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The Story of Good Music

P1 V1 41 yo Terrence Thornton of Virginia Beach-via-Gun-Hill projects in Bronx, New York rapped recently about the pain of broken wedlock, pride of fatherhood, and authenticity in art. He did so very publicly, very brutally, named names and left listeners shocked at his nerve and audacity. Thornton gleefully shattered the aura of invincibility shrouding his business rival Audrey Graham’s public persona as the face of global entertainment brand “Drake”. Thornton revealed Graham acting (earnestly) in blackface, disclosed Graham’s secret paternity, attacked Graham’s conduct as a son, mocked the ill health of Graham’s best friend, and injured Graham’s new product launches planned for this summer. His work, "The Story of Adidon", borrowed the naming convention, music, and “my skin is black” refrain from Jay-Z's "The Story of OJ" -- itself a song about denying self-evident attributes and immutable facts. In subsequent radio interviews, Thornton made it clear that he wasn't waging only a rap battle based on rhetorical achievement but also a political war for freedom and about character in the era of mass American incarceration: "You are silent on all black issues, Drake, you don’t stand for nothing, you don’t say nothing about nothing. You have all the platform in the world. You were so passionate back then? No you weren’t. That’s number one. That’s what I know."

P1 V2 Last week, Thornton - better know as “Pusha T” - promoted his new album “DAYTONA” via the urban American radio circuit. The album’s 7 songs just over 20 minutes are rich with subliminal criticism widely understood to refer to “Drake”. So much so that Graham-cum-Drake was compelled to retort in 24 hours in a smoooth song that challenged details of Thornton’s “Pusha T” persona and the creative originality of Thornton’s boss, Kanye West. Graham also named Thorton’s fiancĂ© in an awkward promise to “make it ring on you like Virginia Williams”. Widely perceived as a comprehensive, competent defense from the industry’s biggest brand, Thornton dissected a line crossed and escalated. In an industry of egos protected by outlandish pen and stage names and millions in brand building dollars, Thornton indicted Graham as a son, father, and partner: “you say marriage like it’s a bad thing...you are hiding a child...deadbeat motherfucker playing Border Patrol”. He alleged Graham failed to sanitize the personal social media of his baby’s momma - to wit: “the stench is on her” - and intended to reveal his son at a promotional event for Graham’s line of sneakers and sweatsuits. All told over Nina Simone repeating “my skin is black” accompanied by Graham grinning in blackface.

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