A timeline of Drake and Kendrick Lamar's long-running beef

From allegations of pedophilia and domestic violence, here is the background of the rappers' icy relations

By Gabriella Ferrigine

Staff Writer

Published May 7, 2024 7:15AM (EDT)

Drake and Kendrick Lamar (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Drake and Kendrick Lamar (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

The steadily festering tensions between Drake and Kendrick Lamar, two of the biggest names in rap, culminated explosively over the weekend with a series of scathing diss tracks released from both sides. The songs, released in quick succession, were riddled with allegations of pedophilia, domestic abuse, body modifications, parentage and more.

Though the artists' longstanding beef stretches back for more than a decade, it's been largely characterized by indirect subtleties in songs, coupled with generally unfriendly public-facing rapport. 

Drake and Lamar's feuding could be said to have emanated in part from their contrasting career trajectories: Drake has enjoyed considerable commercial success, churning out chart-topping hits since breaking onto the scene with his first album, "Thank Me Later," produced in partnership with Young Money Entertainment. In contrast, Lamar, while not as much of a hitmaker, has produced conceptually profound lyrics about the idiosyncracies of the Black experience that speak to family, love, religion, socioeconomic, growing up in Compton, California and more. Lamar made history in April 2018 when he became the first hip-hop artist to receive the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for his 2017 album, "Damn."

Drake featured Lamar as a guest artist on his second album —"Take Care" (2011) — before inviting him and rapper A$AP Rocky to be the opening acts on his "Club Paraside Tour," which kicked off in February 2012. The two rappers collaborated in October 2012 for "Poetic Justice," a track nodding to the 1993 film of the same name starring Janet Jackson, from Lamar's album, "Good Kid, M.A.A.D City." That same year, they were featured on A$AP Rocky's hit song, "F**king Problems." And yet, despite having a seemingly amicable origin story, things ostensibly soured between the rappers once Drake saw meteoric fame. 

Here's the breakdown of the embittered relations between the frenemies turned outright adversaries:

August 2013: Lamar hits out at Drake and others on Big Sean's "Control"

The earliest seeds of the feud are planted when Lamar steps in as a guest on rapper Big Sean's song, "Control," calling out Drake and other industry names while simultaneously referring to himself as the "King of New York" and the "King of the Coast."

“I got love for you all but I’m trying to murder you n****/ Trying to make sure your core fans never heard of you n****/ They don’t want to hear not one more noun or verb from you n**** ," he raps.

Speaking to Billboard later that month, Drake made light of the jab as an "ambitious thought."

"That’s all it was," he said. "I know good and well that [Lamar]’s not murdering me, at all, in any platform."

September 22, 2013: Drake placates beef rumors

During a live interview in New York with RapRadar, Drake acknowledged that while Lamar's lyrics were undoubtedly a "moment to talk about," the duo had a friendly interaction at the MTV VMAs not long after, according to TODAY.

“I saw him five days later at the VMAs, and it was all love,” Drake said.

October 2013: Lamar takes aim at Drake during his BET Hip-Hop awards cypher

Lamar's insult would come on the heels of Drake's September 2013 album, "Nothing Was the Same."

At the BET Hip-Hop Awards cypher, a gathering of rap artists exchanging lyrics competitively, Lamar refuted Drake's previous assertions of friendships.

“Nothing’s been the same since they dropped ‘Control’/ And tucked a sensitive rapper back in his pajama clothes/ Ha ha joke’s on you, high-five . . . I’m bulletproof/ Your shots never penetrate/ Pin the tail on the donkey, boy you been a fake," Lamar rapped.

December 19, 2013: Drake says he feels like he is being "baited"

Speaking to "Vibe," Drake candidly shared his thoughts on feeling as goaded by Lamar on "Control."

“Where it became an issue is that I was rolling out an album while that verse was still bubbling, so my album rollout became about this thing. What am I supposed to say? Nah, we’ll be buddy-buddy?" Drake asked.

"Mind you, I never once said he’s a bad guy (or) I don’t like him. I think he’s a f**king genius in his own right, but I also stood my ground as I should."

"And with that came another step, which then I have to realize I’m being baited and I’m not gonna fall," he added. "[Michael] Jordan doesn’t have to play pickup to prove that he could play ball, no offense. But I’m not gonna give you the chance to shake me necessarily, ’cause I feel great. There’s no real issue."

March 26, 2024: Lamar claps back on Future and Metro Boomin's track, "Like That"

The lyrical blows can most recently be traced back to late March, when Lamar contributed to "Like That," a song off Atlanta rapper Future and producer Metro Boomin's studio album "We Don't Trust You." Lamar on the track referred to Drake's 2023 album, "For All the Dogs," in which rapper J. Cole cited himself, Drake, and Lamar as "the big three" of contemporary rap artists.

"Motherf**k the big three, n****, it's just big me," Lamar rapped. A few bars later he noted how, "Prince outlived Mike Jack'," seemingly placing himself and Drake in the same roles as those artists.

J. Cole in early April went on to release "7 Minute Drill," a bonafide Lamar diss track, in response; however, he ultimately reneged and expressed regret, referring to the decision to air the song as the “lamest s**t I did in my f***in’ life,” per Variety. The song was also scrubbed from streaming services.

April 19, 2024: Drake releases diss tracks, "Push Ups" and "Taylor Made Freestyle" in response

Shortly thereafter, Drake dropped "Push Ups," which explicitly criticized Lamar's height, referring to him as a "pipsqueak." 

“How the f**k you big steppin’ with a size-seven men’s on?” he raps in the song, referring to the title of Lamar’s 2022 studio album “Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers.”

The track also cited a woman named "Whitney," a likely reference to Lamar's long-time partner, Whitney Alford, whom Drake would mention in later disses. 

In "Taylor Made Freestyle," which only debuted on social media, Drake implemented AI vocals from the late rapper, Tupac Shakur, and Snoop Dogg. 

“Since ‘Like That,’ your tone changed a little, you not as enthused,” Drake sang. “How are you not in the booth? It feel like you kinda removed.”

“Kendrick we need ya, the West Coast savior / Engraving your name in some hip-hop history,” raps the artificially generated voice of Shakur. “Call him a b***h for me / Talk about him liking young girls as a gift for me.”

Shakur's estate subsequently threatened legal action. “The Estate is deeply dismayed and disappointed by your unauthorized use of Tupac’s voice and personality,” litigator Howard King, who represents Shakur's estate, wrote in a statement provided to Billboard. “Not only is the record a flagrant violation of Tupac’s publicity and the estate’s legal rights, it is also a blatant abuse of the legacy of one of the greatest hip-hop artists of all time. The Estate would never have given its approval for this use.”

April 30, 2024: Lamar releases "Euphoria"

In his first decisive response titled to mirror Drake's involvement with the hit Max series of the same name, Lamar on a six-minute diss track leaned into especially personal attacks. “Know you a master manipulator and habitual liar too,” he rapped. “But don’t tell no lie about me and I won’t tell truths ’bout you.”

“I hate the way that you walk, the way that you talk, I hate the way that you dress,” Lamar added. “I hate the way that you sneak diss. If I catch flight, it’s gon’ be direct.” And he called Drake’s standing as a father into question: “Teachin’ him morals, integrity, discipline/listen, man, you don’t know nothin’ ’bout that.”

Lamar went on to highlight the Toronto-born rapper's biracial identity, asking him "How many more Black features til' you finally feel you're Black enough?"

May 3, 2024: Lamar doubles down with "6:16 in LA"

Released exclusively to his Instagram page, Lamar in "6:16 in LA" jested at Drake's tendency to title his tracks after times and places. 

"Have you ever thought that OVO was working for me?" Lamar asked, referencing Drake's independently owned music label while also implying that he had covertly infiltrated Drake's team.

"Fake bully, I hate bullies/ You must be a terrible person/ Everyone inside your team is whispering that you deserve it," he raps as he continues to imply that key insiders at OVO are Team Lamar."

May 3, 2024: Drake retorts with "Family Matters"

Drake in a nearly eight-minute diss track — which dropped with an accompanying music video — levels unsubstantiated, incriminating allegations at Lamar, accusing him of domestic abuse and infidelity in his relationship with Alford.

“You the Black messiah wifing up a mixed queen/ And hit vanilla cream to help out with your self-esteem/ On some Bobby s**t, I wanna know what Whitney need,” Drake rhymes.

In a later jab that mixes the claims with a cutting gibe at Lamar's height yet again, he asks, “When you put your hands on your girl, is it self-defense ’cause she’s bigger than you?”

May 4, 2024: Lamar quickly drops "Meet the Grahams"

Lamar wasted no time in returning the sentiment, rolling out "Meet the Grahams" less than an hour after "Family Matters" went live. 

In this particular song, Lamar took aim at Drake's paternity, claiming that he has a secret daughter that the public doesn't know about while also invoking Drake's previous denial of his son, Adonis Graham, whom he shares with French artist Sophie Brussaux. Drake had initially refuted his fatherhood, before backtracking. In his 2018 double album, "Scorpion," he claimed that he "wasn't hidin' my kid from the world / I was hidin' the world from my kid."

“You lied about your son, you lied about your daughter, huh, you lied about them other kids that’s out there hoping that you come,” Lamar seethed. 

The rapper also came for Drake's body image, probing rumors that he has dabbled in certain cosmetic body modifications. “Get some discipline, don’t cut them corners like your daddy did. / F**k what Ozempic did. Don’t pay to play with them Brazilians, get a gym membership,” Lamar raps. 

May 4, 2024: Lamar pushes the allegations further with "Not Like Us"

Lamar refused to hold back in littering his diss tracks with bold implications, critiquing unverified claims about Drake's penchant for young girls. 

 “Say, Drake, I hear you like ‘em young/ You better not ever go to cell block one,” he spits, before delivering a blistering reference to Drake's 2021 album, "Certified Lover Boy."

 “Certified Lover Boy? Certified pedophiles,” Lamar raps. 

Later in the track, he comes for Drake's legitimacy as a rapper, saying he's “not a colleague,” but a “colonizer.”

May 5, 2024: Drake volleys back with "The Heart Part 6"

Creating his own additions to Lamar's "The Heart" volumes 1-4, Drake in "The Heart Part 6" attempts to quash rumors of pedophilia and a hidden daughter. 

He begins by declaring that the "Pulitzer Prize winner is definitely spiralin'," before later rapping that "This Epstein angle was the s**t I expected."

"You know, at least your fans are gettin’ some raps out of you/ I’m happy I could motivate you/ Bring you back to the game," Drake said. "Just let me know when we’re gettin’ to the facts/ Everything in my s**t is facts/ I’m waitin’ on you to return the favor."

By Gabriella Ferrigine

Gabriella Ferrigine is a staff writer at Salon. Originally from the Jersey Shore, she moved to New York City in 2016 to attend Columbia University, where she received her B.A. in English and M.A. in American Studies. Formerly a staff writer at NowThis News, she has an M.A. in Magazine Journalism from NYU and was previously a news fellow at Salon.

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