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Drake vs Kendrick Lamar: A Comprehensive Timeline of the Feud Between the Rappers

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Verbal warfare, wordplay and clever rhymes – rap battles are hardly a new concept in the world of hip-hop and R&B. But when they take place between the biggest names in the industry, the winner is always the audience.

Take the Drake vs Kendrick Lamar feud for example. Being dubbed as the ‘Civil War’ of rap, the rivalry between the greats has only resulted in hits after hits that fans can appreciate. While most are busy decoding the lyrical references to their faves in these diss tracks, others are trying to untangle the lengthy timeline of the battle.

While the ‘God’s Plan’ hitmaker and the ‘HUMBLE.’ rapper have been at odds for a long time, the latest controversy between the two artists began in March 2024 with the release of ‘Like That’ by Future, Metro Boomin and Kendrick Lamar. What followed was a heated exchange via multiple hit tracks that has not been easy to keep up with.

Fortunately, our explainer on the Drake vs Kendrick Lamar feud will help you detangle the complicated rivalry with the complete timeline including the release sequence of tracks like ‘Not Like Us’.

But first, let us take a look at the History the two artists share.

The Drake vs Kendrick Lamar beef: A brief background

Lamar and Drake have had a complicated History since the beginning of their respective rises in the industry. As Lamar started tasting success during his Overly Dedicated (2010) era, Drake was quick to embrace him, making Kendrick a part of the ‘Buried Alive Interlude’ on his 2011 album Take Care and bringing him along for the subsequent Club Paradise tour (which also included J. Cole, A$AP Rocky, Meek Mill, 2 Chainz and others.)

However, it didn’t take long for the rapport to turn sour as Lamar took shots at Drake and several other rappers on Big Sean’s ‘Control’ in August 2013. A few weeks later, on Elliott Wilson’s live interview series #CRWN, Drake claimed Lamar “had no malice behind it” as his in-person attitude contradicted the sentiments of the verse. “I saw him five days later at the VMAs and it was all love,” he explained.

Ironically, Drake didn’t keep quiet for long and seemingly retaliated through his September 2013 album, Nothing Was the Same. The first verse on ‘The Language’, the album’s fifth single, was considered a response to Lamar’s ‘Control’ verse: “F*ck any n**ga that’s talkin’ that sh*t just to get a reaction / F*ck going platinum, I looked at my wrist and it’s already platinum / I am the kid with the motor mouth / I am the one you should worry about.”

But how did this result in a full-blown diss battle almost 10 years later? For, that we need to know a bit about the Big 3.

What is the Big 3 and how is it related to the feud?

drake vs kendrick lamar
Image credits: X/JColeNC, Instagram/Drake; Kenny Sun, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Even if you’re not the biggest rap fan, chances are you have been spotting tracks by Drake, Kendrick Lamar and J Cole continuously for the last few months on your Spotify or Apple Music’s ‘Latest Hits’ playlists. Ever wondered if that is a mere coincidence or a trend? And why J Cole is in the middle of all of this? 

Before we dive into the extremely entertaining Rap Civil War, we must talk about the one incident that sparked the fire between the rap greats.

It was in October 2023, when J. Cole appeared on Drake’s ‘First Person Shooter’. In the high-octane production, the ‘Work Out’ crooner suggested that Drake, Lamar and he were part of the “Big 3” of rap aka the greatest rappers in modern hip-hop, with Cole being like the Boxing great MuhaMMAd Ali.

The song, which debuted at number one on the US Billboard Hot 100, also witnessed Cole compare the rappers with the famous Spider-Man meme containing multiple versions of the same superhero pointing at each other. 

Lamar didn’t take too favourably to the comparison and penned a comeback that made sure the rap industry was never the same again.

Drake vs Kendrick Lamar: Decoding the timeline, track by track

22 March 2024: The 2024 chapter starts with ‘Like That’

Unhappy with J Cole’s referencing of him as part of ‘the Big 3’, Lamar responded with a surprise cameo on Metro Boomin and Future’s single ‘Like That’.

The 17-time Grammy winner rejected their idea of the “big three,” instead rapping “It’s just big me” and in the process dissing Drake and Cole.

5 April 2024: J Cole pens a response with ‘7 Minute Drill’

While Drake did not directly acknowledge ‘Like That’, apart from simply stating at one concert: “I got my head up high… and I know no matter what”, the unexpected diss by Lamar prompted Cole to release a response song titled ‘7 Minute Drill’.

In the song, he begins by comparing Lamar’s career trajectory to the long-running TV show The Simpsons (1989–present). One of the most popular American animated series in History, the show has drawn criticism for the “waning quality” of its recent seasons.

The lyrics went: “Your first sh*t was classic, your last sh*t was tragic / Your second sh*t put ni**as to sleep, but they gassed it / Your third sh*t was massive and that was your prime / I was trailin’ right behind and I just now hit mine”

A level-headed musician at heart, J Cole is hardly the type to engage in diss battles. Additionally, his mention was more of a footnote in Lamar’s verse, whose main target was Drake. Perhaps realising this disconnect, just two days later, he apologised onstage for releasing the song and deleted it from all streaming services.

 

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A post shared by Professor Mike Jordan (@professor_jordan)

Guess he really meant it when he titled his new mixtape Might Delete Later.

13 April 2024: Drake enters the chat with ‘Push Ups’

After staying quiet for several weeks, Drake hit back by mysteriously leaking ‘Push Ups’, which featured the lyrics, “You ain’t in no Big Three, SZA got you wiped down, Travis got you wiped down, Savage got you wiped down / Like your label, boy, you in a scope right now / And you gon’ feel the aftermath of what I write down / I’m at the top of the mountain, so you tight now.”

The lyrics further attack Lamar’s shorter stature and his mainstream collaborations with Taylor Swift and Maroon 5. In the process, Drake also took a dig at rapper and record producer Rick Ross. 

Ross responded to Drake within days with ‘Champagne Moments’, alleging the ‘One Dance’ hitmaker had multiple cosmetic procedures done, including a nose job and an ab surgery, while also accusing him of using ghostwriters.

19 April 2024: Drake’s ‘Taylor Made Freestyle’ invites 2Pac’s wrath 

Just in case a classic diss track was not enough, Drizzy went for a second blow, and this time with the help of AI for good measure. Titled ‘Taylor Made Freestyle’, he used the artificially generated voices of Lamar’s idols Tupac Shakur, aka 2Pac, and Snoop Dogg to go after him. 

Tupac’s verse encourages Lamar to diss Drake and Snoop Dogg’s verse admonishes him for not releasing another diss track sooner and looking like he is setting himself up for failure. The final verse features Drake where he claims that Lamar has not responded to him yet because he did not want to be overshadowed by the release of Taylor Swift’s eleventh studio album, The Tortured Poets Department.

But the best part of it? Snoop Dogg’s reaction to his pseudo verse on the song.

 

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A post shared by snoopdogg (@snoopdogg)

While this was quite a unique approach to the History of battle raps, the song earned a cease-and-desist notice from Shakur’s estate. Subsequently, he had to scrub the track of all streaming platforms and his socials.   

30 April 2024: Lamar drops ‘Euphoria’ as his six-minute-long comeback

After a slew of tracks heating up the battle, it was time for K dot to return to the arena, and he did so with a scathing, merciless diss track titled after the HBO hit produced by Drake – Euphoria

Make no mistake, Lamar came for blood in this track and unleashed his dislike for his nemesis – from attacking Drake’s parenting (“I got a son to raise, but I can see you know nothin’ ’bout that”) and his plastic surgery allegations (“Didn’t tell ’em where you get your abs from”), to calling out his use of AI (“You not a rap artist, you a scam artist with the hopes of bеing accepted”) – brutally.

Additionally, he blasted Drake for using the n-word, reminding listeners of his biracial identity.

After round 1, both the rappers saw a big increase in streams. While ‘Euphoria’ made it to No. 1 on the daily U.S. Spotify chart, Drake’s ‘Push Ups’ rose to No. 11.

3 May 2024: Lamar pulls a Drake with ‘6:16 in LA’

 

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A post shared by Kendrick Lamar (@kendricklamar)

Just three days later, Lamar released ‘6:16 in LA’. No points for guessing what the title is a nod to! (Drake’s signature timestamp-location tracks like ‘5am in Toronto’)

Posted as an Instagram reel, the song onboarded producer Jack Antonof, as an apt retaliation to Drake’s ‘Taylor Made Freestyle’ (Antonoff has been a consistent producer for Swift).

The lyrics claimed Drake’s own team is against him (“everyone inside your team is whispering that you deserve it”) and stated Drake “can’t ‘Toosie Slide’ up out of this one,” a dig at his 2020 hit.

3 May 2024: Drake gets personal with ‘Family Matters’ 

When the going gets tough, the tough gets going; and that is exactly what Drake did when things got a little too serious with the retaliations. He dropped a nearly eight-minute-long track titled ‘Family Matters’. 

Composed in a tryptic form, much akin to Lamar’s ‘Euphoria’, with three beat switches leading to different flows, the track alleges Lamar engaged in domestic violence against his long-time partner, Whitney Alford, leading to adultery. With lyrics like “You the Black messiah wifing up a mixed queen / And hit vanilla cream to help out with your self-esteem / On some Bobby sh*t, I wanna know what Whitney need”, Drake even went on to insinuate that one of Lamar’s kids is not his biological child.  

The song was released along with an official music video laden with cryptic messages that have since kept fans digging for more hints.

4 May 2024: The Kendrick vs Drake beef deepens with Lamar’s ‘Meet The Grahams’ diss

Barely half an hour later, Kendrick fired back with ‘Meet the Grahams’, presumably referencing his legal name, Aubrey Graham. Continuing the theme of family and relationships, Lamar got extremely personal with his lyrics, targeting multiple members of Drake’s kin and even insinuating Drake has a baby girl.

“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,” Lamar rapped.

4 May 2024: Kendrick goes for a hat trick with ‘Not Like Us’

In this explosive track released within 24 hours of his last one, Lamar alleges Drake is a “certified paedophile”. He sings, “Say, Drake, I hear you like ’em young”. 

Produced by Mustard, the diss track also targets several of Drake’s associates working with him. A strategical mastermind, the song emerges victorious with its shrewd timing, giving Drake no respite from a three-fold attack, while making Drake’s old tracks look irrelevant in a race that has left him far behind.

5 May 2024: Drake’s ‘The Heart Part 6’ clears the air

Dissecting every allegation made against him in the last few tracks, the rapper made his own entry into Kendrick Lamar’s famed The Heart series.

Drake continued to double down on domestic violence allegations against the Compton rapper as well as his wife’s illicit child as mentioned in his earlier track. He rhymes, “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.”

As for the underage dating claims, Drake referenced his friendship with 20-year-old Stranger Things actress Millie Bobby Brown, declaring, “I’d never look twice at no teenager.”

(Hero image credit: Instagram/champagnepapi and Batiste Safont, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons; Feature image credit: Instagram/champagnepapi)

This story first appeared on Augustman Malaysia

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