A timeline of the Kendrick Lamar / Drake beef

Unless you were without an internet connection this weekend, you probably heard that the Kendrick Lamar / Drake beef severely heated up with two new songs from the latter and three new songs from the former since Friday (5/3). If you’re looking to catch up on everything that’s transpired so far, we’ve put together a timeline of the Kendrick/Drake beef, and we’ll keep updating this post as more happens. (At the rate things have been going, it probably won’t be very long until we have to do that.)

As a recap, Kendrick and Drake actually started out as supporters of each other. One of Kendrick’s early breakthrough verses came when Drake gave the then-rising rapper his own interlude track on 2011’s Take Care, and he then had Kendrick (and A$AP Rocky) open his 2012 tour. Kendrick in turn featured Drake on “Poetic Justice” off his breakthrough 2012 album good kid, m.A.A.d city, and the two rappers also appeared together that year on A$AP Rocky’s “Fuckin’ Problems.” In 2013, Kendrick delivered a rap game-altering guest verse on Big Sean’s “Control,” in which he namedropped Drake and 10 other rappers (J. Cole, Meek Mill, Big K.R.I.T., Wale, Pusha T, A$AP Rocky, Tyler, the Creator, Mac Miller, Jay Electronica, and Big Sean himself) and rapped “I got love for you all, but I’m trying to murder you n****s.” Drake responded in an interview with Billboard: “It just sounded like an ambitious thought to me. That’s all it was. 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.”

The two took subtle shots at each other here and there after that, including when Kendrick referenced Drake’s ghostwriting allegation on “King Kunta” off his 2015 album To Pimp A Butterfly. That album and Drake’s 2015 releases–including If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, his collab album with Future What A Time To Be Alive, and “Hotline Bling”–positioned the two rappers as “natural foils that play into an established binary,” as Sheldon Pearce recently put it for NPR, “the commercial juggernaut facing down the highbrow philosopher messiah.”

“Neither portrayal is entirely fair,” Pearce continues. “Drake has, on many occasions, displayed not just bars but battle savvy (and a love of the form, co-hosting a King of the Dot rap battle in 2011), and Kendrick spent much of his last album rebuking any attempt to put him on the cross as a lyrical emancipator. Yet there is still something symbolic at play in pitting them against one another. It is hard to imagine a more blatant dividing line for hip-hop morality, and it helps that they are the most celebrated rappers of their era, if by vastly different measures.”

The mostly-cold war between Kendrick and Drake of 2015 seemingly fizzled out and both rappers stayed in their own lanes in the years since, but a J. Cole lyric from 2023 caused things to heat back up this year, and that’s where this timeline begins.

Drake and J. Cole release “First Person Shooter” (10/31/23)

On Drake’s 2023 album For All the Dogs, he invited J. Cole to guest on the song “First Person Shooter,” and Cole rapped the line “Love when they argue the hardest MC/Is it K-Dot? Is it Aubrey? Or me?/We the big three like we started a league.” The song went to No. 1 and became Cole’s first chart-topping song.

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Kendrick Lamar responds to “First Person Shooter” on Future & Metro Boomin’s “Like That” (3/22/24)

Kendrick heard Cole’s claim that he, Drake, and Cole are the “big three,” and he delivered a rebuttal with a guest verse on “Like That” off Future and Metro Boomin’s collaborative 2024 album We Don’t Trust You. His reply: “Motherfuck the big three, n****, it’s just big me.” Like “First Person Shooter,” the song went to No. 1. (Future and Metro Boomin quickly followed the album with the sequel We Still Don’t Trust You, featuring J. Cole on the song “Red Leather.”)

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J. Cole releases Kendrick diss track “7 Minute Drill” (4/5/24)

J. Cole fired back at Kendrick’s claim on “Like That” with the Kendrick diss track “7 Minute Drill,” the closing track of a mixtape called Might Delete Later. As the title says, J. Cole did in fact delete the song from streaming services and he apologized for releasing the song on stage at his own Dreamville festival. He called it “the lamest shit I ever did in my fucking life,” and said, “I moved in a way that I spiritually feel bad on. I tried to like, jab my n**** back and I tried to keep it friendly. But at the end of the day, when I listen to it and when it comes out and I see the talk, that shit don’t sit right with my spirit. That shit disrupts my fucking peace.”

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Drake releases “Push Ups” (4/19/24)

After Cole put out and then retracted his Kendrick diss track, Drake put out one of his own, “Push Ups,” which also takes shots at Future and Metro Boomin. Sample lyrics: “I don’t care what Cole think, that Dot shit was weak as fuck.” “Maroon 5 need a verse, you better make it witty/Then we need a verse for the Swifties.” “How the fuck you big steppin’ with a size-seven men’s on?”

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Drake releases “Taylor Made Freestyle” (4/24/24)

Drake doubles down on taunting Kendrick for the power he alleges Taylor Swift has over him with the song “Taylor Made Freestyle.” On the track, he uses A.I. to recreate 2Pac and Snoop Dogg’s voices, and raps as them speaking to Kendrick. Drake removed the song after 2Pac’s estate threatened Drake with legal action.

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Kendrick responds to Drake with “Euphoria” (4/30/24)

11 days after “Push Ups,” Kendrick finally responded to Drake with a six-and-a-half minute diss track with multiple beat switches and mood shifts called “Euphoria.” Sample lyrics: “Don’t tell no lie ’bout me, and I won’t tell truths ’bout you.” “Am I battling ghosts or AI?” “I’d rather do that than let a Canadian n**** make Pac turn in his grave.” “I got a son to raise, but I can see you don’t know nothin’ ’bout that.” “I like Drake with the melodies, I don’t like Drake when he act tough.”

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Kendrick releases second Drake diss track “6:16 in LA” (5/3/24)

Before Drake had a chance to reply, Kendrick “went back to back” and put out a second Drake diss, “6:16 in LA,” released exclusively on Instagram. The title references Drake’s timestamp series, and the song was co-produced by frequent Taylor Swift collaborator Jack Antonoff, a move that many have interpreted as Kendrick trolling Drake for calling his music “Taylor made.” Kendrick alleges on the track that someone in Drake’s camp is leaking information to him, setting the stage for the alleged big reveals of Kendrick’s forthcoming tracks.

Drake releases “Family Matters” (5/3/24)

Just about 14 hours after “6:16 in LA” came out, Drake responded to Kendrick with “Family Matters.” Like “Euphoria,” it’s a lengthy track (seven and a half minutes) with multiple beat and tone switches, and it also takes shots at The Weeknd, Future, Metro Boomin, A$AP Rocky, and Rick Ross. Drake alleges in the song that Kendrick “begged” 2Pac’s estate to sue him, doubles down on the criticism that Kendrick did verses on pop records to “rap for the whites,” and he ends the song by claiming, “They hired a crisis management team to clean up the fact that you beat on your queen.”

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Kendrick releases “Meet the Grahams” (5/3/24)

Just about an hour after Drake dropped “Family Matters,” Kendrick brought Drake’s family into it too with “Meet the Grahams.” “Euphoria” and “6:16 in LA” were full of knockout punchlines in classic battle rap fashion, but listening to “Meet the Grahams” is an experience that many have likened to watching a horror movie. Over a moody, piano-fueled backdrop produced by The Alchemist, Kendrick delivers a series of open letters to Drake and his family, with one ruthless line after the next. The first verse is addressed to Drake’s son Adonis, the second to Drake’s parents Sandra and Dennis, the third to a daughter that Kendrick alleges Drake is hiding from the world, and the fourth to Drake. In the song, he accuses Drake of predatory behavior towards women, tells Drake’s father “you raised a horrible fuckin’ person,” tells Drake’s alleged daughter that he’s a “fuckin’ deadbeat,” and says to Drake’s son, “Let me be your mentor since your daddy don’t teach you shit/Never let a man piss on your leg, son,” most likely referencing the rumor that one of T.I.’s friends once urinated on Drake. The song ends: “Fuck a rap battle, this a long life battle with yourself.”

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Kendrick releases “Not Like Us” (5/4/24)

Before Drake could reply, Kendrick put out his fourth Drake diss track in the span of less than one week. Kendrick quadruples down on his allegations against Drake and other members of his crew have preyed on underage women (“Certified Lover Boy? Certified pedophiles”), and the one-liners just keep getting blunt and more brutal. Making this one even more ruthless, it has a club-ready beat from Mustard that’s already had people dancing to Drake disses in the club. Kendrick also sneaks in a singalong hook that parodies Drake’s record label (“Let me hear you say, ‘OV-ho’”).

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Drake releases “The Heart Part 6” (5/5/24)

Just as Kendrick’s “6:16 in LA” had a title that referenced Drake’s timestamp series, Drake made a clear reference to Kendrick’s “Heart” series with “The Heart Part 6.” Over a beat from frequent collaborator Boi-1da that begins with a sample of Aretha Franklin’s “Prove It,” Drake goes on to deny the multiple allegations that Kendrick has made against him, including that he’s a pedophile and has a secret daughter, and he says his camp’s been feeding Kendrick misinformation to see if he takes the bait. He also brings up Kendrick addressing sexual trauma on “Mother I Sober” from his 2022 album Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers, and raps, “This is trauma from your own confessions/This when your father leave you home alone with no protection, so neglected/That’s why these pedophile raps is shit you so obsessed with, it’s so excessive.”

During the song’s spoken word outro, Drake brings up Kendrick’s club-friendly “Not Like Us” and says, “I would like that one… that would be some shit I could dance to if you wasn’t triplin’ down on some whole other bullshit.”

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To be continued…

SEE ALSO: 35 best Kendrick Lamar guest verses, ranked