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Rap Battle or Career Ender?

Colin Nichols
The image of each song made by or with a feature by Kendrick Lamar and Drake(From left to right): “Push Ups,” by Drake, courtesy of OVO Sound, “6:16 in L.A.,” by Kendrick, Self Released, “Euphoria,” by Kendrick, courtesy of Interscope Records, “Meet the Grahams,” by Kendrick, courtesy of Interscope Records, “The Heart Part 6,” by Drake, courtesy of OVO Sound, the album “FATD,” specifically “First Person Shooter,” by Drake ft. J. Cole, courtesy of OVO Sound and Republic Records, “Family Ties,” by Baby Keem and Kendrick, courtesy of Columbia Records and pgLang, “Family Matters,” by Drake, courtesy of OVO Sound and Republic Records, “Like That,” Official Music video by Future and Metro Boomin’ ft. Kendrick Lamar, courtesy of Wilburn Holding Co., Boominati Worldwide, Epic Records, and Republic Records, and “Not Like Us,” by Kendrick, courtesy of Interscope Records. Collage courtesy of Colin Nichols.

“F*** a rap battle, this a long life battle with yourself,” 

Kendrick Lamar said on “Meet the Grahams.”

At first, this “rap battle,” was about petty insults and “sneak” disses(and it still is partly). However, quickly both sides started spewing allegations potentially ruining reputations and involving severe legal consequences. Kendrick asserted Drake was a pedophile and has a daughter while claiming he does drugs. Drake however claims Kendrick is a wifebeater and has no proof of what Kendrick is accusing him of doing. Both claims, if true, could lead to potentially career-threatening consequences.

This explains why many people are talking about J-Cole making a great decision to publicly apologize for dissing Kendrick in “7 Minute Drill,” and taking down the song after realizing it was the “lamest s*** I ever did in my f***ing life,” Cole said at the Dreamville Festival, because Kendrick and Drake have taken this battle a lot further than most in the community thought they would’ve.

However, the resentment didn’t come out of nowhere. For a long time, the artists have had tension, including Kendrick questioning Drake’s cultural identity. Also, there have been accusations of Drake using plastic surgery, supported by Metro Boomin’, who made a beat called BBL Drizzy, accusing Drake(Drizzy) of undergoing a BBL(Brazilian Butt Lift), and asked the community to write lyrics for the beat, and whoever did would get the beat for free along with a $10,000 cash prize.

Also, in “Euphoria,” Kendrick claimed Drake had plastic surgery on his abdominals as well using a V12 Cryolipolysis Slimming Machine.

“Didn’t tell ’em where you get your abs from

V12, it’s a fast one, bow-bow-bow, last one.”

However, in terms of musical communication, after May 5, neither artists as of now have released any more songs about the topic. Drake has denied the allegations regarding pedophilia and a secret child made by Kendrick in “The Heart Part 6,” so legally unless proof is presented both artists seem to be in a legal stalemate.

“Just for clarity, I feel disgusted, I’m too respected

If I was f***ing young girls, I promise I’d have been arrested,”

Drake wrote on “The Heart Part 6.”

However, the parenting and cultural identity insults have continued.

In “Meet the Grahams,” a single by Kendrick released on May 3, within 45 minutes after Drake’s single “Family Matters,” Kendrick throws insults at Drake while explaining how he is a horrible father and is offering advice to Drake’s son as if he didn’t have a father figure. Kendrick styled this song to portray a conversation between Drake’s parents and children and Kendrick in a condescending and resentful tone toward Drake’s personality and parenting.

“He a narcissist, misogynist, livin’ inside his songs, 

Try destroy families rather than takin’ care of his own,” 

Kendrick wrote on “Meet the Grahams.”

Additionally, Kendrick is sympathizing with and granting pity in an insulting way to Drake’s family and Dad because of Drake’s alleged psychopathic tendencies and “sickness,” as phrased by Kendrick on “Meet the Grahams,” as a pedophile. He tells people to hide their sisters and daughters from Drake, presumably because he might groom them, like he allegedly did to celebrity star Millie Bobby Brown. 

In 2018, 14 year old Brown, currently 20 years old, said in an interview, “We just texted each other the other day and he was like, ‘I miss you so much,’ and I was like, ‘I miss you more!’” Drake was 31 at the time of the texting and Instagram posts.

Additionally, in 2019, Drake kissed and touched a “17”-year-old girl inappropriately at one of his shows. However, Drake is part Canadian, one of the reasons as to why Kendrick questions his identity as a black man, and in Canada the age of consent is 16.

Kendrick’s pedophilia allegations don’t end there, however. In the sequel song released on May 4 by Kendrick “Not like Us,” Kendrick further continues the allegations against Drake while claiming his multi-million dollar mansion residence hosts multiple registered sex offenders through the song picture showing child predator markings on a Maps image of Drake’s mansion.

However, Kendrick is not dramatizing the situation by spewing allegations through hip-hop. Since hip-hop is his art form, he is using it to unravel and speak up about the real potential actions and criminalistic tendencies of Drake, which some might consider to be stretching the issue, when it simply is how he communicates how he feels best. He did this with his three times certified platinum 2017 album, “D*MN.” where through his music he discusses and illuminates society’s darkest problems and inequalities.

However, despite Kendrick’s allegations, Drake is standing strong and asking for proof from Kendrick. Due to Drake’s reputation, popularity, and wealth, it is not surprising he is not wavering.

“Your fans are rejoicin’, thinkin’ this is my expiration,” 

Drake wrote on “The Heart Part 6.” He references how Kendrick’s fans would be “rejoicing” if his reputation is ruined.

Additionally, Drake introduces allegations of Kendrick’s domestic violence toward his wife Whitney Alford while mentioning she could always hook up with Drake, essentially trying to steal Kendrick’s wife, another disrespectful jab along with the legal allegations.

“And Whitney, you can hit me if you need a favor, 

and when I say I’ll hit ya back, it’s a lot safer,” 

Drake said on “The Heart Part 6.”

This is referring to Kendrick’s alleged domestic abuse toward Alford, using wordplay to convey Drake metaphorically “hitting” on Kendrick’s wife would not involve physical violence.

The disrespect does not stop there, as Drake also had sexual relations with rapper Lil Wayne’s girlfriend while he was in jail. However, Drake got a tattoo of Wayne on his left arm in apology and Drake and Wayne are still friends and have been for the past decade.

The whole battle initially turned into legal allegations after Kendrick Lamar released “Euphoria” on April 30, his single diss track response with three beat switches to Drake’s “Push Ups,” single, released on April 19, the response to Kendrick’s feature on “Like That,” by Future and Metro Boomin’, a song on the album by Future and Metro Boomin’ “We Don’t Trust You,” released on March 22.

Euphoria,” turned the heat up on the diss game within the hip-hop community, garnering an overwhelmingly 9.28 million first-day streams compared to Drake’s “Push Ups,” gathering up only 5.63 million first-day streams. This trend continued, with Kendrick’s tracks amounting much more streams than Drake’s songs.

One of the biggest parts of this diss, the detail connecting the whole hip-hop community is the mention of hip-hop legend Tupac Shakur. 

Drake originally released a song on his social media profiles called “Taylor Made Freestyle,” containing a 2Pac and Snoop Dogg verse constructed using AI, however this was taken down by Drake after the Tupac Estate threatened lawsuit

In “Family Matters,” Drake alleges that Kendrick contacted the Tupac Estate in an attempt to get the AI verse-ridden song removed from streaming services.

“You called the Tupac estate

And begged ’em to sue me and get that s*** down,”

Drake wrote on “Family Matters.”

The Tupac Estate in a statement said the use of Tupac’s “voice and personality,” was a “blatant abuse of the legacy of one of the greatest hip-hop artists of all time,” and the “estate would never have given its approval for this use.” 

Additionally, Drake is bi-racial, being both African-American and Canadian. Kendrick questions the authenticity of Drake’s cultural identity by asking Drake:

“How many more black features ’til you finally feel that you’re black enough?”

Kendrick wrote on “Euphoria.” 

Also, Kendrick is essentially trying to oust Drake out of the black and brown community in the following lines:

“I even hate when you say the word “n****”, but that’s just me, I guess

…We don’t wanna hear you say “n****” no more,”

Kendrick said on “Euphoria.” 

The n-word is a word with a violent and devastating history, and Kendrick is essentially saying Drake isn’t a part of the black and brown community and shouldn’t be saying the word. Drake however uses the word with pride and respect for its history in the beginning of his song “Family Matters.”

Also in “Family Matters,”  Drake counters this by claiming Kendrick is being racist himself with the lines:

Unless you don’t want to be seen

With anyone that isn’t Blacker than you

We get it, we got it

The blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice.

This line was written on Tupac’s 1993 track “Keep ya Head Up,” where he writes, 

“Some say the blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice, 

I say the darker the flesh, then the deeper the roots.” 

Additionally, Kendrick wrote a song titled “The Blacker the Berry,” in his 2015 album “To Pimp a Butterfly,” depicting the mental fight against the hypocrisy felt by a black person spurring from a racist system and throwing centuries of hate toward institutionalized racism while reaffirming the pride in the black identity.

Drake by quoting the phrase, “The blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice,” and at the same time referring to Kendrick’s song claims Kendrick doesn’t accept those who are not “black enough.” 

While Drake is showing disrespect to Tupac, Kendrick is doing the opposite by showing deep respect to Tupac in “Not like Us,” in the lyrics, 

“You think the Bay gon’ let you disrespect ’Pac…?

Yeah, it’s “All Eyes on Me,” and I’ma send it up to Pac.” 

Kendrick is describing how since everyone is focusing on him, he’s sending all of the respect and attention to Tupac’s legacy. Also, Kendrick uses wordplay because “All Eyes on Me,” is a song by Tupac.

Also, Kendrick belittles Drake in comparison to 2Pac in response to “Taylor Made Freestyle,” on “Euphoria.” 

“I’d rather do that than let a Canadian n**** make Pac turn in his grave.”

However, despite the difference in respect shown for hip-hop legends between Kendrick and Drake, many people still support both artists, and despite all of the allegations and the hate spread by the two artists toward each other, it is clear poetry can be beautifully conveyed through hip-hop music, and this “battle” led to art and connected history.

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