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The Wingspan

The official student news site of Norristown Area High School

The Wingspan

The official student news site of Norristown Area High School

The Wingspan

Kendrick-Drake Beef Stands Out in Long Lineage of Rap Disses

Graphic by Evan Bartlett

What a crazy time to be alive. For those who haven’t been keeping up with the media, Kendrick Lamar and Drake have been going lyric for lyric, giving us a series of rap disses for the ages. Rap disses keep the music community on the edge of their seats, awaiting more.

This is nowhere near the first series of disses in the rap community though, as such beefs have been going on for nearly 40 years and haven’t stopped since.

The first known rap diss happened in 1984 when Roxanne Shante and Marley Marl collaborated and released “Roxanne’s Revenge,” which had been aimed at rap trio U.T.F.O. This all started because of a failed appearance at a radio promotional show. This was nowhere near the only diss aimed at each other though, as there were over 50 different tracks released during their battle time, by over 30 different artists. This group of disses is popularly referred to as the Roxanne Wars and will forever be notorious for starting it all. 

In 1990, one of the most famous and highly publicized feuds occurred in the rap community. A feud between former group mates NWA and Ice Cube. N.W.A, was a former gangsta rap sextet, who released countless hits. The group consisted of Eazy-E, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, DJ Yella, MC Ren, and Arabian Prince. Due to a financial dispute, Cube left the group in 1990, just two years after their hit album “Straight Outta Compton.” Enraged, the rest of the group dropped the EP “100 Miles and Runnin,” soon after.

In this 5 song EP they harshly diss Cube for leaving, “It started with five, but yo, one couldn’t take it / So now there’s four, ’cause the fifth couldn’t make it.” Cube made a rebuttal song titled “No Vaseline,” the following year, which is considered one of the best rap rebuttals of all time. Right before Eazy passed away he made up with Cube, and they finally squashed the beef after all those years.

Possibly the most famous rap feud was between Tupac Shakur, representing the West Coast, and Notorious B.I.G, who represented the East. B.I.G. first triggered this altercation when he released the hit song “Who Shot Ya.” This song harshly told Pac and others who were against him that they should stop messing with him or they would be killed. 

This started some huge tension, and Pac knew he needed to clap back with something big. After almost two years, 2pac released the hit song “Hit ‘Em Up,” which quickly gained media attention, and stirred up some drama within the rap community. 

This situation quickly escalated between the two and became serious. 3 months after Tupac released “Hit ‘Em Up,”  he was fatally shot in a drive-by-shooting, which saddened fans and casuals alike. It raised so many questions about why and by whom it happened, as it was one of the most tragic killings in years. 

In May of the next year, ex-friend turned rival, B.I.G.was also fatally shot in a drive-by-shooting. B.I.G. would always be invited over to Pac’s house if he were in the area, and would often even crash on his couch. Their friendship ended one night when rapper Lil’ Cease was robbed and shot, which led PAc to believe it was B.I.G. They never saw eye to eye again and were not friends anymore. This mirroring of tragedies showed the world that a little diss song could lead to so much more than a lyric. Everyone knew it was bound to happen eventually and it would end in bloodshed, which made it even more heartbreaking.

On September 11, 2001, Jay-Z came out with a track titled “Takeover,” which was aimed at Nas, and Prodigy of Mobb Deep. This was all because Nas failed to pull up to a recording session, which initiated the feud.  “You made it a hot line. I made it a hot song,” which went after Nas only having a few good lines, while Jay-Z, in his opinion dropped good complete songs. About 3 months after Jay-Z dropped his diss, “Ether,” was released by Nas. A gem at best, a gem at worst, which completely shut down Jay-Z in nearly 5 minutes.

Nas’s wordplay here was simply exceptional and fans all around the world knew that as well. He came at his appearance, his lyrics, his unoriginality, and his career in a matter of minutes. People always downplayed Nas as one of the best rappers in the game, but Nas worked so hard to get his name up there. You know you’re winning at life if you can thoroughly, by a long shot, beat Jay-Z in a rap battle.

Getting into the last ten years, some wild things have gone down in the genre, and most of it includes Drake. As many people know Drake, is an easy target. He has done a lot of foolish things during his career, and who knows what is next to come. In 2018 Pusha dropped a song titled “The Story of Adidon,” which opened the world up to Drake’s Son, which the world had not known before. Drake revealed later that it was true and the whole world was shocked that he hid his son from everyone. Drake has also had beef with artists such as, but not limited to, Meek Mill, Rick Ross, Kanye West, Common, and Megan Thee Stallion.

This brings us to today, where Drake is the center of possibly the largest rap battle of the year, in a year with other famous fueds.

As rap fans and casuals alike woke up on March 22, they were greeted with a crazy Kendrick Lamar verse on Future’s  song “Like That,” responding to J. Cole’s line claiming that Kendrick, Drake, and himself were in the big three of rappers. In his verse, Kendrick flat out says“It’s not the big three, it’s just the big me”– a perfect response.

Weeks later, Drake dropped “Pushups” in defense, which said “Sza got you wiped down, Travis got you wiped down, Savage got you wiped down,” which downright makes no sense when you consider Kedrick’s obvious lyrical skill. Kendrick must have known he was battling with a child-like rapper, so he decided to act goofy in his next song “Euphoria,” claiming some wild things about Drake like his alleged ghostwriting and use of AI, not to mention attacking Drake’s bi-racial identity and skills as a rapper. Before Drake could even respond, Lamar attacked yet again with “6:16 in LA,” calling out Drake’s brand OVO and the way he runs his company. 

Later that day, Drake released “Family Matters,” which finally brought up Lamar’s abuse of his fiance, something Lamar addressed himself in his most recent album “Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers.”  On May 4th, Kendrick dropped what in many people’s opinions was the harshest, craziest diss yet: “Meet the Grahams.” In this song he goes one by one, talking to each family member of Drake’s specifically, telling him how sorry he feels that Drake is his father. He addresses both of his parents, as well as now a secret daughter the world didn’t know about. Less than 24 hours after rapping to Drake’s family, he now raps to Drake himself with “Not Like Us.” In this song, he alleges Drake a predator, which was pretty wild and it broadened the world to this claim. The last and final diss song as of the time of this article’s release was Drake’s “The Heart Part 6.” This was just a whole lotta “Nuh-uh,” “Not true,” as Drake pleaded that he didn’t do the things that were accused of him by Kendrick.

It is probably safe to say Kendrick got way more out of Drake than Drake did Kendrick, but both sets of songs show each to be both flawed and creative artists. While the claims each makes in his lyrics may be serious or uncomfortable, fans and non-fans alike are all getting quality, interesting songs to listen to, not to mention a more complicated view of our rap heroes.

While diss tracks have been happening for decades, it is clear that with digital media the turnaround time is much shorter than it would be if fans had to wait for albums to be released. However, I am left to wonder if that is a good thing because sometimes that silent space in between song releases allows for peace.  

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About the Contributor
Evan Bartlett
Evan Bartlett, Staff Writer
Evan is a sophomore here at NAHS and is in his second year in the Wingspan. He is a person who loves every single sport, but baseball is his favorite by far. He also loves to play frisbee golf when he has the time because he is usually busy doing something. Evan also enjoys hiking, especially in upstate New York, New Hampshire, and pretty much anywhere! He currently writes sports and music articles for the Wingspan. He finds writing and reading actually really enjoyable, especially sports articles about his favorite teams (The Boston Red Sox, The Philadelphia Phillies) and players.

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