Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
June 16, 2024

Kendrick Lamar defeats "BBL Drizzy" in the greatest hip hop feud of all time

By TIMOTHY MCSHEA | May 16, 2024

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PEDRO A. PINA / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Following a slough of insults and accusations, Kendrick Lamar stands tall above Aubrey Graham, a.k.a. Drake.

Kendrick Lamar has won the biggest feud in the history of rap.

“Not Like Us” is now the fastest rap song ever to reach 100 million streams on Spotify, beating the previous recordholder, Drakes’ “God’s Plan.” Even by Drake’s own admission, both on the last track of the feud in “The Heart Part 6” and a corny Instagram story which states: “Good times. Summer vibes up next,” Drake is waving the “white flag” that he wished to drape over the rest of the industry. I have no doubt the hatred still lingers, and there are many accusations left unconfirmed, but at least the public side of the feud has ended.

The question then becomes, who won? It’s hard to argue for Drake’s victory. For one, he voluntarily dropped out of the feud. The artist who was goading Lamar to respond, the one who brought the feud back from the dead, is now the one taking refuge in “summer vibes.” It isn’t quite an admission of guilt, but it’s certainly an admission of fatigue.

Rumors have surfaced that Lamar recorded all three of his responses — “euphoria,” “6:16 in LA” and “Meet the Grahams” — in one session. Drake has been dropping his tracks in reaction to one session.There is more than enough evidence to support this rumor: in “euphoria,” Lamar says word for word, “I can even predict your angle.” This type of psychological victory over Drake cannot be overstated. When Kendrick released “Meet The Grahams” within an hour after Drake’s meticulously planned “Family Matters,” Drake had already lost. He just couldn’t keep up.

If you aren’t convinced that BBL Drizzy (i.e. the one and only Aubrey Drake Graham) has lost, then let’s take a retroactive look at this beef, and compare the two contenders track by track.

“Push Ups” versus “Like That”

As I mentioned in my previous article, Drake’s “Push Ups” was an amazing response to Lamar’s “Like That.” People debate about who started the Kendrick-Drake rap feud, but for me it was always Lamar who struck the first blow. Not only did “Like That” come five months after Drake’s For All The Dogs, but Lamar’s verse is responding to “First Person Shooter,” which isn’t a clear attack in the first place. Regardless of the validity of Drake’s extortion claims on this track, his verse is just... better. Lyrically and simply as a diss, “Push Ups” has far more substance. This isn’t to say Lamar’s “Like That” verse is bad — “... it’s just big me” is an iconic bar — but it’s just a bunch of puns on “First Person Shooter.” At this point, it was Drake: one, Lamar: zero.

“Taylor Made Freestyle” versus “euphoria”

I have to say, I think Drake should’ve definitely done more with the whole Taylor Swift angle. In “Push Ups,” he poked fun at Lamar’s verses with pop artists like Swift and Maroon 5, and in “Taylor Made Freestyle,” he cleverly attacks Lamar’s silence — accusing Lamar of waiting until Swift’s studio album The Tortured Poets Department was released and the hype had died away. Looking back, this claim has some validity to it. Unfortunately, “euphoria” brought this back-and-forth to a whole new level. 

In this six-minute onslaught, Lamar first claims all of Drake’s accusations are baseless lies before accusing Drake of having ghostwriters, using fat removal to get abs and appropriating the Black image to further his rapping career. On top of this, Drake used AI to put words in both Snoop Dogg and Tupac’s mouths in “Taylor Made Freestyle,” which was rightly called out online. This is incredibly low for two reasons: Tupac has been deceased for nearly three decades, and Snoop Dogg is a Los Angeles native who “passed the torch” to Lamar in 2011. What was meant to be a cheeky, dirty attack on Lamar instead highlighted Drake’s ignorance and his lack of actual support from legends of the genre. After these two tracks, Drake and Lamar were tied up.

“Family Matters” versus “Meet the Grahams”

This is the heavyweight matchup. Two powerhouses of disses both aimed at the throat, and yet, these two tracks could not be more different. Sonically, “Family Matters” starts as a typical melodic trap song transitioning into a faster-paced drill beat, and then a head-bopping orchestral sample flip. “Meet the Grahams,” in contrast, is a minimalist, Alchemist beat with descending chromatic piano notes, which stays stubbornly the same throughout its six-minute runtime. 

Shots go back and forth. Drake says that Lamar beats his wife Whitney. Lamar says Drake has multiple sex offenders on his label October’s Very Own. Drake says that Lamar’s second child really belongs to his creative partner Dave Free. Lamar accuses Drake of having a second hidden child.

And then we forget whatever Drake was going to say, because Lamar just said Drake has a second hidden child. 

I acknowledge that there is no evidence to support Drake having a hidden daughter at this time. Judging from Drake’s immediate denial of the accusation, either Drake is lying and deliberately hiding this information, or he has no idea he has another child. Lamar goes on past this bar, though, and he has a lot more to say about Drake's character — according to Lamar, Drake is a gambling addict, pedophile and general pervert. At some point, Drake has stopped talking about Lamar, and Lamar is still showing just how far his hatred goes. I don’t care which is the better song: this is a battle, not an exhibition. Kendrick won here off of sheer focus alone. Kendrick: two, Drake: one.

“The Heart Part 6” versus “Not Like Us”

In the biggest bait-and-switch of all time, Lamar went commercial and in the best way possible. In “Meet the Grahams,” he emptied the clip, threw all his accusations into one brutal song, and before Drake could even respond, Lamar decided to lighten the mood. Thanks to incredible reaction compilations such as the viral video by REACTORS GOIN’ CRAZY, we can see the full effect of “Not Like Us” — the culture is with K. Dot.

Featuring a hard DJ Mustard beat, Lamar doesn’t just defend his home city of LA, but also the American-born culture of Hip Hop. “Not Like Us” is a track which will live in history alongside Tupac’s “Hit ‘Em Up” as songs which captured the spirit of music, and forced their opposing artists to watch in horror as whole hordes of swinging bodies chant the hymn of their downfall.

On the flip side, “The Heart Part 6” amounts to: “I'm way too famous for this shit you just suggested.” That’s not a paraphrase — that’s a real bar from Drake himself. I don’t care what rhyme schemes he used on this song — musically, it’s not the worst — Drake has no proof of any of his claims, all while he simultaneously begs for proof from Lamar. He even attempts to flip the script on Lamar, claiming he set him up with that information about his daughter, but this has been proven false. Drake can’t stop lying, even on a track where he is accusing Kendrick of being dishonest. 

This was the nail in the coffin. Lamar somehow managed to make a more substantial diss on a track which just topped the Billboard Hot 100. He stayed true to his own standards as an artist, while still appealing to the masses. Never has the distance between these two GOATs ever been this apparent. Lamar wins — three to one.

You could argue Drake didn’t even want to win, and that he was more concerned with addressing all the people dissing him. Regardless, if this is supposed to be Lamar versus Drake, Lamar won. If you don’t believe Drake himself, then you’re fighting a losing battle. Re-listen and tell me who cut the hardest. Drake didn’t even cut to the bone.

If you disagree, feel free to leave a comment stating your case. The music is out there — now it’s our turn to carry on the beef.


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