All of Your Questions About Drake and Kendrick Lamar’s Beef, Answered

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Drake and Kendrick Lamar’s Rap Beef, ExplainedErika Goldring - Getty Images
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By now you’ve probably heard about the beef between Drake and Kendrick Lamar. The feud is downright inescapable on social media, shocking fans with diss tracks by the hour. But as the battle between the two hip-hop titans continues—without an apparent end in sight—we now have a list of disturbing allegations. How did we arrive here?

For many rap fans, Drake versus Kendrick Lamar is the event of a lifetime. Two rappers of this magnitude rarely ever engage in lyrical mudslinging these days, let alone with such ferocity. Lamar and Drake trading bars brings to mind the genre’s most prominent feuds of all time, namely Tupac Shakur versus the Notorious B.I.G., Dr. Dre versus Eazy-E, and Jay-Z versus Nas. There’s an electric feeling any time that hip-hop engraves another legendary battle into its history books.

Well, there was an electric feeling. The feud, which began in March, turned ugly this past week. As the battle dragged on, both sides escalated the conflict to serious allegations of domestic abuse, infidelity, pedophilia, and cultural appropriation. As of May 6, listeners possess an album’s worth of diss tracks between Drake and Lamar. With the beef raging on, let’s discuss what’s transpired so far.

Why Are Drake and Kendrick Lamar Beefing?

In the modern era of hip-hop, almost every beef involves Drake. The genre-bending Canadian rapper is arguably one of the biggest artists on the planet. His immense popularity paints a large target on his back—and he’s feuded with rappers such as Meek Mill and Pusha T in the past.

But while Drake racks up streaming records and Billboard Hot 100 successes, he hasn’t received nearly as much critical acclaim as Lamar. The Compton-born rapper won Rap Album of the Year at the Grammys three times over the past decade, performed at the Super Bowl LVI halftime show alongside Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, and even won a Pulitzer Prize for his 2017 album, DAMN.

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Drake and Kendrick Lamar enter dangerous territory on their latest string of diss tracks.Prince Williams - Getty Images

Before Lamar’s triumphs, he challenged his peers on a 2013 Big Sean song titled “Control.” He called out Drake, J. Cole, Pusha T, Meek Mill, A$AP Rocky, Tyler, the Creator—and even Big Sean on his own song. “I got love for you all, but I’m tryna murder you n****s,” he rapped.

Lamar quickly emerged at the top of his class alongside Drake and J. Cole, with the media dubbing the trio the “Big Three.” J. Cole recently noted the title on “First Person Shooter” with Drake this past October. He rapped, “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.”

Curiously, “First Person Shooter” did not feature Lamar, even though it names him as one of the Big Three. He didn’t seem to enjoy the “sneak disses,” as he later called them, pointing to Drake and J. Cole’s lines as subliminal shots. On March 22, Lamar delivered a guest verse on Future and Metro Boomin’s “Like That,” declaring that the era of the Big Three is no more. “Fuck the Big Three,” he stated. “It’s just big me.”

How Did Drake and J. Cole Respond?

J. Cole responded to “Like That” with “7 Minute Drill,” the last track on the mixtape Might Delete Later, which debuted on April 5. On “7 Minute Drill,” J. Cole asserted that Lamar “fell off like The Simpsons” and that the critically acclaimed To Pimp a Butterfly “put n****s to sleep.” The response from fans was lukewarm—and many critics remarked that J. Cole’s opinions were bizarre. Why praise and criticize your opponent on the same track?

Following the tepid response, the North Carolina rapper apologized onstage at his own Dreamville Festival. Later, J. Cole fulfilled the semi-promise of Might Delete Later—deleting “7 Minute Drill” from streaming services. “That’s the lamest shit I ever did in my fucking life,” he stated, admitting that it felt “terrible.” With how dark the beef between Drake and Lamar has gotten, J. Cole’s early exit is being praised (somewhat jokingly) on social media as a sound business decision. “I hope history remembers J. Cole as a smart man for walking away from this,” one fan wrote. “J. Cole’s decision to stay out of this beef will go down as one of the greatest moments of foresight in modern history,” another quipped.

After Drake trolled Metro Boomin’ and Lamar on social media, his first response leaked online on April 13. The song, titled “Push Ups,” addressed rumors that he stole Metro Boomin’s girlfriend and jabbed at Lamar’s height and record contract. “I’m the hitmaker y’all depend on,” Drake rapped. “Backstage in my city, it was friendzone / You won’t ever take no chain off of us / How the fuck you big steppin’ with a size-seven men’s on?”

Kendrick Lamar Claps Back

On April 19—before Lamar could even respond—Drake released a second diss track, “Taylor Made Freestyle,” featuring AI-generated verses from Tupac and Snoop Dogg. On the track, Drake claimed that Lamar’s delayed response was because he didn’t want to compete with Taylor Swift’s The Tortured Poets Department. While critics praised some of Drake’s rebuttals on “Push Ups,” many viewed “Taylor Made Freestyle” as an unnecessary misstep. Snoop Dogg later posted a video to Instagram, echoing the confusion.

On April 30, Lamar finally responded with “Euphoria,” named after the HBO series on which Drake is a co-producer. “You’rе not a rap artist, you a scam artist with the hopes of being accepted,” Lamar rapped, claiming that he’s uncomfortable with Drake borrowing accents and using the N-word as someone who is of mixed race. “How many more Black features ’til you finally feel that you’re Black enough?” he stated. Lamar also criticized Drake for making “Tupac turn in his grave” on “Taylor Made Freestyle.” He warned, “We ain’t gotta get personal, this a friendly fade, you should keep it that way.”

Lamar did not keep it friendly. He declared himself the biggest Drake hater and took shots at his rival’s parentage, as well as the fact that his last rap battle with Pusha T outed that he had a secret son named Adonis. “I got a son to raise, but I can see you know nothin’ ’bout that,” Lamar teased. He also claimed that Drake is using Ozempic. Plus, while commenting on Drake using AI voices on “Taylor Made Freestyle,” he seemingly confused A.I. actor Haley Joel Osment with televangelist Joel Osteen. Lamar continued the assault on May 3 with “6:16 in LA,” which was produced by Jack Antonoff.

Oh, but There’s Even More

On the same day that “6:16 in LA” dropped, Drake responded with a nearly eight-minute song titled “Family Matters.” The Canadian rapper alleged infidelity and domestic abuse in regard to Lamar’s relationship with his fiancée, Whitney Alford. “You the Black messiah wifing up a mixed queen / And hit vanilla cream to help out with your self-esteem,” Drake rapped. “On some Bobby shit, I wanna know what Whitney need.” He also claimed that Lamar’s child was fathered by his manager, Dave Free.

Lamar dropped a prerecorded track within the hour. On “Meet the Grahams,” he attacked Drake’s family, writing verses as letters to Aubrey, Drake’s mother, and a mysterious third person whom he alleges is Drake’s secret daughter. On the song, Lamar referenced Drake’s controversial history with younger women, telling listeners, “N****s like him should die / Him and Weinstein should get fucked up in a cell for the rest they life.”

At This Point, I’m Deeply Concerned

Many critics grew not only worried for Drake and Lamar’s safety but also deeply concerned about the allegations in their respective diss tracks. Just a day after “Meet the Grahams” came out, Lamar debuted “Not Like Us,” doubling down on his claims about Drake’s relationships with young women. He called Drake a “certified pedophile” and joked that he was “tryna strike a chord and it’s probably A-minor.”

Meanwhile, Drake’s rebuttals continued to allege domestic abuse and speculate on the parentage of Lamar’s child. On “The Heart Part 6,” released on May 5, Drake claimed that he conceived fake information about his secret daughter and shared it with members of Lamar’s team as part of a false flag operation. “You gotta learn to fact-check things and be less impatient,” Drake rapped. He spent the rest of the five-minute track defending himself against claims of underage relationships, which many critics viewed as cringeworthy. “If I was fucking young girls, I promise I’d have been arrested," he stated. "I’m way too famous for this shit you just suggested." Although critics continue to claim winners and losers, many listeners are left with an unflattering portrait of both artists.


Violence Outside Drake's Mansion

According to the Toronto Police Operations Center, an unnamed member of Drake's security team was struck in a drive-by shooting this Tuesday morning (May 7), outside of Drake's Toronto mansion. The security guard was rushed to the nearby Sunnybrook Hospital in the city’s Bridle Path district, where he is receiving surgery for "serious injuries." Drake is unharmed.

Inspectors on the scene stated that there is currently no motive for the shooting, according to The Hollywood Reporter. They plan to review security camera footage of the incident taken from outside Drake' home. As of Tuesday afternoon, the shooting has no connection to the ongoing feud between Drake and Kendrick Lamar. Still, it doesn't help that the cover artwork for Lamar's "Not Like Us" (pictured above) publicized the location of Drake's Toronto mansion. "We have individuals who obviously performed the shooting, who were seen in a vehicle," Inspector Paul Krawczyk stated during a press conference at the scene. "I do not have a description of the vehicle or the suspects at this time. Again, it’s very early on in the investigation."

De-escalation doesn’t seem like it’s on the horizon. Right now all we ask is for everyone to stay safe.

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