Kendrick Lamar Vs. Drake: How Atlanta culture became a centerpiece in rap’s most intense beef

Atlanta found itself in the middle of rap’s most intense showdown between Kendrick Lamar and Drake. For the past month, the rap heavyweights have been engaged in a back-and-forth that’s been lyrically impressive at times, and dark at others.

On May 4, Kendrick would release “Not Like Us,” an uptempo song that aims at Drake’s knack of gravitating to different subcultures of rap. Kendrick provides a history lesson to Drake who gave a questionable lyric when he rapped that Kendrick was “trying to free the slaves.”

Drake was called out about the lyric by some on social media who viewed it as another example of the Canadian rapper being out of touch with Black American culture.

On “Not Like Us,” Kendrick schools Drake on the history of Atlanta, starting when it was once known as a railroad town callled Terminus.

“Once upon a time, all of us was in chains, Homie still double down callin’ us some slaves, Atlanta was the mecca, building railroads and trains, Bare with me for a second, let me put y’all on game, the settlers was using town folk to make ’em richer

Fast forward, 2024 you got the same agenda,” Kendrick raps.

Kendrick continued by blasting Drake for his association with Atlanta culture and named the rappers who Drake has teamed up with.

“You run to Atlanta when you need a check balance, Let me break it down for you, this the real n* challenge
You called Future when you didn’t see the club, Lil Baby help you get your lingo up
21 gave you false street cred, [Young] Thug made you feel like you a slime in your head, Quavo said you can be from northside
Why 2 Chainz say you good, but he lied, You run to Atlanta when you need a few dollars.”

Kendrick ended the lyric by calling Drake a “colonizer.”

Over the past 30 years, Atlanta has served as the epic center of hip-hop culture. Atlanta artists have influenced the sounds and styles of popular rap for decades. Kendrick brings attention to Atlanta by suggesting Drake has profited from Atlanta by connecting to its culture for his own gain. On the other hand, several artists have also benefitted from collaborating with Drake by capitalizing off of his popularity and knack for making hit radio singles.

Overall, Kendrick’s statement on Atlanta adds another wrinkle to what can be considered rap’s greatest battle.

The rap battle between Kendrick and Drake has been brewing for the past decade. The two have traded subtle lyrics against each other, but things became overt after Kendrick teamed up with Future, Metro Boomin’ for the song, “Like That.”

The rap battle reached it’s zenith on May 3, a day when Kendrick released the diss song “6:16 In LA” and was followed by Drake’s response, “Family Matter.” Kendrick would cause a stir online by releasing the dark “Meet The Grahams” 20 minutes later.

It’s unclear how this rap battle will end, but it’s possible that Kendrick could be crafting rap’s first full-length diss album. Drake may considering following J. Cole’s lead and calling a truce before things go too far.

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