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  • Writer's pictureCelena Mendez

The Long History Between Kendrick and Drake

In the ever-evolving landscape of hip hop, rivalries and diss-tracks have been cornerstones of the culture since its inception. However, in recent years, as the genre has become more commercialized, genuine lyrical sparring between top-tier artists has become a rare occurrence. Enter Kendrick Lamar and Drake, two of the most influential and successful figures in contemporary rap, whose simmering feud has captivated fans and critics alike.

While both artists have achieved immense success and acclaim in their own right, Kendrick Lamar stands out as a true purveyor of the craft. His lyricism, storytelling prowess, and commitment to social commentary have solidified his place as one of the greatest MCs of his generation. In contrast, Drake, while undoubtedly talented, often leans on catchy hooks, slick production, and mainstream appeal to drive his music.

The feud between Kendrick and Drake can be traced back to Kendrick’s explosive verse on Big Sean’s “Control” in 2013, where he famously called out several of his peers, including Drake, challenging them to elevate their lyrical game. Drake’s response, or lack thereof, was telling. While he addressed the verse in interviews, he never directly engaged with Kendrick on wax, perhaps wary of the Compton wordsmith’s formidable skills on the mic.

Since then, tensions between the two artists have continued to simmer beneath the surface, occasionally bubbling up in subtle jabs and subliminal messages in their songs. However, it wasn’t until Kendrick’s blistering verse on “The Heart Part 4” in 2017 that the feud reignited in full force. In the verse, Kendrick takes aim at an unnamed adversary, widely believed to be Drake, asserting his dominance and questioning the authenticity of his rival’s artistry.

Drake’s response, or lack thereof, spoke volumes. While he released a few tracks that could be interpreted as shots at Kendrick, including “Diplomatic Immunity” and “8 Out of 10,” he never directly addressed the feud head-on. Instead, he chose to focus on his commercial success and maintain his status as the reigning king of hip-hop.

But here’s the thing: hip-hop is not just about record sales and chart positions; it’s about skill, authenticity, and respect. And in that regard, Kendrick Lamar undeniably holds the upper hand. His ability to craft intricate rhyme schemes, thought-provoking narratives, and socially conscious lyrics sets him apart from his peers, including Drake.

While Drake may dominate the airwaves and command legions of fans, his reluctance to engage in a genuine lyrical duel with Kendrick speaks volumes about his priorities as an artist. By sidestepping the challenge, he undermines the very essence of hip-hop culture, which thrives on competition and artistic integrity.

In contrast, Kendrick Lamar has consistently embraced the spirit of competition, pushing himself and his peers to strive for greatness. His willingness to call out his rivals and engage in lyrical warfare demonstrates a level of commitment and passion that is sorely lacking in today’s rap landscape.

Ultimately, the Kendrick and Drake diss beef is not just about two artists trading barbs; it’s about the soul of hip-hop itself. In a genre increasingly dominated by commercial interests and surface-level aesthetics, Kendrick Lamar represents a beacon of authenticity and artistic excellence. And while Drake may continue to reign supreme on the charts, true hip-hop heads know that Kendrick is the one who holds the crown.


Cover photo from Kendrick's song "Not Like Us"

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