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Drake, Kendrick Lamar beef: What to know

Two of hip-hop’s biggest stars have beef and people are taking sides.

Kendrick Lamar and Drake have been engaged in a lyrical battle in recent weeks that escalated over the weekend. The two artists each released songs about the other, in one case with Lamar not even waiting a full hour before he dropped a track in response to one of Drake’s.

Here’s what you need to know about the verses that have been a hot topic of cultural conversation.

Early collaborations

There is plenty we don’t know in terms of why there is apparent animosity between the two superstar rappers, but we do know that there is history.

Back in 2011, Lamar appeared on Drake’s second album “Take Care” on “Buried Alive Interlude.” It was the same year Lamar released his debut studio album “Section.80.”

The two men were both carving a place for themselves in the industry at the time, with Drake then best known as an actor for his role as student Jimmy Brooks in the Canadian teen TV series, “Degrassi.”

The pair would go on to tour together and collaborate on the track “Poetic Justice” on Lamar’s sophomore studio album, “Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City.”

“King of New York” tries to take “Control”

As one of hip-hop’s rising stars, Lamar leaned into his growing success with the swagger one would expect in the rap game during a guest appearance on Big Sean’s 2013 single, “Control.”

Multiple artists are name-checked in the song, including Drake. The lyrics include, “I got love for you all but I’m tryna murder you,” a euphemism for besting them professionally. Lamar proclaims himself both “King of New York” and “King of the Coast.”

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Drake told Billboard of the verse, “I didn’t really have anything to say about it.”

“It just sounded like an ambitious thought to me. That’s all it was,” Drake said at the time. “I know good and well that Kendrick’s not murdering me, at all, in any platform. So when that day presents itself, I guess we can revisit the topic.”

An ‘Infinity War’ of rappers

The pair have continued to take shots at each other on tracks over the years, but this latest skirmish appears to have begun in October 2023, when rapper J. Cole collaborated with Drake on the song, “First Person Shooter.”

On the track, Cole refers to himself, Lamar and Drake as the “Big three” in rap. Drake likened his own popularity in the game to the stardom of the late singer Michael Jackson.

Lamar seemingly took exception to the comparisons and hit back on a collaborative track with Future and Metro Boomin that caught fire in March 2024, titled “Like That.”

Lamar makes clear on the song that there is no “Big three” just “Big me.” He casts himself as Prince to Drake’s Jackson, noting that the former outlived the latter.

“Like That” is a cut on the album “We Don’t Trust You,” which many believe is filled with disses aimed at Drake. The apparent jabs surprised some listeners as Drake and Future have been longtime collaborators.

Things got even more heated when Future and Metro Boomin released the followup “We Still Don’t Trust You,” which Billboard magazine declared is “filled with Drake disses, not only from Future, but from The Weeknd and A$AP Rocky as well.”

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With so many coming after the Canadian rapper lyrically, it started feeling like Marvel Infinity War of hip-hop superheroes battling it out. The man who helped kick it all off, J. Cole, quickly exited the battle.

Cole released “7 Minute Drill” on a surprise project “Might Delete Later” in which he came after Lamar, only to later declare the song lame. He removed it from streaming services, publicly apologized and has gone quiet since.

Drake pushes back

Last month, Drake dropped the diss track “Push Ups” in which he poked fun at Lamar’s shoe size to his past collaborations with pop stars.

“Maroon 5 need a verse, you better make it witty / Then we need a verse for the Swifties,” Drake raps, appearing to mock Lamar’s work with Maroon 5 on their song “Don’t Wanna Know” and with Swift on her song “Bad Blood.”

Drake also took a swipe at Rick Ross, who was featured on “We Don’t Trust You.” Ross then began a social media war of words with Drake, which included accusing Drake of having undergone plastic surgery.

K.Dot’s onslaught

Lamar, known also as K.Dot, responded with multiple volleys.

First there was “Euphoria,” which is now as famous for the insults lobbed at Drake as it is for making the general public aware that the rapper was also an executive producer on the hit HBO drama. (HBO is owned by CNN’s parent company.)

Within days, Lamar followed that with “6:16 in LA,” which many interpreted to be making fun of Drake’s penchant for titling songs with times and locations.

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Drake gets personal with “Family Matters”

Things got increasingly personally in this rap battle on Saturday, when Drake dropped the eight-minute diss track, “Family Matters.” He makes allegations about abuse and infidelity involving Lamar and his fiancée, Whitney Alford, on the song.

Don’t mess with a Pulitzer Prize winner

Lest we forget that Lamar made history in 2018 by becoming the first rapper to win a prestigious Pulitzer Prize for his album “DAMN,” he didn’t even let an hour go by after the release of “Family Matters” to drop a response, titled “Meet The Grahams.” (Drake’s legal name is Aubrey Graham.)

The song gets heavy as Lamar addresses Drake’s parents and Drake’s parenting, accusing him of have a secret daughter. Lamar followed that within hours with another song, titled “Not Like Us,” in which accuses Drake of being attracted to underage girls.

Drake responds

Drake again had his say on Sunday with “The Heart Part 6.” On this song, Drake claims he’s the one who fed Lamar fake information about a secret child.

“We plotted for a week and then we fed you the information/A daughter that’s 11 years old, I bet he takes it,” Drake raps.

CNN has reached out to representatives for both artists for comment.

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