Street Soldiers: Drake and Kendrick Lamar's epic battle heats up

The matchup between two Hip-Hop heavyweights, Drake and Kendrick Lamar, became Hip-Hop's version of boxing's epic showdown between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier in the fight of the century. While there's still an ongoing debate about who won, everyone seems to agree the fast-moving feud excited fans and energized Hip-Hop culture in ways we haven't seen for a very long time.

In one corner, we have multiple Grammy-winning artists, Kendrick Lamar. In the other corner, we have the Billboard HOT 100 Number 1 record holder of all time, Drake. Both are Hip-Hop megastars and both are at the top of their careers, says Billboard Deputy Director of Hip Hop and R&B, Carl Lamarre.

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"When you're looking for a heavyweight feud, these are the two opponents that you want standing at two different corners opposing each other, ready to go," Lamarre said.

Hip-hop battles and feuds have always been part of the culture. Some of the biggest include Notorious B.I.G. vs. Tupac Shakur, 50 Cent vs. Ja Rule, and Nas’s bitter feud with Jay-Z. There's also the long-simmering hostility between Nicki Minaj and Cardi B that erupted into a shoe-throwing fight during New York Fashion Week in 2018. 

But nothing compares to the battle of the two modern-day titans, Drake and Kendrick Lamar, according to 

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"I think this battle was incredibly important because, you know, I feel like every generation of Hip-Hop has to have an epic battle to solidify that generation’s king or queen and to solidify something that we can talk about for the future," Creekmur said.

The Kendrick Lamar - Drake battle heated up in the spring of 2024 and erupted with verbal blows being thrown and landing in both directions. 

Nearly a dozen diss records were created and fired off, aiming with very personal insults and allegations including various types of abuse and addiction. Nothing was off limits, even if it wasn't true. 

The diss records exploded online with millions of views, and were played by DJs in clubs and on the radio, says HOT 97 DJ Drewski.

Drewski believes it shows emerging artists who still have ties to the streets that when they leave the beef in their music, they can succeed peacefully. 

"I think for some of the young artists, especially the ones that make drill records that really get active, it showed them, okay, we can still be lit, we can still be popular, we can still make great music, and we don’t have to go out there and hurt one another," Drewski said.

Battle Rap legend Math Hoffa says the intensity and personal verbal attacks in the Drake–Kendrick showdown remind him of battle rap at its best - provocative, emotional, and above all, entertaining.  

"The level of lyricism and creativity that came out of this, I'm hoping it’s going to put a spotlight on battle rap because a lot of things that I heard in this battle were bars that were constructed in battle rap for the past decade," Hoffa said.