On Blackface, Wendy Williams, Drake’s Daddy & Using Women In Rap Beef

May 31, 2018  |  

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This week’s news cycle has been dominated by two things, Roseanne’s firing and the rap beef between Pusha T. and Drake. After the Whitney Houston photo debacle, I wrote that I had no plans on listening to the album. But in a very strategic move, Pusha T. decided to conclude the project with a diss track directed at Drake called “Infrared.” And within 24 hours, Drake responded.

In the interest of fairness, I gave Pusha’s song a shot. I followed it up with Drake’s “Duppy Freestyle.” Drake was the clear winner. Then Pusha T. hit back with a scathing track called “The Story of Adidon.” Set to the beat of Jay Z’s “The Story of OJ.” In case you haven’t heard, Pusha T. read Drake for filth. He told his origin story, talked about the fact that his father was less than present and couldn’t stay committed to his mother. These are things we all knew. But the kicker came in when Pusha T. brought up the rumor of Drake’s child with a former stripper/porn star and how he was likely repeating the same cycle.

Yikes.

But if you’ve been on the internet and care anything about either of these artists…or just like mess, then you already knew all of this.

Throughout the beef, there have been two things that I deemed worthy enough to discuss here with Black women who might be less than enamored with this topic.

First, there was the cover art for Pusha T.’s second diss record. It featured Drake…in Blackface. At face value, to me, the picture was…curious. I know there were those who were outraged that he would even think to evoke the feelings associated with the Jim Crow era. But to me, a Black man wearing Blackface means something entirely different than a White man doing it. There are those who like to question Drake’s Blackness because he’s biracial because he was raised by and with his Jewish family. But if someone has a Black parent and has made a consistent and conscious effort to identify as Black, then I can’t understand why other Black folk— who likely also have European ancestry—would deny him that identity.

Yesterday, on Instagram, Drake spoke to the use of Blackface in the image.

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Drake speaks on “blackface” photos circulating. 👀

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To me, the explanation is sufficient. I get it. It’s akin to what Spike Lee did with BamboozledGiven that he’s in the middle of a rap beef, it would have been particularly impressive if he’d been able to convey the complexity of this message in his bars. But alas, I can’t say I wouldn’t have done the same thing in the midst of this situation. Still, I’m not a rapper. With Drake being infamous for his level of petty, I would be shocked and appalled if this IG press release was the last we heard from him.

Now, on to part two which I find most interesting.

What made Pusha T.’s verse so impactful, so salacious, so scandalous is that it didn’t come for Drake’s skills or abilities, it came for his character. And with the way Pusha is controlling the narrative right now, it’s not looking too good. Denying children is peak f*ckboy. Inexcusable. Low down. Particularly foul given his own personal history. In his defense, TMZ has reported that Drake has been sending money to the alleged mother of his child. Quiet as it’s kept, you can send money and still be a deadbeat. But we’ll wait for the full details on that.

What has had me shaking my head more than anything is the response from Drake’s father, Dennis Graham. If a man called me a deadbeat and I knew I wasn’t, I’d have plenty to say about it…to that man.

Instead, Graham went after Wendy Williams, who like the rest of us, was just reporting the news, weighing in with her take on everything.

Aiii all that smoke for Wendy when all she did was say what we’ve all been thinking. It just made me wonder, why didn’t he direct that heat toward Pusha T.? It made me wonder why, in his “statement” to Wendy, he didn’t decide to speak to the lack of validity in his inability to commit or be around as much as he should have. All he had to offer, outside of the insults about her looks was that she should keep their name out of her mouth when the whole country has been talking about the Grahams for days now.

It reminded me of a tweet I saw earlier this week where a woman stated how frustrating it was to see how often rappers use women as collateral in rap beef. And while I doubt that will ever change since “nothing is off limits,” it really does speak to the way men, still view women as property. Pusha T. shames the “type” of woman Drake picked to be “his Beyoncé,” comparing her to another woman and her connection to a man. If Bey is the “pinnacle,” the strategy is to insult Drake with the ways in which his alleged baby mama is so far from that. This only works if women are viewed as entities, to not only be controlled but condemned if they don’t behave according to rapper standards…Rappers are excessively lenient with the behavior they’re allowed to exhibit (Everything but being feminine…or gay.) But for women, there’s a laundry list of expectations.

Before “The Story of Adidon,” Drake went out of his way to mention Pusha T.’s fiancé for no apparent reason.

I told you keep playin’ with my name and I’ma let it ring on you

Like Virginia Williams”

It was likely one of the weakest lines in the song but again, there is no rap beef without mentioning a woman. And I think it’s important to mention that Pusha T. said the reason he went so hard in his response was simply because Drake said his fiancé name. You could call it honor or ownership. 

Like I said, I get nothing is off limits and our culture has conditioned us to view women as merely the extension of men, so it’s easy for rappers to fall back on these old tropes. I guess we should have known that Pusha talking about Drake’s alleged baby momma as having a stench is to be expected, no matter how trite.

What threw me though was not so much the decision of Drake’s father to jump in the beef himself. His Instagram has shown us that he loves the limelight. What I can’t understand is the incentive to come for a woman—with no involvement when it was a man who sullied the family name.

Veronica Wells is the culture editor at MadameNoire.com. She is also the author of “Bettah Days” and the creator of the website NoSugarNoCreamMag. You can follow her on Facebook and on Instagram and Twitter @VDubShrug.

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