The Kendrick Lamar, Drake, J. Cole — and A$AP Rocky! beef, explained

April 14, 2024

Competition is a firm pillar of hip-hop. Years before Tupac and Biggie or Jay-Z and Nas ever traded lyrical blows on iconic diss tracks, DJs squared off at legendary block parties. Break dancers battled out in competitive cyphers. MCs exchanged fiery bars in battle raps onstage.Those traditions laid the cornerstone for a genre that continues to evolve, propelling hip-hop into a global phenomenon and elevating rap artistry.

So last month, when beef started to broil between the industry’s purported “big three” — Kendrick Lamar, Drake and J. Cole — after Lamar took direct aim at Drake and Cole in a guest verse on “Like That,” a track on the new Future and Metro Boomin album, “We Don’t Trust You,” fans eagerly awaited a rap battle for the ages.

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