Drake And Kendrick Lamar's Rap Beef, Explained

Drake and Kendrick Lamar are embroiled in one of the wildest rap beefs of the 21st century, but what's it all about? When did it all begin? Who's to blame?

Drake in a Lakers jacket with a focused expression at a basketball game
Drake in a Lakers jacket with a focused expression at a basketball game
Closeup of Kendrick Lamar
Closeup of Kendrick Lamar

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I'll do my best to break down a timeline, albeit I'm just a music fan who wants everybody to write songs and get along — but we're far from the days of peace.

Drake (real name Aubrey Graham) is one of the biggest rappers in the game, who went from acting on Degrassi: The Next Generation to being one of the most-streamed award-winning hip-hop artists in the world.

Drake onstage
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Kendrick Lamar (last name Duckworth) is also one of the biggest rappers in the game, who not only snagged some of the most coveted awards — not just Grammys, but a Pulitzer Prize for Music.

Kendrick Lamar onstage
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The bottom line is that Drake and Kendrick are two of the hottest acts in rap. But the hip-hop heavyweights have gone from chill collaborations to nasty allegations over the years. What started as a promising partnership spiraled into a bitter rivalry.

Drake in a formal suit holding a Grammy award on stage
Drake in a formal suit holding a Grammy award on stage
Kendrick Lamar accepting a Grammy onstage
Kendrick Lamar accepting a Grammy onstage

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In November 2011, Drake's second album, Take Care, featured Kendrick on "Buried Alive Interlude." At this time, Kendrick had just released his debut album, Section.80.

Drake onstage
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In February 2012, Kendrick opened for Drake on the Club Paradise Tour alongside A$AP Rocky.

Closeup of Kendrick Lamar onstage
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Later that year, the three rappers collaborated on several songs together. A$AP Rocky's "Fuckin' Problems" featured Drake, Kendrick, and 2 Chainz. And "Poetic Justice" from Kendrick's second album, Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, featured Drake.

Closeup of A$AP Rocky and Drake
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In August 2013, Kendrick was featured on Big Sean's "Control," a promotional single from his second album Hall of Fame (the track was later cut due to sampling issues). The Inglewood rapper took shots at artists like J. Cole, Meek Mill, Pusha T, A$AP Rocky, Jay Electronica, and even Big Sean, rapping, "trying to make sure your core fans never heard of you."

Kendrick Lamar
Chris Mckay / WireImage

That same month, in a Billboard cover story, Drake responded, "I know good and well that he's not murdering me, at all, in any platform. So when that day presents itself, I guess we can revisit the topic."

Drake on stage in a concert, holding a microphone, wearing a graphic shirt, and pointing into the audience

In the same year, Drake seemingly took shots at Kendrick on "The Language" from his third studio album, Nothing Was the Same.

Gilbert Carrasquillo / Getty Images

Later that year, Kendrick continued to take subtle musical jabs when he seemingly referenced Drake during the 2013 BET Hip-Hop Awards Cypher, noting that his feature on "Control" had other rappers hot and bothered, most notably Drake.

Kendrick Lamar and others onstage
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In 2015, Kendrick seemingly called out Drake over ghostwriting allegations on "King Kunta" from his third album, To Pimp a Butterfly.

Closeup of Kendrick Lamar onstage
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In the same year, Drake seemingly countered on a feature from The Game's "100," saying if he "didn't go pop" and "stay on some conscious shit," he would have everyone's fans.

Closeup of Drake onstage
Erika Goldring / FilmMagic

Fast-forward to October 2023, when Drake and J. Cole teamed up for "First Person Shooter" from Drake's eighth album, For All the Dogs. J. Cole rapped the lyrics, "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."

Drake and J. Cole onstage

While J. Cole's lyricism might've been a nod to a friendly rivalry, Drake and Kendrick's beef had been sizzling on the skillet for years.

Sonia Recchia / WireImage

March 2024, Kendrick was featured on Future & Metro Boomin's "Like That" from the collaborative album We Don't Trust You. Kendrick fired back at the "Big 3" claims, rapping, "Motherfuck the big three, nigga, it's just big me." His verse also included references to Drake's latest album.

Future and Kendrick Lamar onstage
Paras Griffin / Getty Images for BET

Drake apparently responded during the Sunrise, Florida show of his It's All A Blur — Big as the What Tour, saying, "I got my fucking head up high, my back straight, I'm 10 fucking toes down in Florida or anywhere else I go, and I know that no matter what, there's not a nigga on this earth that could ever fuck with me in my life. And that's how I want you to walk outta here tonight."

Closeup of Drake
Carmen Mandato / Getty Images

Then, in a matter of days, J. Cole released an unreleased track, "7 Minute Drill," in response to Kendrick's diss. It was initially featured on his fourth mixtape, Might Delete Later. He claimed that his spirit didn't feel right being involved in the beef with Kendrick, and apologized.

J. Cole onstage
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In April 2024, Drake released two diss tracks on streaming services: "Push Ups" and "Taylor Made Freestyle." While the first diss track apparently fired at Rick Ross, Metro Boomin, Future, and The Weeknd, the follow-up was clearly for Kendrick.

Drake wearing a denim jacket and jeans smiles while sitting courtside at a basketball game

On April 30, Kendrick responded with a six-minute diss track titled "Euphoria," which suddenly dug deeper into criticism of Drake, including his ethnicity, appearance, and hip-hop credibility.

Kendrick Lamar onstage
Astrida Valigorsky / Getty Images,

A couple of days later, Kendrick dropped another diss track titled "6:16 in LA," taking shots at not only Drake but his entire record label OVO. He claimed that there was even a mole in Drake's camp.

On May 3, Drake released yet another third diss track, "Family Matters," which contained accusations of infidelity directed at Kendrick's relationship with his fiancé, Whitney Alford, and pulled its melodies from their former collaboration, "Buried Alive Interlude."

Drake onstage

On the same track, Drake disses The Weeknd, Metro Boomin, Future, Rick Ross, and A$AP Rocky — all artists he's worked with in the past who now have bad blood with him.

Prince Williams / WireImage

The next day, Kendrick responded with another diss track, "Meet the Grahams," that made accusations against Drake's family life, including allegedly hiding his daughter from the public.

Kendrick Lamar onstage
Taylor Hill / WireImage

Finally, less than 24 hours later, Kendrick released another diss track, "Not Like Us," doubling down on every accusation from the previous tracks.

Kendrick Lamar onstage
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Drake appeared unfazed by the onslaught of diss tracks, posting to Instagram, "Nahhhh hold on can someone find my hidden daughter pls and send her to me... these guys are in shambles."

Screenshot from Drake's Instagram story

Based on the brevity of the rappers' accusations and claims in the latest diss tracks, there's no telling how long this rap beef will continue to unfold.

Drake onstage
Drake onstage
Kendrick Lamar onstage
Kendrick Lamar onstage

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There are plenty of lyrical breakdowns of each track, amateur dissertations on the double, triple, and quadruple entendre, and a handful of additional pieces in this chess match that could explain where it all went south.

Some folks will argue that rap beef is good for the genre, but the lyrics have moved far away from "who's the greatest of all time." I've been around long enough to know this will get uglier before it gets any better.

Silhouetted performer with a microphone extends hand outward on stage
Silhouetted performer with a microphone extends hand outward on stage
Silhouette of an unidentified person in profile wearing a cap and jacket against a light background
Silhouette of an unidentified person in profile wearing a cap and jacket against a light background

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I honestly believe J. Cole had the right idea of escaping the madness while he was ahead. You played yourself if you thought I was going to take a side.

UPDATE: On May 5, Drake released "The Heart Part 6," which name is from Kendrick's ongoing, five-part "The Heart" series. He used the track to deny most allegations against him, claim he intentionally leaked false information, and rehash the accusations against Kendrick.

May. 06, 2024, at 07:25 AM

I'll attempt to keep you updated as the rest of the Drake and Kendrick back-and-forth unfolds.