When Joaquin Phoenix appeared on Letterman in 2009, the actor bamboozled viewers by revealing his plans to become a rapper. However, it turned out all to be a rouse designed to bewilder his fans and leave the TV host aghast — mission accomplished. But, years later, he returned to hip-hop and received a production credit on a Pusha T track.
Although Phoenix’s first foray into hip-hop might have been an elaborate parody, he has love and respect for the scene. The 2010 Casey Affleck directed mockumentary, I’m Still Here, follows Phoenix as he left acting behind to start a new life as a rapper. However, it primarily pokes fun at the self-importance of actors rather than hip-hop.
The film only garnered a minor cult following, and seemingly this would draw a line under his affiliation with the genre. However, years later, it bizarrely emerged that he was the architect of a beat appearing on an imminent Pusha T project.
A couple of months later, in 2013, ‘King Push’ dropped, which credited Phoenix, and much to everybody’s surprise, the beat slapped. People couldn’t believe that the actor could produce something of that quality, and they were right to be suspicious. In fact, Phoenix had to release a statement distancing himself away from its creation and revealed that all he did was pass it onto Kanye West, who then gave it to Pusha.
He said: “While it was widely reported that Pusha T used my beat and that I produced his song, I can’t take any credit. A friend’s son played me his music, and all I did was make an introduction to Kanye’s camp.”
Things then got embarrassing for Pusha, who then had to come out, and the rapper explained that nobody told him it wasn’t Joaquin’s beat. “This is how I got it. Joaquin Phoenix gave the beat to Ye, so when I got the beat from Ye, he said, ‘Yo, Joaquin gave me this beat’. I know Joaquin is into music, and I was like, ‘Damn’.
“I believe it is the son of Lars Ulrich from Metallica,” he continued. “I hope I’m not wrong this time. It was mistaken because it came from Joaquin.”
Somewhere along the line, wires were crossed, and Pusha had egg on his face. In all likelihood, Ye forgot to mention that it wasn’t Phoenix’s beat. Remarkably, in the end, his faux pas turned out to be an accidental stroke of a genius to promote ‘King Push’.