Sunday, 23 June

Who won the Kendrick Lamar v Drake beef?

Entertainment
Getty Images: (L-R) Drake and Kendrick Lamar - fans of both rappers have proclaimed their favourite the winner

"Tryna strike a chord and it's probably A-minor."

With every second Kendrick Lamar holds on to the last letter of "minor" in Not Like Us, the inflammatory song about his fellow rapper Drake, his raspy vocals reverberate through hip-hop and popular culture.

It's an explosive allegation, made without evidence, that calls into question Drake's conduct with young women - an allegation now heard around the world. Drake, one of the world's biggest artists, vehemently denies it.

 Since its release on 4 May, Not Like Us has been dissected on social media, played at NBA basketball games and boomed from DJ booths at parties from London to Los Angeles; New York to Atlanta, piercing the public consciousness. 

And it is only one of nine songs that make up a mind-boggling, escalating conflict between two modern rap titans, involving unevidenced accusations of domestic violence, secret children and paedophilia - all denied.

This is a cold war that has simmered over the last decade finally boiling to the surface. 

"I think we've all expected this to happen at some point," says Minou Itseli, also known as Mimi The Music Blogger, a journalist and content creator. "They've been sending indirect shots to each other in their music a lot more than we first thought. But no one could have seen the beef go this far."

Both men have been praised and criticised during the feud, and fans of both have proclaimed their favourite the winner.

But who - if either - has come out of this looking good?

You'd be forgiven for blinking and missing some of the detail, given how fast this confrontation has moved.

It began with Lamar's verse on Like That, by rappers Future and Metro Boomin. Drake responded with Push Ups, belittling Lamar's achievements and status as a rap legend. That track currently sits on more than 70 million streams on Spotify.

Doubling down, Drake's controversial Taylor Made Freestyle utilised AI-generated voices of two of Lamar's heroes - Snoop Dogg and the late, great, Tupac Shakur - to goad him into a reply.

Drake also claimed Lamar wasn't replying to his taunts for fear of interrupting the release of Taylor Swift's new album. Drake raps: "Taylor Swift is your new top" - meaning Lamar's boss - "and if you boutta drop, she gotta approve."

The message was clear. Drake doesn't respect Lamar, who is considered one of the greatest rappers of his generation, and was ready to take him down a peg.

Joseph "JP" Patterson, editor-in-chief of Complex UK and founder of TRENCH magazine tells the BBC: "I might be the only person on this planet with this viewpoint, but Taylor Made Freestyle was pretty dope. I get the rap purist's dismay around him using AI verses but even down to the beat, I was feeling it."

And then, fans waited with bated breath anticipating the next move. Those on social media felt Lamar wasn't up for the fight, given he had yet to respond.

His rebuttal was Euphoria, a track questioning Drake's parenting skills, rumours that he'd had plastic surgery and his use of AI.

Lines as straightforward as: "I hate the way that you walk, the way that you talk, I hate the way that you dress" resonated with fans because of Lamar's heated delivery, highlighting everything - and he means everything - he dislikes about Drake.

It was so impactful that Euphoria was used in an official TikTok video for US President Joe Biden's election campaign against Donald Trump.

Itseli believes this track perfectly sums up Lamar's stance: "It's a summary of everything he wanted to say to Drake," she shares. "If anyone wants a short recap of Kendrick's side, you'll find everything in Euphoria."