Foothill College's Student News Publication

The Foothill Script

Foothill College's Student News Publication

The Foothill Script

Foothill College's Student News Publication

The Foothill Script

Kendrick vs Drake: A Comprehensive History

Drake (left) and Kendrick Lamar (right) via GQ

In 2013, Compton native Kendrick Lamar proclaimed that he was “the King of New York, King of the Coast. One hand, I juggle ‘em both,” and drew criticism from many in Hip-Hop. At the time, it was the most controversial line in the song.

But it was far from the only bar that drew turned heads.

Almost 11 years later, the line that continues to resonate through the years is one simple name, one that hardly drew much more controversy than the others at the time of its release.

Aubrey Drake Graham.

How did it all start? Was it just a misunderstanding between two people with different experiences? Could it have been avoided?

Or was this clash of words inevitable between two people with such opposing values?


Before the release of his new album, Dark Sky Paradise, Big Sean drops a song called “Control” that features Jay Electronica and, of course, Kendrick Lamar. Within Kendrick’s verse lies these lines:

I’m usually homeboys with the same ni**as I’m rhyming with

But this is Hip-Hop and them ni**as should know what time it is

And that goes for Jermaine Cole, Big K.R.I.T., Wale

Pusha T, Meek Millz, A$AP Rocky, Drake

Big Sean, Jay Electron, Tyler, Mac Miller

I got love for you all, but I’m tryna murder you ni**as

Tryna make sure your core fans never heard of you ni**as

They don’t wanna hear not one more noun or verb from you ni**as

What is competition? I’m just tryna raise the bar high

Within the verse itself we can see the angle that Kendrick takes. This is not personal, and he does not hate any of the people he just listed(yet), but regardless he knows the act of doing so and his lyrical threats will be provocative. Hip-Hop is an art form, but it is also a sport. The competition and battles between emcees are embedded in the culture and history, and Kendrick is well aware of this through lines like “But this is Hip-Hop” and “What is competition? I’m just tryna raise the bar high.”

It is also important to remember that this took place in 2013. It was the goldilocks zone of him still being new, but popular enough that his words were projected across the world(as compared to similar callouts he did on his freestyle over Kanye’s “Monster”). Kendrick was still fresh and viewed by many as a “rookie”, and he even acknowledges this in his line saying “new ni**as just new ni**as, don’t get involved.” He got his name out and shed the trappings of Lil Wayne with his self-titled EP, got a Dre co-sign after his Overly Dedicated Mixtape in 2010, dropped an impressive showing of skill and artistry with 2011’s independently released Section.80(S.80), and with his 2012 album good kid, m.a.a.d city(GKMC) he captured mass attention and critical acclaim. However, he was a far cry from the “King Kendrick” we think of today in the minds of most. In 2013, people wondered if GKMC was a fluke, and whether he could ever recapture its brilliance. They wondered if Swimming Pools was a one-hit wonder, and that he would never capture radio play like it again. They argued that it was too soon to call GKMC a classic album, and that it might not stand the test of time. And then in the following year this guy from LA calls himself the “King of New York” during a time when, while still far from its peak, the East Coast and West Coast beef was certainly more prominent than it is today (In fact the line generated so much controversy that Kendrick felt the need to clarify himself on his intended meaning when calling in to Big Boy’s Neighborhood).

To be called out on Control was, in essence, Kendrick affirming that you were a “real MC” and worth the time he took to call you out for friendly competition, and in fact Kendrick had worked with a majority of the people he named in this verse already. One thing people noticed back then was that the most vitriolic and critical responses to his verse were not anyone that he named, but those that he didn’t call out. Coincidentally, these were also the people who felt the most need to actually make a response track, when, in the opinions of many, the point of this verse was not to get a specific response track, but instead to get everyone else to step their game up in general.

Here are some of the responses:

via Mac Miller’s Twitter




via Pusha T’s Twitter






Of course, there is one very important response not included above. Drake’s response.

Some notable quotes from Drake in this interview:

“It was good for what it was.”

“I feel like he made a decision…he was like man, I’m either gonna go for this moment because I know it’s gonna be a big moment, or I’m gonna like take heed to the fact that I have like real relationships and I’m gonna like, not do that.”

“He’s gonna have another album and another opportunity to take the world by storm, so he’ll be alright you know what I’m saying? Even if it doesn’t feature you know any of the names that he mentioned, which it probably won’t to be honest with you. I don’t know, I don’t know who’s gonna go back from that and be like yeah let’s do it, let’s link up and- no, you know what I’m saying?”

“I’m not really, like, into doing a record with him(Kendrick) no.”

So, despite the intention of Kendrick’s verse, Drake ultimately felt slighted about having his name mentioned in that manner. Some people even believe Drake felt disrespected enough to drop subliminal diss against Kendrick on his song “The Language” from Nothing Was The Same where he rapped:

F**k any ni**a that’s talking that s**t just to get a reaction

3 weeks later, Kendrick participates in a cypher at the BET Awards, where he says this:

And nothing been the same since they dropped Control

And tucked a sensitive rapper back in they pajama clothes

That year Drake had dropped his album Nothing Was The Same, though when confronted on if the line was a shot at Drake when calling in to Sway In The Morning, Kendrick would not confirm or deny.

And so it began.


Besides a few shots, the most notable being from Kendrick where he directly quotes a line from The Language, 2014 was much quieter than 2013 in terms of Drake vs Kendrick. However, in 2015, a hail of shots start coming from both sides.

The first came in February of 2015 on “Used To”, where Drake references his feelings about Control once again, though by this point in his career there were certainly others who this line applied to as well.

They gonna say your name on them airwaves

They gonna hit you up right after like ‘it’s only rap’

Kendrick’s first subliminal of the year would allegedly be off of his 2015 album To Pimp a Butterfly, where, on “King Kunta”, he raps that:

I can dig rapping, but a rapper with a ghostwriter?

What the f**k happened?

Swore I wouldn’t tell, but most of y’all sharing bars

Like you got the bottom bunk in a two man cell

It was around 4 months after this song was released that Meek Mill would drop the bombshell allegation that Drake made use of ghostwriters and did not write his own music, alleging later on that Quentin Miller was one of the artists that Drake frequently used as a ghostwriter. Whether this is a subliminal at Drake is impossible to say without more information, though some sleuths have pointed out that Kendrick rapped this verse when he appeared on Stephen Colbert’s The Late Show, and that he changed the delivery of some of the lines in a way that was similar to Drake’s cadence. Personally, I believe this is a reach, as Kendrick often changes up his style and performances for live appearances such as these. This was also the era in which Kendrick became known for dropping unheard/unreleased verses in these cameos, and so it would not surprise me if this was just a flair he applied for this particular performance. Below is a clip of the show, so check it out for yourself and come to your own conclusions.


In 2017, Kendrick would release his critically acclaimed and Pulitzer Prize winning album DAMN.. In the rollout, Kendrick would continue his long running series of songs entitled “The Heart” with “The Heart Part 4.” On it, he lays this set of bars:

Don’t tell a lie on me

I won’t tell the truth about you

Don’t tell a lie on me

I won’t tell the truth about you

My fans can’t wait for me to son your punk ass

And crush your whole little s**t

I’ll Big Pun your punk ass, you a scared little bi**h

Tip-toeing around my name ni**a you lame

And when I get at you homie don’t you tell me you was just playing

Oh I was just playing K.Dot, come on, you know a ni**a rock with you bro

Shut the f**k up you sound like the last ni**a I know

Might end up like the last ni**a I know

Oh you don’t wanna clash? Ni**a I know

“Don’t tell a lie on me. I won’t tell the truth about you.” 

An ominous warning, and one that will be referenced later on. So long as you don’t lie about Kendrick, he will not air any truths he knows about you.

Tip-toeing around my name, ni**a you lame

Drake, and possibly Big Sean, have repeatedly thrown subliminal disses at Kendrick over the years, and many of Drake’s have already been articulated above. Kendrick calls this a lame move, and implies that the reason they haven’t named him is because of fear, due to them “tip-toeing” around it.

And when I get at you homie don’t you tell me you was just playing

Shut the f**k up you sound like the last ni**a I know

Here Kendrick tells them that, when he does come for them, they better stand by all they said when sneak dissing. The last line is most likely referencing Jay Electronica, and how he did not stand by what he said on a periscope live, where he refused a viewer’s request to “put some Kendrick on”, claiming that he “like the one Kendrick song with Gunplay, Cartoons and Cereal, but other than that we don’t know what that ni**a talking about.” Later, he would say in an appearance that he was “not opposed to doing a song with Kendrick” and that “at some point I would do a song with Kendrick.”

There are many other lines on DAMN. that are believed to be directed at Drake. Some of them are more notable than others, though, such as on the third verse of “ELEMENT.”.

Ni**as thought they wasn’t gonna see me, huh?

Ni**as thought that K.Dot real life

Was the same life they see on TV, huh?

Ni**as wanna flex on me and be in LA for free, huh?

Next time they hit the 10 freeway, we need a receipt, huh?

Because most of y’all ain’t real most of y’all gonna squeal

Most of y’all just envy, but jealousy get you killed

Most of y’all throw rocks and try to hide your hand

Just say his name and I promise that you’ll see Candyman

Because it’s all in your eyes, most of y’all tell lies

Most of y’all don’t fade, most of y’all been advised

Last LP I tried to lift the black artists

But it’s a difference between black artists and wack artists

“Just say his name and I promise you’ll see Candyman.”

Here Kendrick offers a warning and a promise, using the short story of the Candyman to illustrate that so long as his name is not said he will not come for Drake.

But it’s a difference between black artists and wack artists

Kendrick himself shed some light on what this line means in a Rolling Stone interview by defining what a “wack artist means to him. Kendrick details that “A wack artist uses other people’s music for their approval. We’re talking about someone that is scared to make their own voice, chases somebody else’s success and their thing, but runs away from their own thing.” Many thought this was a subtle dig at Drake, but also the industry as a whole, when it was released, and with how 2024 has unfolded it is even more apparent that at least part of this sentiment was directed towards Drake, as he has long been accused of being a “culture vulture”, someone who borrows from other cultures that give them popularity and wealth, but that doesn’t give back the same amount that they take or anything at all really.


2018 was not the year of Kendrick vs Drake, but of Pusha T vs Drake. However, knowing the details of this particular battle is crucial for understanding how some parts of the recent back and forth went. It began with Pusha T’s album Daytona and the track “Infrared”. There were many different accusations and disses at Drake cleverly layered throughout the song, along with the others that Push can see in ‘infrared’, but the main allegation levied at Drake was of the ghostwriting that Meek Mill brought to light in 2015, with clever lines like “It Was Written like Nas, but it came from Quentin” and “How could you ever right these wrongs? When you don’t even write your songs?”

Drake would follow this up with “Duppy Freestyle” where he would rebut many of Push’s accusations and make some of his own. He denies the ghostwriting allegations by saying he was trying to help Quentin Miller by giving him credits on his songs, says that Push did not sell as much drugs as he says he did, that he is past his prime and old, and also sends a fair amount of shots at Push’s longtime collaborator Kanye West. Kanye was the executive producer on Daytona, which was a part of the 7 track album run Kanye had been producing around that time, and the head of Pusha’s label GOOD Music. Drake questions why Push takes so much issue with him for allegedly having ghostwriters, but is good friends with Kanye who frequently makes use of writers for many of his songs, and even claims that he wrote material for Kanye during the Wyoming sessions. Drake even goes as far as to mention Push’s fiance, Virginia Williams, as a punchline.

Four days after Duppy Freestyle, Pusha T drops the bombshell “The Story of Adidon”.

Even before listening to the song Pusha T finds a way to disrespect Drake through the cover art. As you can see above, it shows Drake in a cartoon hoodie and sporting blackface. The title of the song, and the beat itself, is borrowed from Jay-Z’s “The Story of OJ” off of 4:44. The Story of OJ is a song very much focused on black culture in America, and one of its messages repeated in the hook is that, no matter how one may try to “distance” themselves, the world will always see them as black, encapsulated succinctly in the line “OJ like, ‘I’m not black I’m OJ!’…okay.”

Pusha T uses all of these aspects and references masterfully to create the angle of his diss track, hitting at all of the things he thinks Drake is sensitive and insecure about, and builds on that to one of the most shocking reveals in Hip-Hop history.

Ghostwriting aside, drug dealing aside 

Let’s have a heart-to-heart about your pride

Push opens his verse like so, and sets the stage for the rest of the track and for a potential response if it came. Instead of going over what he already dissed Drake for on Infrared, Push will set those allegations aside along with the ones Drake sent at Push about his past with drug dealing.

Even though you’re multi I see that your soul don’t Look Alive

The M’s count different when Baby divides the pie wait

Push claps back at Drake’s bars that said “holler at me when you’re multi-million”, and claims that Drake does not have as much money as he says does due to the interference of Birdman(Baby), who is the head of Cash Money Records and known to have given artists on his label raw deals, much like what happened to Lil Wayne.

You mentioned wedding ring like it’s a bad thing 

Your father walked away at five hell of a dad thing 

Marriage is something that Sandi never had Drake 

How you a winner but she keep coming in last place?

Here Push responds to Drake mentioning Virginia Williams relating to the punchline of “let it ring on you”, and flips it to attack Drake where it hurts.

Monkey suit Dennis, you parade him 

A Steve Harvey suit ni**a made him

Confused always felt you weren’t black enough

Afraid to grow it because your fro wouldn’t nap enough

Here Push accuses Drake of “parading” his father, Dennis Graham, in an effort to prove his blackness to others. He follows this up by poking at Drake for not growing out a full afro because it wouldn’t be nappy enough. This feeling of not belonging or insecurity is common in mixed race people, and Drake has even referenced this in his music before.

Since you name dropped my fiance

Let them know who you chose as your Beyonce

Sophie knows better as your baby mother

Cleaned her up for IG, but the stench is on her

Love that baby, respect that girl

Forget she’s a pornstar, let her be your world! Yeugh!

Push felt very disrespected that Drake would even bring up his fiance, and took it as an indicator to “take the gloves off” so to speak, as he says later on. Doing so, he drops the bombshell that Drake has a child with this woman named Sophie, all the while essentially calling Sophie “dirty” for being a pornstar, and more importantly detailing how Drake is ashamed of Sophie and trying to hide her from the world. Push even goes so far as to claim that Drake, despite being involved with her already, feels he has to “clean her up” for a public association, showcasing hypocrisy.

A baby’s involved, it’s deeper than rap

We talking character let me keep with the facts

You are hiding a child, let that boy come home

Deadbeat motherf**ker playing border patrol, oooh!

Adonis is your son

And he deserves more than an Adidas press run, that’s real

And here is the nuke. Pusha T somehow acquired the information that Drake had an infant son, and that he was hiding him and allegedly being a deadbeat. This is where the beginning lines about Dennis and Sandi, Drake’s parents, come into play. More than just trying to make Drake feel as poorly as possible, those opening bars serve to tie into the narrative Push paints about the cycle of neglect that Drake was a victim of with Dennis, and is now perpetuating with Adonis. Even beyond the shock this is masterful work. Additionally, Push mentions an “Adidas press run” which ties into the title of the song, specifically “Adidon”. On a The Breakfast Club appearance shortly after, Pusha T reveals that Drake and Adidas were set to pair for a new line of clothing named after Adonis. Adidas + Adonis = Adidon. Ultimately, this diss made the project and Adidas and Drake’s partnership fall through.

Still giving you classics. That’s the only thing that dates me

Push once again directly responds to the lines about his signature fading on Drake’s autographed microphone, stating that he is not dated or old, and all that matters is that he continues to put out good music.

OVO 40 hunched over like he 80


How much time he got? That man is sick-sick-sick

Push gets super disrespectful with this line, and references Noah “40” Shebib, Drake’s close friend and producer of many of his greatest hits, who lives with Multiple Sclerosis(MS). Ironically, The Story of Adidon was released a day before National MS Day. Many listeners, even those on Push’s side, took issue with this bar for being too disrespectful and involving someone unrelated. It being too disrespectful certainly has merit, but, according to Push, 40 was far from unrelated to this situation. In a Joe Budden Podcast appearance Push would reveal that it was a girl who 40 was seeing at the time that revealed the details of Drake’s son to him after hearing about it from 40, and not Kanye like Drake claimed on LeBron James’ show.

Ultimately, this was the end of the short back-and-forth between Pusha T and Drake, with the latter not dropping a targeted response to Adidon, though he claims he had one that he chose not to release.

It was not, however, the end of Drake’s children being involved in the lyrics of his musical opponents.


The years following The Story of Adidon were perhaps quieter than 2015 and 2017 for the cold war between Kendrick and Drake, in good part due to Drake having bigger problems with another rapper, but they were by no means silent. Many subliminals were sent between each other still, especially on Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers and Honestly, Nevermind, the latter of which released on Kendrick’s birthday.

However, the real news for this beef in 2023 was undoubtedly “First Person Shooter” off of For All the Dogs.

Love when they argue the hardest MC

Is it K.Dot, is it Aubrey, or me?

We the big three like we started a league

But right now I feel like Muhammad Ali

Here J. Cole references the commonly held belief that Drake, Kendrick, and Cole are the three greatest rappers of their generation. Whether you agree or disagree is one thing, but they are undoubtedly the ones to occupy the public consciousness in this discussion. In this verse, J. Cole claims himself as the “hardest MC” given his comparison of himself to Ali.

Also worth noting is a line we covered back in 2017, from Kendrick Lamar.

Just say his name and I promise that you’ll see Candyman.”


I don’t think anyone quite expected the turn this cold war would take in 2024. While many anticipated that the disses would no longer be subliminal at some point, nobody could have anticipated the all-out war and back and forth Drake and Kendrick would undergo from late March to early May.

The ‘Calm’ Before the Storm:

It all began with the release of “Like That” on Metro Boomin and Future’s collaboration album We Don’t Trust You. The aforementioned song included a bouncy beat filled with trumpets, and an interpolation of the lines “he was once a thug from around the way” from Eazy-E’s 1988 song “Eazy-Duz-It.” On the track, Kendrick has an assortment of lines that respond to 2023’s First Person Shooter and the sentiments held on the “Drake vs Kendrick vs Cole” argument that have been debated for years.

These ni**as talking out of they necks

Don’t pull no coffin out of your mouth

I’m way too paranoid for a threat

Ay ay let’s get it bro

D-O-T the money, power, respect! The last one is better

Say it’s a lot of goofies with a check

I mean, ah, I hope them sentiments symbolic

Ah, my temperament bipolar, I choose violence

Okay let’s get it up, it’s time for him to prove that he’s a problem

Ni**as clickin’ up, but cannot be legit, no forty water, tell em

Ah, yeah, huh, yeah, get up with me

F**k sneak dissing, first person shooter, I hope they came with three switches

I crash out like “F**k rap”

Diss Melle Mel if I had to

Got 2TEEZ with me, I’m snatching chains and burning tattoos it’s up

Lost too many soldiers not to play it safe

If he walk around with that stick, it ain’t Andre 3K

Think I won’t drop the location? I still got PTSD

Motherf**k the big three, ni**a it’s just big me!

Ni**a bum!

What? I’m really like that

And your best work is a light pack

Ni**a, Prince outlive Mike Jack

Ni**a bum!

For all your dogs getting buried

That’s a K with all these nines, he gon’ see Pet Sematary

Ni**a bum!

Kendrick packs a lot of complexities, and some more in-your-face moments, into this single verse. Let’s break some of its most important lines down:

D-O-T the money, power, respect! 

The last one is better 

On the surface this is simply saying that Kendrick, who is also known as K.Dot, has money, power, and respect, while also claiming that the best one of the three to have is respect. When taken in the context of the entire verse this can be viewed as him claiming Drake and/or J. Cole obviously have money and power, but that they do not have respect like Kendrick does.

F**k sneak dissing, first person shooter

I hope they came with three switches

Kendrick does away with subliminals and directly references Drake and J. Cole’s collaboration track as the inciting incident for this verse. Additionally, he plays on “first person shooter” by claiming that Drake and J. Cole will need three switches(slang often interchangeable for the word “gun”, and also an attachment that can turn semi-automatic weapons to fully automatic)in order to take Kendrick down, tying into his later claim that he alone is the “big three.” This line in particular was surprising to many, as Kendrick and J. Cole largely had a positive public relationship up until this point. This includes multiple collaboration tracks, appearances, and they had even teased a collaboration album back in 2015 with the song “Black Friday”.

Motherf**k the big three, ni**a it’s just big me!

Here Kendrick directly references First Person Shooter once more, this time denying J. Cole’s words that there is an argument about who is the “hardest MC” or that they are “the big three like we started a league.”

And your best work is a light pack. Ni**a, Prince outlive Mike Jack

Drake compares himself to Michael Jackson on First Person Shooter with the line “What the f**k bro? I’m one away from Michael” referencing how Drake at the time was one No.1 hit song away from equaling Michael Jackson’s career total. Kendrick accepts that Drake has these accolades, but claims that his best work is nothing but a light pack(slang meaning his work doesn’t have much to it), and compares himself to Prince and how his legacy outlives Michael Jackson the same way Kendrick’s legacy will outlive Drake’s.

For all your dogs getting buried. 

That’s a K with all these nines he gonna see Pet Sematary

Drake’s latest studio release was For All the Dogs, and Kendrick plays on that by saying Drake and his dogs(slang for friend) will be getting buried. The next line clarifies that it is Kendrick who is going to be doing the burying, as K is a double entendre for Kendrick himself and an AK-47, meanwhile he compares Drake and his dogs as having the much lighter caliber 9 millimeter pistol.

Worth noting is also Metro Boomin and Future for allowing Kendrick to lay this verse on their track, as both have collaborated with Drake in the past, with Future and Drake in particular having quite the prolific catalogue together. Soon after they would release a follow up album titled We Still Don’t Trust You which was packed full of more Drake disses by themselves and names like The Weeknd, who has also collaborated with Drake in the past.

He Deleted Later:

There was no official response on wax from Drake in the 3 weeks following Like That’s release. J. Cole, however, felt the need to respond to the multitude of shots Kendrick had taken at him, and he would do so on his mixtape Might Delete Later which released 2 weeks after Like That. There were various shots at Kendrick across the whole project, but the bulk and most direct of it was reserved for the song “7 Minute Drill.”

This track met with a very mixed reaction from both fans of J. Cole, fans of Kendrick, and the public as a whole. Some found it as a weak response to the energy Kendrick brought on Like That, while many others found that J. Cole’s criticisms of Kendrick’s catalogue rang hollow given his own words and praises in the past.

Not even 48 hours later, J. Cole would recant his words on 7 Minute Drill, apologize and proclaim Kendrick as one of the greatest to ever touch a microphone, and pull the song from streaming services. Needless to say the public response to this was even more polarizing and negative than the response to 7 Minute Drill. Many accused J. Cole of disrespecting the sport of Hip-Hop, and others would call into question the hypocrisy J. Cole’s bars over the past few years of always being ready for the smoke or wishing a rapper would.

Some J. Cole fans even came up with NATION.-esque conspiracy theories about why J. Cole would do such a horrible move in regards to his image. They posited that J. Cole was inhabiting a character related to his upcoming album The Fall Off, and that his “weak” move of apologizing was meant to represent him ‘falling off.’

Drake Channels 50:

Around a week after J. Cole’s apology to Kendrick, a demo of Drake’s response to Like That was leaked. Whether this was intentionally leaked by Drake’s camp to gauge the public reaction or if it was legitimate is still debated, and Drake even

via Drake’s Instagram story

acknowledged the leak on his instagram story by screencap from the film “Kill Bill” where the main character is surrounded by foes wielding blades, in reference to Drake’s line in the song saying “what the f**k is this a 20 v 1 ni**a?” Fans took to titling it “Drop and Give Me 50” or “Push Ups”. The track would officially release a week later named “Push Ups.” The official product was much the same as the leaked demo, but had a different mix, vocal delivery, production, and ending. The final bars about Push Ups being the closest thing to a feature “they” will get anymore and how the song “they” have been sitting on for 4 years should be dropped being replaced by a viral clip of the infamous, and failed DJ, Livingston Allen “Akademiks” saying “what top five you smoking on Kendrick?!” followed by a beat switch and Drake claiming he “was really really tryna keep it PG,” hinting that he had another track already written.

Let’s break some of its more noteworthy bars down:

I could never be nobody number one fan. 

Your first number one I had to put it in your hand

Here Drake directly addresses a line Future said on We Don’t Trust You, where Future claimed said “you a ni**a number one fan, dog.” Drake refutes this, and then claps back that he was the only reason why Future was able to get a No. 1 hit single.

Extortion baby, whole career you been shook up 

Because Top told you ‘drop and give me fifty’ like some push ups

Pull your contract because we gotta see the split

The way you doing splits, bi**h your pants might rip 

You better do that motherf**king verse inside the bity 

Maroon 5 need a verse you better make it witty

Then we need a verse for the Swifties

Top say drop you better drop and give them fifty

Here Drake claims that Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith, the CEO of Kendrick’s previous record label, gave Kendrick a raw deal in terms of his split of his music’s money. He also alleges that Top would force Kendrick to feature on pop records in order to make money even though Kendrick himself wasn’t down with it. Kendrick has previously featured on Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” and Maroon 5’s “Don’t Wanna Know.”

And that f**king song y’all got did not start the beef with us 

This s**t been brewing in a pot now I’m heating up

I don’t care what Cole think that Dot s**t was weak as f**k

Here Drake acknowledges that the bad blood between Kendrick and he did not start with Like That or even First Person Shooter, and those tracks were only what caused it to heat up. Additionally, he disavows J. Cole’s apology and claims his words on 7 Minute Drill were still true, no matter what Cole thought now.

I be with some bodyguards like Whitney

Here Drake seems to allege that Kendrick’s longtime partner and mother of his children, Whitney Alford, has been unfaithful and having affairs with bodyguards, possibly 2TEEZ as they were referenced by Kendrick on Like That.


Push Ups would be followed up by another Drake track, “Taylor Made Freestyle”, in which Drake used an AI interpretation of Tupac Shakur and Snoop Dogg to diss Kendrick. The use of Tupac and Snoop in particular is likely due to Kendrick’s public and frequent admiration and admission of Tupac as a source of inspiration for him, and Snoop has collaborated with Kendrick a number of times as well as given him praise from one Compton native to another. The use of Tupac’s voice in particular may also be inspired from the closing track to Kendrick’s album To Pimp a Butterfly, in which he splices an interview that Tupac had done while he was alive in order to construct a conversation between himself and the late legend. Of note is also the title of the track, which plays into the angle Drake takes in the song. Within, he gives backhanded props to Taylor Swift, accrediting her with Kendrick’s mainstream success as her song Bad Blood was Lamar’s first No. 1 hit single. Additionally, he claims that the reason Kendrick has not dropped his response to Push Ups yet is due to the release of Swift’s album The Tortured Poets Department, implying that Swift needs to give Kendrick the OK to drop it at a time it won’t take attention away from her own project.

Interestingly, Drake also mentions the allegations of pedophilia that have circulated him for many years in Taylor Made Freestyle with the lines:

Talk about him liking young girls, that’s a gift from me

Heard it on the Budden podcast, it’s gotta be true

Here Drake attempts to take that angle out of Kendrick’s clip, so to speak, by addressing it and casting doubt on it before it can be brought up by his opponent. Additionally, he questions the credibility of the claims by mentioning Joe Budden, who he has had beef with in the past.

Taylor Made Freestyle was not met with anywhere near as positive a reception as Like That or Push Ups, and was criticized for being disrespectful to Snoop and especially Tupac. Tupac Shakur’s estate would even reach out and threaten a lawsuit for the use of Tupac’s artificial voice on that song, and Taylor Made Freestyle would soon be pulled from all streaming services.

Days would pass, which soon turned into a week, without a response from Kendrick to either Push Ups or Taylor Made Freestyle. Many wondered where he was, and why it was “taking so long”. This hurried approach to diss responses is relatively recent and largely came about as a consequence of the internet and how connected everyone is today. In the early 2000s and 90s, responses would often come on albums, EPs, or mixtapes with sometimes months in between them. Nas’ iconic track “Ether” came over 3 months after Jay-Z’s disses on “Takeover” for example. Funnily enough, Drake is at least part of the reason why these quick turnovers are so expected nowadays. During his beef with Meek Mill, Drake would release the song “Charged Up” and 2 days later would drop “Back To Back”, and many point to this, and the quality of the tracks, as the reason for the general public seeing Drake as the one to take the win.

Soon enough 11 days passed, and then Kendrick would drop “Euphoria.”

Murder On His Mind:

euphoria”, much like The Story of Adidon, hits you with its message even before playing the song, though much less blatantly than with Drake in obvious blackface. It is still not completely clear what other meanings the title and cover art hold, but one of the most commonly accepted explanations is that it is a reference to the TV series Euphoria which Drake served as an executive producer for. The show centers around teenagers in high school and their journey through it, and most notably for this diss track contains many instances and references to teen sex, tying into the allegations made against Drake about grooming young girls.

The cover art provides a definition of the wor euphoria, and one example of the word being used in a sentence is “They had almost a week to recover from the euphoria of Tuesday’s series winning victory…” euphoria notably released on YouTube on April 30th, a Tuesday, and it was on May 3rd that “6:16 in LA” and “meet the grahams”. Certainly stretching the definition of almost, but it is a possible explanation nonetheless.

This track is easily the most dense, skillful, and lyrically dense of Kendrick’s responses, including the later ones. It it is 6 minutes packed full of double entendres, punchlines, character analysis, and dizzying flows. Breaking down every single line and it’s every intricacy would likely take hours, but we’ll go through some of its highlights:

I calculate you’re not as calculated

I can even predict your angle

Fabricating stories on the family front because you heard Mr. Morale

Here Kendrick claims that he knows what Drake’s next move is going to be, and that what he tried to do on Push Ups is more than obvious to him. Additionally, he directly responds to Drake’s insinuation that Whitney Alford was unfaithful by saying they were fabricated from Kendrick’s admittance of his own infidelity on Morale.

Tommy Hilfiger stood out

But FUBU never had been your collection

A very clever, simple but hard hitting line by Kendrick. Tommy Hilfiger is a very well known fashion brand and popular in Hip-Hop culture. However, Hilfiger allegedly was not pleased with the co-opting of his brand, and was a racist. FUBU, standing for “For Us, By Us”, is a black-owned and black-made fashion brand that similarly became popular in Hip-Hop and black culture, especially after the rumours circulating Hilfiger.

I make music that electrify them, you make music that pacify them

I can double down on that line, but spare you this time

That’s random acts of kindness

Kendrick has a slick double meaning with this line, where he claims that Drake’s music is made to pacify consumers, whereas Kendrick’s gets them electrified. Additionally, however, the use of “pacify” ties into the next line about doubling down on the previous one. The clear meaning is that of a “pacifier”, an item commonly used by children, and the previously mentioned allegations against Drake.

But don’t tell no lie about me, and I won’t tell truths about you

Here Kendrick references his lyrics from The Heart Part 4, confirming they and that verse were directed towards Drake.

Yeah, I’m out the way

Yeah, I’m low okay

Yeah, the island right here’s remote okay

Have you ever walked your enemy down like with a poker face?

Have you ever paid five hundred thousand like to an open case?

Well I have, and I failed at both, but I came out straight

Kendrick admits to some of the words Drake called him. He is short and he does prefer to stay out of the limelight. Unlike Drake, however, he does not care about those kinds of things, responding with a dismissive “okay”. Moreover, he flips the remarks on Taylor Made Freestyle made by the AI version of Snoop about how he was not really about that life. Here Kendrick rebuts that yes, he has walked someone down before, even if it turned out poorly for him, but can Drake say he has ever attempted it at all?

Somebody had told me that you got a ring

On God, I’m ready to double the wage

I’d rather do that than let a Canadian ni**a make Pac turn in his grave

Last year, Drake purchased a ring that Tupac had owned during his life for about 1 million dollars, and Kendrick remarks how he would have paid 2 million if he knew, if only to make sure that Drake did not disrespect the legacy of Tupac. This also ties into the use of Tupac’s voice made with AI on Taylor Made, and how that was further disrespect and made Pac “turn in his grave”.

I hurt your feelings?

You don’t wanna work with me no more?


These lines call back to 2013 and Control, and how Kendrick was surprised that Drake felt genuinely slighted by the verse, so much so that he no longer wanted to collaborate with him.

Yeah, f**k all that Pushing P, let me see you push a T

You better of spinning again on him you think about pushing me

He’s Terrence Thornton, I’m Terrence Crawford, yeah I’m whooping feet

Despite how tough of an opponent Pusha T was and the damage he did to Drake, Kendrick claims that he will be an even tougher opponent. He also references Pusha T’s real name, Terrence Thornton, and uses that to compare himself to Terrence Crawford, a boxer who is currently undefeated.

We ain’t gotta get personal, this a friendly fade

You should keep it that way

Kendrick claims that this is currently a friendly fade and there is no need to get personal. Though some may argue that Kendrick absolutely does get personal, nothing he has said in Euphoria or Like That was not known publicly already. He warns Drake to do the same, and it harks back to his warnings of not telling a lie on Kendrick, and he will not tell the truth about Drake.

I hate the way that 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 gonna be direct

Kendrick references an old Breakfast Club interview with the late DMX, where he says much the same thing about Drake when asked his opinion on him. Some clever sleuths even noticed this was a flip on a line from Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel” tying into the back and forth between the two about who is Prince and who is MJ.

How many more fairytale stories about your life until we had enough?

How many more black features until you finally feel that you’re black enough?

I like Drake with the melodies, I don’t like Drake when he act tough

Kendrick misses the days of “Hotline Bling” and “Marvin’s Room”, and isn’t about this new version of Drake on Her Loss and For All the Dogs. Additionally, Kendrick calls to Drake’s insecurities about his racial identity that Pusha T previously brought up. These lines could possibly be interpreted as a criticism of Drake for thinking that he needs to act tough and make up stories of thugging in order to “feel back enough”.

Let your core audience stomach that, then tell them where you get your abs from

V12, it’s a fast one

Drake has been rumoured to have gone under the knife for things like a tummy tuck and ab sculpting since 2016. Kendrick has a clever scheme linking core, stomach, and abs together, before referencing a V12 Cryo slimming machine.

Ay Top Dawg, who the f**k they think they playing with?

Extortion my middle name as soon as you jump off of that plane, bi**h

Let’s speak on percentage, show me your splits

I’ll make sure I double back with you

You were signed to a ni**a that’s signed to a ni**a

That said he was signed to that ni**a

On Push Ups Drake accused Kendrick of being extorted by Top Dawg regarding his music sales, and Kendrick shouts out Top to show they are still cool with each other, and explains that the only “extortion” he is involved in is making sure Drake checks in when he arrives in LA. He also goes on to question Drake with the same angle. Reminiscent of Pusha T when he said “the M’s count different when Baby divides the pie”, Kendrick asks to see Drake’s split after OVO, Cash Money, and Republic have taken their cut.

Surprised you wanted that feature request

You know that we got some s**it to address

Kendrick reveals that Drake had requested him to feature on a song, most likely recently, which undoubtedly surprised Kendrick given their history of subliminals since Control. Many fans believe that the request was for First Person Shooter given the reference to Kendrick therein and J. Cole’s appearance alongside Drake.

Why would I call around tryna get dirt on ni**as? Y’all think all my life is rap?

That’s ho s**t I got a son to raise

But I can see you don’t know nothing about that

Adonis gets mentioned once more while calling Drake a deadbeat, and Kendrick refutes that he is actively searching for dirt on Drake, something that Drake himself did for Pusha T in the wake of Adidon.

Ain’t 20 v 1 it’s 1 v 20 if I gotta smack ni**as that write with you

Yeah, bring them out too, I’ll clean them out too

Tell BEAM that he better stay right with you

Kendrick calls back to Drake’s line about how everyone is jumping on the beef to diss him, and cleverly flips it into a bar about his ghostwriting rumours, of which Kendrick alleges that the artist BEAM is one.

euphoria was generally met positively, much like Push Ups, but was criticized for not bringing anything new up, as that is the standard that many fans have for Hip-Hop beefs ever since Adidon, whether reasonable or not. This led many to say that Drake took the first round, given that he had brought up allegations of Whitney Alford being unfaithful which was “new”, even if it had not been proven. Some also argued that it was inferior to Push Ups, as well as Like That, because it could not be “played in the club” and did not have as much replay value as

Checking In:

3 days after euphoria, on May 3rd, Kendrick would drop “6:16 in LA.” This track is not as masterful as euphoria, nor is it as impactful as Like That, but many speculate, especially given the events that would happen later in the day, that this was less of a diss made to hurt Drake, and more of a diss made to bait him into releasing his response. In the track, Kendrick insinuates that he has an inside man/men on OVO and in Drake’s camp that is leaking information to him, with the bars:

A hundred ni**as that you got on salary, and twenty of them want you as a casualty

And one of them is actually next to you

And two of them is practically tired of your lifestyle

Just don’t got the audacity to tell you

Interestingly, the cover art for this track is that of a pair of gloves resting on a white and red shirt, with a piece of paper with illegible text sitting to their left. Many wondered if the gloves were a reference to the OJ Simpson trial, or if there was some hidden message that only Drake would understand.

If this track  was indeed just a line cast to bait Drake, though, then he certainly fell hook to it.

Good Family, Mad Matters:

Later that same day, Drake released “Family Matters” along with a music video to go with it. Drake continues with the beat, flow, and hook teased at the end of Push Ups, suggesting that he had at least part of this written before its release. The music video for the song also includes a van similar to the one on the cover of GKMC, and it is subsequently towed and crushed during.

Maybe in this song you shouldn’t start by saying

Ni**a I said that I know that you mad

Sandra, Drake’s mother, opens the track with a warning to Drake, but is quickly cut off by Drake’s next line. He very intentionally begins the track with the n-word, which is a clear rebuttal to Kendrick saying that he hates the way Drake says it and that he doesn’t want to hear it from him anymore.

Always rapping like you about to get the slaves freed

You just acting like a activist it’s make believe

Don’t even go back to your hood and plant no money trees

Here, Drake says that Kendrick is purely performative and does not actually give back or help Compton or take actual action towards social justice movements, despite how he paints himself in his music, and cleverly calls back to the track “Money Trees” off of GKMC. Unfortunately for Drake, these lines are verifiably false. Kendrick has made charitable donations in the hundreds of thousands to Compton’s schools, performed at annual Christmas toy drives while signed to Top Dawg Entertainment, and even received the key to the city from the mayor of Compton.

Say you hate the girls I f**k but what you really mean

I been with black and white and everything that’s in between

You the black messiah wifing up a mixed queen

And hit vanilla cream to help out with your self-esteem

Here Drake claims that Kendrick views himself as a “black messiah”, but despite this he is romantically involved with someone who is only partially black. He also directly rebuts to Kendrick’s lines on “euphoria” about how Drake does not like “real women”, and says that Kendrick is messing with the same girls he criticized Drake with. Most notably, he hits up white women to boost his self-esteem, despite the fact that he is in a relationship with Whitney Alford. This is something Kendrick himself admitted on Morale, where he tackled his issues with infidelity and mentioned sleeping with white women while on tour.

I heard that one of them little kids might be Dave Freee’s

Don’t make it Dave Free’s

Because if your GM is your BM secret BD

Then this is all making plenty fu**ing sense to me

Ay, let that shorty breathe

Shake that ass bi**h, hands on your knees

Hands on your knees, hands on your knees

Shake that ass for Drake, now shake that ass for Free

Drake drops a bombshell by suggesting that one of Kendrick’s children was actually fathered by his manager, Dave Free, and that he and Whitney Alford had an affair together, and then ties this into why Kendrick has begun to act out on wax as well as why he allegedly left Whitney. Additionally, he degrades Whitney through the vocal miming of intercourse, suggesting that not only did she have an affair with Dave Free, but she would also be willing to have an affair with Drake.

Why you never hold your son and tell him ‘say cheese’?

We could’ve left the kids out of this don’t blame me

Our sons should go play at the park

Two lightskin kids that s**t would be cute

Unless you don’t wanna be seen with anyone that isn’t blacker than you

We get it, we got it

The blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice

With these lines, Drake criticizes Kendrick for not posting his son on social media like Drake frequently does with Adonis, and also reminds that the only reason he brought up Kendrick’s child was because Kendrick mentioned Adonis first in euphoria. Later in the song, he expands on that line to make it more hard hitting, accusing Kendrick of bigotry towards Drake, Adonis, and Kendrick’s own son. This is likely in reference to Kendrick’s dislike of when Drake uses the n-word, and Drake takes the angle that it is because he is “whiter” than Kendrick, due to his mixed race heritage. He summarizes it in the last bar whilst also calling back to Kendrick’s song on To Pimp a Butterfly. Interestingly, Kendrick also calls himself “the biggest hypocrite of 2015” on that track, so that could be another layer to the line.

I get off the plane and nothing has changed, I head to Delilah with all of my ice

Drake refutes the words Kendrick said on euphoria and Like That, about how he should be careful coming to LA and that he would be snatching chains, by saying he still goes to restaurants in Los Angeles with all of his jewelry. This also mirrors Kendrick’s bars about being in Toronto no problem, specifically at the restaurant New Ho King even while strapped.

When you put your hands on your girl

Is it self-defense because she bigger than you?

Why did you move to New York?

Is it because you living that bachelor life?

Proposed in 2015, but don’t want to make her your actual wife

I’m guessing this wedding ain’t happening right?

Because we know the girls that you actually like

Your darkest secrets are coming to light

They hired a crisis management team

To clean up the fact that you beat on your queen

The picture you painted it ain’t what it seem

You’re dead!

Drake drops his own “nuke” on Kendrick by alleging that he was physically abusive towards Whitney Alford, and not just unfaithful, all the while attempting to emasculate Kendrick whilst doing so through the bar about self-defense. He also says that Kendrick left Los Angeles for New York, and suggests that it is due to the issues in his relationship with Whitney and not wanting to actually marry her despite proposing. Furthermore, he expands on his bars about white women earlier on in the song and creating a double meaning about how Kendrick’s “darkest secrets are coming to light”.

Family Matters was initially reacted to positively, with even many Kendrick fans giving Drake his props. Unlike Push Ups, Drake decided to go for a longer and more lyrical response on Family Matters, and the song also includes three beat switch ups like euphoria does, which may be Drake suggesting that he can do what Kendrick does best, but Kendrick cannot make a hit record and a diss at the same time like he can. To many other rappers, a song like this would be a career killing move, and most of the second verse was not even about Kendrick either.

Unfortunately for Drake, Kendrick is not many other rappers, and the praises and chants of “he won” lasted less than an hour, and ended with a seven count.

Meet The Storm:

Layed over an Alchemist beat and released about 45 minutes after Family Matters, “meet the grahams” is as far from a club banger as you could possibly get. It’s dark, uncomfortable, moody, and vindictive. Just listening to the discordant counts in between the verses brings a measure of anxiety over you. Kendrick’s vocal performance only serves to elevate it, with his almost sorrowful and subdued tone at the start beginning to crescendo as the people he addresses change, the emotion in his tone sparking.

The cover art is the full image of the one teased in 6:16 in LA. It includes multiple bottles for prescription drugs with many being prescribed to “Aubrey Graham”. Notable is a bottle of ozempic, which Drake had accused Rick Ross of taking in Family Matters. The title itself, meet the grahams, is also a direct response to Family Matters by keeping in line with the sitcom theme of the track title. These lend credence to Kendrick’s claim of Drake having a mole leaking information to him.

Here are some of the most notable bars:

Dear Adonis

I’m sorry that that man is your father, let me be honest

It takes a man to be a man, your dad is not responsive

Life is hard I know, the challenge is always gonna beat us home

Sometimes our parents make mistakes that affect us until we grown

Kendrick wastes no time at the introduction, jumping straight in and addressing Drake’s son directly and by name in the form of a letter. Here he apologizes to Adonis since he is of the opinion that Drake could never raise him to be a man because Drake is still not one himself, and because of this he realizes that even with all the money and fame being Drake’s son brings, his life will still be hard due to the mistakes that Drake made. Funnily enough, this sentiment of generational family trauma is also one of the main themes of Morale.

Never code-switch, whether right or wrong you’re a black man

Even if it don’t benefit your goals

Do some push-ups, get some discipline

Don’t cut them corners like your daddy did

F**k what ozempic did

Addressing the final lines of Family Matters Kendrick hits back at Drake’s claims of bigotry and affirms Adonis’ identity as a black man, showing that he was not criticizing mixed-race people, but Drake alone. This ties in with his advice to Adonis about code-switching, and how he shouldn’t do it even if it would be to his benefit. This connects greatly to Drake, who has been frequently thought to adjust the way he talks and acts according to his current audience. However, it should be noted that sometimes code-switching is necessary in order to acquire/retain employment in a society that does not view African-American Vernacular English(AAVE) as “proper” or “legitimate”. This is especially true for those not as fortunate or wealthy as Kendrick, Drake, and Adonis. Additionally, Kendrick mentions the weight-loss drug ozempic, which is featured on the cover art.

Can’t understand me right now? Just play this when you eighteen

Calling back to his lines about being Adonis’ mentor in this same verse, Kendrick realizes that Adonis does not have the facilities to truly understand what he is saying or what is going on around him at his age, and hopes that this verse will be there for him to unpack when he is older.

Dear Sandra

Your son got some habits I hope you don’t undermine them

Especially with all the girls that’s hurt inside this climate

You a woman so you know how it feels to be in alignment

Kendrick begins the second verse by addressing Drake’s mother Sandra, and criticizes Drake for the way he treats women with his “habits.” There has long been a sentiment that Drake’s music has at the very least a misogynistic slant, most recently with his bars about the Megan Thee Stallion and Tory Lanez shooting on Her Loss.

Dear Dennis

You gave birth to a master manipulator

Even using you to prove who he is is a huge favor

I think you should ask for more paper and more paper

Now speaking to Drake’s father, Dennis, Kendrick’s tone subtly shifts from when he was directly addressing Sandra to something less compassionate, and it reflects how his phrasing is more blunt. He calls back to Pusha T’s lines about Drake parading Dennis in a monkey suit to prove his blackness on Adidon, and suggests Dennis deserves more money than Drake gives him for this. One interesting choice is the use of the phrase “gave birth to” in the context of a father. Since men cannot physically give birth, it is likely Kendrick is referring to only Dennis as the reason for Drake becoming a “master manipulator”, and not Sandra.

Sandra, sit down what I’m about to say is heavy, now listen

Mm-hm, your son’s a sick man with sick thoughts

I think ni**as like him should die

Him and Weinstein should get f**ked up in a cell for the rest of their life

He hates black women, hypersexualizes them with kinks of a nympho fetish

He got sex offenders on ho-VO that he keep on a monthly allowance

A child should never be compromised and he keeping his child around them

And we gotta raise our daughters knowing there’s predators like him lurking.

Kendrick packs a lot into these lines. Beginning with more sympathy for Sandra, and then telling her that he thinks her son should die because of his sick thoughts, and likens him to notorious sex criminal Harvey Weinstein. These all lead into the line about Drake hypersexualizing black women with “kinks of a nympho fetish”, which many listeners believe relate to allegations of sexual assault levied at Drake by Laguana Morris, as detailed in this Rolling Stone article. Kendrick also says that OVO has sex offenders on their payroll, and that Drake is putting Adonis in danger by having him around them. Baka Not Nice, an artist signed to OVO, has indeed been convicted of assaulting a 22 year old woman, and was also charged with human trafficking and prostitution but not convicted according to the Toronto Sun.

Dear baby girl

I’m sorry that your father not active inside your world

He don’t commit to much but his music yeah that’s for sure

Try destroying families rather than taking care of his own

Should be teaching you time tables or watching Frozen with you

Or at your eleventh birthday singing poems with you

Channeling Pusha T, Kendrick drops a bombshell by alleging that Drake has yet another child that he is hiding, this time a daughter, and according to his words she is even older than Adonis is. One of the hardest lines in this verse is most definitely how Drake would rather try to destroy Kendrick’s family than take care of this daughter who he does not acknowledge.

His father probably didn’t claim him neither

History do repeats itself sometimes it don’t need a reason

But I would like to say it’s not your fault that he’s hiding another child

Give him grace, this the reason I made Mr. Morale

So our babies like you can cope later

Kendrick once again brings up the generational trauma that Drake was victim to, and is now perpetuating in his eyes, as the reason for his current behavior. He then directly mentions Morale and, much like with Adonis and the first verse, suggests that she should listen to it in order to move past Drake abandoning her.

Yes he’s a hitmaker, songwriter, superstar right

And a f**king deadbeat that should never say More Life

Drake’s popularity and commercial success is undeniable, but Kendrick thinks that does not matter next to his flaws. The second line is a clever double entendre on how Drake, an alleged deadbeat father, should never say “more life” as in having more children therefore bringing more life into the world, but also he should never say more life in the meaning of wishing someone well in Jamaican slang, which Drake referenced when making his 2017 mixtape More Life. This could either tie in to the phrase not being authentic when coming from Drake who is not Jamaican or it not being genuine given all of the horrible things Kendrick says he has done to other people. Ironically, Drake’s father Dennis features on the cover of More Life.

Dear Aubrey

I know you probably thinking I wanted to crash your party

But truthfully I don’t have a hating bone in my body

This supposed to be a good exhibition within the game

But you f**ked up the moment you mentioned my family’s name

And so the last verse of meet the grahams is directed at the last member of the Graham family, Drake. These opening lines call back to the same mistake that Drake made when responding to Control, and allude to an over-sensitivity remaining even a decade after Control. Just like with Control, Kendrick says that Drake misinterpreted his intentions again on Like That, and consequently messed up by mentioning Whitney on Push Ups.

And I like to understand because your house was never a home

37 but you showing up as a seven year old

Here Kendrick attempts to empathize with Drake and his problems due to his father’s absence growing up, and further re-emphasizes the theme he has been hitting at ever since euphoria.

Crave entitlement, but want to be liked so bad that it’s puzzling

No culture cachet to binge just disrespecting your mother

Identity’s on the fence don’t know which family will love you

The skin that you living in is compromised in personas

Kendrick posits that even though Drake feels a great deal of entitlement, he still seeks an unhealthy amount of external validation, and suggest that these personas and cultures he steals from are related to both of those character traits. Once more, he ties it into the environment Drake grew up in. For mixed-race people it is not uncommon for them to face bigotry or hatred from one or both sides of their family due to their ethnic or cultural makeup, and oftentimes mixed people will attempt to lean into one of those identities in order to appease a certain side of their family. Kendrick continues to hit on this theme of family trauma, and it is certainly hitting hard.

Why believe you? You never gave us nothing to believe in

Because you lied about religious views, you lied about your surgery

You lied about your accent and your past tense all is perjury

You lied about your ghostwriters, you lied about your crew members

You lied about your son, you lied about your daughter huh

You lied about them other kids that’s out there hoping that you come

You lied about the only other artist that can offer you some help

All of the things Kendrick believes Drake to have lied about are listed out plainly to close out meet the grahams. His distancing himself from his Jewish heritage over the years, his BBL and tummy tuck and ab-sculpting, his theft of various cultural identities, his own lyrics, his crew, his son Adonis, his eleven year old daughter, his potential other children out there, and finally about an artist that could have saved Drake. Who that artist is is not entirely clear, but many fans have speculated that Kendrick could be talking about himself as someone who could have helped Drake from going down this past, and Kendrick believes that Drake has lied about him on Push Ups, Taylor Made Freestyle, and Family Matters. Another assumption is that Kendrick could be referring to Drake himself, and that if he had not lied about all of these things listed maybe he could have moved past his generational trauma.

F**k a rap battle, this a long life battle with yourself

Even after the smoke clears and the dust settles on this battle between the two, Drake will still have to look at himself in the mirror every morning.

Turning His Grave:

If meet the grahams buried Drake, then “Not Like Us” is Kendrick B-walking on his grave. Released not even a full day after the aforementioned song’s release and produced by DJ Mustard, it was the club banger diss that many accused Kendrick of being unable to produce. As a whole, the song is not as dissecting of Drake as a person or artist, parts of the third verse notwithstanding, and mainly serves to not let up the pressure as well as get people singing and dancing along.

The cover art of the song shows a top down photo of Drake’s Toronto mansion, and 13 red pop ups with human silhouettes are placed over it, reminiscent of the kind of icons you would see when looking up a map of local sex offenders.

Let’s break down some of it’s best moments:

Say Drake, I hear you like them young

You better not ever got to cell block one

To any bi**h that talk to him and they in love?

Just make sure you hide your little sister from him

And Baka got a weird case, why is he around?

Certified Lover Boy? Certified pedophiles

Why you trolling like a bi**h, ain’t you tired?

Trying to strike a chord and it’s probably A minorrrr.

There are no subtleties or intricacies present here, this is just Kendrick trying to disrespect Drake as plainly as he can. This is also the first time that the word “pedophile” has been specifically said by Kendrick, despite many allusions to Drake’s attraction to young girls already, such as with the pacify line in Euphoria and the comparisons to Harvey Weinstein. Drake’s questionable relationships and interactions with underage girls is well documented, such as with Millie Bobby Brown, Billie Eilish, Bella Harris, a 17 year old fan on stage, and others. Additionally, he flips the title of Drake’s 2021 album Certified Lover Boy in order to call him and those in his camp “certified” pedophiles, including the previously mentioned Baka Not Nice.

You think the Bay gonna let you disrespect Pac ni**a?

I think that Oakland show gonna be your last stop ni**a

Whilst riding a very Bay influenced beat, Kendrick cautions Drake to be careful whenever he does a show in Oakland after Taylor Made Freestyle. Despite being born in New York, Tupac has an abundance of ties to the Bay Area and Oakland in particular, so it is unlikely any natives would take kindly to Drake disrespecting one of their own.

The audience not dumb

Shape the stories how you want, hey Drake they’re not slow

Rabbit hole is still deep I can go further, I promise

Kendrick cleverly taunts Drake that his tactics are not working, while also putting the onus on any listeners to not be “slow” and believe his words. More importantly, he suggests that, much like Drake on Push Ups, this is far from all he knows and can unearth about Drake if needed.

Sweet Chin Music and I won’t pass the aux ay

How many stocks do I really have in stock? Ay

One, two, three, four, five, plus five ay

Continuing with the masterful angles, Kendrick attempts to turn this beef even further into an American vs Canadian affair, as he had already toyed with on euphoria. Sweet Chin Music was the finisher of WWE wrestler Shawn Michaels, an American, where he would execute a superkick onto the chin of his opponent, usually resulting in a knockout. Michaels was also embroiled in an infamous in-ring and real life beef with fellow wrestler Bret Hart, a Canadian, and their respective nationalities often came up during their feud as points of pride and targets of attack.

Once upon a time all of us was in chains

Homie still doubled down calling us some slaves

Atlanta was the Mecca building railroads and trains

The settlers was using townfolk to make them richer

Fast forward 2024 you got the same agenda

You run to Atlanta when you need a check balance

Let me break it down for you this the real ni**a challenge

You called Future when you didn’t see the club ay what?

Lil Baby helped you get your lingo up what?

21 gave you false street cred

Thug made you feel like you a slime in your head ay what?

You run to Atlanta when you need a few dollars

No you not a colleague, you a f**king colonizer

Here Kendrick goes on an entire scheme about how Drake has exploited black culture for his own benefit, and mentions Atlanta in specific for this example. He likens the way Drake has pillaged Atlanta of its relevance, slang, and culture in order to grow himself the way European settlers colonized native people of color across the world. He also compares what Drake did to Atlanta as similar to what many Tiktok and social media trends do, with Drake’s being the “real ni**a challenge”, and a number of these trends have originated from Drake’s music in the past.

Not Like Us was met with immediate success and radio play upon its release, and proceeded to break many of Drake’s records set for amount of streams on a song in a single day on Spotify. There were still some criticism directed toward Kendrick for not directly addressing many of the things Drake alleged on Family Matters, but, for the most part, these were drowned out by the hype and energy this track brought.

Last Breaths:

A day after Not Like Us took the West Coast in a chokehold, Drake released “The Heart Part 6”, named after Kendrick’s long standing series of songs.

The ones that you’re getting your stories from

They all clowns

We plotted for a week and then we fed you the information

A daughter that’s eleven years old I bet he takes it

We thought about giving a fake name or a destination

But you so thirsty you not concerned with investigation

Even the picture you used, the jokes and the medication

The Maybach glove and the drug he use is for less inflation

Master manipulator you bit on the speculation

Here Drake claims that both the cover art for meet the grahams, as well as the secret daughter, were both lies that Drake’s camp told to Kendrick’s in order to bait him to mention it. He also flips the line Kendrick said where he called Drake a “master manipulator” by affirming his words, but not in the way Kendrick had meant them. Oddly, a few lines before he reveals that the information was fed to Kendrick by himself, he calls the people Kendrick is getting his stories from as “clowns”. Drake also took to Instagram to post a story denying the existence of his daughter immediately following “meet the grahams”, instead of waiting to reveal the plan he had set up.

via Drake’s Instagram story

And why isn’t Whitney denying all of the allegations?

Why is she following Dave Free and not Mr. Morale?

You haven’t seen the kids in six months, the distance is wild

Dave leaving heart emojis underneath pics of the child

Drake suggests that Whitney’s public silence on the allegations of domestic abuse lends credibility to his claims, and further brings to attention to the fact that her instagram account follows Dave Free’s, but not Kendrick’s. The final line calls to the cover art, which is a screenshot of a comment on one of Whitney’s posts.

My mom came over today and I was like, Mother I, Mother I

Mother…ah, wait a second

That’s that one record where you say you got molested

Aw, f**k me I just made the whole connection

This about to get so depressing

This is trauma from your own confessions

This when your father leave you home alone with no protection so neglected

That’s why these pedophile raps and s**t you so obsessed with

It’s so excessive

Drake attempts to flip Kendrick’s ongoing angle of family trauma back against him by referencing “Mother I Sober” from Morale. However, these bars end up falling flat due to the fact that Kendrick specifically says he was not molested on that track, and that his mother did not believe him not because of some compartmentalization but because of her own childhood trauma. This could be Drake not believing Kendrick that he was not molested, but there is not much in the verse that suggests it is anything but a misinterpretation of the song.

Speaking of anything with a child let’s get to that now

This Epstein angle was the s**t I expected

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**king young girls I promise I’d have been arrested

I’m way too famous for this s**t you just suggested

Drake is not a name that you gonna see on no sex offender list, Eazy-Duz-It

Only f**king with Whitneys, not Millie Bobby Browns

I’d never look twice at no teenager

Here Drake dismisses the claims of him being a pedophile and child groomer, and connects Kendrick’s focus on this to his own traumas instead of being based in reality. He also takes a jab at Kendrick’s home city of Compton by mentioning that Eazy-E would be on a sex offender list, as he was accused of sexual assault. Within this scheme Drake drops one of his most controversial lines from this track, suggesting that he would already be in jail if he had done the things Kendrick accused him of due to Drake being “too famous”. This is a rather laughable suggestion, especially given the events that happened earlier this year involving Diddy.

If you still bumping R. Kelly you could thank the Savior

Said if they deleted his music then your music is going too


I don’t understand why these people praise you

Sounding like you send him commissary when he need some paper

One of Drake’s better lines on the song, as he calls out what he sees as hypocrisy from Kendrick. In 2018, Kendrick and a number of other artists threatened to pull their music from Spotify in protest to the delisting of R. Kelly and other artists in accordance with a new policy being put in place. R. Kelly being a notorious child groomer and molester who engaged in sex cults and countless other instances of predatory behavior. Additionally, Drake flips the line from Morale where Kendrick proclaims that he is not “your savior”. Unlike his thoughts on “Mother I Sober” it is unlikely that Drake has misinterpreted this lines, and instead he is purposely calling this another form of hypocrisy. On meet the grahams Kendrick suggested that he made Morale for lost children like Drake’s alleged daughter, and Drake calls out the disconnect between these two sentiments. Kendrick does, however, mention on the Morale track “Savior” that, just because he “makes you think about it” that does not mean he is your savior.

The Heart Part 6 was not looked at very positively by onlookers, and many fans, even his own, found Drake’s rebuttals to be comparatively weak. This track ultimately ended the back and forth, and has so far been the last to be released in the beef at all despite many rumours flying around.

Aftermath and Verdict:

There were many other sagas throughout this beef that were not addressed, mainly because I felt they stayed too far from the main focus of Kendrick vs Drake, and also did not assist in understanding the main discourse between them. This includes the many people who jumped on Drake following Like That(including but not limited to people like Rick Ross and Kanye West), Drake’s second verse on Family Matters, the BBL Drizzy beat challenge, the shooting at Drake’s Toronto home in the week following Not Like Us, Drake’s many Instagram stories not already mentioned, Not Like Us gaining viral popularity and going No. 1, and much more. This rap beef was honestly a nationwide event, and brought out some of the best competitive spirit Hip-Hop has had in a while, even if by the time meet the grahams dropped some of that had dulled into horror. It gave Kendrick his first real taste of a true rap beef, seen as a requirement to be a “great” in some people’s eyes, and squashed any doubts that he couldn’t battle.

As for the verdict? In my opinion, Kendrick has won this rap beef by a landslide. Take my words with a grain of salt, as I have been a fan of Kendrick Lamar for over a decade whereas I have never been a fan of Drake as a person or as a musician, but I think the shortest and most succinct way I can put it is that Kendrick had a consistent angle that he took. Drake, meanwhile, seemed to just throw accusations and rumors at the wall to see what would stick. In Push Ups he alleges to his later claims on Family Matters about Whitney being unfaithful, but in the former track he places it alongside a bar about a bodyguard, whereas in the latter song he raps about Dave Free being the person who she was unfaithful with, and even having a child with him. It’s possible that he was referring to the domestic abuse allegations with the former line, but given they would likely be employed by Kendrick it still seems like somewhat of a reach to me personally. Another example is in Taylor Made Freestyle. Both the title and a good chunk of his verse are dedicated to dissing Kendrick for being made to follow the orders of Taylor Swift, and while this does loosely tie into his bars on Push Ups, it is a point that is never brought up again even in passing. Even worse is on The Heart Part 6, where we went over how Drake calls the people who leaked information about his secret daughter to Kendrick clowns, but then claims that he and his camp were the ones to do it in the first place. Additionally, Drake’s first response to the claims of a secret daughter were not to expose Kendrick for falling for his false info, but instead to post an instagram story of himself, just does not reflect well even if it was further bait for Kendrick. And at the end of the day, the court of public opinion is a major component in who “wins” these battles. I believe Kendrick’s decision to drop “meet the grahams” 45 minutes after Family Matters is ultimately what won him the battle, as it gave Drake’s disses on the latter track no time to breathe and little time to instill themselves into the mainstream consciousness, when everyone was immediately talking about the former track and all the bombshells within.

There are definitely aspects of this battle where I think Kendrick could have done better. For example, one criticism of many of his disses is that he never directly addresses some of the allegations Drake lays at his feet. The accusation of domestic abuse and the paternity of his children being some of the most prominent, and I believe that is an understandable wish to want him to have tackled those aspects more directly, like he did with other topics. However, at the same time I can understand the argument some fans bring up to say that he did in fact address it through the lines such as “fabricating stories on the family front because you heard Mr. Morale”, and the question of what is Kendrick supposed to say more about lies? All of this really hinges on whether or not the things Drake said were true or not. If it is true, then Kendrick’s win is not as spotless. If it’s all lies, then Drake’s loss is even more patchy.

Another thing that both parties suffered from was the lack of receipts and hard evidence for their claims. Kendrick may edge Drake out slightly on this one with the cover art for meet the grahams, mainly because most of his proof is Instagram comments, but Drake’s denial of its validity and suggesting it was purposely planted by his team also throws some of this into disarray as well. You can certainly draw conclusions and weigh likelihoods given each participants individual actions, such as when we covered the contrast between Drake’s initial reaction on Instagram to his secret daughter compared to his words on The Heart Part 6, but at the end of the day they are just educated guesses that do not have any concrete evidence. I think it is likely that we may never get the full story or a 100% conclusive answer on some of these things, like whether or not the mole was a double agent, and if we do it is probably far in the future.

All in all, these are moments that will echo throughout generations and Hip-Hop history, and I truly believe that it will be remembered and placed in the same conversations as 50 vs Ja, Cube vs NWA, Jay vs Nas, and even Pac vs Biggie.

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About the Contributor
Alexander Martinez
Alexander Martinez, Lead Copy Editor
Alexander Martinez is a second-year Computer Science Major at Foothill College. He has a passion for creative writing and hopes to gain experience in his hobby by contributing to The Script.

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