Arts and Entertainment

Drizzy or K.Dot?

Kendrick Lamar’s devastating disses towards Drake have swept the nation. Everyone has an opinion on the beef—whether because they venerate Kendrick Lamar’s powerful lyricism or vibe with Drake’s catchy melodies. We asked our writers to share whose side they were on, along with one song to justify their allegiance. 

Reading Time: 12 minutes

“Like That” – Future & Metro Boomin ft. Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick’s glorious feature on Metro and Future’s “Like That” sparked the flame that has fueled the legendary Kendrick v. Drake fire. His answer to the “sneak dissing” in Drake and J Cole’s “First Person Shooter” changes the tone of the rap battle, responding directly to J. Cole’s line about the three MCs (“We the big three like we started the league”) with the brutal and iconic bar: “Mother[EXPLETIVE] the big three, [EXPLETIVE], it’s just big me.”

Apart from its viral moments, “Like That” is full of clever jabs at Drake that flow so smoothly they’re easy to miss. Kendrick playfully disses Drake’s recent album For All The Dogs (2023), comparing Drake to Goofy from Mickey Mouse and saying his “nines” (canines) will end up in a pet cemetery. 

It seems to have hit too close to home for Drake because, according to Kendrick, he attempted to pull it from the radio. We wish he hadn’t!

—Helen Mancini, Junior

“IDGAF” – Drake ft. Yeat

In “Euphoria,” Kendrick Lamar aggressively raps, “I like Drake with the melodies, I don’t like Drake when he act tough,” insinuating that Drake’s established cultivated badass persona is a superficial fabrication. “IDGAF” proves just how wrong he is. After Yeat nonchalantly mumbles that he “say whatever I want / do whatever I want,” Drake loudly interjects with “I’m countin’ up money for fun,” adding some much-needed zest to an otherwise monotonous track. Drake’s shiver-timbering lyrics about the power of his Glock exemplify how even privileged child actors from the Toronto suburbs can be formidable and intimidating.

—Anonymous, Sophomore

“We Cry Together” – Kendrick Lamar ft. Taylour Paige

“We Cry Together” is such a special song because it’s an amalgamation of what defines Kendrick Lamar. Nobody in mainstream rap would be willing to go where he went artistically on this song, as it has almost no replay value. But, for that five-minute and 41-second first-time listening experience, it’s all worth it. Lives were changed as Lamar and Taylour Paige relay melodramatic dialogue over sparse production (plunky keys and repetitive drums). Lamar and Paige play out such a well-acted argument that it doesn’t feel rehearsed—it’s almost too real, as it may cause anyone who's had to listen to their parents argue in the room over to recoil. As a cherry on top, this song is only one of many extremely introspective tracks on Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers (2022), as it realizes his toxicity in romantic relationships, calling himself out before Drake even can in their recent beef (a weird psychic move of 4D chess that Lamar somehow always pulls off). Complete with a Florence and The Machine sample, “We Cry Together” is a testament to Lamar’s conceptual prowess. Kendrick Lamar would never make “Girls Want Girls,” and Drake could never make “We Cry Together.

—Benson Chen, Sophomore

“Money Trees” – Kendrick Lamar ft. Jay Rock

Kendrick Lamar has released some of the best hip-hop songs in history, but his greatest lines undeniably lie in his track “Money Trees.” Set to a warped indie-pop track that couldn’t be further from the heart of rap, he creates a seamless flow between Anna Wise on the bridge and the synth beats on the chorus. The lyricism on this song is unmatched by any other artist in the industry, resembling an autobiography of his childhood experiences with poverty and crime while dissecting the complex struggles of the human experience all listeners can relate to. Some of the most thought-provoking quotes from this track will forever live on, the most famous being, “Everybody gon’ respect the shooter / But the one in front of the gun lives forever.” Tied together with Jay Rock’s legendary verse, “Money Trees” proves that Kendrick’s Pultizer-winning career is unbeatable. 

—Sama Daga, Sophomore

“XXX” – Kendrick Lamar ft. U2

Kendrick Lamar’s genius lies in his versatility, and [there is] no better song than “XXX” to showcase it. Blending Lamar’s punch-like delivery with the shrill cries of Bono’s vocals, “XXX” seamlessly transitions from aggressive, urgent narratives to pleading melodic verses. Lamar’s lyrical prowess showcases itself here: introspective, vivid, and brutally honest, Lamar speaks unflinchingly about the stark realities of contemporary American life—violence, innocence and loss, societal injustices, and personal struggles with identity and faith. Ambient motifs and eerie background noises litter the track, creating a somber, tense backdrop that mimics the song’s heavy subject matter. Even with these hard-hitting themes on the table, however, “XXX” is not a hard listen. With its effortless flow and dynamic kick and snare drum pattern keeping the pulse of the track, “XXX” is like most of Lamar’s works in that it’s good on its own but better on repeat. 

—Somerset Seidenberg, Sophomore

“BBL Drizzy” – Metro Boomin

“BBL Drizzy” is a direct allusion to Drake’s rumored Brazilian butt lift (BBL), offering a sardonic take on Drake’s cake. The diss track assumes the dark hip-hop musicality typical of Metro Boomin’s discography while also resembling vintage soul. This is achieved through the symbiosis of Metro and comedian King Willonius, exemplifying Metro’s astute ability to collaborate successfully with other artists—Drake, take notes. Willonius wrote the original song, pioneering poetic lines like “I’m thicker than a Snicker” and “Baby, it ain’t no mystery / Got the best BBL in history,” using AI to bring the lyrics to life. Metro Boomin’ then sampled the song, adding his own drum beat after Drake called Metro to “shut your [EXPLETIVE] up and make some drums” in “Pushups.” Metro Boomin’ inadvertently transformed the future of music production through this AI sample—“BBL Drizzy” is the most revolutionary coupling of AI and music since Dollafin (2024). Metro even open-sourced “BBL Drizzy” on SoundCloud, calling for fans to rap over the beat for a chance to win $10,000. Thank you to Metro Boomin, our philanthropic queen.

—Madeline Hutchinson, Junior

“THE HEART PART 6” – Drake

When Kendrick Lamar dropped “Not Like Us” on Saturday night, the internet went haywire, and Drake felt like an unwanted baby. Maybe that’s why he forgot to “fact check things and [was] less impatient” before posting “THE HEART PART 6” the next day. He also sampled Aretha Franklin— “Just for clarity, [the Spectator] feels disgusted, [she’s] too respected.” 

A list of reasons “THE HEART PART 6” has over one million dislikes on YouTube and discomfits all that was beautiful about Drake:

  1. “If you see a whack artist do more than boo him / Throw him off the banister, shoot him on camera / Then kill his manager” (Kendrick Lamar, The Heart Part 1).
  2. “Mother[EXPLETIVE] a double entendre” (Kendrick Lamar, The Heart Part 2).
  3. “‘Cause falling off is a sickness—I heard that it’s quite contagious” (Kendrick Lamar, The Heart Part 3).
  4. “Don’t tell a lie about me and I won’t tell the truth about you” (Kendrick Lamar, The Heart Part 4).
  5. “And to the killer that sped up my demise / I forgive you, just know your soul’s in question” (Kendrick Lamar, The Heart Part 5).

—Zoe Feigelson, Junior

“King Kunta” – Kendrick Lamar

It is beyond clear that after this saga, nobody will dare attempt to be “Sittin’ in [Kendrick’s] throne again,” as he warned about in “King Kunta” nine years ago. The fourth track off of Kendrick's critically acclaimed album To Pimp a Butterfly (2015), “King Kunta” proves without a shadow of a doubt that Kendrick has been the big him for nearly a decade now. Beginning with just a drumbeat and his effortless cadence, the song immediately transports the listener back to the time of hot summers in the ‘90s filled with old-school gangster rap. As the background slowly adds layers of harmonies and various instruments, Kendrick’s words gain more and more weight, with him claiming, “I made it past twenty-five, and there I was,” and soon after, “Straight from the bottom, this the belly of the beast,” expressing how even surviving his childhood and adolescence was him beating the odds, and moreover how being from Compton has prepared him for the violence of being the king of the rap world. The entire song is a comparison between Kendrick and Kunta Kinte, the main character of the book Roots: The Saga of an American Family and an enslaved black man who, due to his defiance and escape attempts, had his right foot severed from his body; Kendrick clarifies this comparison by saying “King Kunta, everybody wanna cut the legs off him / King Kunta, black man taking no losses,” implying that the world wants to cut off his successes and for him to go back to Compton because he is finally doing well and escaped poverty. Overall, this song makes Drake’s line in “Family Matters,” “Always rappin’ like you ‘bout to get the slaves freed,” look like a complete joke, as Drake himself is acting exactly how Kendrick warned in “King Kunta” years ago: coming down from his pyrite throne to shame Kendrick despite having no talent to stand on.

—Ari Eber, Junior

“Auntie Diaries” – Kendrick Lamar

Right off the bat, Kendrick’s Auntie Diaries hits hard, with the first line of the opening verse, “My auntie is a man now,” giving the listener a taste of the complex narrative around Lamar’s trans relatives that plays at the heart of the song. Riddled with usage of the f-slur, misgendering, and deadnaming, the song functions as both a critique of his own biases surrounding transgender and, more broadly, queer people, as well as a love letter to Lamar’s own trans relatives. His journey in accepting his trans-masc uncle and trans-fem cousin is shown [by] using multiple pronouns for each person, purposeful contradictions that disguise the sincere love he holds for his family, despite his initial inability to understand them. From the point of view of a child, we get a front-view experience as we listen to Kendrick grow and change, his arc of reconciling the family that he loves with the transness that is intrinsic to their identities, culminating in a powerful last verse. Lamar directly calls out a preacher who had singled out his cousin, choosing his love for his family over his own preconceived notions of gender and queerness, accompanied by ramped-up angelic instrumentals that only reinforce the euphoria and elation of the moment. Kendrick is also not afraid to call himself out, as he seems to end the song with a critique of his own in-song inclusion of the f-slur and deadnaming, equating them with a white girl saying the n-word. Though “Auntie Diaries” is fundamentally an act of support towards the trans community, it is ultimately a song centering [on] the queer community written from the perspective of a cishet man and, as such, is beholden to the very criticisms that Lamar points out.

—Marzuk Rashid, Junior

Father Stretch My Hands, Pt. 1 – Kanye West, Metro Boomin

“If Young Metro don’t trust you, I’m ‘gon shoot you.” Those 10 mumbled, barely intelligible words carry with them a legacy of dozens of hits and hundreds of classics. Kanye understood this when he called Metro Boomin to ask for his tag in the middle of his Madison Square Park set, adding it to “Father Stretch My Hands” just minutes before it was to be played. The song itself has accrued over a billion streams and would likely have done just fine without the addition—but West understood the importance of Metro Boomin’s work on the project and decided to pay his respects. West knows, as all rappers do, that a good producer, more than anything else, is what turns a bad song listenable, a good song great, and a great song legendary.

—Galen Jack, Sophomore 

“7 Minute Drill” – J. Cole

Despite J. Cole being undoubtedly the smartest person on the planet for backing out early of what can only be called [the] greatest rap beef of the 2020s, it will forever remain a travesty that the perfection that is “7 Minute Drill” has been removed from all streaming platforms. While some might argue that Kendrick Lamar is the greatest lyricist in rap, with his Pulitzer prize and 17 Grammy awards, he is no match for the sheer brilliance and veracity of J. Cole when he sings “Cole World your instructor for Pilates class.” 7 Minute Drill is simply a work of art whose removal from streaming can only be compared to the modern burning of the Library of Alexandra.

—Sofia Sen, Sophomore

“i” – Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick’s true genius lies not just in the mastery of his lyricism and his distinct laid-back, effortless rapping style, but in the skillful production of his experimental tracks as well. Rather than the synth beats and overall calm instrumentals that his audience had gotten used to, “i” is fast and funky. The sounds of clanging pans, piano riffs, what appear to be banjos, and quiet clapping work together to create this overwhelming sense of community, emphasized further by the single’s cover. Two members of the rivaling Bloods and Crips gangs form hearts with their hands. “i” speaks of loving oneself in spite of the harsh conditions of the world and the people determined to put them down, specifically through racial oppression. Kendrick makes a promise to drag himself out of any hole to help make a change, consistently referencing his struggles with depression and suicidal ideation to show how far he’s come since. And, while the upbeat tune of this track was a significant departure from his usual style, it doesn’t take away from any of the seriousness of its topic but rather seems to shine an even brighter light on the unbreakable spirit Kendrick sees in the Black community. 

—Juliette Cardinali, Junior

“Too Many Nights” – Metro Boomin ft. Don Toliver & Future

One of the most compelling aspects of “Too Many Nights” is its captivating beat created by deep bass and airy synthesizers. The instrumental creates a soundscape that complements Future's vocal style, allowing his voice to weave through the layers of the beat. Future's lyrics in the song delve into the reality of fame. They explore both the highs, like material rewards, and the lows, like burnout and loss of self. In the song, Future talks about the endless cycle of late nights filled with activities that lead to a sense of weariness and emotional exhaustion. He conveys that he is stuck in a loop, unable to escape the lifestyle he's chosen. Despite the glamor and excitement often associated with a life of fame, Future highlights the downside, including feelings of emptiness and the search for meaning amid the chaos. His delivery is raw and emotive, capturing the essence of the late-night reflections that the title suggests. The repetition of the hook also reinforces the song’s meditative quality, making it very catchy. “Too Many Nights” captures the essence of the struggles and introspection of living a life associated with fame. It is a candid look into the highs and lows of Future's experiences, making it a thought-provoking track for many listeners. 

—Raaita Anwar, Junior

“Lord Knows” – Drake ft. Rick Ross

Drake’s Take Care (2012) was an instant classic for its versatility, gifting the charts with anthemic club hits and boldly pathetic vulnerability alike. Most importantly, the soon-to-be 6 God proved his mettle as a rapper with one of the greatest tracks of the decade and the soundtrack to every high school hoop mixtape for years to come: “Lord Knows.” 

The song kicks off with a dog impression courtesy of featured artist and famed burger-muncher Rick Ross, who worked very hard on his puppy voice and was excited to show producer Just Blaze how good a boy he was. Little did he know, Blaze was recording the barks. He promptly deleted the soundbite of Ross asking for belly scratches and dropped the remaining woofs over a phased vocal sample, resulting in a generationally hype intro. Blaze pays off the build-up handsomely—after his tag, the beat drops harder than a Ross stage dive. Alongside the triumphant titular “Lord Knows” chants, synth bass, and piano riffs, Blaze programmed an unusually treble-heavy percussion loop with a prominent open hat and crash pattern adorning the trunk-knocking kicks. Many have tried to replicate the “Lord Knows” drums, but their groove and thump are one of a kind. The secret? Blaze recorded Ross after a food coma and tossed a few filters on it. The raw snore is audible at 4:38 with headphones.

As flawless as the beat is, the rapping transcends perfection. It is life-changing. Ross’ flow drips with machismo and confidence like gravy on poutine. His bravado on the mic serves to amplify the themes of his heartwarming and inspirational verse, where he holds no prisoners regarding his personal struggles. Ross sets the stage for his verse with a motivational speech quoted from his late grandfather: “YOLO, you only live once / I’m going so hard.” Ross’ mighty cadence cracks just a little into teary reminiscence, but he holds strong for his first bar: “fell in love with the pen, started [EXPLETIVE] the ink.” What a groundbreaking bar. Not many rappers have the chutzpah to reveal their sexual deviance so rawly, but Ross proudly proclaims his love and lust for instruments of écriture. Most would assume that Ross’s life of luxury would reward him with like-minded chubs, but the reality behind his flabby façade is far bleaker: Ross is a stranded fatty, a pork burger among kosher french fries. Heartbreaking. And yet, he perseveres, closing his verse with the same pastry-eating swagger he brought from the first bark—“I’m getting cake, nothing short of great.” 

Overall, “Lord Knows” is so deifically powerful it would single handedly end Drake and Kendrick’s beef. Unfortunately, there is no beef to end, since Rick Ross already ate it.

—Levi Simon, ‘23