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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Drake versus Kendrick Lamar: did Drake really outdo Kendrick with ‘Push Ups’?

This war of words has the two rappers releasing new music at a rapid pace 


By SOFIA BOZZO — arts@theaggie.org


If you are a fan of rap — or just music in general — it’s quite possible you have heard something about the recent commotion surrounding Drake and Kendrick Lamar. If not, this article serves to guide you through the complex turbulence that looms over the two superstars. 

Lamar was born and raised in Compton, California, rising to fame as a young artist during the early 2010s. He gained major traction within the rap community in 2011 when he was featured on Drake’s “Take Care” album. From that point, Lamar was regularly found drifting around the top of the Billboard music charts. 

About a year before, a young actor-turned-rapper from Canada hit the top of the charts with his 2009 single, “Best I Ever Had.” Drake has become one of the most iconic rappers of the 21st century, producing countless hits and winning five Grammys along the way.

The two rappers share the title of members of the “Big Three,” a term used in the music community to describe the three best rappers of our time: Lamar, Drake and J. Cole. 

“A decade ago, three rappers emerged at the top of their class,” Complex Magazine said. “Today, they’re each still on top of the game, and they’ve done it on their own terms. It’s why they’re referred to by many as the ‘Big 3’ of their class.” 

Despite sharing a role at the top, the title of “Big Three” may be the only thing they have in common. What began as a seemingly productive artistic relationship in 2010 has since become a major rivalry with one another, coming to a head on March 24, 2024 when Metro Boomin and Future dropped their new album, “We Don’t Trust You.” 

The album’s biggest hit, “Like That,” features Lamar and has gained a striking 213 million listens and climbing on Spotify. The beat is ultra-dynamic, and the verse is extremely catchy — yet the song’s striking popularity is only rendered fully understandable about halfway through the song when Lamar begins his feature. The feature is wrought with disses almost exclusively targeted at Drake. Lamar attacks Drake, stating “Motherfuck the big three […] it’s just big me.” 

Two weeks later, as expected, Drake released “Push Ups,” a single with cover art of Lamar’s notoriously small shoe size on the front. If that wasn’t explicit enough, Drake goes on to attack every ounce of Lamar’s career.

“You ain’t in no big three, SZA got you wiped down, Travis got you wiped down, Savage got you wiped down,” the lyrics read. 

The beat is generic and re-used, while the verse feels like a half-baked response for the sake of the traditional clap-back. Additionally, Drake released a song called “Taylor Made Freestyle” directly before “Push Ups,” featuring the voices of West Coast legends Snoop Dogg and Tupac using artificial intelligence (AI), dissing Lamar as having disrespected the West Coast rap scene. 

The use of AI in music faces a major ethical dilemma. Music is about self-expression and one’s own voice. By inserting the presumed notions of other rappers into Drake’s own conflict with Lamar, Drake cedes his artistic voice. Was the use of AI in Drake’s response a clever way to diss Lamar, or did it make him look weak and unoriginal? 

In navigating the obvious question of who “won” this intense hostility between the superstars, the quality over mere reaction was enough to light up the top charts. While Drake responded extremely quickly, and with some clever jabs at Lamar, ultimately the latter allows the purpose of music to remain intact. 

Let’s face it — Drake may have clapped back in a form only he is capable of, however, his dull verse and lackluster beat, coupled with his ethically shaky use of AI was at best mediocre. If you haven’t already, go listen to both tracks, and make up your own mind about the emerging beef between the two iconic, and dramatic, rap artists. 


Written by: Sofia Bozzo — arts@theaggie.org 



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