When I heard Pusha T's new Arby's jingle, I had no idea how it would consume me. Aside from being excellent, the diss track against McDonald's is hilarious because of the rapper's longstanding beef—get it?—with the golden arches. Pusha T and his bro Malice (then the Clipse) were the writers behind McD's catchy "I’m Lovin' It." You know that song. Sung by Justin Timberlake, it makes you dream of french fries. But the rapper says that he decided on a one-time payment for $500,000, when in retrospect, he should've asked for the far more lucrative publishing check (The jingle has been the longest-running ad the company's history.) But Push had the last laugh, dropping a lethal diss track with fast food rival Arby's, with bars like, "The sandwiches taste fresh/A little cube of fish from a clown is basic."
Aside from clowning Ronald McDonald and hilarious coke references (Wow, the puns just write themselves), there was one line that stayed with me: "I could sell water to a WHALE”...which people immediately attributed to Jay-Z.
Hold on. What song was that from? I'm not a Hovstorian but I don't remember this bar from anywhere. I quickly searched to see it attributed to Jay-Z's 2001 hit "U Don't Know." Well, sort of. This is where things got interesting.
That's what I've been saying for 20 years. Are you telling me this was all a lie?! What do I even know about anything anymore?!
Okay, let's look at this logically. First off, the preceding line ends with the word "Hell" which rhymes with "well"...not "whale." And furthermore, how can you sell anything to a whale? Is he Free Willy? Where does he get money?!
This turned into a whole debate on Twitter, with fans, blue checks and even Jay-Z collaborators like Questlove of The Roots chiming in.
I hit Pusha T. No response. Arg. So, I asked Just Blaze (the track's producer). I mean, if anybody would know, it would be the guy literally in the studio when "U Don't Know" was recorded right? Well, he told me that he thought it was "well" but a few years ago, upon another listen, now thought it might be "whale". Aww c'mon maaaan. This was starting to feel like some weird hip-hop SAT analogy question... Hustler is to Hell as Water is to ....?
But don't fear. We went to the source. Just hit up none other than Jay-Z a.k.a. Hov a.k.a. SC and asked him:
A: “I’ll sell water to a WHALE”
B: “I’ll sell water to a WELL”
And yes, we got an official response from Jay-Z, kids:
So, is it "well", "whale" or both? Or is Jay-Z just keeping us guessing because he can?
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