Do we owe Drake an apology?: Why you shouldn’t be so quick to call Black men ‘deadbeat’ dads
How we responded to the Drake revelation says a lot about how we view Black fatherhood in general.
In April theGrio asked readers, “Is Drake making amends to Black women with his new video ‘Nice for What’?” and the answer ended up being a resounding… maybe.
Back then Champagne Papi had recently reappeared in our collective consciousness after he was put on time out for being the dude who messed things up with both Rihanna and Serena Williams in the same year.
Black women who originally squealed with delight when he declared he liked his women BBW, had felt betrayed by his antics that seemed like a complete contradiction to the deeply introspective (at times overly emotional) music that he had become famous for.
But then the video for God’s Plan came out and we saw Drizzy, with his strong, fleshed out physique and well manicured beard giving out money to fans in Miami like some sort of Dominican Santa Claus (yes I know he’s Canadian, but Dominican Drake is a thing.) and pretty soon folks started speculating that the rapper had turned a new leaf.
And by the time the pro-woman anthem ‘Nice For What?’ came out with a video chock full of bad-ass modern day feminist icons, we all but lost our minds while the Lauryn Hill sample, and Big Freedia’s infectious New Orleans bounce ad-libs helped us twerk our way back onto #TeamDrake.
One could say that by May of 2018 the 31-year-old rapper was at the top of his game, and poised to have his biggest album debut yet.
That is until he had the nerve to mess with Pusha T.
Now before I (very briefly) touch on that whole mess, can we all just agree that it’s never a good idea to mess with a dude over 40 who still walks around with plaits in his hair?
I respect Pusha’s flow and overall skill as an emcee, but that hairstyle screams, “I have nothing to lose” and if Aubrey has any street smart friends in his camp, they failed him by not telling him this.
Even Pusha T wouldn’t want to get into a fight with Pusha T.
But I digress.
For those of you who don’t know the history behind all this: Pusha T, formerly of The Clipse, has had beef with Lil Wayne and by association with Drake for about a good decade now.
And usually it’s Pusha doing the goading, Wayne responding, and once in a while Drake will have too much Cognac and decide to slip in a response too.
Fuk pusha t and anybody that love em
— Lil Wayne WEEZY F (@LilTunechi) May 24, 2012
This beef has been cooking in a crockpot since George W. Bush’s second term, with only hip-hop heads really being aware of it while the rest of the world obliviously danced to Hotline Bling without a care.
But you should never underestimate the focus and patience of an adversary with nothing but time on their hands.
Because in 2018, Pusha once again came out with a thinly veiled Drake diss in his track Infrared. And on the song he succinctly compares the way Drake became popular to the way Donald Trump became president, alleging that both undeserving victors used external measures to become king: Drake using a ghostwriter named Quentin Miller while Trump used his ties to Russia.
Pusha raps: “The lyric pennin’ equal the Trumps winnin’ / The bigger question is how the Russians did it / It was written like Nas but it came from Quentin”
While the 41-year-old’s analogy was a clever (and socially relevant) attack, I personally thought it would blow over and maybe even be ignored, per usual.
But alas, pride comes before the fall, and even though Drake had everything to lose, he took the bait and within 24 hours came out with Duppystyle, which opens with him sighing in exasperation.
“I had a microphone of yours but then the signature faded / I think that pretty much resembles what has been happening lately,” was one of the many quotable lines from Drake, made even more poignant because it was true. He really did once own a microphone with Pusha’s signature.
After dismissing him as has been, then calling out both his fiancee and his producer, Kanye West, Drake went the extra mile to pour salt in his wounds by sending Pusha an invoice for even making him relevant.
Drake sent G.O.O.D. Music an invoice for all the album sales he just helped Pusha out with… this man is cold 😂 pic.twitter.com/mgdETsZOSV
— No Jumper (@nojumper) May 26, 2018
Even for Black Twitter this was peak pettiness. But it also gave Pusha the excuse he’d been waiting for to drop a bombshell that none of us saw coming.
“The Story of Adinon” is one of the most surgical, cut to the white-meat, verbal attacks rap fans have seen in years, and easily the worst thing ever directed towards Drake in his career.
Everything about it, from the artwork of Drake in blackface, which photog David Leyes, has spoken up and said was an intentionally ironic political statement “made by a black man about the fucked up culture he is living in,” to the sampling of Jay Z’s racially charged single The Story of O.J, let you know that Pusha was out for blood on this one.
And then it happened.
Pusha confirmed the long-standing rumors that Drake had a secret child with former porn star Sophie Brussaux, mocked Drake’s own troubled upbringing without a father, and then called him a “deadbeat mothaf***a”.
“Adonis is your son / And he deserves more than an Adidas press run, that’s real / Love that baby, respect that girl / Forget she’s a pornstar, let her be your world,” he raps.
You could’ve heard a pin drop when this track played most places for the first time. And then the internet exploded with OMG DRAKE HAS A BABY! posts.
Hip-hop lovers who hadn’t seen a good beef in years, cheered like bloodthirsty spectators in ancient times watching gladiators bludgeon each other for sport at the Coliseum.
Black women who had just started liking Drake again threw up their hands in exasperation and lamented, “I knew I couldn’t trust that ninja!”
And single mom’s, and/or kids raised by single moms all projected their own personal deadbeat dad traumas towards Drizzy as if he personally owed them child support and weekend visitations.
And through all this, I just sat there, quietly annoyed and very clear that my thinking was in the minority.
Like I said earlier, Pusha T never had anything to lose from the onset Any response from Drake would have given him free publicity, and to that point, his latest album Daytona is now officially his most successful album debut yet.
But at what cost?
As the child of an actual deadbeat dad, who knows what it’s like to be denied both financially and emotionally by the person who had a fifty percent stake in creating you, I couldn’t help feeling upset on behalf of Adonis, the innocent kid who had been dragged into a battle between two grown men.
Imagine what it’s gonna be like for him to someday find out that before he was even old enough to walk we were all making memes and funny videos about his father not wanting him.
Some might say I’m being overly compassionate here, but anyone who has ever dated a jerk, who blames all their intimacy issues on not feeling loved by a parent, can confirm that this sort of thing very painfully haunts people for the rest of their lives.
As a society, we’ve become so desensitized that heinous and hurtful things don’t even register to us anymore while we’re in group think environments like social media. And to a lot of ya’ll Adonis is just a punchline and not a flesh and blood child.
The word “dead beat” is one that we throw around so much I’m not even sure we even realize that it impacts the children of alleged deadbeats even more than the men we are attacking.
When a child hears that word it sends the message that they are so unwanted and unlovable that the world created a name for it to distinguish them from all the other kids whose fathers actually showed up.
There is nothing light, or funny about that.
And while this might not be a popular opinion, in the case of Drake, I think many of ya’ll have been using that loaded ass word both incorrectly and unfairly.
Over the last few weeks since The Story of Adinon was released I’ve gotten into debates with more Black women than I can count, who say, “Drake’s a deadbeat and doesn’t take care of his child!” and my first pushback to that is always, “Says who?”
Seriously, how do we factually know this to be true?
How are people in one breath calling out “fake news” but in the next breath acting like Pusha T is the greatest investigative journalist of our time?
Especially since he has a clear and openly expressed bias here, which is to make his opponent look as bad as possible.
Having bars is not the same thing as spitting facts folks. And you all jumped to A LOT of assumptions about Drakes family, intentions, and emotional investments towards his child, based of the word of a man whose signature hairstyle was inspired by Ms Celie from The Color Purple.
In fact, Pusha himself later went on The Breakfast Club and admitted that Drake was always planning to tell the world about his son, but he just beat him to the punch out of spite.
“Allegedly, his new line on adidas is called Adidon, which is named after Adonis, his son,” he told the hosts. “But we couldn’t know about your child until you start selling sweatsuits and sneakers?”
Hear that folks?
Drake was always planning to tell the world about his child.
Now does him waiting till he’d inked a deal with Adidas first make him seem like a…(rhymes with Duckboy)… absolutely. I can see how some would consider that move a bit douchey.
But being a calculated busines person doesn’t make you a deadbeat. In fact, Kris Jenner, one of the most calculated parents in the history of entertainment is also pretty visibly obsessed with her children. These two truths aren’t mutually exclusive.
And Drake himself hints at this in his newest album Scorpion which was released Friday.
“I wasn’t hiding my kid from the world,” he raps. “I was hiding the world from my kid.”
“Breakin’ news in my life, I don’t run to the blogs. The only ones I wanna tell are the ones I can call,” he adds, explaining that he always claimed his son, even if the media was kept in the dark.
Drake mentioning his son in emotionless has me like pic.twitter.com/QAsIpHuJsG
— Steph (@lecraynay_) June 29, 2018
In every song where his child is mentioned Drake sounds like a stressed out parent who tried (but failed) to shield their child from an ugly world they know all too well.
He even opens up about his strained relationship with the mother of his child, a fling he’d only hung out with twice before she got pregnant, using Micheal Jackson’s hit Billie Jean as a reference.
“She not my lover like Billie Jean, but the kid IS mine
Sandi used to tell me all it takes is one time
And all it took was one time
S**t, we only met two times,
Im out here on the front lines
Just tryna make sure I see him sometimes
It’s breaking my spirit
‘Single father’ I hate when I hear it
I used to challenge my parents on every album
Now im embarrassed to tell them I ended up as a co-parent
Always promised a family unit
I wanted it to be different
Because I been through it
But this is the harsh truth now.”
Deadbeats don’t provide for their children, fight for visitation rights, or shower them with gifts on Christmas, fam. And they definitely don’t write introspective songs about how they want to give them a better life than what they had.
Now could Drake be completely full of s**t? Of course.
But considering how quickly many of you were willing to believe every word out of Pusha T’s mouth, it would only be fair to give him the same benefit of the doubt.
Drake really wrote March 14 all about his son and the challenges of being a father. Damn, Drake, you got me there, man. Now, that’s an ending 👍🏽 #Scorpion
— ⋆ (@OfficialTabitha) June 29, 2018
Drake is basically the Taylor Swift of hip-hop, an emotionally indulgent, moody artist, who mostly only knows how to write autobiographically and oscillates between bragging about his success then lamenting about all the trappings of fame that come with that success.
Drizzy isn’t someone I would recommend anyone I care about dating. An opinion he seems to share on his track titled Jaded, where he raps, “Im not with nobody, cause I don’t want to hurt nobody.”
But sucking at relationships doesn’t necessarily make you a bad parent. And we have to ask ourselves two questions:
1. Why did we all act like Drake was entitled to no privacy and OWED us a birth announcement the second his child was born? Have Beyonce and Jay Z taught us nothing about keeping things to yourself until you’re ready to share? And…
2. Why are we always so quick to assume a Black man doesn’t want his child? Like I mentioned earlier in this piece, a lot of people who were disgusted by Drake’s (now disproven) deadbeat status seemed to be picking at wounds that had NOTHING to do with him.
The one thing this whole mess has highlighted is how little faith we have in Black fatherhood. And instead of making fun of the issue, it would probably be a better idea for us to address it – head on.
Because despite whatever anecdotal wisdom you may have accumulated from talking to coworkers and single mother girlfriends, statistically speaking Black fathers actually aren’t any more prone to being deadbeats than other types of men.
In fact, according to the CDC, more black fathers live with their children than without. There are about 2.5 million who live with their children, and 1.7 million who don’t.
Researcher have been trying for years to debunk the “Black-fathers-being-absent myth.” And part of the issue with studies that try to skew this data is in how they classify “single women.”
Not to be condescending, but single simply means unmarried.
Having unmarried parents does not make a child fatherless. Some unmarried couples live and raise children together. But many studies don’t take this into account and conflate a child having an unmarried mother with a child being fatherless.
This is blatantly false.
Not to mention the many children of divorced parents who don’t share a legal address with their fathers but still see them often. They’re not fatherless either.
And when the CDC did a more nuanced study on Black dads who do live with their children, they found that across several metrics Black men were actually the most involved fathers, on average; more so than even their white counterparts.
I’m not in the business of defending Drake for any of his shenanigans, because he’s definitely made his share of mistakes. But when it comes to fatherhood, ya’ll jumped to a lot of false conclusions about him based on a narrative he and a lot of other brothers don’t necessarily deserve.
There are enough real deadbeats in this world. Let’s stop creating ones that aren’t really there.
For the sake of their kids if nothing else.
Follow writer Blue Telusma on Instagram at @bluecentric