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Kendrick-Lamar-and-drake-050224-2ee8ce0bf7bf49139b679c8a2fda3841.jpg

When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong: Kendrick Lamar vs. Drake

By Brian Richards | Celebrity | May 6, 2024 |

By Brian Richards | Celebrity | May 6, 2024 |


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WARNING: This article contains brief mentions of sexual assault.

The beef between rappers Kendrick Lamar and Drake is not a new one, as it goes all the way back to 2013, when tension began to arise between them after Kendrick boasted about his supremacy in the rap game on the track “Control.” That was followed in 2023 by J. Cole and Drake releasing “First Person Shooter,” in which the two of them bragged about being the best rappers in the game, along with Kendrick. Last month, Kendrick collaborated with Future and Metro Boomin’ on “Like That,” in which he rhymed that other rappers, specifically Drake and J. Cole, are nowhere near as good on the mic as he is. J. Cole then responded with a diss track against Kendrick called “7 Minute Drill.”

J. Cole later apologized to Kendrick for that, right before he had it removed from streaming platforms. Drake then released two diss tracks that targeted Kendrick: “Push Ups,” and “Taylor Made Freestyle.” The latter track included Drake using A.I. to replicate the voices of Snoop Dogg and the late Tupac Shakur, a move that resulted in a cease-and-desist letter being sent to Drake for his unauthorized use of Tupac’s vocals, which then resulted in Drake deleting the social media posts containing the track itself.

Last Tuesday morning, Kendrick directly responded to Drake with his own diss track titled “euphoria.” For six minutes and twenty-four seconds, Kendrick had this to say about Drake: He’s a manipulative liar; no matter how rich and famous he is, none of that will change the fact that he’s a dork playing dress-up and pretending to be a badass; his six-pack abs aren’t even real, and he underwent cosmetic surgery to get them (which was previously pointed out by Megan Thee Stallion on her own diss track, “Hiss”); he lost his rap battle against Pusha T, who told the world that Drake had a child he refused to raise or publicly acknowledge; he’s a horrible father who knows nothing about providing love and guidance to his son; he’s pathetic for spending money to try and get dirt on him and Pusha T to use against them for diss tracks, only to end up finding nothing; and he has no business saying “nigga,” which sounds very cringeworthy coming out of his biracial mouth.

The fact that “euphoria” starts with a backmasked Kendrick quoting the late Richard Pryor as The Wizard in the film The Wiz when he says, “Everything they say about me is true!,” followed by him spitting his first verse over the instrumental for the late, great Teddy Pendergrass’ “You’re My Latest, My Greatest Inspiration?”

(chef’s kiss) Perfection!

Though my biggest complaint about “euphoria” is that as much as I really liked how it turned out, I would’ve loved it even more if Kendrick had rapped over the melody for “You’re My Latest, My Greatest Inspiration” for the entire track. If only because I do enjoy hearing Teddy Pendergrass singing in the background as rappers lyrically tear their prey to shreds.

By the time the clock struck noon that Tuesday, “euphoria” had everyone on social media talking about it, about how impressive it was, and how Kendrick’s line “Now let em say I’m the biggest hater/I hate the way you walk, the way that you talk, the way that you dress/I hate the way that you sneak diss, if I catch flight, it’s gon’ be more direct” inspired them to be bigger, pettier haters to the people they don’t like. So much so that even the Twitter account for Merriam-Webster couldn’t help but post about it, or more specifically, about Kendrick’s choice of cover art for the track.

If Kendrick had chosen to only release “euphoria” in response to Drake, it would’ve been more than enough to have people talking about how he left Drake in the dust. But Kendrick had a lot more to get off his chest, and three days after the release of “euphoria,” he dropped the track “6:16 in L.A.” For starters, the track sampled Al Green’s “What A Wonderful Thing Love Is,” a song that featured Drake’s uncle, Teenie Hodges, on the guitar. One of the producers involved with making “6:16 in L.A.” was Jack Antonoff, who is known for producing many of Taylor Swift’s albums, and considering that Drake had mocked Kendrick on “Taylor Made Freestyle” because he made music for Swifties to enjoy, Antonoff’s involvement was a masterstroke. As for the track’s title? 6/16 is Tupac’s birthday (the fact that Drake used his vocals without permission for his own music, and even owns some of his jewelry, are just a couple of the things that Kendrick finds shameful about Drake), Father’s Day falls on 6/16, and the O.J. Simpson trial for the murders of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman began on that same date (which makes the appearance of a single black leather glove in the track’s cover art even more hard-hitting). Kendrick then proceeded to tell Drake that his own entourage is not to be trusted, and that there are people in his own label who hate him so much that they are leaking personal information about Drake to Kendrick to humiliate him. He followed up by teasing Drake yet again for trying and failing to collect dirt on him and spending thousands of dollars to do so. (“It was fun until you started to put money in the streets/Then lost money ‘cause they came back with no receipts/I’m sorry that I live a boring life, I love peace/But war-ready if the world is ready to see you bleed”)

The day after “6:16 in L.A.” dropped, Drake finally responded. After sharing footage of Denzel Washington in The Equalizer 2 saying to his enemies, “I’m going to kill each and every one of you, and the only disappointment in it for me is that I only get to do it once,” he dropped the track “Family Matters” later that evening. Drake told Kendrick that he’s a fake gangsta (and did so while shouting out Chris Brown, who he feels is a more convincing gangsta than Kendrick); insulted Kendrick for claiming that he’s all about Blackness while being in a longterm relationship with a biracial woman named Whitney Alford; cheating on that same woman by sleeping with white women behind her back; implying that Kendrick’s own manager slept with Whitney, and is the actual father of their child; and also implied that Kendrick has been physically abusive towards Whitney, and had it swept under the rug. He then fired shots at The Weeknd, ASAP Rocky, Rihanna, Rick Ross, Metro Boomin, and said the word “nigga” so many times, you’d think Drake was auditioning to play Paul Mooney in his biopic. Drake also stated that Kendrick takes himself way too seriously for “always rappin’ like you’ bout to get the slaves freed/You just actin’ like an activist, it’s make-believe.”

From the very hard-working people over at Genius, who are likely working overtime this week to transcribe and interpret all of these diss tracks:

Drake also dropped a music video along with the diss. The video is divided into 3 parts, as is the song. In the first part where he is addressing Kendrick, Drake bought the van used in good kid, m.A.A.d city, the second studio album by Kendrick, drove it all the way to Canada and destroyed it. It is interesting to note that the thumbnail of the music video is of the van. In the second verse, where he is addressing everybody, a Mercedes hearse is seen with the back lit up. Drake dedicated this verse to “kill and bury” everybody, hence the funeral car. Lastly, the third verse sees Drake having dinner at New Ho King. This is the same restaurant Kendrick references being safe at in “euphoria.” Mocking Kendrick, Drake shows the build up to recording this song, along with its visual in this part.

“Family Matters” didn’t seem to get the most glowing responses from social media, but however you feel about the track, it’s easy to picture Drake feeling like he put an end to Kendrick, and that he was ready to spend the entire weekend doing a victory lap, while getting gassed up by his entourage about how clever and ruthless he was with his newest diss. And that’s exactly what would’ve happened, except twenty minutes after Drake released “Family Matters” on YouTube and on social media, Kendrick dropped his next diss track, “meet the grahams.”

I say again: Kendrick didn’t even give Drake a full half-hour before he decided to go after him once again. Most fans thought that Kendrick would at least wait until the following week to resume his warpath, but nope. Kendrick immediately showed up like Emma Roberts in American Horror Story, and continued to let the world know that he was keeping his foot firmly placed on Drake’s neck.

For “meet the grahams,” Kendrick chose to personally address every member of Drake’s immediate family: His son, Adonis, by telling him how sorry he is that he has Drake as a father, and that he should do everything possible to avoid being like Drake when he becomes an adult. His mother and father, by telling them the child they raised grew up to be a f-ck nigga who lies constantly, is addicted to gambling and prescription medicine, hates Black women, is friends with men who are sex offenders involved in trafficking underage girls, that he deserves to share a jail cell with Harvey Weinstein where they both get their asses whooped on a regular basis, and that LeBron James and Stephen Curry should keep their daughters as far away from Drake as possible. His daughter, who—

I’m sorry to interrupt this article, but what are you even talking about?! Drake has only one child! One! He doesn’t have a daughter, he has a son!

Yeah…about that. Kendrick used his next verse to imply heavily that Drake has another child who he has been hiding from the world, and who he refuses to care for and acknowledge. According to Kendrick, the little girl is about eleven years old, and Drake is a full-blown deadbeat in how he treats her. Kendrick then tells the little girl that Drake’s refusal to be a father to her is not her fault, and he hopes that she grows up to be a confident woman who doesn’t need a man to give her life meaning.

Finally, Kendrick talks to Drake himself on the track. He admits that he never wanted things to get so ugly between them, but he still calls him out for his addictions to drugs, alcohol, and gambling; his refusal to accept his ethnic background; and his need to lie about his children (while also implying that he has more illegitimate children out here that we don’t know about), his accents, his use of ghostwriters, his religious views, and his cosmetic surgery (which is alluded to in the cover art for the track, as it features Drake’s prescription for Ozempic with his government name in full display).

Less than a day after “meet the grahams” dropped, Kendrick released another diss track against Drake, this one titled “not like us.” Kendrick not only called out specific artists on Drake’s label, OVO Records, for their cocaine addiction and predatory behavior toward women but Drake himself for his very questionable relationships with underage girls. (“Why you trollin’ like a bitch? Ain’t you tired?/Tryna strike a chord, and it’s probably A-minor.”) He then went after Drake for his perceived disrespect of Tupac, the entire West Coast, and the African-American community, for making slavery references to describe them in “Family Matters,” yet still willing to travel to Atlanta (a city largely populated by African-Americans) to collaborate with Black artists and producers, and immerse himself even further into African-American culture so he’d be taken seriously in the rap game. And if that wasn’t enough, the cover art for this track is a Google Maps screenshot of Drake’s mansion in Toronto, but it’s edited to look like it’s on the database of a registry for sex offenders, implying that a sex offender who the general public should know about can be found at Drake’s home address.

Fast-forward to yesterday evening, when Drake dropped his next diss track, “The Heart, Part 6,” which had a lot of people on social media talking about it for all of the wrong reasons. Using a sample of Aretha Franklin’s “Prove It,” Drake tells Kendrick that the revelation of him having a secret 11-year-old daughter is all bullsh-t, and that it was a lie that Drake himself leaked to Kendrick, so that he would take the bait, use it in his own diss tracks, and end up looking like a fool for using false information without verifying it. He also denied any attraction to underage girls, stated that nothing happened between him and actress Millie Bobby Brown (mind you, Kendrick never mentioned Millie’s name in any of his diss tracks), and that he expected Kendrick to make allegations about him having a preference for underage girls. (Why would he expect Kendrick to say such a thing about him if it’s untrue? This is the part where I shrug like Elmo.) Drake then implied that Kendrick is projecting with his accusations of pedophilia because he himself was sexually assaulted by family members as a child, despite Kendrick making it clear on his track, “Mother I Sober,” that this never happened to him. Drake then stated this: “I never been with no one underage but now I understand why/this the angle that you really mess with/Just for clarity, I feel disgusted, I’m too respected/If I was f-cking young girls, I promise I’d have been arrested/I’m way too famous for this sh-t you just suggested.”

The overwhelming verdict from social media about “The Heart, Part 6?”

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And Drake not only acting as if there aren’t numerous receipts of his attempts at hooking up with underage girls, but also saying that he’s too famous to sexually assault anyone and that the police would easily arrest someone who is guilty of or suspected of such a crime?

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It says a lot about how fascinating and messy this beef between Kendrick Lamar and Drake has been that it’s even taken some focus off of what Beyoncé and Taylor Swift are up to. However, that hasn’t stopped serious points from being made about both rappers. Some people made sure to remind the rest of us that even though Drake deserves plenty of side-eyes for his slow-but-steady transformation into a misogynistic f-ckboy who enjoys being in the company of other misogynistic f-ckboys (let us never forget that rapper Mack Maine, one of Drake’s friends, spent years on Twitter talking about how much he’d like to f-ck Miley Cyrus, admitted on the track “Every Girl” how he couldn’t wait for her to turn 18, and that he’s also willing to take the virginity of mentally disabled young women, though he described that last part in a way that is incredibly problematic and even more offensive), Kendrick’s own porch is still in need of sweeping, as he willingly collaborated with rapper Kodak Black on his album, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers, even though he received eighteen months of probation in 2021 for sexually assaulting a teenage girl at a hotel in South Carolina. As lyrically gifted as Kendrick is, some fans are truly hoping that Drake’s accusations of Kendrick physically assaulting his partner aren’t actually true. Kendrick spilling the tea about Drake and his treatment of young girls is further proof that there are far too many men who are willing to inflict harm on young girls and women, and the men who know about it won’t say or do anything about it unless they’re mad, or unless they’re personally affected by it.

The loudest complaint about the Kendrick Lamar/Drake beef came from Rolling Stone senior editor Jeff Ihaza, who wrote an op-ed titled “It’s Hard To Care About A Rap War When There’s A Real One Going On.” The responses were equally loud, as Twitter users didn’t hesitate in telling Ihaza to shut the f-ck up, to stop acting as if people can’t walk and chew gum at the same time, and for him to stop acting as if he hadn’t spent two whole days on his own Twitter account tweeting and retweeting nonstop about a rap beef that he supposedly cares nothing about, while the last time he mentioned anything about Palestine was over a month ago. Ihaza wasn’t the only member of the Fun Police who looked down on people for caring about this beef, as there were others who pulled the classic moves: “Why do you care so much about X when you should be caring about Y?” and “While you were caring about some celebrity nonsense, I was focusing on getting my money up by investing in stocks and real estate.” This isn’t the first time the Fun Police have shown up to kick in the door, and demand that everyone stop having a good time (especially when the people having fun are Black, or women, or both), and it sure as hell won’t be the last.

By the time this article is published, Kendrick Lamar will probably have dropped yet another diss track in his attempt to put the final nail in Drake’s coffin. But honestly, I don’t think a response from Kendrick is even necessary this time around. Not just because Kendrick has done more than enough to prove that he is the clear-cut winner of this rap battle, but mainly because Drake did far more to embarrass himself with how ridiculous and unimpressive his newest diss turned out to be. And Kendrick doesn’t need to fire any more rounds when Drake has just shown us all how weak he is by shooting himself in both feet.

This has been another episode of “When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong.”