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Big three, big beef

Drake, Kendrick Lamar, and J. Cole find themselves amid more diss tracks even after a decade of conflict.
CC BY-NC 4.0 DEED, cropped, by samgendelman
Cartoon art of J. Cole (left), Drake (center), and Kendrick Lamar (right).

In August of 2013, rising Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar made his name and mission clear by calling out massive hip hop names like Meek Mill, ASAP Rocky, and J. Cole. Out of his list, Drake stood out as the only one to retaliate against the attack.

As of 2024, the infamous beef between Drake and Kendrick reaches new heights as both artists openly attack each other in newly released songs “Push Ups” and “Like That.”

While standing at the forefront of many passionate listeners’ watchlists, few understand the origins of one of hip hop’s most intricate divisions.

In 2011, Drake began to make a name for himself within the rap industry. This rising star showed some clear promise for the future and made sure to state that he was ready for competition. 

At the same time, Kendrick was starting to gain a following and eventually got into contact with Drake in his hometown of Toronto. This initial encounter was highly positive for both musicians as it gave Kendrick a spot on Drake’s tour and features traded between the two. 

Despite a friendly beginning to their relationship, clear discrepancies began to appear between the two. Drake began to push toward mainstream commercialism, incorporating themes of pop to appeal to the masses while Kendrick continued a conscious focus on social commentary that sought to create true change against the corruption he was raised in. So after huge success with his critically acclaimed album, “Good Kid M.A.A.D City,” Kendrick had his final collaboration with Drake on ASAP Rocky’s song “F**ckin’ Problems.”

Tensions continued to rise between the artists as they discussed their growing controversy on podcasts. When Kendrick’s feature on “Control” by Big Sean was released in 2013, the beef exploded. Drake felt personally attacked by Kendrick’s name drop even though he claimed that Kendrick was just talking. 

In the meantime, J. Cole and Kendrick quickly squashed their beef after just a few verses calling each other out. While J. Cole and Kendrick eventually started working together, J. Cole continued to claim his spot on the rap throne, eventually upsetting Kendrick enough to call him out in “Like That,” the Metro Boomin’ song that brought the conflict between the rappers to light again.

Within the song, Kendrick’s main point is that he is not to be compared with Drake and J. Cole who are considered to make up the big three of rap. Kendrick sees himself in a league of his own and believes that he is the best rapper, not a part of some group. This sort of claim is commonly seen in thousands of hip hop songs as artists always try to elevate themselves above their competition.

Drake has repeatedly attempted to make amends with Kendrick in the past by congratulating him on awards, complimenting his talent, and releasing a song, “Push Ups,” to put the beef to rest.

Drake makes his stance clear by calling Kendrick and other rappers who dissed him out on their flaws. While comments on physical appearance are not always the strongest attacks, Drake calling Kendrick out on his short stature works well to give him a reality check. 

As the drama awaits a response, Drake seems to be in the lead. On the other hand, many have taken to questioning Drake’s diss track as being ghostwritten, which refers to when Drake was exposed for having his songs written by others in 2015. Nonetheless, the Drake and Kendrick conflict continues to make headlines even after a decade.

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About the Contributor
Daniel Przybylko
Daniel Przybylko, Floating Editor
Daniel Przybylko is a floating editor in his second year as part of The Voice. When working on homework or alone, Daniel loves to listen to hip-hop and rap with his favorite artists being Kanye West, Travis Scott, and Kendrick Lamar. On the weekends, Daniel loves to hang out with his friends, or his sister, Sara.

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