Wait, Could Pusha T's Diss Track Against Drake Land Him In Court?

  • July 12, 2018
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GOOD Music president and emcee Pusha T is being crowned for a feat that has been valiantly attempted by others, but achieved by none: the lyrical overthrowing of OVO Sound ruler, Drake.

But while King Push’s “Story of Adidon” diss record placed him at the forefront of hip-hop’s rap feud hall of fame, a bigger question is whether the shocking allegations could place him behind the defendant’s stand in a courtroom or not. First Amendment experts have weighed in to answer that, according to a new Billboard interview.

Attorney James Chadwick of Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP spoke to Billboard about the potentiality of the private information that Pusha exposed in the track—such as an Adidas campaign and Drake’s alleged fatherhood—violating any legal conduct.

“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.”

He added that while opinion falls beneath a general category, an argument that could be presented by Pusha, the courts would primarily consider whether such statements would be “understood by the audience as assertions of true fact” versus the typical rap beef blustering.

As for Drizzy’s possibly-sabotaged and alleged Adidas campaign, Chadwick said a few conditions might need to be proved for certain claims, such as financial loss, which he said does not First Amendment speech protection.

“Financial loss may be a prerequisite for certain kinds of claims,” he said. “There are claims that could be asserted other than what you might expect in a traditional defamation or invasion of privacy [case].”

Claims such as slander or defamation, however, wouldn’t be the best charges to shoot for in court. After all, truth is an “absolute defense” in cases of those types, hip-hop attorney Stacey Richman points out, and would essentially let Pusha off of the hook should his lyrical suspicions turn out to be true. The only charge left to pursue after that could be invasion of privacy, which holds that the disclosed information—true or not—is not considered newsworthy and violated the individual’s privacy to some extent. Even still, Chadwick adds, such a claim might not hold up on a strong legal foundation considering the context of the situation (a rap beef between two well-known hip-hop artists, we presume) and both emcees being considered “people who are known for exchanging attacks.”

No one actually expects Drizzy to take the courtroom route to avenge himself, but we suppose the information is still good to have on hand anyway.

Read the full Billboard piece here.

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