Drake’s “Behind Barz” freestyle for Link Up TV (see below) was…odd, trivial even. Of course, freestyle is an arbitrary term in this case — he’d simply recorded a well-rehearsed verse and then went into the booth to stir some drama up. Hot on the heels of Scorpion, the freestyle was, undoubtedly, to fuck with his opposition. You know — big, bad, Pusha T. Revealer of Children. Taker of Names. But once again, Drake was vague enough to include multiple parties. A news story recently leaked claiming that more than one name in the party is responsible for the set of circumstances that ruined Drake’s impending Adidas campaign. So, with Link Up TV, Drake decided to antagonize the bull again and invite a swipe at his red towel. But behind the towel, there’s no wall — just Drake’s ass.
It’s long been exposed that Drake versus Pusha T was a battle lost long before it started. Drake had been lulled into a false sense of supremacy because of his popularity and the spoils of victory from his previous rapper squabble with Meek Mill. Drizzy had learned that to win rap battles in 2018, actual “rap” didn’t matter. Just bombard your opponent with Instagram quotable punchlines that’ll make people outside of the situation laugh while they themselves are severely unimpressed. Pusha released a verse that contained a subtle jab or two aimed at one of his industry rivals because, hey, that’s what rappers do, and Drake responded with “Duppy (Freestyle),” a full-on onslaught that packed in the laughs while letting it be known that Pusha is his polar opposite; also, that the G.O.O.D. Music camp itself, well, sucks.
Pusha, if recent reports are to believe, had received ammo from Kanye West, the guy that he’s running around behind even though he’s a little older, revealing that Drake has a son that he hasn’t exposed to the world. Pusha went into Pulitzer Prize mode and did his best investigative journalism work and, on “The Story of Adidon,” stripped Drake of his superpower — his celebrity. The weeks following featured Drake-handler J. Prince doing his best clean-up routine in the wake of the massacre, revealing that Drake wouldn’t be coming back because he said so — an even softer move than just not saying anything. J. Prince relayed that Drake’s response would have destroyed more than a career or two, hinting at some serious problems in G.O.O.D. Music’s camp.
Scorpion came on June 29 and—as many had speculated, and as Pusha T himself revealed in his premonition—Drake revealed to the world that, yes, he does have a son, as his antagonist so elegantly put it. His tone sounded defeated, like he’d been exposed, and instead of exclaiming pride in his son’s livelihood, he took every opportunity to criticize the mother of his children and his situation. His yucky moral aptitude was made even worse by the fact that of the 25 songs, only a few bars are dedicated to his child in the first place. For a man that can dedicate albums to his past lady conquests, giving a mention or two to a kid while begging Kiki to reveal if she loves him comes off as abhorrent.
In the wake of Scorpion already going platinum and selling more than 733,000 equivalent album units, along with (aside from his few child-bars) the fiasco with Pusha T largely lost in time, Drake—seldom freestyling or even appearing for public interviews—decided to head on over to the United Kingdom and test the waters of beef again. The freestyle lasts for all of two minutes and, surprisingly, Pusha T isn’t the only focus. Guess who else? With “They wanna link when they got no tunes / They too worried about sellin’ out shoes,” it’s easy to see that Kanye West has entered his crosshairs. So now, Drake’s blindly shooting, hoping to piss someone else off. He hasn’t forgotten last time. He knows that at any moment, a flurry of disses (remember Kanye’s verbal tirade against Wiz Khalifa a few years back?) could be sent his way, then he’d have to crawl tail-between-legs to J. Prince and get a nod of approval before responding. So why would Drake have the audacity to fire off shots if he won’t be able to back them up?
Bullfighting isn’t a sport, like bull-riding programs on television paint the art form to be. It’s a performance art that poor men and women, often in countries like Spain, Portugal, Mexico, Peru, and France, use to amass quick fame and fortune. The constant, looming threat of being impaled scares the participants, but they grow addicted to the thrill and rush of the universal adoration and excitement that comes from taunting and then evading the bull. For as many successful guys that there are, scores of YouTube videos can be found of toreros being impaled for refraining to get out of the way in time. They got greedy and they paid for it; sometimes with their lives.
Drake is, perhaps, the world’s biggest bullfighter. And he’s taunting a huge one, G.O.O.D. Music itself. His teensy-weensy shots are his red cape that he’s dangling in front of the bull, waiting for them to run at him so he can pull a vanishing act. You see, his last wrangle with Meek Mill ended up with him dodging the bullet, multiple times. Each diss saw Meek crash into a wall, only elevating Drizzy to another, intense level of rap fandom. So, he got careless and went after Pusha T— subsequently getting stung, hard. But he got lucky; it was only a flesh wound, and he managed to recover from it. Now that he’s healed, he thinks that he’s invincible, so what does he do? Goes right back in. Awaiting the charge.
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand why this is dumb. Considering that J. Prince already forbade him from releasing a diss track (considering that there was ever even one if the first place), what would Drake do if the camp were to respond? Pusha T insinuated that he was ready for whatever comes his way and, if his journalistic skills continue to put the investigative work done by The Boston Globe‘s Spotlight Team to shame, he’s not bluffing. Kanye could even step in and attack his character on social media, a la Wiz. God forbid that Teyana Taylor sings a diss or Cyhi The Prynce goes long on Drake’s lack of social or political commentary in his career, something that Pusha himself touched on in recent interviews. Who’s really going to suffer from Drake’s disses? Pusha’s career or Drake’s ego?
On some level, Drake understands the risks he’s taking, so the effortless charm that he exudes on his albums isn’t the same shtick we get on his “Behind Barz” freestyle. Drake raps in hushed tones and somewhat nervously. He knows he shouldn’t be antagonizing the bull again. But it’s fun, and he’s got time today, so why not. And, like the crowds at bullfighting arenas, we aren’t going to hide behind our hands and watch through the cracks in our fingers when he gets impaled — we’re going to be hysterical because, on many levels, he will deserve it.
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