June 15, 2024

Late Sunday night, I logged onto Fortnite to take pleasure in all of the newly added Star Wars content material, solo-queuing up for a No Construct quads match straight away. As I waited for the battle bus to select me up, I may hear certainly one of my teammates loudly enjoying Canadian actor-turned-rapper Aubrey “Drake” Graham’s music, “The Coronary heart Half 6,” the newest in a collection of back-and-forth diss tracks with Pulitzer Prize-winning, Compton-born rapper Kendrick Lamar.

Over the previous few weeks, the 2 have engaged in a tense rap battle during which they’ve lobbed insults at one another’s households, their avenue cred, and their star energy, with Kendrick sharing a collection of songs that many believed “flattened” Drake over the weekend. The final shot fired in that salvo, “Not Like Us,” launched early Sunday and accused the 37-year-old each of hiding an 11-year-old daughter and in addition partaking in pedophilia. Not lengthy after the discharge of “Not Like Us,” Drake responded with “The Coronary heart Half 6,” demanding Kendrick present proof to assist his accusations, and suggesting that Drake and his crew had planted these rumors on objective.

“I feel Drake made an excellent level,” a unique participant in our quad opined as “The Coronary heart Half 6” performed over somebody’s headset. “Kendrick has to show these rumors are true now.”

“Nicely, no probably not,” I replied. “This isn’t a courtroom case, it’s a rap beef.”

All three gamers loudly disagreed with me, insisting that Kendrick’s solely likelihood of “profitable” this battle was by exhibiting proof that Drake had an illegitimate daughter and/or had relations with underage girls. They continued discussing the meat, the songs which have come out of this beef, and the way every rapper may “win” all through your entire match, and all I may take into consideration was how this beef is fodder for the trendy web and the subcultures it courts.

Picture: The Coca-Cola Firm

The rap beef, memefied

A part of the explanation Kendrick and Drake’s beef is so completely tailor-made to right now’s web tradition is due to how memeworthy it’s. The time period “meme” was first coined by biologist Richard Dawkins in his 1976 ebook The Egocentric Gene—Dawkins instructed memes have been an concept, a habits, or a method, mimicked from person-to-person, that would carry and transmit symbolic which means, as nicely. Trendy web memes don’t simply suggest a deep layer of data on a subject, however additionally they denote an individual’s allegiances, their “sides.” Memes are so partisan in right now’s web tradition that they have been used to assist elect President Donald Trump in 2016, and once more to spur on the January 6, 2021 Capitol Riots, as detailed extensively within the 2022 ebook, Meme Wars.

With the Kendrick and Drake beef, somebody’s allegiances could be made crystal-clear with a singular photograph. Merely posting an image of Drake’s 2010 Sprite business (during which the rapper sips a Sprite and is summarily cut up into many items like a deconstructed robotic) implies that Kendrick tore Drake aside. Alternatively, sharing an image of Kendrick standing subsequent to a different rapper tells folks you loudly stump for Drake, as Kendrick’s 5’5” peak is the subject of a lot ridicule locally.

Avid gamers have additionally posted their favourite memes, referencing a various and eclectic vary of video games from Fallout to Smash Bros. Some, clearly not plugged into rap music and its related beefs, requested the neighborhood to assist clarify the background of this all in Closing Fantasy phrases, and several people obliged.

After all, the anime neighborhood has latched onto the meat, as Drake’s and Kendrick’s hatred for each other feels ripped from Jojo’s Weird Journey. Twitch streamer and cosplayer Kayla obtained again into her Dio cosplay to lip sync a number of strains from Kendrick’s “euphoria” monitor, a testomony to the character’s legacy as a hater.

The "Not Like Us" album art.

Picture: Kendrick Lamar / Google

Even the topics of the battle are leaning into memes. Kendrick’s “Not Like Us” album artwork encompasses a Google Maps image of Drake’s Toronto mansion, with a number of crimson and black icons emblazoned on the mansion. These markers resemble those discovered on maps that delineate the place registered intercourse offenders dwell. It’s a stark, shareable picture that has layers of symbolism, and the web latched onto it, including fictional names to his mansion on Google Maps like “Kendrick’s Home” and renaming different close by homes issues like “CertifiedKidLover” or “Youngster MOE-lester,” as reported by Gizmodo.

Drake and the web 

Apparently, Drake appears to be dropping this battle on his house turf. The rapper has notoriously courted essentially the most perpetually on-line followers, even streaming on Kick, the rival Twitch platform backed by Tyler Faraz Niknam, Bijan Tehrani, and Ed Craven (the latter two of which personal Stake, a playing web site that has been carefully related to Kick streamers). Two of the largest, most traditionally problematic Kick streamers just lately got here to Drake’s protection on social media, with Adin Ross (who was banned from Twitch in 2023 after streaming pornography) and xQc (who signed a $100 million cope with Kick in 2023), posting in assist of the Canadian rapper.

However regardless of a few of gaming’s biggest personalities stumping for Drake, Kendrick appears to be profitable this tradition struggle. Kendrick’s masterful raps resulted in his diss monitor getting performed in Bushwick clubs and Rick Ross’ Vegas pool occasion, and his seemingly preternatural capacity to foretell Drake’s angles have the web flabbergasted. Producer Metro Boomin dropping a “BBL Drake” beat, which he shared on SoundCloud and inspired unsigned artists to rap over, promising a free beat to his favourite, simply dumps much more ridicule in Drake’s lap.

Drake even tried to entice his gaming neighborhood followers, posting a God of War III clip on Instagram as a response to certainly one of Kendrick’s earlier disses. The clip included the quote, “The arms of Dying couldn’t defeat me, the sisters of Destiny couldn’t maintain me, and you’ll not dwell to see the tip of today!” Later, he clapped again at Metro Boomin, posting a clip from Uncharted during which Nathan Drake laments his capacity to “entice the scum of the earth.” Guess he’s a Sony man.

However even with Drake making an attempt to wade into gaming territory, Kendrick’s supporters appeared decided to one-up him, posting a scene from the Thor/Kratos fight in God of War Ragnarok whereby Thor restarts Kratos’ coronary heart simply because it looks like he’s about to die.

“With this Kendrick beef, followers don’t wish to see Drake put up memes on IG or Twitter. The one approach to answer this stage of verbal assassination is by getting within the sales space,” The Verge’s Ash Parrish informed me by way of Twitter DM. “And although he has, Drake has misplaced the rap battle on his house turf of the web by getting memed relentlessly, as tons of rappers and content material creators *the world over* are posting their very own Drake disses utilizing producer Metro Boomin’s ‘BBL Drake’ beat.”

Aftermath’s Gita Jackson, who wrote a Tumblr put up summarizing the meat that has over 10,000 notes on the time of publication, mentioned that the Kendrick/Drake battle transcends the music trade exactly due to the way in which it leans into web tradition.

It’s not shocking to me that folks actually like this beef on the web, and particularly in fandom areas, as a result of in fandom in case you are not actively speaking concerning the factor you’re a fan of, you’re combating with different followers. Beef is a big a part of being in a fandom, and beef that may be collated or annotated with stuff, that’s’ even higher for fandom, so text-based mediums for essentially the most half.

And right here, there’s so many layers to how a lot Kendrick hates Drake and the completely different sorts of the way Kendrick hates Drake, that you possibly can write 10,000 phrases about this and nonetheless not be performed with all the small print…this has been simmering because the ‘Management’ verse in 2012. It’s been occurring for over ten years, that these two males have been each so highly effective within the rap trade and hated one another so powerfully.

I feel that there’s one thing about that even for people who find themselves not into hip-hop—particularly as a result of it makes use of the medium of the web to additional all dialogue. A variety of the time rap disses don’t find yourself being launched formally as a result of they’re utilizing samples that aren’t cleared they usually’re written and recorded in a short time. Right here all of them get dropped by way of the alternative ways individuals are on the web—they get dropped on Twitter, certainly one of them was an Instagram reel, Drake is himself very, very lively on Instagram, and is presently reacting to the whole lot in his tales.

Jackson then echoed what Parrish and others have mentioned about Drake’s terminally on-line presence: “Drake’s profession is steeped within the web itself. That’s additionally the venue he makes use of to victimize these younger ladies that he DMs on Instagram…[this beef] is for and from the web, at the very least on Drake’s facet, and it’s being perpetuated by the web. It appeals to the very on-line amongst us, as a result of it permits us to stake our declare like we’d in a ‘ship struggle. We defend Kendrick as a result of we’re towards individuals who victimize younger girls and fucking tradition vultures, or we like Drake, we’re on Drake’s facet as a result of we’re on his facet of the fandom.”

A phone displays a website titled "Fake News."

Picture: r.classen (Shutterstock)

The burden of proof, the loss of life of beef

Then there’s this “burden of proof” situation, with some seeming to consider that Kendrick can solely “win” this beef if he proves there’s reality to his allegations towards Drake. It smacks of one thing presently occurring within the gaming trade writ giant, highlighted in a current occasion during which Nick Calandra from Second Wind was fed false information from a possible supply in an try to discredit an investigation he was engaged on.

Drake’s strains in “The Coronary heart Half 6” demand that Kendrick produce paperwork confirming his allegations, and it’s the proper fodder for an web skilled on dis- and misinformation, for a era of people that basically dislike and mistrust mainstream media. Drake is making an attempt to create his personal actuality and demand that Kendrick play by his guidelines, which feels similar to what it’s like stepping into any form of argument on the web lately. Put up proof of your harassment, put up proof that there’s not a cabal of individuals injecting wokeness into video video games, otherwise you lose, liberals.

At the same time as I wrote this piece, the Drake/Kendrick beef appeared to quickly method its personal warmth loss of life, because the de-facto chief of terminally on-line males and proprietor of X/Twitter, Elon Musk, weighed in. “Everybody’s speaking about this battle!” he replied to a post from Drake-aligned DJ Akademiks. Later, he sent a crying laughing emoji reply to a different put up discussing the meat. It’s solely a matter of time earlier than he suggests the 2 duke it out in an X house—oh wait, the Elon Musk/AOC parody account already did that.

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