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Pitt track and field athlete inducted into Delaware Sports Museum & Hall of Fame
Pitt track and field athlete inducted into Delaware Sports Museum & Hall of Fame
By Grace McNally, Staff Writer • June 13, 2024
Opinion | Long-distance friendships are possible
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • June 6, 2024

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Pitt track and field athlete inducted into Delaware Sports Museum & Hall of Fame
Pitt track and field athlete inducted into Delaware Sports Museum & Hall of Fame
By Grace McNally, Staff Writer • June 13, 2024
Opinion | Long-distance friendships are possible
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • June 6, 2024

Review | Drake and Kendrick Lamar Beef

Kendrick+Lamar+on+stage+at+the+Coachella+Valley+Music+and+Arts+Festival+April+23%2C+2017.+Lamar+won+the+2018+Pulitzer+Prize+in+Music+for+his+album+%E2%80%9CDAMN.%E2%80%9D+%28Brian+van+der+Brug%2FLos+Angeles+Times%2FTNS%29%0A
TNS
Kendrick Lamar on stage at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival April 23, 2017. Lamar won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in Music for his album “DAMN.” (Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

“The big three” is a term used throughout sports, music and anything else that can be rated. Generally, it’s used to describe the three most prominent, loved or popular entities in a given grouping or category, this term is likely familiar to most. “The big three” can also be used in the music industry and, as will soon be obvious, is one of great contention in the rap industry.

On Drake and J. Cole’s record “First Person Shooter,” J. Cole raps, “Is it K-Dot? Is it Aubrey? Or me? We the big three like we started a league, but right now, I feel like Muhammad Ali.” For years, when rap fans have made a “big three,” the most common and agreed upon trio consists of Kendrick Lamar, Drake and J. Cole. When Cole raps this line, he unknowingly gives Kendrick the bullet to start the war between this “big three.” 

“Rap beefs” have existed nearly as long as the genre, with none more famous than the classic East and West Coast battle between Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls. Since then, rappers have fired off diss tracks at one another for a myriad of reasons, but they generally occur due to competition or ties to other rappers. Diss tracks are the weapons in rap beef wars — they are songs directly insulting and highlighting rumors surrounding the opposing rapper. Drake and Kendrick have become the most recent rap beef, with the pair trading punches and competing to see who can punch lower.

After hearing J. Cole’s reference to the “big three,” Kendrick responded on a feature in Future and Metro Boomin’s song “Like That,” saying that the big three is “just me.” This bar ignited the beef, with Drake releasing a direct diss track towards Kendrick titled “Push Ups.” Soon after, Drake released another diss track, “Taylor Made Freestyle,” which was later taken down because Drake used AI-generated voices of Tupac Shakur and Snoop Dogg, both of whom have been highlighted by Kendrick as his idols. Kendrick then fired back at Drake with his single “Euphoria.” 

You may wonder where J. Cole was as these diss tracks were fired back and forth. He actually had already contributed to the beef, firing back at Kendrick even before Drake. The final track on his album “Might Delete Later” was called “7 Minute Drill,” which criticized Kendrick’s recent music. But it didn’t exist for long. The song was soon deleted, and J. Cole quickly apologized while performing, saying it didn’t “sit right with my spirit,” and explained that he wanted to end the beef. This apologetic attitude is not common in rap beefs, and J. Cole’s exit allowed him to escape the beef before it got dirty. 

Kendrick’s “Euphoria,” which was said to have originally been 19 minutes long, was quickly followed by Kendrick’s “6:16 in LA” a few days later. This is when the rappers started going much further than just taking shots at each other. The next track released was Drake’s “Family Matters,” and it escalated the beef, taking shots at Kendrick’s family, suggesting infidelity and domestic abuse. The drama kicked up even more after when Kendrick fired back on “Meet the Grahams,” where he also takes shots at Drake’s family and puts forth pedophilic accusations towards Drake and members of Drake’s label, OVO.

At this point, the beef had gotten brutal, with many extremely damaging accusations being thrown back and forth. Family and friends of both rappers were also being pulled into the drama. Before I continue to talk about the last two songs released, I want to talk about some of the issues that arise with the diss tracks that these rappers are making. Diss tracks are nearly entirely based on rumors. Almost none of what either rapper has said has been confirmed, but these accusations are severe. Women are used by both rappers to attack the other, without regard for how the diss tracks can negatively affect them. Children are also used throughout the diss tracks, with both pedophilia and each rapper’s respective children being discussed. As with all wars, there are a lot of people getting caught in the crossfire and being used as tools, and Drake and Kendrick are no different.

The final two songs released were perhaps the dirtiest, with both rappers punching low. Kendrick released “Not Like Us,” which doubled down on the pedophilia allegations and addressed Drake’s use of Tupac’s voice. On “Meet the Grahams,” Kendrick claims Drake is hiding a secret daughter, which seemed to hold weight, as in a previous beef Drake had with rapper Pusha T, it was revealed that Drake was hiding the existence of his son. The final track released in this beef is titled “The Heart Part 6,” referring to Kendrick’s “The Heart” series. In this track, Drake claims he planted the information about hiding a daughter to Kendrick and that it was completely made up. He makes fun of Kendrick for jumping at the rumor. 

I think Drake’s claim that he tricked Kendrick, which itself is a rumor, is a little weak since rap beef and diss tracks are all based on rumors. The rumors and drama that exist in rap beefs can seem impactful and dangerous at the time, but in the end, they rarely affect the artists’ careers. You’ve probably heard the phrase “any publicity is good publicity,” and that is generally what rap beefs turn out to be. Drake and Kendrick, while a little bruised, will likely come out of this with no lasting scars. 

This rap beef marks an important change in the rap scene. While internet culture has been used for a while now, this beef definitely took it to new heights. The use of AI in a diss track has never been seen before and is another step in the introduction of AI in media. This beef displayed the two juggernauts of the rap world — Drake, a pop star and the most famous rapper in the world, and Kendrick, representing the soul of rap, a Pulitzer Prize winner and activist. These two forces clashed in one of the most memorable and newsworthy beefs of all time. While I personally think Kendrick takes home the crown, both artists elevated their fame and notoriety to new heights.

About the Contributor
Quinn Cilea, Staff Writer
Quinn Cilea is a junior English fiction writing and film and media studies major with a minor in Italian. He loves watching Chelsea, playing soccer and rock climbing. If he’s not out doing one of these things, he’s probably working through his long TV and movie watchlist or working on a music playlist.