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The Kendrick Lamar vs. Drake Beef, Explained


When asked, the two rappers tended to profess admiration for one another’s skill, but seemed to trade subtle digs in verses over the years, always with plausible deniability and in the spirit of competition, leading to something of a hip-hop cold war.

Lamar’s first targeted response, “Euphoria,” was more than six minutes long and released last Tuesday morning. In three sections that raised the temperature as they built, he warned Drake about proceeding and insisted, somewhat facetiously, that things were still friendly. “Know you a master manipulator and habitual liar too,” Lamar rapped. “But don’t tell no lie about me and I won’t tell truths ’bout you.”

He accused the biracial Drake, who was born and raised in Toronto, of imitating Black American heritage and insulting him subliminally. “I hate the way that you walk, the way that you talk, I hate the way that you dress,” Lamar said. “I hate the way that you sneak diss, if I catch flight, it’s gon’ be direct.” And he called Drake’s standing as a father into question: “Teachin’ him morals, integrity, discipline/listen, man, you don’t know nothin’ ’bout that.”

Days later, Lamar doubled down with an Instagram-only track called “6:16 in LA,” borrowing both Drake’s “Back to Back” diss tactic from his 2015 beef with Meek Mill and a song title structure lifted from what is known as Drake’s time-stamp series of raps. Opting for psychological warfare on a beat produced in part by Jack Antonoff, Swift’s chief collaborator, Lamar hinted that he had a mole in Drake’s operation and was aware of his opponent’s opposition research.

“Fake bully, I hate bullies, you must be a terrible person,” he rapped. “Everyone inside your team is whispering that you deserve it.”

That night, Drake’s “Family Matters” started with its own justification for getting personal — “You mentioned my seed, now deal with his dad/I gotta go bad, I gotta go bad” — before taking on Lamar’s fatherhood and standing as a man in excruciating detail. “They hired a crisis management team to clean up the fact that you beat on your queen,” Drake rapped. “The picture you painted ain’t what it seem/you’re dead.”





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