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Decoding Kendrick Lamar’s Best Shots at Drake in the ‘Not Like Us’ Video

Back in May, Kendrick Lamar was crowned the heavyweight champion of his long-brewing war of words with Drake. But even after releasing a barrage of diss tracks — “Euphoria,” “Meet the Grahams,” and summer anthem “Not Like Us” among them — Lamar wasn’t done yet.

He celebrated his historic rap feud win at the Pop Out: Ken & Friends show on Juneteenth, where fans, local legends, and rap royalty united in L.A. for a celebration of West Coast hip-hop. One of the show’s highlights was Lamar rapping “Not Like Us” — not once, but five times in a row. (The show’s name derives from his “Not Like Us” lyric, “Sometimes you gotta pop out and show niggas.”)

The Pulitzer-Prize-winning rapper still wasn’t done. On Independence Day no less, Lamar released the highly anticipated music video for “Not Like Us,” exactly two months after the chart-topping song’s release. As of Tuesday, it has garnered more than 38 million views on YouTube. As Rolling Stone‘s Andre Gee put it, “Not Like Us” is “a DJ Mustard-crafted knockout blow with a classic L.A. swing,” and it has quickly become a crowd favorite at cookouts and nightclubs — all of which meant the internet was primed to react to the visuals.

Throughout the nearly-six-minute video, Lamar adds alluring imagery to go along with his endless shots at his rival. Directed by Lamar and his longtime creative collaborator Dave Free, the music video dances on Drake’s metaphorical grave, alluding sarcastically to the Canadian rapper’s claims against Lamar, his alleged involvement with minors, and more. Here are six notable moments in the “Not Like Us” music video.

A Celebration of Compton

Lamar unapologetically celebrates his hometown throughout “Not Like Us,” beginning with an image of the Compton City Hall and Civic Center, which features an angled monument to Martin Luther King Jr. He later uses the plaza as the backdrop for a block party. The music video also features L.A. legend Tommy the Clown, recognized for drawing attention to the clown-based dance style “krumping” on the West Coast.

Drake Lane Demo Tapes 

One early clip in the music video features Lamar in a darkened room, lit only by a car’s headlights as a masked figure creeps up behind him. Before the masked man gets too close, he’s repelled by an imaginary force. The figure mirrors the cover art of Drake’s 2020 release Dark Lane Demo Tapes. 

“Drop and Give Me 50”

As Lamar raps, “Say Drake, I hear you like ‘em young/You better not ever go to cell block one,” he appears in a mock prison cell doing push-ups on cinder blocks. The push-ups are a clear reference to Drake’s diss track “Push Ups,” in which he told Lamar to “drop and give me 50” (as well as mocked Lamar’s height and suggested that he’d been stuck with an exploitative publishing deal). Lamar stops at 17, which some fans believe refers to his 17 Grammy wins. In the split-screen clip, Lamar also mimics a viral hand gesture that Drake reportedly exchanged with a younger female fan, in time for the line: To any bitch that talk to him and they in love, just make sure you hide yo little sister from him.” It’s an easy-to-miss reference that once more refers to Drake’s alleged inappropriate behavior with underage women (which he’s denied).

“It’s Probably A-Minorrrrr”

That brings us to Lamar’s sensational line: “Tryna strike a chord and it’s probably A minor.” As he delivers the blow, the camera pans out and shows Lamar skipping through a chalk-lined hopscotch game, drawing parallels between the kids’ playground game and Drake’s alleged behavior. 


Family Matters

In what feels like a direct reference to Drake’s diss track “Family Matters,” Lamar stands next to his partner, Whitney Alford, and their two children in a set resembling a family home. The scene takes a direct stab at Drake’s allegations that Lamar has a toxic relationship with his fiancée, including claims that he was abusive to her and that he left for New York to escape. Instead, Lamar and his family spend the scene grinning and dancing along to the words, “The family matter and the truth of the matter/ It was God’s plan to show y’all the liar.” (As one X user pointed out, the fisheye camera lens makes it feel like a stalker is looking into the living room of a happy family.)

The Caged Bird

Drake’s record label OVO famously uses an owl as its logo. Cue Lamar whacking at an owl-shaped pińata as the words “wop, wop, wop, wop, wop” ring out in the background. The music video later concludes with Lamar staring at a caged owl, yet another clapback at Drake’s avian emblem and symbolic of where each of them now stand in the rap game. 

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