BEEF BRINGS LAMAR BACK TO SPOTLIGHT

After 2023's down year for rap, the genre is back to producing #1s, albeit at the expense of hip-hop’s streaming champ, Drake. Future & Metro Boomin ignited an anti-Drake campaign with WE DON’T TRUST YOU, which was led by “Like That,” an instant smash featuring Kendrick Lamar. Now, multiple tracks instigated by the beef are at the top of DSP charts.

While Future & Metro’s falling out with Drake surprised many and was newsworthy on its own, Lamar’s shots at the OVO boss and J. Cole added a different element to the diss party—he targeted the notion that they are considered rap’s Big Three and took offense at Drake and Cole’s collab “First Person Shooter” from For All the Dogs.

J. Cole decided to exit the lyrical blood-letting, leaving Drake and Lamar to duke it out.

Drake is the most successful rapper of the streaming era, while Lamar is the most critically acclaimed. Apparently, the two have been at odds since they collaborated back in 2011, but 13 years later, the feud has entered a new level in which nothing appears to be off limits.

“Like That” had a massive first week. With 59m streams, it was the biggest week for a song since Miley Cyrus’ “Flowers.” Most notably, it represented the first time in two years that Lamar was back at #1 on song charts. The track is already north of 1m in activity since arriving on 3/22.

While Lamar mostly took aim at Drake’s repertoire and status on “Like That,” the conflict escalated 4/13 with Drake’s response, “Push Ups," which blasted Kendrick’s age, size and business relationship with Top Dawg.

Weeks went by—during which Drake dropped two responses—before Kendrick came back on 4/30 with “euphoria,” a six-minute Drake diss track. It earned 23m streams and topped both Spotify U.S. and Apple Music.

Lamar’s momentum increased last weekend, when he and Drake exchanged multiple blows. On 5/4 Kendrick dropped the Mustard-produced “Not Like Us," which has all the makings of a West Coast anthem—and reiterates that Drake is not like the street rappers he’s dueling with. “Not Like Us” also debuted at #1 on Apple and Spotify U.S., giving Lamar his third track to do so in the last month.

For those keeping score, Lamar’s songs are outperforming Drake’s. Kendrick currently has four songs in the Top 20 on Spotify global. He’s also risen to #2 on the Spot’s artist chart, trailing only Taylor Swift.

Further cementing the near-unanimous support for Lamar: “Not Like Us” moved to #1 on Spotify global on 5/6 while attaining the biggest streaming day ever for a hip-hop song in the U.S. (6.59m)—a record previously held by Drake's “Girls Want Girls” f/Lil Baby. Another sign of the song's status was its immediate use at sporting events. The NBA is giving it a big look during playoff broadcasts.

The excitement surrounding Lamar’s diss tracks makes sense. The Pulitzer Prize-winning rapper doesn’t usually deliver content at this clip; he’s only released one album since 2017. Fans are not taking it for granted that our most acclaimed rap lyricist is in attack mode and blessing them with ample bars. Could the fresh batch of Lamar singles lead to a new project or mixtape? Or will Lamar continue to release stand-alone diss tracks?

Whatever he decides to do, one thing is for sure: Fans will be more focused than ever on Lamar’s next move.

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