AI-Generated Tracks Are Muddying The Drake Versus Everybody Rap Feud

Drake’s new track “Push Up,” a diss directed at Kendrick Lamar, Rick Ross, The Weeknd, and others, had the rap world buzzing on Saturday. Then, shortly after, Rick Ross’ response, on “Champagne Stories,” turned a noteworthy day unforgettable. Hip-hop heads of a certain age were hit with a wave of nostalgia thanks to the way both songs were released. A clip of “Push Up” circulated on Reddit and Twitter before DJ Akademiks legitimized the track and played a studio-quality version on his stream. Then Rick Ross sent his response to Akademiks just hours later. 

The two veteran rappers took us back to the aughts when songs weren’t simply uploaded to streaming platforms at midnight. Big singles, especially diss tracks, almost always went through a step-by-step process before the full version reached the public. The song may end up on the radio, on a message board, or a blog, and people would play that poorer quality version until we eventually got the studio quality file — then called a CDQ, referring to the now obsolete term “CD quality.” Fans in Drake’s 36-year-old age range know that era for big clothes, rap disses replete with Funkmaster Flex bombs, and rapidshare file sharing links. 

Was Drake, who advertised his poetry book Titles Ruin Everything by taking out full-page ads in newspapers around the country last year, trying to replicate that 2006-era energy? Questions still remain about how “Push Up” was released. Was the song intentionally leaked to gauge response before stamping it as real? Was The Weeknd’s reference to leaks in Drake’s crew on Future and Metro Boomin’s “All To Myself” proven right? But the most troubling question is the first one we all had when we heard the first version of “Push Up:” Was it real or AI?

Fans who were surprised that a song of this magnitude leaked assumed that it must have been the work of AI, which has rapidly become more prevalent in the rap world. TikTok has been awash in obvious deepfake Drake disses, which is why it isn’t surprising that many fans wondered if a troll decided to write lyrics at Drake’s enemies, recite them, and then transfuse them into the rapper’s voice. Still, even before Akademiks’ confirmation, most listeners felt like the quality of the song’s vocal inflections — and inside baseball references to Kendrick’s contract and The Weeknd’s manager XO Cash — affirmed the track as real. 

That wasn’t the case with subsequent fake Drake and Kendrick disses that appeared on Monday. These songs were much easier to sniff out due to the stiff vocals. One Twitter account contended that the Kendrick song they uploaded would be released in full on April 16, clearly trying to pass it off as the real thing. On Saturday, in-the-know music fans scoffed that some fans would think AI is sophisticated enough to replicate what we heard from “Push Up.” But there will come a day when AI technology evolves beyond even these expert’s discernment, and that will represent one more weapon in the toolkit of people looking to deceive the music world. Rap fans thirsty to hear the next barbs in the Drake vs. The World gauntlet will naturally take a listen to these “leaked” disses on the off chance that they might be the real thing. 

Last year, an AI music creator named Ghostwriter dropped a fake Weeknd and Drake song called “Heart on My Sleeve” that he planned to submit for a Grammy (after “Push Up,” AI is presumably the only way we’ll hear anything resembling a Drake and The Weeknd collab). Eventually, the song was pulled from streaming, and the labels have put protections in place to prevent the commercial retailing of AI vocals. Universal Music Group, which houses Drake and Weeknd, asked DSPs to block AI services from utilizing their platforms to build their database. And last October, music publishers Universal, Concord and ABKCO filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against AI company Anthropic, setting a precedent for how the industry infrastructure will deal with AI services. But these developments haven’t stopped people who’ve decided to use AI for the fun of it — even Ghostwriter recently released a full-length project of AI music.   

Last May, Timbaland posted an Instagram clip of a song he concocted with AI vocals depicting The Notorious B.I.G. “I always wanted to work with Big, and I never got a chance to — until today,” he raved, before playing a song that sort of sounded like Biggie but dubiously referenced modern-day slang like “it’s not giving.” Responses to the song were mixed, and Timbaland hasn’t officially released the song. Recently, Playboi Carti fans impatiently waiting for his next album dropped an entire fake Carti project with AI vocals. One of the comments in an Instagram post promoting the AI album noted, “If u enjoy ai music idk what to tell you except rethink all of it.” 


There are too many consequences to fake disses: the misinformation will further poison a blogosphere already rampant with fake news presented with vague sources. Rap fans will now have to cull the permutations of vocal tones, end rhyme enunciation, and digital artifacts while evaluating a track’s validity. The suspense of anticipating the next diss will be ruined because we’ll keep coming across fake ones, and will eventually feel like “it’s about time” we got the real thing. 

The fake tracks may also step on approaches that the artists planned to explore in their real disses; will fans accuse the artists of using the fake disses for help if they hear similar lines? And while we know Drake and Kendrick are already at odds, what happens when AI creators decide to create dissent between artists who don’t have problems? There are artists less judicious than Kendrick or Drake who may be fooled by an AI diss toward them, lash out, and say something to another artist they can’t take back, and then things get real before they were even real. 

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