One rap-world rule of thumb: You never want to be the subject of a Pusha T song. He rarely broaches a sensitive topic unprovoked, but once he decides to go there, no stone is left unturned. Think his savage Drake diss “The Story of Adidon” or even McDonald’s on his recent Arby’s team-up. Listeners get to hear that side of him right from the outset of It’s Almost Dry, the rapper’s brand new fourth studio album. On the intro track “Brambleton,” a wistful Pusha waxes about the dissolution of his relationship with former manager Anthony “Geezy” Gonzalez, which initially stemmed from Gonzalez’s cooperation with law enforcement following a 2009 arrest, but became more about his decision to air things out in a widely-disseminated on the record conversation.
“It was sad watching dude in Vlad interviews / Really it’s ’bout me, he channeled it through you / Had a million answers, didn’t have a clue / Why Michael kissed Fredo in Godfather II,” he raps on the song’s third verse, referencing Gonzalez’s March 2020 interview with DJ Vlad, where he spoke extensively about his history with Pusha’s group Clipse.
Gonzalez, who Pusha has shouted out on past tracks like “So Appalled,” posited that “95 percent” of Pusha and his brother Malice’s raps about selling cocaine were inspired by his own activity in the Virginia drug trade. It’s a heavy claim to levy, since Pusha has basically built his entire career applying his caustic wit to stories of dope deals. (On Almost Dry’s “Let the Smokers Shine the Coupes,” he even dubs himself “Cocaine’s Dr. Seuss.”) Per Geezy, he met Clipse once they already knew Pharrell at a Virginia studio session around 1999. At the time, they were working on Exclusive Audio Footage, their unreleased debut for Elektra Records.
Lyrics from that album indicate that Pusha was already referencing drug dealing in his bars with phrases like “My coke money’s in cleaners / Give it a fresh rinse” (“Bodysnatchers”) and “We travel with drugs in the dashboard / And flee from the task force” (“You Can’t Touch Me”). In his own DJ Vlad interview from 2013, Pusha spoke about Gonzalez’s arrest, noting that nine of his longtime friends were sentenced as a result of the case, but didn’t talk about Gonzalez’s decision to work with the authorities.
What happened next with Geezy is mostly a matter of public record. Arrested in 2009 and charged with heading a multi-million dollar drug ring, Gonzalez pleaded guilty and provided information to the authorities in order to keep his family members from being prosecuted, something The Virginian-Pilot reported at the time. In his DJ Vlad interview, Gonzalez claimed that he spoke to the FBI and ATF because those organizations threatened to indict his mother, wife, sister, and aunt if he did not cooperate.
He also said that in those interrogation sessions he was also asked whether Pusha and Malice were also involved in drug trafficking, and denied that they had a role. “I told them, ‘All they do is rap. Whatever they rap about, it was about me. They’re artists.’” Eventually, Gonzalez was sentenced to 32 years in prison, though that was reduced to 10 and he later was released after serving eight-and-a-half years.