Drake and Kendrick Lamar have been controlling the hip-hop game for the best part of the last decade, but they’ve also been discreetly feuding for most of this time.
The two rappers couldn’t be any more different, and they represent two very contrasting attitudes in the hip-hop arena. Drizzy isn’t ashamed to say that he chases the charts, and it’s breaking records that gets him motivated. On the other hand, Kendrick makes music for himself rather than anybody else, and anything else is simply a bonus.
While they haven’t been at each other’s throats relentlessly in interviews, the pair have made their feelings abundantly clear about their rival in a series of subliminal bars. This war began when Drake took umbrage with a verse on Kendrick’s 2013 track, ‘Control’, where he name-checked 11 of his peers, such as Mac Miller, Tyler, Meek Mill, and Drizzy. On the track, he raps, “I got love for you all but I’m tryna murder you n*****”.
Even though Lamar initially meant this as a compliment and respected their talent. However, Drake wasn’t happy at his inclusion, which he took as a diss. Speaking with Billboard in 2013, he said, “It just sounded like an ambitious thought to me. That’s all it was. I know good and well that Kendrick’s not murdering me, at all, in any platform.”
In the same year, the Canadian also rapped on ‘Language, “I don’t know why they are lyin’, But you’re shit ain’t that inspirin’,” which was a not so subtle retaliation at Kendrick.
At the BET Awards, Kendrick then snuck in a dig at the self-proclaimed ‘Certified Lover Boy’ and referenced his album Nothing Has Been The Same. Lamar freestyled, “Yeah and nothing’s been the same since they dropped ‘Control’, And tucked a sensitive rapper back in his pyjama clothes.”
Drake later acknowledged that he’d fallen hook line and sinker for Kendrick’s bait on ‘Shit (Remix)’. In an interview with Vibe, he reflected on the situation and said, “I never once said he’s [Kendrick] a bad guy [or] I don’t like him. I think he’s a fucking genius in his own right, but I also stood my ground as I should. And with that came another step, which then I have to realise I’m being baited and I’m not gonna fall.”
In 2014, Lamar finally addressed the situation directly and referred to Drake as “the kid with the motormouth” on ‘Language’, before later saying, “Endin’ our friendship, baby, I’d rather die alone.”
Drizzy again tried to fire shots at him on ‘6 pm in New York’, which prompted Kendrick to question ‘what the fuck happened’ to hip-hop when rappers are using ghostwriters on ‘King Kunta’ in a not so disguised pop at his foe.
On ‘100’, Drake then slammed conscious rap as a genre, and the reaction the scene gets in clubs compared to his jams. By this point, Kendrick was sick and tired with the ‘subliminal hate’ as he referred to it on ‘Darkside/Gone’.
Allegedly, their rivalry finally reached boiling point when they got into a verbal confrontation which was caught on camera. Sadly, the duo’s respective management “destroyed” the tape, according to ESPN’s Marcellus Wiley.
Although the two have staved off childish insults to each other in their tracks in recent years, Kanye West confirmed in November that the beef between the two is still burning bright.