Pusha T Made $5.5 Million Less Than Justin Timberlake to Co-Write McDonald’s ‘I’m Lovin’ It’ Jingle

When people think about Pusha T, they likely are not thinking of a jingle writer. The celebrity rapper has had several massive hits with Clipse, solo projects, and features with many of the hottest names in hip hop.

However, the Story of Adidonrapper moonlights helping commercials make songs to sell their most popular products. This was the case with McDonald’s, which employed the rapper to write its now-famous “I’m Lovin’ It” jingle. However, despite making the song a massive hit, its performer, Justin Timberlake, reaps most of the awards. 

“I’m Lovin’ It”

According to a video from Hodges U, the ad campaign, which has since become the longest-running in the hamburger giant’s history, debuted in 2003. The company started with some notes conceived by jingle giant Butch Stewart and passed it along to Pharrell Williams and Justin Timberlake. Timberlake took the idea and made an unbranded pop song out of it with the help of McDonald’s. It was presented, at the time, as a natural inspiration.

After the commercials took their course, however, it became clear that McDonald’s had understated their involvement in the story. However, the person whose work was most understated was Pusha T. According to the rapper. He helped not only contribute to the song with a guest verse but get it off its feet and make the jingle that we all know today. 

The rapper was paid $500,000 for his guest verse. This is a healthy chunk of change. However, Timberlake got $6 million after the rapper claims he didn’t seek the song’s publishing rights. It’s helped guide him toward future success in the commercial jingle industry. 

Pusha T gets the meats

Pusha T
Pusha T | Paul Morigi/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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McDonald’s has disputed this veracity of Pusha T’s claims, but it isn’t the first time the rapper has had a hand in a famous jingle, either. McDonald’s has never publicly claimed that he was involved with the song’s writing, but people such as Translation ad agency CEO Steve Stoute have repeated his claims to the contrary. 

Pusha T got some payback in later years. While he didn’t write his next jingle with a jingle in mind, the guitar notes that play at the end of every Arby’s commercial comes from his song “Burial,” which he recorded with UK EDM act, Yogi. Those riffs paid the rapper well, as he owns 40-percent of the song’s publishing rights. 

A lesson to be learned

It’s easy to put musicians in one lane, but Pusha T’s story shows that behind the scenes can be more cutthroat than anything in the song. The rapper has been candid about his regrets with “I’m Lovin’ It,” which he now claims he would have done differently.

“I want people to know because they need to understand,” Pusha said, adding a message for other artists (per XXL).” “Keep your publishing, man. That check’ll be nice, but ‘I’m Lovin’ It’ been runnin’ for how long now? Who knows what it’d been.”

He doubled down on the impact that this had on future decision-making in his life, however. 

“But just so they know, the get back is real,” he said, acknowledging the way it led to future decision-making. “I also own 40% of the Arby’s commercial. So be clear. When you hear that guitar strum, that’s mine. 40.”

Pusha T has had a long career that most rappers could never dream of. He’s collaborated and fought with several of the biggest names in hip hop and has shown a willingness to do what needs to be done to finish on top.

However, despite all the pitfalls of his career, his decision not to take more credit for his alleged McDonald’s work shows just how quickly one decision can haunt you from the get-go. Luckily, that Arby’s money keeps on flowing.