All's been mostly quiet on the Kanye West front for a couple of weeks now, as he takes a backseat to the release of Pusha-T's new album, Daytona. Even so, we can look at this newest release for clues into West's personal life, because it's Friday and why the hell not? The question at hand is whether a few verses on the seven-track collection indicate that West has buried his beef with Jay-Z.
The drama of hip-hop personalities can be more intricate than a soap opera, so all of this is heavily speculative, but what we're seeing is this: Veteran rapper Pusha-T is the president of West's G.O.O.D. Music and has been collaborating with him for almost a decade now. But in terms of biographical background, Pusha has much more in common with fellow former drug dealer Jay-Z. Ye made the most of this by getting Jay-Z to feature on Pusha's "Drug Dealers Anonymous” in 2016.
There are no Jay-Z collaborations in Daytona, but there are at least three big references to him. Pusha-T quotes lines from Hov's "Politics as Usual" — "Ain’t no stoppin’ the champagne from poppin’/The drawers from droppin’, the law from watchin’ " — in the track "The Games We Play" just before name-checking West as well. He also begins the last track, "Infrared," with two lines from Jay-Z's "The Prelude." In that song, while rapping about the established music world's penchant for dismissing his genre, he says, "They ain’t even recognize Hov until Annie /That’s why I don’t tap dance for them crackers and sing mammy.” That's a reference to "Hard Knock Life."
So, did West oversee these very distinct homages to his on-again-off-again BFF? Though Pusha told Entertainment Weekly that he originally had a bunch of producers for his new album, when he played some of the tracks for West, in typical Yeezus fashion West decided to take over and produce it himself. We can't tell whether Pusha wrote those lines before playing them for West, or after. All we know is that West didn't take them out and Jay-Z approved the use of his famous lyrics.
One could think of this as the first step toward healing the rift between the two hip-hop icons. Jay-Z seems to want that to happen, having called West his little brother in his sit-down with Letterman and expressed to the New York Times his hope that "when we're 89 we look at this six months or whatever time and we laugh at that." We'd like to see that, too.