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Everything That’s Happened in the Drake-Kendrick Beef

Since Kendrick Lamar took aim at Drake with his verse on Future and Metro Boomin’s “Like That” in March, the Compton and Canadian rappers have traded dozens of dark verses (and counting) in a beef unlike any before it. Their war of words hit a crescendo on the weekend of May 3, but tensions have been simmering for years. Here we’ll break down every major development in their battle since late March. But first a little background:

How did we get here?

Drake and Kendrick Lamar embraced each other as peers before they were enemies, with Drake featuring Lamar on his seminal 2011 album Take Care. Lamar had “Buried Alive Interlude” all to himself on that record, and even then seemed to contend with some disdain for Drake, though he told XXL at the time, “That’s a real good dude. He got a real genuine soul. We clicked immediately.” Drake returned the favor on “Poetic Justice,” the hit single from Lamar’s critically acclaimed Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, after having Lamar open for him on his Club Paradise tour in 2012. A$AP Rocky opened as well, and the three performed on Rocky’s “Fuckin’ Problems” with 2 Chainz later that year.

But after Lamar dropped a verse on Big Sean’s “Control” in 2013 that challenged several popular rappers by name – including Drake – things started looking icy between the two. “Control” had hip-hop up in arms as Lamar swore, “I got love for you all but I’m tryna murder you niggas,” thought the resulting mayhem was more competitive than cutthroat. Several rappers, including Lupe Fiasco and J. Cole, recorded verses in response, but Drake brushed it off in subsequent interviews.

In a cypher at the BET Hip-Hop Awards in 2013, Lamar used the name of Drake’s album, Nothing Was the Same, to allude to “Control” upsetting the Canadian rapper: “Nothing’s been the same since they dropped ‘Control’ and tucked a sensitive rapper back in his pajama clothes.” They seemingly took jabs less directly post-”Control,” and thus, with less fanfare (songs like Drake’s “The Language” and his feature on The Game’s “100,” plus Lamar’s “Element” and his collaboration with Baby Keem “The Hillbillies” have been suspects). 

As years went on, Lamar and Drake – alongside their mutual ally J. Cole – surpassed the stature of their peers. On “First Person Shooter,” a single from Drake’s most recent LP, For All the Dogs, Cole embraced their lore as hip-hop’s “Big Three.” In the same song, Drake equates his success with Michael Jackson’s. Lamar (who’s since been rumored to have been asked to appear on the song, due to one of his later disses and an unofficial mouthpiece of Drake’s parroting as much) didn’t take too kindly to the song’s assertions. Then, in March, things seriously heated up.

March 26: Lamar Sends Shots With “Like That” 

“Like That” is a single from Future and producer Metro Boomin’s collaborative album We Don’t Trust You, which has been read as their own proclamation of war against Drake. Future has stayed quiet since, but Metro Boomin has made his disdain known on Twitter and Instagram. In his verse, Lamar calls out “First Person Shooter” by name and taunts Drake with a running canine motif in reference to For All the Dogs. J. Cole becomes a target here seemingly by association, as both Lamar and Drake have gone on to spare him from the kinds of scathing critiques they have of each other. Cole did respond to Lamar with a diss track of his own, though evidently half-heartedly. He apologized for it, ducking out before things got uglier.

Most shocking line: Kendrick Lamar’s “Motherfuck the Big Three, nigga, it’s just big me.” 

April 13: Drake Fires Back With “Push Ups”

We Don’t Trust You and its sequel, We Still Don’t Trust You, also features the Weekend, Rick Ross, and A$AP Rocky in anti-Drake cahoots, so on “Push Ups,” Drake targets all of them. 

The song initially leaked, sparking suspicion that it might have been AI generated, but Drake seemingly gave streaming personality DJ Akademiks the final version. He later shared it on his official YouTube page. Ross released his own Drake diss, “Champagne Moments,” that day and has continued to taunt Drake online, primarily by calling him “white boy” and alleging he’d had cosmetic work done on his face and body. 

Most of Drake’s Lamar-specific barbs are about the rapper being smaller than him in size and cultural stature, alleging he was caught in a bad deal with Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith at his former label, and how that led him to make seemingly out-of-character pop collabs with Taylor Swift and Maroon 5. 

Most shocking line: Drake’s “I’ll be with some bodyguards like Whitney.” This double entendre uses the Whitney Houston film The Bodyguard to evoke Lamar’s fiancée, Whitney Alford, who was featured on cover of Lamar’s Mr. Morale the Big Steppers with their two children. It’s jarringly reminiscent of the taunt Drake leveraged against Pusha T in 2018 with a play on Pusha’s then-fiancée’s name, which sent the Clipse rapper nuclear with the revelation Drake had a child unannounced.

April 19: Drake Coaxes Kendrick to Respond on “Taylor Made” 

Drake highlighted the way evolutions in AI stoked confusion around “Push Ups” and subsequent bogus or unclaimed tracks by using verses created with Tupac and Snoop Dogg’s voice in an attempt to goad Lamar into replying. In particular, on “Taylor Made,” he claims Lamar was afraid to drop while Taylor Swift rolled out her album.

Pretending to be the West Coast legends advising Lamar, Drake refers to a past concert of his where Snoop and other giants from their area formally passed Lamar their figurative rap torch. The late Tupac Shakur is a known influence of Lamar’s – the rapper previously used interview tape to create “conversation” between him and Pac on his album To Pimp a Butterfly. In Pac’s voice, Drake makes an effort to get ahead of any shots Lamar might take at Drake’s purported affinity for “young girls,” a criticism he’s faced for both rapping about or being seen with women in their early 20s as a 37-year-old, and more nefarious concerns about underage girls (Drake would later strongly denounce the latter). 

Most shocking line: Drake’s “You better have a motherfuckin’ quintuple entendre on that shit,” a challenge that Lamar seemingly took him up on, with fans breaking down the rapper’s subsequently dense disses

April 30: Kendrick Lamar Lets His Hate Flag Fly on “Euphoria”

Lamar’s “Euphoria” is over six minutes long, beginning with a strikingly different tone than Drake’s thus far. It begins over a Teddy Pendergrass sample but devolves into chaos, with Lamar ebbing in and out of density and comedy, which he continues to do throughout his next few songs. Lamar takes aim at Drake for working with writers like Lil Yachty, allegedly getting a procedure to enhance the appearance of his abs, owing Pusha T a response to “The Story of Adidon,” and being an allegedly less-present dad than him himself. Lamar also tries to paint Drake as effeminate, using hints of homophobia (“I believe you don’t like women, it’s real competition, you might pop ass with ’em”) and to question his perception of Blackness (“How many more Black features ’til you finally feel that you’re Black enough?”). He ultimately admits that he just plain hates him.

He also offers Drake a bevy of warnings: that he’s got some devastating tea on him, that he knows Drake will “lie” to defame his family while noting that he’s already spoken about them on his own terms on Mr. Morale, and that he’s sparing him of more bars on the age of the girls or women around him.

Most shocking lines: “I even hate when you say the word ‘nigga,’ but that’s just me, I guess/ Some shit just cringeworthy, it ain’t even gotta be deep, I guess.” (A shocking level of restraint here!)

May 3 [6:16 a.m. PT]: Kendrick Doubles Down on “6:16 in LA”

On Friday morning, and without a response from Drake, Lamar drops again, the title of this entry formatted like Drake’s yearslong series of songs denoting a time and location. Though the song sounds lax, with production from longtime Top Dawg Entertainment affiliate Sounwave as well as Jack Antonoff, both of whom are frequent collaborators with Swift, “6:16” is more chilling than chill. Paranoia has long been a theme in Drake’s music, and here, Lamar seems to pose that though it’s for good reason, it hasn’t protected him.

Lamar’s primary angle is that someone inside Drake’s inner circle is leaking personal information that’s being used as ammo against him. This is a doubling down on the Weeknd’s subliminal claim that “they got leaks in they operation” on We Still Don’t Trust You and Pusha T’s claim that he learned of Drake’s son through a woman who his right-hand producer 40 had told about him. “If you were street smart, then you would’ve caught that your entourage is only to hustle you,” Lamar raps, “A hundred n-ggas that you got on salary, and 20 of ’em want you as a casualty/And one of them is actually next to you.”

Most shocking line: “Have you ever considered OVO is working for me?” 

May 3 [8:45 p.m. PT]: Drake Teases Another Diss With a Sequel to “Buried Alive Interlude”

By Friday night, Drake had assembled his response, “Family Matters,” which he teased on Instagram with a reimagining of Lamar’s interlude on Take Care, using Lamar’s voice and flow to mock him. 

Most shocking line: “Dreams come true, crodie, this is where you die.”

May 3 [8:50 p.m. PT]: Drake Takes an Even Darker Turn with “Family Matters”

All right, so this is where things get even bleaker. On the seven-and-a-half minute track divided into three sections, Drake repeatedly claims Lamar had been violent toward his fiancée (which unearthed an rumor Lamar previously disputed that he had been involved in a domestic violence incident in 2014). Drake continues evoking their family, accusing their relationship of being long on the rocks and Lamar’s longtime business partner Dave Free of being the real father of one of Lamar’s children.

Drake doesn’t devote the entirety of the song to Lamar, taking time to to take aim at Metro Boomin (who he calls a lame), Future (for being influenced by Metro), Rick Ross (for being long accused of being a former corrections officer), the Weeknd (more homophobia), and A$AP Rocky (for being good-looking and untalented but with Rihanna). He also put aesthetic effort into this round, producing an entire music video including a van similar to that on the cover of Good Kid, M.A.A.D City getting destroyed. In another part, he dines at the Toronto restaurant New Ho King, which Lamar previously taunted him for getting robbed outside of in 2009. There, he shows off a ring that belonged to Tupac (that Lamar had previously mentioned would have Pac “turn[ing] in his grave” in “Euphoria”) as well as iconic jewelry formerly belonging to Pharrell (on “Euphoria,” Lamar also said he would inherit Pharrell’s beef with Drake).

Most shocking lines: “On some Bobby shit, I wanna know what Whitney need/All that puppy love was over in your late teens/Why you never hold your son and tell him ‘Say cheese’?”

May 3 [9 p.m. PT]: Kendrick Is Ready for Drake With “Meet the Grahams”

Almost instantaneously after “Family Matters” dropped, Lamar had what sounded uncannily like a response to it online. Further evidencing that song was prepared well before, its single artwork looked like an expanded version of that for “6:16,” revealing not just the glove in that song’s corresponding image, but a slew of items poised to look like Drake’s belongings, including prescriptions for the weight-loss drug Ozempic and the sleep aid Zolpidem with his government name on them. 

The song unfolds as a series of verses directed at Drake’s family members, culminating in a jarring accusation that Drake has an unclaimed 11-year-old daughter. He tells Adonis, “It takes a man to be a man, your dad is not responsive, I look at him and wish your grandpa woulda wore a condom,” alludes that Drake let someone pee on his leg, and that he routinely pays for sex. Lamar claims to Drake’s mother and father that their son is a gambling addict and sex criminal who hates Black women, and takes a sidebar to warn LeBron James and Steph Curry, Drake’s associates, to keep their families clear of him. And to Drake himself, Lamar shames him as an alleged substance abuser, chronic deadbeat, and liar who escalated their beef to this point by evoking Lamar’s family. 

In the immediate aftermath, Drake only addressed the allegation that he has an unclaimed daughter, writing on Instagram “can someone find my hidden daughter and send her to me pls…these guys are in shambles.”

Most shocking lines: “But I would like to say it’s not your fault that he’s hidin’ another child/Give him grace, this the reason I made Mr. Morale.”

May 4 [4:52 p.m. PT]: Kendrick Hits Another Double-Back With “Not Like Us” 

If Kendrick Lamar thought he killed Drake’s spirit with “Meet the Grahams,” “Not Like Us” is the Compton rapper dancing on its grave to his chant of “Say O-V-Ho.” This track was far less severe in tone than the previous two, though it leans deeper into Lamar’s disturbing allegations that Drake and his crew are sexually violent, outright calling them “certified pedophiles” with single art depicting Drake’s Toronto home as harboring multiple sex offenders. He makes pit stops to repremand Drake for coming at Serena Williams on Her Loss and leveraging Atlanta rappers like Future, Lil Baby, and Young Thug for his own gain as a “fuckin’ colonizer.” He also makes a grim threat that this song may not be his last: “Rabbit hole is still deep, I can go further, I promise”

Most shocking lines: “Why you trollin’ like a bitch? Ain’t you tired? Tryna strike a chord and it’s probably A minor.”

May 6 [6:15 p.m. PT]: Drake Hits Back With “The Heart Part 6”

In a turn of events, Drake claims that his team has intentionally fed Lamar misinformation like that of his alleged 11-year-old daughter. “You gotta learn to fact check things and be less impatient/Your fans are rejoicin’ thinkin’ this is my expiration,” Drake raps. 

On “The Heart Part 6,” he then unequivocally denies any involvement with minors, bringing up Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown (even though Lamar didn’t): “Only fuckin’ with Whitneys, not Millie Bobby Browns, I’d never look twice at no teenager.” He tries to flip Lamar’s barbs in that direction on him, saying Lamar is “obsessed” with the topic by misinterpreting lyrics on the Mr. Morale song “Mother I Sober”  where Lamar discusses layers of sexual violence and alludes to his mother having survived it as well. There, Lamar raps, “Family ties, they accused my cousin, ‘Did he touch you, Kendrick?’ Never lied, but no one believed me when I said ‘He didn’t.’” Drake, however, says, “That’s that one record where you say you got molested.” To accuse Lamar of being a hypocrite, he reminds the listener of Lamar’s controversial stance in 2018 defending R. Kelly and XXXTentacion songs from being removed from Spotify playlists as the company reckoned with what to do with artists who have caused harm.

Most shocking lines: “And Whitney, you can hit me if you need a favor/And when I say I hit you back, it’s a lot safer.”

Trending

May 24th: Drake Flips “BBL Drizzy” Sample on Sexyy Red’s “U My Everything”

After laying low for a while following the rap world’s consensus that he lost the battle with Kendrick, Drake re-emerged on the track “U My Everything” from Sexyy Red’s latest mixtape In Sexyy We Trust. His verse on the song was a familiar Drake flow that made reference to the allegations that he’d had plastic surgery in the past. Drizzy even went so far as to flip Metro Boomin’s now infamous “BBL Drizzy” beat for the second half of his verse. As Billboard reported, the beat’s sample was AI-generated and required a new legal precedent to be established around AI sample clearances for Drake to repurpose the diss freely.

June 6: Drake Wipes All Beef-Related Posts From His Instagram

Roughly a month after releasing “The Heart pt. 6,” Drake appears to have deleted his Instagram posts for “The Heart Part 6,” “Push Ups,” “Family Matters,” and the “Buried Alive (Parody)” he dropped ahead of Family Matters. Last month, after receiving. acease and desist from the Tupac estate, Drake deleted the Instagram post for “Taylor Made Freestyle,” which employed A.I. generated voiceovers from Snoop Dogg and Tupac. Despite Drake’s Instagram being totally beef-free, the tracks “Family Matters” and “The Heart Part 6” remain available on the rapper’s YouTube channel.

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