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Why Kendrick Lamar-Drake beef is spilling into sports


One of rap’s longest simmering cold wars erupted into chaos over the past week. And the sports world is among the interested parties.

Kendrick Lamar and Drake, two of the biggest voices in rap music, turned their longstanding dislike for one another into a game of Dirty Dozens at the start of May.

The pair — who have 22 Grammys between them, 17 for Lamar and five for Drake — traded stinging verses. Lamar accused the biracial Drake of ripping off Black American culture and engaging in inappropriate relationships with underage girls, while Drake suggested that Lamar physically abused his longtime romantic partner.

Sports figures are not exempt from mention on the diss tracks, either, with LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Serena Williams among the athletes to have their names brought up in the war of words.

Still, sports teams and figures are more than willing to promote the tracks, despite the weighty accusations leveled by both men through their music.

Dodgers second baseman Gavin Lux put one of Lamar’s diss tracks — the Bay-area fueled “Not Like Us” — to use as his walkup song. USC football used the same song in a hype video on social media.

Meanwhile, NBA on TNT used an interpolation of the track behind highlights from the Timberwolves’ Game 2 win over the Nuggets on Monday night.

How did we get to this point? And what’s next in Lamar and Drake’s rap beef — one that authorities were prompted to ask about after Drake’s security guard was shot outside his Toronto mansion?

The Sporting News fills you in on the history and recent flashpoints in Kendrick Lamar and Drake’s longstanding quarrel.

As two of the music’s industries biggest figures, Lamar and Drake have been on each others’ radar for more than a decade. The two first came together for a collaboration back in 2011, when Lamar featured on “Buried Alive Interlude” off Drake’s 2011 album “Take Care.”

The pair were pitted as competitors. But the collaboration continued for former Top Dawg Entertainment standout Lamar and his October’s Very Own (OVO) counterpart, with Drake returning the favor on Lamar’s 2012 track “Poetic Justice.” The duo also lended their voices to A$AP Rocky’s “F—in’ Problems.”

Things were copacetic … until they weren’t. The first real signs of conflict between the two parties came back in 2013, when Lamar asserted that he wasn’t worried about any of his rap contemporaries, including Drake.

Many of the rappers Lamar named alongside Drake were honored to be considered by Lamar as among the present and future of rap. Drake, however, is believed to have been less-than-pleased with Lamar’s comments, brushing them aside subsequent interviews.

Lamar is also believed to have unleashed some thinly-veiled shots at the Canadian rapper with a verse during the 2013 BET Hip-Hop Awards:

After that, the Kendrick Lamar-Drake feud went quiet for the better part of a decade. This year, though, the two were back to locking horns.

In March, Metro Boomin and Future — one of Drake’s most famous longtime collaborators — dropped “Like That” with Lamar. In the track, Lamar claimed that rap’s Big Three — himself, Drake and J. Cole — did not actually exist. Instead, there was but one man who held the keys to the industry: Lamar himself.

Drake was none too pleased. In fact, he responded with a bevy of diss tracks, first releasing “Push Ups,” which threw shade towards Lamar, Future, Metro Boomin, Rick Ross, A$AP Rocky and The Weeknd.

In his track, Drake criticizes Lamar’s collaborations with pop artists Maroon 5 and Taylor Swift, claiming that such affiliations run contradictory to his stature as a purported stalwart of “real” hip-hop. He also name-dropped Lamar’s fiancee, a no-no in rap beef’s rules of engagement.

Drake doubled down on his insults towards Lamar, reportedly mimicking Tupac Shakur and Snoop Dogg’s voices (via AI) in “Taylor Made Freestyle.” Lamar is from Compton and cites fellow West Coast icons Shakur and Snoop as pivotal influences in his career. He included both in his critically-acclaimed 2015 tape “To Pimp a Butterfly.”

Drake also stated that the reason why Lamar was taking so long to respond to the Canadian’s claims was because he didn’t want to interfere with the release of Swift’s new album, “The Tortured Poets Department,” which debuted on April 19.

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