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The Echo

The Student News Site of Tenafly High School

The Echo

The Student News Site of Tenafly High School

The Echo

The Big Three and Their Big Beef: Drake vs. Kendrick vs. J. Cole

On March 22, “Like That” was dropped by Future, featuring Kendrick Lamar and Metro Boomin. It quickly began to shake the internet as Lamar dropped the verse, “F‒‒ the big three, it’s just big me,” referencing how Lamar, J. Cole, and Drake were referred to as the ‘big three’ in hip-hop. This comment would instigate responses from both J. Cole and Drake. J. Cole retaliated on his album, Might Delete Later, on April 5. However, fans were quickly taken aback by his sudden apology to Lamar only days after his album dropped. To add to this, J. Cole took the song through which he responded to Lamar off his streaming platforms right after his apology. Drake, on the other hand, seems to be taking the beef more seriously, as he recently released his diss track where he doesn’t only diss Lamar but also the other numerous rappers who have come after him. The tension is high, and to unpack this rap beef, we must understand how it started.

The diss war began with Drake and J. Cole’s 2023 collab, “First Person Shooter.” J. Cole raps the lines, “Love when they argue the hardest MC, / Is it K-Dot? Is it Aubrey? Or me?” Here, K-dot refers to Lamar, and Aubrey refers to Drake, as it is his birth name. 

J.Cole also raps, “We the big three like we started a league, but right now, I feel like Muhammad Ali.” At the end of this verse, J. Cole is saying that among the big three rappers, he is the best. Lamar had previously rapped about how he desired to be the best rapper in the game on Big Sean’s song, “Control.”

And that goes for Jermaine Cole, Big K.R.I.T, Wale, / Pusha T, Meek Millz, A$AP Rocky, Drake, / Big Sean, Jay Electron, Tyler, Mac Miller, / I got love for you all, but I’m tryna murder you,” 

Since the release of this song, Lamar has made his opinion on Drake and J. Cole clear. This explains why he clapped back to J. Cole’s verse with full might, not backing down on his goal to be the top rapper.  J. Cole’s follow-up response was on the album Might Delete Later in the song titled “7 Minute Drill.” 

“Your first s‒‒ was classic, your last s‒‒ was tragic,” J.Cole rapped in the song. “Your third s‒‒ was massive and that was your prime.”

However, he soon took back his words by apologizing for making a response in the first place. At the Dreamville Festival in Raleigh, North Carolina, J. Cole performed on April 7, just two days after his album dropped. During the performance, he made a speech. “I wanna say right now, how many people think Kendrick Lamar is one of the greatest motherf‒‒ to ever touch a microphone?” he said, according to Rolling Stone. “I just wanna come up here and publicly be like, that was the lamest, goofiest s‒‒.” In other words, J. Cole expressed how he regrets his response to Lamar and he doesn’t want any ill will between the two. This seems to be where the feud ends for the two rappers. 

After J. Cole tapped out, Drake took his turn in the spotlight as “Push Ups” was leaked on April 12, according to Rolling Stone and fans who heard the track online. The official release was on April 19. Fans seemed pleased with Drake’s response as they were looking forward to more music being created from the current feud. Many were still disappointed with how J. Cole handled the beef, so this track was a breath of fresh air. Throughout the track, Drake throws shots at Lamar, Metro Boomin, Future, Rick Ross, and The Weeknd. Most notably, Drake points out Lamar’s height and size throughout the song.

 “You won’t ever take no chain off of us / How the f‒‒ you been steppin’ with a size 7 men’s on?” Drake raps. “Pipsqueak, pipe down / You ain’t in no big three.” The song effectively does its job as a diss track, and overall it is being well-received by fans. 

The reactions to the sequences of diss tracks have been mixed. Hip-hop fans are now picking sides and deciding who wins these rap showdowns. Some believe that Lamar has crushed his opponents in this feud, while others are more keen on the way Drake or J. Cole responded. However, one popular sentiment being shared online is that J. Cole is the most cowardly out of the three rappers. As J. Cole apologized for participating in the beef in the first place, as well as removing his response song, fans began to lose respect. “He just gave up?” said alex.lindsayy on Instagram. People seem to be upset that J. Cole is not standing by what he says. It’s also an unusual move, as many people in the hip-hop community would say that rap beef is an integral part of rap. 

Rap fans want to hear artists take it all the way there, not be overly conscientious and almost deferential on the battlefield,” said Andre Gee from Rolling Stone. Altogether, J.Cole’s decision to back out of the beef turned into something controversial and unusual,  which separates this rap feud from other feuds in hip-hop history. 

Overall, no matter whose side you’re on, it’s clear that the rap feuds inspire many pieces of new music, which is a joy for hip-hop fans everywhere. The publicity and money generated from controversy is more than enough motivation for rappers to continue participating in rap beef.

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About the Contributor
Val Reyes
Val Reyes, Staff Writer
Val Reyes ('26) is excited to write stories in The Echo about pop culture, current events, and student life. In her free time, she likes music, painting, and baking pastries.