A beginners guide to the Kendrick Lamar and Drake beef | The Triangle
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A beginners guide to the Kendrick Lamar and Drake beef

Photo by Iñaki Espejo-Saavedra | Flickr

On May 12, 2024, Drake posted a picture on his Instagram story with the caption “Good times. Summer vibes up next.”. To many, this was his white flag. After weeks, or apparently the better part of a decade, of beefing with Kendrick Lamar, it was finally over, and everything could hopefully go back to normal. 

But how did this all begin? Some believe it started back in 2012 when Kendrick claimed that he, as well as another dozen of his peers, were better than Drake in a feature on Big Sean’s song “Control.” After years of subliminals fired back and forth, including records like “Meltdown” by Drake and “All the Stars” by Kendrick, the competition came into the spotlight on the song “First Person Shooter,” a Drake song featuring J. Cole. On the track, J. Cole brings up the idea of the “big three”, a crew consisting of the latter two, along with Kendrick, with Cole claiming himself to be the best of the three. While Drake and Cole simply viewed this as friendly competition, Kendrick didn’t seem to find the humor of it responding in a scathing verse on Future’s “Like That” record.

On the track, Kendrick raps the now infamous line: “Motherf*** the big three, it’s just big me.” If nothing said in the last decade officially set off the beef, this was it; and it seemed the next classic rap battle was on the horizon. The first person to respond to the dig wasn’t Drake, but rather J. Cole with the song “7-Minute Drill.” In the song, Cole takes jabs at Kendrick’s work and his skills as a rapper. However, just a few days later, Cole apologized for the diss, calling it “the lamest sh**” he’s ever done.” With Cole now out of the equation, this put all eyes on Drake. It took a few weeks, but eventually, Drake responded with the track “Push Ups”. The four-minute song insulted Kendrick for his height and writing verses for the likes of Taylor Swift and Maroon 5. The song mainly targeted Kendrick, but also referenced the likes of Rick Ross, ASAP Rocky, Metro Boomin, and Ja Morant, among others. In the words of Drake himself, he was fighting a “20 v 1,” with seemingly everyone against him. 

About a week and a half later, Kendrick released the track “Euphoria”. At this point, it was clear that this was far from a friendly battle. The best way to describe the song is hateful, with Kendrick’s bars including lines like “I hate the way that you walk, the way that you talk.” This line was also a reference to DMX responding to an old interview question on his thoughts on Drake. He goes after Drake’s Blackness, his failures as a father, as well as accusing him of taking advantage of women. Kendrick also alleges that Drake has been trying to pay people for dirt on him and even requesting a feature for “First Person Shooter.” Kendrick also accuses Drake of trying to get “Like That” removed from radio airplay, and ridiculing him for getting robbed at a Chinese restaurant in his hometown of Toronto.

Drake did not tap out, but rather responded just a few days later with the song “Family Matters.”. This track was a 7-minute diss that accused Kendrick of embellishing his past in Compton, liking white women and included several digs towards his family. Drake claimed one of Kendrick’s children is actually the son of his manager, Dave Free, and he allegedly beat his fiancee and that his family is no longer together.

Less than 20 minutes later, Kendrick responded with “Meet the Grahams”, a simply terrifying song that accused Drake of pedophilia, sex trafficking, and hiding the fact that he also has an 11-year-old daughter. Before giving Drake a chance to respond to the allegations, Kendrick went back to back with the song “Not Like Us”. In what is essentially a west coast club song with DJ Mustard. Kendrick continues to throw jabs at Drake, doubling down on his initial claims, calling him a “certified pedophile” and accusing him of cultural appropriation. The song went number one and videos on social media showed people all over the world dancing and calling Drake a “69 god.” Drake responded the next day with “The Heart Part 6,” deflecting Kendrick’s accusations and claiming that he gave Kendrick’s team false information regarding his alleged daughter. Despite Drake’s efforts, the song fell flat and marked the beginning of the end of Drake’s fight.

Over the next week or so, people speculated that there was more to come from the dueling rappers. However, as the days passed it seemed more and more likely that it had wound down. This didn’t stop the discourse, and rumors continued to swirl even after Drake seemingly called it quits. Well-known Drake groupie, DJ Akademiks, claimed that there was no backing to the Dave Free allegations that Drake put forward, and there was similarly no proof of any of Kendrick’s accusations. 

At the end of the day, this does not matter to the average listener. Whether false or not, Kendrick’s disses hit harder and the songs sounded better, which is all that’s needed to win a rap battle nowadays. Does Kendrick actually wear children’s shoes? Most likely not. Did Drake actually fart into a disabled man’s ventilator? We’ll never really know for sure, but that’s irrelevant to fans and public sentiment.