The Kendrick Lamar and Drake Beef Explained: Rappers Drop Ultra-Personal Diss Tracks | Video

Note: This story has been updated following Kendrick Lamar dropping his fourth Drake diss track of the week.

The rap beef between Kendrick Lamar and Drake kept ratcheting up Saturday, when Lamar dropped “Not Like Us” at 7:52 p.m. EST. The song followed Friday’s exchange, which started with Lamar’s “6:16 in LA” Friday morning, Drake dropping “Family Matters” in response that evening — then Lamar quickly clapping back, less than an hour later, with the ultra-personal “Meet the Grahams.”

Lamar doubled down on allegations that Drake has sexual relationships with minors on “Not Like Us.” He rapped, “Say Drake, I hear you like ’em young/You better not ever go to cell block one/To any b—h that talk to him and layin’ love/Just make sure you hide your little sister from ’em.” Elsewhere, he referenced Drake’s 2021 album “Certified Lover Boy” and added, “Certified lover boy, certified pedophile.”

Drake’s relationships with underage girls have been a topic of contention before. He came under fire in 2019 after a video from a 2010 concert showed him dancing with a 17-year-old girl and smelling her hair before kissing the back of her neck. At the time, Drake was 24 years old.

Also in 2019, a then-17-year-old Billie Eilish described Drake as “the nicest dude” in an interview with Vanity Fair. She said, “I mean, I’ve only, like, texted him, but he’s so nice. Like, he does not need to be nice, you know what I mean?” Drake was 33 years old at the time. Drake also developed a close friendship with a young Millie Bobby Brown.

In “Family Matters,” Drake’s response to Lamar’s “euphoria” released Monday, Drake directly challenged Lamar with allegations of physical abuse and infidelity.

Lamar hasn’t addressed the first allegation, but openly admitted to chronically cheating on his partner, Whitney Alford, on his album “Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers.” In the song “Mother I Sober,” Lamar rapped, “Intoxicated, there’s a lustful nature that I failed to mention/Insecurities that I project, sleepin’ with other women/Whitney’s hurt, the pure soul I know, I found her in the kitchen/Askin’ God, ‘Where did I lose myself? And can it be forgiven?'”

Drake also alleged that one of Lamar’s children might have been fathered by filmmaker and record executive Dave Free.

In response, Lamar unleashed an ocean of vitriol at Drake in “Meet the Grahams.” Not content to merely go after his rap target directly, Lamar leveled verses directed at Drake’s young son, his mother and his father before returning to the rapper himself (who all bear the last name Graham) — and also appeared to allege that Drake has a second child he has kept hidden.

Lamar has indicated that he has inside information and people close to Drake sharing that with him, which may be the source of some of the allegations. Drake revealed his son in 2018 following the release of Pusha T’s diss track “The Story of Adidon.”

When it comes to the music the two put out into the world, Lamar and Drake don’t really run in the same circles. While Drake has more cross-cultural appeal based on chart numbers and is widely known for his borderline sugary hits like “Hotline Bling” and “God’s Plan,” Lamar is a Pulitzer Prize winner who has been heralded as one of the greatest rappers of all time.

The reactions

In response to a tweet that questioned reactions to the songs as being “too much” from fans who enjoyed the beef between Notorious B.I.G and Tupac, writer and creator of “Luke Cage” Cheo Hodari Coker — who also has extensive experience as a hip-hop journalist — explained, “This s–t hits different. Maybe had Big released Long Kiss Goodnight in response and not done it as a subliminal, but the reason this s–t is different is the speed and specificity of it. And it feels more personal.”

“..and what we learned from that is this is when maturity wins out. Jay and Nas backed down because Big and Pac was fresh in everyone’s minds…cause right now, this s–t is Cuban Missile Crisis…,” he added.

Reactions and responses to the songs have been across the board.

“The Fault in Our Stars” author John Green had a clear takeaway for Drake: “Drake is learning an important lesson: Never go to war with a rapper who won a f–king Pulitzer.”

Plenty of fans have also gotten in on the conversation. Mark Phillips, who creates content on Instagram under the username Supremedreams_1, has shared a series of videos acting out possible scenarios that might be playing out in the lives of the two rappers.

Rapper Rick Ross, who is admittedly no fan of Drake’s, said that Lamar’s latest offerings are the closest to “what [André] 3000 would be like if he ever was in a battle.”

Comedian Andrew Nadeau offered his own take on the ongoing battle. He tweeted, “I love diss tracks because it’s basically 2 dudes going, ‘grr, we hate each other so much we’re going to take turns writing increasingly personalized poetry!'”

Nadeau added, “Like I’m sorry but if you know me well enough to write a 19 minute poem about me, we’re probably getting married.”

How it started

Things between the two got heated on March 25, when Lamar took aim at Drake and J. Cole on Future and Metro Boomin’s “Like That.”

Lamar responded to Cole’s “First Person Shooter” in which the “Wet Dreamz” artist referenced Drake’s real first name, Aubrey, rapping, “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.”

Then K. Dot, better known as Lamar, responded back, “Yeah get up with me, f–k sneak dissing / ‘First Person Shooter,’ I hope they came with three switches/ Motherf–k the Big Three, n–a, it’s just Big Me.” Kanye West also got in on the action, dropping a “Like That” remix.

Drake and Lamar have an on-again, off-again friendship that dates back at least to 2011, when the former featured the latter on his album “Take Care.” The pair collaborated on more songs, but things fell apart after Lamar name-checked Drake in Big Sean’s “Control.” The pair battled back and forth throughout 2013 before things more or less died down — until this recent reignition.

After weeks of silence following that exchange, Lamar brought the beef back into the public domain with the release of “Euphoria” on Monday. The song is filled with several pop culture references, many of which are directly related to Drake’s career as an actor.

One of the most obvious references is in the song title itself. Drake is an executive producer on the show by the same name. The series often depicts teenagers in scenarios they’re too young for, and Lamar’s reference calls to mind numerous stories about Drake’s inappropriate relationships with young girls, including his questionable texting relationship with “Stranger Things” star Millie Bobby Brown.

The song also opens with the line “eurt si em tuoba yas yeht gnihtyrevE,” which is Richard Pryor’s line from “The Wiz” in reverse: “Everything they say about me is true, I’m a phony.”

Elsewhere in the song, Lamar appeared to reference Drake’s time on the Canadian young adult soap “Degrassi,” in which he played a disabled character. Lamar raps, “The famous actor we once know is lookin’ paranoid and now is spiralin’,” as well as, “And I might do a show a day, once a lame, always a lame.” The word “lame” is considered ableist by many within and outside of the disabled community.

Lamar also appeared to reference actor Haley Joel Osment, megachurch pastor Joel Osteen, and/or both. He rapped, “Am I battlin’ ghost or A.I.? N–a feelin’ like Joel Osteen” and “And my sixth sense tellin’ me to off him,” which could be references to Osment’s movies “A.I. Artificial Intelligence” and “The Sixth Sense.”

Drake previously had to pull one of his own disses off of social media after it used the A.I.-recreated voice of Tupac Shakur. Some observers noted that Lamar was so mad that he didn’t have time to fact-check his song reference. In the opening of “Not Like Us,” he again referenced Osment by whispering “I see dead people.”

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