Kendrick Lamar posts another new Drake diss track: A short history of their beef

Drake and Kendrick Lamar

Diss tracks are an essential part of hip-hop. With ‘euphoria’ and ‘6:16 in LA’, Kendrick Lamar lays into Drake without remorse. What’s the story behind his beef with the Canadian rapper?

Much like skits and sampling, diss tracks are one of the unique additions hip-hop has added to the musical art form.

While musicians have always held rivalries – Mozart vs Salieri, Oasis vs Blur, Garfunkel vs Simon – some of the biggest musical bust-ups have not only happened within the hip-hop genre, they’ve also been expressed in their music.

Sure, both Gallagher brothers love nothing more than slagging the other one off in interviews, but they’ve not actually taken to their guitars to air their grievances. A quick trip through the annals of hip-hop though and diss tracks are everywhere.

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There are many reasons for diss tracks. Sometimes, they can come from an aspiring rapper trying to make an impression on the industry. Though these tracks can come with humbling repercussions – see Eminem’s ‘Killshot’ response to Machine Gun Kelly’s embarrassing ‘Rap Devil’. Other times, it can represent genuine vitriol that exists outside of music – 2Pac and the Notorious BIG’s feud comes to mind.

Hip-hop may have celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, but the diss track is far from going out of style. The latest edition to the genre-within-a-genre comes from perhaps the biggest contemporary name in the game: Kendrick Lamar.

The 36-year-old Lamar released ‘euphoria’ on 30 April as a response to Canadian rapper Drake’s recent singles ‘Push Ups’ and ‘Taylor Made’. Just three days later he’s now dropped a second track titled ‘6:16 in LA’, firing more shots at the OVO founder.

In ‘euphoria’, as you might expect from a Pulitzer Prize-winning rapper, Lamar’s verses on the diss track pretty effectively eviscerates Drake with lines like: “You’rе not a rap artist, you a scam artist with the hopes of being accеpted” and “I make music that electrify ’em, you make music that pacify ’em”. That’s just the first verse.

Over the course of the rest of the song, Lamar criticises Drake’s obsession with fame, his desperation to work with Lamar, and most brutally, how Lamar finds Drake’s use of Black American aesthetics personally offensive.

With ‘6:16 in LA,’ Lamar continues his assault on Drake, alleging that his own team is against him. Notably, the beat for the track is co-produced by Jack Antonoff, known for being a close-collaborator of Taylor Swift. This move can be seen as a direct response to Drake’s taunts against Kendrick on the ‘Taylor Made Freestyle’.

Lamar is readily accepted as the current GOAT of the genre who’s yet to release a bad record while Drake’s stock has been in steady downfall since the heady days of 2013’s ‘Nothing Was The Same’.

Given Lamar’s tracks are as predictably devastating as anyone expected, why would Drake bother dissing him in the first place?

A short history on the Kendrick Lamar – Drake feud

This hip-hop beef is both recent and a decade-old spat between Lamar and Drake. While it has certainly flared up in recent weeks, it’s worth going back to the beginning to see how it all began.

Once upon a time, both rappers were pretty amicable towards each other. They were both making great albums (‘Take Care’ and ‘Good Kid, M.A.A.D City’) and had even featured on a handful of songs together, most notably Drake’s ‘Buried Alive Interlude’ and Lamar’s ‘Poetic Justice’.

A lot of love was lost though when Lamar fired the first proverbial shot. In his verse for Big Sean’s 2013 song ‘Control’, Lamar used his verse to assert his new dominance on the hip-hop scene.

In one verse, Lamar made it clear he – prior to even releasing his career-defining album ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’ – considered his stature alongside legends Jay-Z, Nas, Eminem, and André 3000. Not only did he foresee his status alongside those MCs, he also denigrated 11 rappers from the new guard, including J. Cole, Big K.R.I.T., Wale, Pusha T, Meek Mill, ASAP Rocky, Big Sean, Jay Electronica, Tyler, the Creator, Mac Miller, and of course… Drake.

Drake originally dismissed the diss as just an ambitious sentiment from the Compton rapper. But Lamar doubled down on the insult at the 2013 BET Hip Hop Awards later that year.

Supposedly, the two artists have been trading barbs ever since. Probably the most notable is the line from Lamar’s song ‘King Kunta’ from 2015: “I can dig rappin’, but a rapper with a ghostwriter? What the fuck happened?” which has been suggested is aimed at Drake.

Besides the odd theory from hip-hop heads around each release, the Lamar-Drake beef seemed to cool down. Until it was reignited by a set of tracks sent between them and associates over the past few months.

The inciting incident of the latest spat is generally believed to be J. Cole’s line in Drake’s 2023 song ‘First Person Shooter’ that claims that he and the two others are the “big three” of rap these days.

Not that Lamar is petty, but he pretty quickly responded to the suggestion he’s in the “big three” by using his verse on Future and Metro Boomin’s track ‘Like That’ this March to denounce a big three as “it’s just me”.

It was now Cole’s turn to respond to Lamar’s barb. On 5 April, he released ‘7 Minute Drill’ on his ‘Might Delete Later’ mixtape. In it he criticised Lamar’s whole career. While the insults were sharply worded, his suggestions that his albums weren’t up to scratch fell flat. Cole quickly apologised for insulting Lamar and then, true to the mixtape’s name, deleted the track.

While Drake had largely stayed away from the furore by this point, he entered the fray with full force on 19 April releasing two tracks ‘Push Ups’ and ‘Taylor Made’ both insulting Lamar and the beef that had built up over the past decade.

On ‘Push Ups’, Drake takes aim at Future, and Metro Boomin, before laying into Lamar. He insults his height, his business acumen, and his verses on tracks for Maroon 5 and Taylor Swift. Then, on ‘Taylor Made’, Drake which controversially used AI-generated voices of 2Pac and Snoop Dogg, anticipating Lamar’s future diss tracks before reiterating his earlier insult about the rapper being indebted to Swift for a career boost.

So, there you have it. That’s all the background for Lamar’s new diss tracks.

On balance, going through the history, it seems like Lamar could do with turning down his ego a little. Most of the perceived insults against him were rappers equating themselves with him, not even suggesting they surpass him. As it stands, he’s got the discography to stand behind his audacious claims, and his diss tracks and verses have been some of the stronger tracks mentioned here.

But really boys, can’t y’all just get along?

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