4 ‘diss tracks’ in 1 week: an overview of the ‘beef’ between rappers Kendrick Lamar and Drake

4 ‘diss tracks’ in 1 week: an overview of the ‘beef’ between rappers Kendrick Lamar and Drake
4 ‘diss tracks’ in 1 week: an overview of the ‘beef’ between rappers Kendrick Lamar and Drake

‘Beef’ and ‘diss tracks’

There is talk in the hip-hop world of ‘beef’ between two rappers. It is not about the red piece of meat, but about a grudge or conflict between two artists. When two or more rappers have beef with each other, they often show it in their songs. When a rapper dedicates an entire song to insulting an artist, it is called a “diss track.” ‘Diss’ in this case is about the English word disrespectwhich means something like insult.

The main characters

In this story, the ‘beef’ is fought between an artist who dominates the charts and breaks many streaming records and an artist who has many Grammys to his name and was the first rapper ever to receive a Pulitzer Prize.

The first has the name Aubrey Drake Graham, best known to us as Drake. The Canadian started out as an actor, but has since become commercially the most successful hip-hop artist of the last decade. His songs like ‘Hotline bling’, ‘One dance’ and ‘Hold on we’re going home’ are a combination of rap, dance and R&B.

A song on Drake’s latest album ‘For all the dogs’ was not well received by Kendrick Lamar.
Photo: Getty Images

The second goes by the name Kendrick Lamar Duckworth and is an American rapper from Compton. He mainly focuses on his lyrics and tries to address social problems there. He is often labeled as the best rapper of his generation, won 11 Grammys and was the first hip-hop artist to receive a Pulitzer Prize for music in 2018. His best-known songs are ‘Money trees’, ‘Humble’ and ‘All the stars’.

Kendrick Lamar’s last album was released in 2022.
2022 Jason Koerner

What started as friendship…

It’s clear that Drake and Lamar are taking very different paths in the hip-hop world. It is therefore not illogical that the two rappers start out as great friends.

While Lamar is still looking for a place in the music world as a young rapper, Drake decides to do a collaboration on his album ‘Take care’. He brought Lamar along as a support act during his 2012 tour. In interviews, Lamar indicates that he and Drake “immediately clicked”.

However, they clearly have a different view on fame and wealth. While Drake likes to show off his private jets, expensive clothes and luxury cars, Lamar shares precious little about his lifestyle. He thinks it’s superficial to brag about his wealth, he says in interviews. His focus is on mapping important themes through his music.

A difference that should not lead to a discussion, but it is precisely that fame that creates the first real cracks in the relationship between the two rappers. Due to the success of his second album ‘Good kid, MAAD city’, Lamar has more opportunities to collaborate with major artists. In the song ‘Fucking problems’ by A$AP Rocky – on which Drake also participates and is also their last collaboration – things still go well, but Lamar soon chooses a different path.

…ends in hatred

In 2013 Lamar lashes out at 12 rappers for the first time, including Drake. In the song ‘Control’ by Big Sean, Lamar uses a verse to say that he has love for the rappers, but that he wants to kill them (figuratively, ed.) with his success.

“I got love for you all but I’m trying to murder you n—- / Trying to make sure your core fans never heard of you n—- / They don’t want to hear not one more noun or verb from you n—- “

The 12 rappers – including Drake – initially did not see the harm in it. That same year, Lamar tries to stomp on Drake’s shins again at the BET hip-hop awards. Drake initially keeps quiet, but the two rappers still divide 2014 a few more subtle points from each other.

It becomes a little more explicit when Lamar enters 2015 releases the album ‘To pimp a butterfly’. In the song ‘King Kunta’ he accuses Drake of ghostwriting. He insinuates that Drake had a song written by others.

“I can dig rapping/ But a rapper with a ghost writer? What the f–k happened?”

Drake, in turn, has a clear answer to that. “I chose to also include pop music in my music, but if I hadn’t done that and had consciously chosen hip-hop, I would have everyone’s fans,” he raps.

The outbursts will be limited to a few sentences in the coming years, but fans of both rappers keep the discussion alive. In 2016 even Barack Obama – then president of the United States – had to confess his colors and was asked which rapper he thinks is the best. “I think Drake is an excellent entertainer, but Kendrick, his lyrics – his last album was excellent. The best album, I think, last year.”

Between 2016 and 2023, the two rappers continue to throw mud at each other every now and then, but it never really gets out of hand. That all changes when Drake enters 2023 releases his new album ‘For all the dogs’ onto the world.

The boiling point: 4 diss tracks in less than 1 week

October 6, 2023: ‘First Person Shooter’ (Drake)

What has mainly fueled the beef that has been going on in recent weeks is the song ‘First person shooter’. In the song – a collaboration between Drake and rapper J Cole – it seems as if J Cole wants to create unity with his lyrics.

J Cole suggests that he, Drake and Lamar are “the big three” of the current hip-hop era. The song becomes a great success in the United States. It even gives Drake as many number 1 hits in the US as Michael Jackson ever had. Still, it doesn’t sit well with Lamar.

“Love when they argue the hardest MC / Is it K. Dot (Kendrick, ed.)? Is it Aubrey (Drake, ed.)? Or me? / We the big three, like we started a league.”

March 22, 2024: ‘Like That’ (Kendrick Lamar)

Kendrick Lamar clearly doesn’t want to share the throne with two other rappers. That’s why he has a clear answer ready in the song ‘Like That’ by Future. “There’s no big three, there’s just me.” He goes on to call Drake and Cole’s best verses “lightweight.”

It takes less time to wait for an answer from Drake. During a concert in Florida in March, he tells the audience how he feels about Lamar’s lyrics. “I keep my back straight (…) Anyway, I know that there is no one on this earth who can ever mess with me,” he said, among other things.

April 19, 2024: ‘Push ups’ (Drake)

Although everything could have been said that way, Drake still wants to make an extra statement in the form of a song. In ‘Push Ups’ he sings about Lamar’s small stature. By the way, he doesn’t just take a swipe at Lamar and sees it even bigger. He also has harsh words for Rick Ross, The Weeknd and Future (the rapper with whom Lamar made the song ‘Like that’, ed.).

April 24, 2024: ‘Taylor made freestyle’ (Drake)

No immediate response from Lamar, but Drake continues unabated. It only takes a few days before he releases the song ‘Taylor made freestyle’ onto the world.

Taylor is a clear reference to the American pop star Taylor Swift. Drake mentions in the song that he doesn’t like how Lamar took advantage of Swift’s fame when he entered into a collaboration with her. According to Drake, Lamar owes much of his popularity to her.

Drake also insinuates that Lamar has not yet given an answer because Swift is releasing her new album and the American rapper cannot compete with her success.

April 30, 2024: ‘Euphoria’ (Kendrick Lamar)

The reason Lamar needs a little more time? On April 30, he released a diss track where he just throws insults at Drake for the full 6 minutes. The war seems to have really started with the song ‘Euphoria’.

The title of the song is a reference to the HBO series of which Drake is a producer. The substantive focus is also on the Canadian rapper: it concerns accusations of blackface, his alleged use of ghostwriters and recent accusations that he has made misogynistic comments.

May 3, 2024: ‘6:16 in LA’ (Kendrick Lamar)

6 minutes of hate for Drake, but it doesn’t stop there. 3 days later, another Lamar diss track is online, without even waiting for a response from Drake.

In the song ‘6:16 in LA’ Lamar claims that there is a mole on Drake’s team who is feeding him information. There would be several team members and family members who would betray Drake behind his back.

“Have you ever thought that OVO was working for me? Fake bully, I hate bullies. You must be a terrible person. Everyone inside your team is whispering that you deserve it. Can’t Toosie Slide up out of this one, it’s just gon’ resurface.”

Lamar clearly thought twice about the composition of the song. For example, he works with producer Jack Antonoff, also known as Taylor Swift’s regular producer. This was to make it clear that he did not appreciate the jab Drake made about collaborating with Swift. The song is also based on a sample of a song on which Drake’s uncle provides the guitar.

May 3, 2024: ‘Family Matters’ (Drake)

On the same day, Drake comes up with a 7-minute answer with an accompanying video clip. In terms of content, it becomes increasingly personal: this time the focus is on Lamar’s family. For example, he insinuates that Lamar’s fiancée has a child out of wedlock and that Lamar is violent towards his fiancée.

“You the Black messiah wifing up a mixed queen/ And hit vanilla cream to help out with your self-esteem/ On some Bobby sh—, I wanna know what Whitney need,”

In the song he not only lashes out at Lamar, but again tries to stomp on other rappers. For example, he once again throws punches at The Weeknd, A$AP Rocky, Future and Kanye West, for example.

May 3, 2024: ‘Meet the Grahams’ (Kendrick Lamar)

Half an hour later, Lamar is already there with his answer. He now also draws the family card. For example, he claims that Drake has a secret daughter and struggles with various addictions. He also lashes out at Drake’s mother and his son Adonis.

May 4, 2024: ‘Not Like Us’ (Kendrick Lamar)

In ‘Meet the Grahams’ Lamar says that he is the biggest hater and he proves this a day later by distributing another diss track.

This time Lamar goes one step further by insinuating that Drake is a pedophile. The cover of the issue features a photo of Drake’s house with “sex offender” pins on it.

May 6, 2024: ‘The Heart part 6’ (Drake)

The latest song full of insults that are becoming increasingly extreme comes today from Drake. In the song he mainly denies that there is a mole in his team. He says that person was placed to give false information to Lamar. He also denies having had relationships with underage women.

It is the first song that takes a defensive approach and sounds less powerful than the previous songs. A sign that the conflict is subsiding? In any case, the rappers have already done a lot to put each other in a (very) bad light. It remains to be seen whether there will be a response from either camp or whether this is the end of the beef between Drake and Kendrick Lamar.

The article is in Dutch

Tags: diss tracks week overview beef rappers Kendrick Lamar Drake


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