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Drake Is in Crisis-Management Mode, but He’ll Be Fine (Probably)

The Pusha-T diss has already forced Drake to write a Notes app apology, with another response record presumably on deck. But when the movie’s this good, who wins is almost beside the point.

Drake holding the letter “L” Getty Images/Ringer illustration

It doesn’t seem so far-fetched to imagine that the movie Drive was the seed that grew into Drake’s album Scorpion, due out in June. Which is to say that it seems almost appropriate, given the album announcement itself and the hyperstylized emptiness of the movie in question. (Have you heard Drake’s newest single, “I’m Upset,” yet? Nothing really happens in it, either.) Because I can’t help myself, I recently went to Hollywood Forever Cemetery and saw Nicolas Winding Refn introduce his 2011 film to a field full of fans who donned leather racing gloves and satin jackets to relive it. Refn replayed the hits from Drive’s promotional tour: It was meant as a love letter to Los Angeles, where he loves working; about how he and Ryan Gosling carpooled and sang a duet to REO Speedwagon’s “Can’t Fight This Feeling”; and about how the carpool, and thus the Gosling duet, happened because Refn, despite building a movie around the eerie calm of driving at night, doesn’t drive.

You are not new to Drake because no one alive, on earth, is new to Drake, so you could guess that I was going to tease this anecdote into a concern troll about how the commodification of a thing—be it a trait, place, or person—tends to hollow it out, to take away its teeth. Why is the driver’s name literally Driver? Why can’t he ever just talk to Carey Mulligan? How come he, like Drake, is always chewing on a toothpick instead of you know, participating? Valid questions aside, the brooding is still dope, and so is the neon lighting, and who doesn’t love a good skull-smashing?

Let’s dump out the notebook. Pusha and Drake, at their leisure, have been popping off ambiguous, speculative shots at each other for six or seven years. The latest round started when Pusha-T dredged up Drake’s 2015 ghostwriting scandal on “Infrared,” the parting track on last week’s excellent Daytona. Drake seemed to think he’d finished Push off by revealing that he may have been a drug dealer, in that he sold pills to college kids to buy shoes, on “Duppy Freestyle.” Or at least Drake felt assured enough in victory to post an invoice for “album promo” to Instagram, then release a middling album single (the aforementioned “I’m Upset”) a day later, whereupon he boasts about sending nudes being the only time he shoots below the neck. By contrast, this seems like more of a headshot:

On Tuesday, Pusha-T responded with “The Story of Adidon,” which was some exciting, soul-withering shit. In the beginning, this feud was about authenticity. Push found it irksome that Drake’s reign was built, at least in part, by hands that weren’t his own, and Drake just thinks it’s funny how Push is a stickler for bona fides when a sizable chunk of his appeal as a solo artist is predicated on illusion. Neither really drive, so to speak. So how, then, to bring down a rap superstar who proudly and charmingly owns everything? Show them that Drake is not their goofy, affable best friend, but an asshole. Here is a sampling of “Adidon” claims that Drake suddenly needs to address, sooner rather than later:

  • Whether or not he is, in fact, hiding a child named Adonis
  • Whether he planned on rolling out said child named Adonis alongside an apparel line with Adidas, as Pusha suggested on The Breakfast Club on Wednesday morning
  • The artwork, which is a photo of Drake in blackface that Pusha-T insists is not artwork, but a real picture taken circa 2008

The blackface, being too serious to address on a song and too dumb to satisfyingly explain, was always going to be tough to come back from. But Wednesday night, on Instagram, Drake tried:

As Notes app nonapologies go, it’s … also not great. “I know everyone is enjoying the circus” is the kind of thing you say when you’d really like everyone to stop enjoying the circus so much, for one. He then deftly shifted blame onto a less public person whose full name everyone on the internet now has. There was also a suspiciously timed TMZ report about how he has, in fact, been financially supporting his secret family, which wasn’t the question in the first place. In the words of my colleague Justin Charity: “HOW ARE YOU GONNA MAKE “HOTLINE BLING” WITH A SECRET FAMILY?!” In short, Drake has been forced into crisis management by something of an old head, which is not something I thought I would see in my lifetime. He will be fine, probably. Ja Rule went gold and had at least one top-10 hit after 50 Cent “ended his career.” To be clear, Drake is not necessarily Ja Rule in this scenario, although his fan base now has to mull a few things over, like why Drake was involved in such a progressive art project in 2007, yet has been largely mum on any social issues since. Is Pusha-T an old-ass hating nobody, or is he a somebody of enough import for public backlash?

At the moment, at least to my mind, Pusha-T is winning. But who’s winning is beside the point. Which is to say, this is a damn good movie. Here is a clip of Drake releasing a radio-friendly reply that pokes fun at Pusha for having box braids that haven’t changed in length since 2013. Or something.

In a recent interview with Vulture, Push said he was all stocked up for this beef to continue as long as it needs to: “I’m gonna deal in truths all summer long.” With that in mind, I suggest we all just roll out a blanket and watch. That satin jacket looks really cool on the big screen, you know—even and especially when it has a little blood on it.