Kendrick Lamar's Drake-J Cole rivalry explained

From 2Pac's Hit 'Em Up to Jay-Z's Takeover, hundreds of "diss tracks" have been written as a test of lyrical prowess and a declaration of superiority. 

Drake, Kendrick Lamar, and J Cole's latest spat was sparked by a seemingly harmless phrase applauding their accomplishments. 

Drake, the Canadian actor-turned-musician, is the most successful hip-hop artist of the 21st century with his vulnerable blend of rap and R&B. His multi-platinum songs include Hotline Bling, One Dance, and Hold On We're Going Home. 

Kendrick Lamar—Compton-born rapper whose catchy lyrics and innovative ideas have made him the finest of his generation. One of the game's most creative lyricists, he addresses police brutality, black self-worth, and his own struggles. He became the first hip-hop Pulitzer Prize winner in 2018. 

J. Cole J Cole, born in Germany and raised in North Carolina, was taught by Jay-Z and had hits including Middle Child and Deja Vu. He became disillusioned with commercial success and started writing more contemplative, analytical songs, which became his most successful and popular. 

Initial sparks were for unification, not discord. Drake's eighth album For All The Dogs, released last October, included First Person Shooter featuring J Cole. Cole in one line called Drake, Kendrick, and him the hip-hop "big three" of the moment. "Love the hardest MC arguments Is it Kendrick? Aubrey Drake? Or me? / The major three started a league."

The song was Drake's 13th and Cole's first number-one in the US. Drake tied Michael Jackson for male solo number one singles. After a week, Taylor Swift's Cruel Summer took the top spot, ending the moment. Kendrick noticed privately and wasn't happy.

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