Rapper Pusha T released an Arby’s diss track yesterday, which are words I never thought I’d be typing in consecutive order, but here we are. (The recent Taco Bell TikTok video from Doja Cat briefly comes to mind too.) It was a dig against McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish sandwich, as he advertised Arby’s Spicy Fish offering. Rap collaborations with major brands are a pretty regular occurrence these days, but after the track dropped on Arby’s official YouTube channel, Rolling Stone revealed a small tidbit of information that feels sort of like a bombshell: Pusha T is responsible for the “I’m Lovin’ It” McDonald’s jingle from 2003. Wait, what?
Here’s the track in all of its fried glory:
Diss tracks are one thing, but Pusha T takes a real dump on McDonald’s in the lyrics. He uses the term “disgusted” when describing the Filet-O-Fish along with a line that straight up says, “That Filet-O-Fish is tasteless,” not to mention that he’s presumably calling it “shit” in the third line, which is censored with a bit of cheeky silence. Takeout editor-in-chief Jordan Calhoun suggests that the last line, which brings up the term “scale,” (as in “fish scale”) is also a not-so-subtle drug reference, specifically to cocaine. Arby’s and hard drugs, who knew?
Rap insults are always over the top, but in this case, Pusha T’s got some actual (more fish) bones to pick with McDonald’s, because in this case, it sounds like the Golden Arches may have fiscally screwed the rapper over from a truly, yes, iconic jingle he wrote in 2003. And it is indeed that “Ba-da-ba-ba-bah, I’m lovin’ it” one. (I know you totally just sang that in your head now.)
Apparently, however, this isn’t new information. I asked my fiancée last night if she knew that Pusha T was behind the “I’m Lovin’ It” jingle, and without skipping a beat, she said “Yeah, I’ve known that for a while!” Where the hell have I been?
Pusha T is half of rap duo Clipse, the other member being his brother, who goes by the name No Malice. The two of them, according to music industry veteran Steve Stoute, were the actual writers of the earworm, while Justin Timberlake and Pharrell Williams were widely thought to be the originators of the tune. Things get a little more twisted though; the real origins are way murkier than that, said Pitchfork in 2016. Pitchfork reported that multiple parties lay claim to the song, including some songwriters in Germany.
Timberlake had been paid $6 million by McDonald’s for the tune, but Pusha T says he was only given a one-time fee with zero royalties. What really hurts about that is that the jingle supported an ad campaign that was the longest running in McDonald’s history (and felt like it, too). So if he’d had some ownership of the song, his wallet would be much fatter right now.
Pusha T said, to Rolling Stone:
I am solely responsible for the ’I’m Lovin‘ It’ swag and the jingle of that company. That’s just real. I am the reason. Now I gotta crush it.
I did it at a very young age at a very young time in my career where I wasn’t asking for as much money and ownership. It’s something that’s always dug at me later in life like, ‘Dammit, I was a part of this and I should have more stake.’ It was like half a million or a million dollars for me and my brother — but that’s peanuts for as long as that’s been running. I had to get that energy off me, and this [ad] was the perfect way to get that energy like, ‘You know what? I’m over it.’”
From Pusha T’s account, Clipse was paid around $500,000 for the song, while Timberlake took home $6 million. There’s a large disparity there, plus there’s the no-royalty situation. I guess I’d trash talk McDonald’s too. Maybe I should get into the jingle business though, because holy shit.
For the record, we’re fans of Arby’s new Spicy Fish sandwich (it landed in our top 10 for this year) and the Filet-O-Fish isn’t going anywhere, either. One thing’s for certain, however. No matter what, both Arby’s and McDonald’s are going to be selling a shitload of fish sandwiches this year, and great, now I can’t get that damn McDonald’s jingle out of my head.