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Rap Civil War: The timeline between Drake vs. Kendrick

COMMENTARY: Before a new diss track gets dropped, Jose Rojas catches you up on the feud.

Rapper Kendrick Lamar appears at the MTV Video Music Awards, on Aug. 27, 2017, in Inglewood, Calif., left, and Canadian rapper Drake appears at the premiere of the series “Euphoria,” in Los Angeles on June 4, 2019. (AP Photo)

By Jose Rojas

Rap has always been a genre of music associated with disses and lyrical battles between artists. Nas vs Jay Z, N.W.A vs Ice Cube, Pac vs Big E. These legendary rap feuds have been etched in history with the most recent feud being between Drake and Kendrick Lamar. This feud has an extensive timeline featuring multiple tracks, different artists, and MASSIVE accusations on both ends.  Before a new diss track gets dropped, let’s catch you up:

  • This current feud between the Toronto rapper (Drake) and Mr. Morale (Kendrick) started to simmer when Drake dropped “First Person Shooter” featuring J.Cole on his October 2023 album, For All the Dogs. The Drake song doesn’t directly diss Kendrick but does include a line where J.Cole says, “Love when they argue the hardest MC? Is it K. Dot? Is it Aubrey? Or me?” (Kendrick also goes by K.Dot and Drake’s first name is Aubrey). There was speculation that Kendrick was offered a verse on the song but declined due to what we know now to be his disdain for Drake. Not much came out of this song in terms of drama, but this is where listeners speculate that the feud timeline begins.


  • Four months later on April 6th, Kendrick was featured on a Future and Metro Boomin collaboration album, We Don’t Trust You, on a track called “Like That.” Kendrick shot first with his verse stating, “F**k sneak dissin’, first person shooter I hope they came with three switches.” The entire verse consisted of Kendrick taking apart both Drake and J.Cole, dissing “First Person Shooter” and stating that he doesn’t care about the “Big 3” because he’s the best. This specific verse is what initially sparked the public feud between the two and left rap fans wondering what would come and how Drake would respond.



  • Next, an unofficial Drake track titled “Taylor Made Freestlye” leaked on April 26th by @PaperChaserCEO. The song called Kendrick a sell out to Taylor Swift and Maroon 5. “But now we gotta wait a f***in’ week ’cause Taylor Swift is your new Top and if you ’bout to drop, she gotta approve.” The song was leaked around the time Swift dropped her album, The Tortured Poets Department, and questioned if Kendrick was scared to drop any songs due to the competition. Drake also used an AI-generated 2Pac voice to further diss Kendrick. The use of artificial intelligence in the song was highly criticized but sent a message that Drake was looking to disrespect Kendrick’s Compton roots to the maximum extent.


The feud hit a fever pitch during the weekend of May 4th and 5th, when four more diss tracks would be released.

  • Drake dropped “Family Matter,” on Saturday, May 4th, his response track to “Euphoria.” The song tried matching “Euphoria” in terms of changing the flow multiple times, dissing other rappers, and accusing Kendrick of domestic abuse against his fiancé, along with questioning the paternity status of Kendrick’s daughter, Uzi. Drake also dropped a music video destroying the van on the cover of Kendrick’s album Good Kid Maad City. The song was catchy and had great replay value

It’s too bad that Kendrick dropped a response track a half an hour later.

  • The most damning diss track of the entire feud “Meet the Grahams,” dropped exactly a half an hour after “Family Matters.” Kendrick seemingly knew what was coming and completely dismissed everything Drake proclaimed. The track described different “letters” sent to Drake’s family members, the first warning to Graham’s son. The “letter” warned about the alleged dangers the child was exposed to and accused Drake of grooming and having sex offenders around his child. He then shifted to Drake’s parents and blamed them for how they raised their son. Kendrick ended the track by trying to expose Drake for having a secret second child. The song exploded overnight with 10 million views in a 12-hour timeframe, but Kendrick wasn’t done.


  • On Sunday, May 5th Kendrick dropped “Not Like Us,” doubling down on calling Drake a predator. Kendrick used a DJ Mustard beat to up the tempo to ensure there was replay ability. At this point in the feud, it felt like Kendrick was kicking a dead horse, but the song hit over a million views in less than half an hour and trended worldwide. The internet was in a frenzy with the song and videos quickly surfaced of clubs and bars playing the song with the world seemingly turning on Drake and deeming Kendrick the winner.


  • Drake again responded on Sunday, May 5th with a somewhat lackluster track called, “The Heart Part 6.” Drake denied the predator accusations, stating that he planted all the information that Kendrick used in “Meet the Grahams.” The track could barely be called a diss because Drake mostly used the time to deny accusations, double down on Kendrick’s assault allegation, and seemingly bowing out of the beef, saying “I don’t wanna diss you anymore, this really got me second-guessin’.” NME proclaimed that the song had passed one million dislikes on YouTube.


  • Though no new song was dropped, Drake posted a cryptic Instagram message on May 11th, saying “Good times. Summer vibes up next.”  Did this message signal Drake’s desire to end the feud?


Rap fans and industry giants like Rolling Stones would say that Kendrick won the battle.  Other publications such as Salon feel that tearing down rap’s biggest stars doesn’t help the genre. From a business perspective, did influencers win the battle when the artists waived copyrights from the diss tracks?  And from a legal perspective, is the next thing we are going to see are lawsuits?


This legendary rap feud has many angles that will continue to play out.

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