initially denying that the photos were of him, the evidence became far too overwhelming for him to ignore. He finally copped to an 18-month stint as a corrections officer at the South Florida Reception Center and appeared to be on the verge of being eviscerated from the hip hop community.
But then something strange happened, Rick Ross just ignored everything.
He wouldn’t talk about it and acted like none of it existed. By not pouring gasoline on the fire, people eventually just gave up. The following year, Rick Ross dropped the critically-acclaimed Deeper Than Rap album. The music was undeniable even though his history in the drug game was certainly in question. The end result was that Rick Ross’ past was forgotten and he went on to drop more applauded music. Nobody talks about him being a corrections officer, nor do they hold it against him.
It’s like it never happened?
Fast forward to 2018 and Kanye West disrupted Twitter with rants about his support of President Trump and enemy of the state Candace Owens. In May, he dropped by TMZ with the egregious claim that slavery was optional and upset the entire hip hop community. The masses declared Kanye West as “cancelled” and not welcome to the cookout considering that he was siding with a president that was branded as public enemy #1 at a time where police brutality and racism in America had reached alarming highs.
But something strange happened.
Kanye West stopped talking about the past and went to work to release five albums in five weeks. He created enough distance between the controversy and the first G.O.O.D. Music release—the critically acclaimed Pusha T Daytona album—to satiate fans and make his detractors focus on something other than his wayward opinions. With each week and each release, Kanye further distanced himself from what got him in deep water. His fans came out in overwhelming droves and, for the most part, the music was undeniable. It’s almost as if nothing has happened. People flew out in droves to Wyoming for the listening party for his album Ye and it appears that the worst is now behind him because the music outweighed his transgressions.
Drake can also pull from this playbook. The very worst thing he could do is engage with a Pusha T who has absolutely no desire to let the OVO artist off the hook. With so much dirt tossed on his name, addressing any of it in a song would leave him wide open to further criticism. Instead, as much as he probably wants to respond, he has likely realized that J. Prince was right. More importantly, considering the aforementioned narratives of Kanye West and Rick Ross, all he has to do is make good music and people, for the most part, will forget all about this beef.
It has already begun with the video to “I’m Upset” where Drake reunited with his fellow Degrassi classmates for a video that has been met with acclaim. And with his album Scorpion set for a June 29 release, that puts him at about a month out from Pusha T’s “The Story of Adidon.” That’s just enough time for people to move on to other things and simply wait on the music.
Our collective A.D.D. is truly at fault here. Back in the 90s, being a fraud was cause for immediate expulsion from the culture. Supporting a man who was deemed as a supporter of racist thoughts would have found you pushed out of the community. Losing a battle and going silent was grounds to be considered a hasbeen and would require the artist to look elsewhere for employment.
Things have changed. Hip hop has always been compared to the wonderful world of professional wrestling due to its theatrics and overblown personalities. But now it is truly sports entertainment where artists are no longer viewed as people. Instead, they are characters with backstories that no longer seem real. As long as they perform, all is forgiven.
As long as Drake doesn’t get the urge to act on his impulses to respond to Pusha T, he’s in a safe place. He’s too big to fail. He’s bulletproof. He has nothing to worry about.
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