Drake fans love to move the goalposts. Whenever Kendrick Lamar comes through on his bully, rapping his ass off, they like to bring up sales, streams, sold-out tours—rarely the bars. Now, they're in denial about the Drake-directed lines on Kendrick's latest, "The Heart Part 4."
Yes, many of the shots are for Big Sean, who's been punching out of his weight class since he got ate on his own track in 2013; the aftershocks from Kendrick's hijacking verse on Sean's "Control" continue to impact rap to this day.
Which brings me to Drake and Kendrick's subtle rivalry. One is a hit-making, chart-demolishing monster who can sing and rap about everything from relationships to rappers he's having problems with. The other has two classic albums under his belt, a rapper's rapper who bucks sonic trends. Drake handles pop effortlessly, while K-Dot is more inclined to explore jazz fusion.
When I first heard "The Heart Part 4," I marked Drake as the target more than Big Sean. (The Hall of Fame line and bars addressing "No More Interviews" aside.)
For instance, "Shut the fuck up, you sound like the last nigga I know" is about Drizzy's reluctance to say Kendrick's name on wax.
"One, two, three, four, five/I am the greatest rapper alive" is likely a shot, too. We don't know when Kendrick recorded the second verse of "The Heart Part 4," but it's not a huge leap to argue that those bars are a response to both the Drake's "Grammys" line about being top five and the More Life elaboration, on "Gyalchester":
"I know I said top five, but I’m top two
And I’m not two and I got one
Thought you had one, but it's not one, nigga, nah"
And consider these bars about Russell Westbrook:
"Tables turned, lesson learned, my best look
You jumped sides on me, now you 'bout to meet Westbrook
Go celebrate with your team and let victory vouch you
Just know the next game played, I might slap the shit out you
Technical foul, I'm flagrant, I'm foul
They throwin' me out, you throw in the towel"
They serve as an answer to Drake on "Weston Road Flows":
"A lot of people just hit me up when my name is mentioned
Shout out to KD, we relate, we get the same attention
It's rainin money, Oklahoma City Thunder
The most successful rapper 35 and under"
Near the song's end Kendrick dramatizes the revision process via the sound of paper crumpling, which reinforces the fact that Kendrick is the author of his songs. In other words, unlike Drake, you wouldn't catch him using a ghostwriter:
"Look at the crowd, they (Nah, I don't like that)
Look at my smile, I'm smirking
Calm but urgent (That ain't the style, fuck)
So many verses, you live in denial (Fuck)
So many verses, I never run out, what?
You making him nervous, the music is loud"
And of course, isn't it just too much of a coincidence that Kendrick dropped this loosie the week after More Life arrived? The timing isn't lost on me. The King from Compton has a habit of shaking up the game and making himself the center of attention.