Kendrick Lamar’s raspy vocals echo through hip-hop and popular culture as he clings to the final letter of “minor” in Not Like Us, the controversial song targeting fellow rapper Drake.

This bombshell claim, which has gained international attention, is presented without supporting documentation and casts doubt on Drake’s behavior with young women. One of the biggest musicians in the world, Drake, adamantly disputes it. Not Like Us, which was released on May 4, has pierced public awareness after being discussed on social media, performed at NBA basketball games, and blasted from DJ booths at parties from London to Los Angeles and New York to Atlanta. It’s also only one of nine tracks that make up an incredible, spiraling feud between two of today’s biggest rappers, with unsubstantiated claims of pedophilia, hidden children, and spousal abuse that are all refuted.

This is the culmination of a decade-long, simmering cold war that is now coming to a head. Journalist and content producer Minou Itseli, popularly known as Mimi the Music Blogger, adds, “I think we’ve all expected this to happen at some point.” “Much more than we initially realized, they have been subtly criticizing each other in their songs. However, none could have predicted the extent of the beef.”

Throughout the feud, supporters of both men have declared their favorite to be the victor, and both have received acclaim and criticism.

However, who has emerged from this looking good, if anyone?

Lamar’s line on the song “Like That,” featuring Future and Metro Boomin, kicked things off. Push-ups was Drake’s response, mocking Kendrick Lamar’s accomplishments and reputation as a rap icon. Over 70 million people have listened to that song on Spotify as of right now.

Even more, Drake’s contentious Taylor Made Freestyle used artificial intelligence (AI) to mimic the voices of two of Kendrick Lamar’s idols: Snoop Dogg and the late, great Tupac Shakur. This was done to provoke Lamar into responding. Drake further said that Lamar wasn’t responding to his jabs out of concern that it might delay the release of Taylor Swift’s upcoming album. Drake raps, “If you boutta drop, she gotta approve.” “Taylor Swift is your new top.” Meaning Taylor Swift is Lamar’s boss. It was an obvious message. Drake was prepared to pull Kendrick Lamar down a peg because he doesn’t appreciate the rapper, who is regarded as one of the best of his time.

After that, supporters anxiously awaited what would happen next.Given that Lamar had not yet responded, many on social media believed he wasn’t prepared for the fight.

Euphoria, a song that questioned Drake’s usage of AI, rumors that he underwent plastic surgery, and his parenting abilities, served as his counterargument. Lamar’s passionate delivery of simple lines like “I hate the way that you walk, the way that you talk, I hate the way that you dress” connected with listeners because it highlighted all of Drake’s flaws, and he meant all of them. Because of its powerful effect, US President Joe Biden’s official TikTok film for his campaign against Donald Trump used Euphoria.

Itseli says, “It’s a summary of everything he wanted to say to Drake,” which she feels sums up Lamar’s position well. “If anyone wants a short recap of Kendrick’s side, you’ll find everything in Euphoria.”

Lamar’s 6:16 In Los Angeles, followed next, he contemplates: “Have you ever thought that OVO [Drake’s record label] was working for me? / Everyone inside your team is whispering that you deserve it.” He makes threats to use Drake’s label to cast a forensic light on Drake’s personality in an effort to tarnish his image.

In retaliation, the Canadian rapper went all out. Family Matters takes aim at Kendrick Lamar’s family, alleging that he has physically abused his wife Whitney Alford and that his kid is the biological child of Lamar’s creative collaborator, Dave Free. Drake belts out: “When you put your hands on your girl, is it self-defence ’cause she’s bigger than you?” referring to Lamar and his wife’s disparity in height.

Lamar’s response, “Meet the Grahams,” takes aim at Adonis, the son of Drake, as well as his parents, Dennis and Sandra, as well as a purported hidden daughter that Drake has refuted. With a soothing, almost healing rhythm, Lamar informs Drake, “You got gamblin’ problems, drinkin’ problems, pill-poppin’ problems, and spendin’ problems.”

He also draws attention to Drake’s purported use of the diabetes medication Ozempic for weight loss. Lamar claims that Drake is a damaged man who isn’t who he claims to be.

Not Like Us, which was released later that same day, is full of accusations against Drake, including the lines “say, Drake, I hear you like ’em young, you better not ever go to cell block one” and “Certified Lover Boy, certified paedophiles”—which imply that Drake would be physically abused if he were to go to prison.

Despite being a fiery record, Not Like Us was the top song on Spotify’s global chart as of May 11th, having had over 57 million plays since its debut. Fans of each have inevitably gathered to declare each the winner. Numerous people have complimented the lyrics for revitalizing the genre.

However, whoever you believe to be the winner, one thing is for sure: The world has been amused by the feud, which has improved the reputations of two generations of rap musicians.

( Yemi Abiade, BBC 2024)

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