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Ana Maria Cornea / Gavel Media

A Civil War in Rap?: Analyzing the New Rap Drama

Pre-existing tensions in the rap world finally blew up on March 22 when Future and Metro Boomin released their long-awaited collaborative album, We Don’t Trust You

One song on the album, “Like That,” contained an electric feature by Kendrick Lamar that dissed big-time rappers Drake and J. Cole, ensuing chaos within the rap landscape. However, this animosity did not begin overnight: it has been building between these artists for a decade now. 

The tension between Kendrick Lamar and Drake started around 2013 with the release of Big Sean’s “Control,” where Kendrick attacked most major rappers, including Drake. Most received Kendricks’s verses as friendly competition and made their lyrical responses; however, Drake took it more personally, and the two rappers have subtly exchanged disses ever since. 

On his song “Like That,” Kendrick came out swinging, saying, “F*** sneak dissing,” and calling out songs, albums, and lyrics by Drake and J. Cole. Most notably, Kendrick states, “Mother**** the big three/***** it’s just big me,” referencing J. Cole when he said, “Love when they argue the hardest MC/Is it K-Dot? Is it Aubrey? Or me?/We the big three like we started a league,” on Drake’s “First Person Shooter.”

J. Cole released a response to Kendrick’s diss, “7 Minute Drill,” where he publicly attacked Kendrick, stating that his recent work is lackluster compared to what he used to do. However, known for his peaceful nature, J. Cole took the song down and apologized for his criticism towards Kendrick. These actions would presumably mean that J. Cole made an early exit from this rap war. Moreover, J. Cole appeared as a feature on “Red Leather,” a song on Metro Boomin and Future’s successive album We Still Don’t Trust You.

The cause of the tension between Future and Drake is less clear. Some speculate the drama between the two rappers, both known for rarely having emotional attachments towards women, fought over a woman years ago and have hated each other since. 

Future starts the first song of the first album, also named “We Don’t Trust You,” with the lyrics “Fake written all over you/Hate written all over you/Smiling faces/Sometimes pretend to be your friend/Smiling faces show no traces/Of the evil that lurks within.” This is likely directed at Drake and could give some insight towards the reason for their mutual hatred. 

The tension between Metro Boomin and Drake started in 2022 when Metro complained on Twitter about Her Loss, a Drake album that many rap fans were unimpressed with, winning awards over Heroes and Villains, a Metro album more embraced by the rap community. He later deleted this tweet. Drake responded to this on a livestream, saying, “To the rest of you — the non-believers, the underachievers, the tweet and deleters — you guys make me sick to my stomach, fam.” 

How this animosity will play out is highly anticipated for rap listeners, and the players in this game could change quickly. In We Still Don’t Trust You, A$AP Rocky and The Weeknd join the fight, both taking on Drake in their lyrics. A$AP’s diss was particularly memorable: “I smash before you birthed, son, Flacko it it first, son/Still don’ trust, it’s always us, never them/Heard you dropped your latest s***/ Funny how it came and went.” Not only does A$AP attack Drake’s music, but he also implies that he slept with the mother of Drake’s child before Drake did. 

Furthermore, the rap world has been paying close attention to rapper 21 Savage, who has close ties to Metro Boomin and Drake. So far, he has stayed out of the fight, but if he joins in, his harshness and explosiveness could make a significant difference in this rap civil war. Additionally, a side that has Future and 21 Savage with Metro backing them could inspire more Atlanta trap artists to take on Drake. 

All in all, the spark of Kendrick’s feature in “Like That” has lit the tinderbox of rap on fire, with more artists joining the mix by the day. 

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Double majors in reciting movie quotes and fantasy football with a concentration in Suits binge-watching.