In an effort to keep the peace between Pusha T and Drake, J. Prince revealed he asked the Canadian rapper to stand down to prevent the issue from escalating any further. Although the CEO of Rap-A-Lot Records said Drake was “cocked and loaded” with a record that would ruin Kanye West’s livelihood and damage Pusha’s career, he said it’s in everyone’s best interest to just end it here.
However, despite the victory among the court of public opinion, Pusha could potentially still face major consequences as a result of his explosive diss record, “The Story of Adidon,” where he called out Drake’s mother, his father, his sick best friend and accused him of being an absentee father to a secret baby with a porn star.
In fact, Billboard sat down with First Amendment expert attorney, James Chadwick of Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP to discuss the possibility.
“There’s no automatic exemption from potential liability for expression in the context of an artistic performance,” Chadwick said. “The context is still important, because the context may affect whether or not assertions are treated as assertions of fact or as non-factual assertions. Opinion is a general category, but it’s really more a question of whether or not a court would treat a statement as likely being understood by the audience as an assertion of true fact, as opposed to someone just mouthing off, rhetorical hyperbole, exaggeration.”
As the conversation continued, Billboard inquired about the consequences of ruining a major roll-out campaign for a brand line without specifically mentioning the issue between Pusha and Drake. “Financial loss doesn’t affect whether or not speech is protected by the First Amendment,” he said. “Financial loss may be a prerequisite for certain kinds of claims. There are claims that could be asserted other than what you might expect in a traditional defamation or invasion of privacy [case].”
Basically, if Pusha’s claims about Drake, his alleged son Adonis and the Adidas “Adidon” roll-out interfered with Drake’s business relationship with Adidas, then Pusha would be in trouble. However, according to Chadwick, “obviously public figures have a higher burden to establish liability for something like defamation. If you have well-known artists exchanging barbs, in general, it’s less likely that those will be treated as statements of fact. They’re going to probably be deemed as opinion, but it’s not impossible for them to be treated as a statement of fact, to be found to be false and to be found to be defamatory. But is it even defamatory to accuse a rape artist of having an illegitimate child? I’m not sure it is.”
Long story short, it’s in Drake’s best interest to leave the issue alone for the sake of his privacy and to save face with his fans.