There’s a lot to digest on Kendrick Lamar’s ‘The Heart Part 4’, his first track in 2017 and the groundwork for an upcoming fourth album. First, he seems to indicate a release date for his next full-length (“Y’all got ’til April the 7th to get y’all shit together”). Then there’s an entire verse taking aim at Donald Trump (“a chump”), deceitful politicians and fake news (“How many leaders gon’ tell you the truth after me?”). And that’s before you even get to the heart of the song – a blatant, direct-as-it-gets diss that could pierce the thickest of skins. But who exactly is Kendrick taking on?
Genius annotations and tweets are ablaze with the belief that K. Dot is directing his hate towards Drake.
It wouldn’t be the first time, after all. Both superstars once shared a mutual respect – they’ve toured together, appeared on each other’s records. But the pair have taken parallel paths in the past couple of years – Kendrick aiming for rap royalty and an enduring legacy, Drake breaking records by predominantly existing in the pop sphere. One’s gunning for all-out credibility, while the other sticks with the times by releasing “playlists” over full-lengths.
The first diss between the two came on 2013 Big Sean track ‘Control’, which remains Kendrick’s biggest statement against the competition (“I got love for you all but I’m tryna murder you ni**as”). Drake wasn’t the only one in K.Dot’s firing line – J Cole, Pusha T, A$AP Rocky were all included in the same verse.
At 2013’s BET Awards, Kendrick upped the ante by calling Drake “a sensitive rapper” dressed “in his pajama clothes.” And on his 2015 ‘King Kunta’ track, a jab directed at rappers with ghost writers appeared to be aimed at Drake, when Meek Mill later claimed the Toronto star relied on songwriter Quentin Miller (tweeting “he don’t write his own raps!”)
Drake hasn’t been shy in hitting back, most recently on The Game’s ‘100’, where his guest verse takes aim at “conscious rap” that acts all holier than thou. This is a war that’s been by and large tacit, played out without a direct intention to make headlines. If Drake is indeed the target of Kendrick’s fire on ‘The Heart Part 4’, however, that could all change. Take the song’s opening line, for starters: “Don’t tell a lie on me / I won’t tell the truth ‘bout you” could be linking back to the ghost-writing accusations that continue to shadow Drake.
Drake trying to write a response to Kendrick without his ghost writers at his side https://t.co/2TP2TV7OcX
— Mariah the Scientist Fan Page (@LilTerryy) March 24, 2017
But there’s a greater likelihood that these flooring verses are instead directed Big Sean, who appeared to take aim at Kendrick on his ‘No More Interviews track last year, stating:
“And I can’t lie like I like this shit like I usually do / And I’m just not impressed by you ni**as rapping fast / Who sound like one big asthma attack but trash when I’m rapping it back / Who you put in your top five and claim they the saviour of rap.”
Kendrick goes straight for the jugular. He refers directly to those veiled attacks (citing “The legendary status of a hip-hop rhyme saviour”), while referring to the notoriously violent rapper Big Pun. “Tip-toeing around my name, ni**a ya lame / And when I get at you, homie, don’t you tell me you was just playin.” It’s a rivalry that could again span back to ‘Control’, a Big Sean track by name, but one that Kendrick will always be remembered for. He stole the show on all fronts.
Whether directed at Drake, Big Sean or someone else completely, Kendrick isn’t pulling any punches. And Twitter is loving every minute of it.
y'all steady talking bout kendrick but guarantee drake in the lab prepping a new accent as we speak
— fanessa hudgens (@mylesaheadd) March 24, 2017