A Timeline of Kendrick Lamar and Drake's Complicated Relationship

What's really good with Drake and Kendrick's relationship?

Photo Removed
Complex Original

Blank pixel used during image takedowns

Photo Removed

Look, fam, we heard you. Just because we've written about how Big Sean could/would/should clap back at Kendrick Lamar doesn't mean we're oblivious to what might be brewing between Drake and Kendrick Lamar. It would make sense, and if you actually look back at how Drake and Kendrick have interacted (or, rather, haven't interacted) over the last few years, signs point to...something.

These two haven't worked together on anything musical since 2012. There were rumblings that they may have linked up a little while back, and it'd be dope if they did (remember "Poetic Justice?"), especially when so many of the artists that K-Dot called out in 2013 on "Control" have worked with Kendrick in some fashion.

Let's revisit the ways in which Drake and Kendrick's lives have intersected, to see if we can figure out where they stand now.

Nov. 15, 2011 - Kendrick gets an interlude from Drake

After "Marvin's Room" left you deep in the feels, Kendrick hijacked Take Care with "Buried Alive," the interlude that found K-Dot "feeling like a suicidal terrorist" who wanted you to "blame it on Mr. OVOXO." No shots here; it's just an easier, simpler time when Drake was on his second album and Kendrick hadn't even made his major label debut.

Feb. 14, 2012 - The Club Paradise Tour

In a move highlighting which rappers mattered to the Boy at time, Drake hit the road on his Club Paradise Tour to support Take Care, and brought Kendrick Lamar and ASAP Rocky along for the ride. According to Pollstar, it ended up being the highest-grossing hip-hop tour of 2012, raking in $42 million during its five-month duration.

Oct. 22, 2012 - Drake appears on Kendrick's "Poetic Justice"

Less than a year after Take Care, Kendrick dropped his major-label debut, Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City. "Poetic Justice," produced by Scoop DeVille and Sounwave, felt tailor-made for its Drake verse. Again, no beef here. Everything was beautiful.

Jan. 15, 2013 - Both rap on ASAP Rocky's "F*ckin' Problems"

Not much to see here, aside from some of the most popular rappers at the time going ham on a cold ass beat. 

Aug. 13, 2013 - Kendrick fires shots at everyone on "Control"

Kendrick took some time out on Big Sean's "Control" to let everyone know where he stood when it came to the best in the game.

I'm usually homeboys with the same niggas I'm rhyming with
But this is hip-hop And them niggas should know what time it is
And that goes for Jermaine Cole, Big K.R.I.T., Wale
Pusha T, Meek Millz, ASAP Rocky, Drake
Big Sean, Jay Electron', Tyler, Mac Miller
I got love for you all, but I'm tryna murder you niggas
Tryna make sure your core fans never heard of you niggas
They don't wanna hear not one more noun or verb from you niggas

The world not only saw this as the spark that may have ignited Big Sean's numerous subliminals at Kendrick, but also pissed off Drizzy.

Aug. 30, 2013 - Drake comments on "Control" verse

With everyone wanting to know how the rappers mentioned in Kendrick's "Control" verse felt about it, Drake spoke up—sorta. When Billboard asked about the verse, he "didn't really have anything to say about it." Then he elaborated: "It just sounded like an ambitious thought to me. That's all it was. I know good and well that Kendrick's not murdering me, at all, in any platform. So when that day presents itself, I guess we can revisit the topic."

Smooth response, especially since he knew he had something for Kendrick coming very soon.

Sept. 24, 2013 - Drake releases "The Language"

On Nothing Was the Same's "The Language," Drake dropped two intriguing lines that seem to be aimed at Kendrick.

I don't know why they been lyin'
But your shit is not that inspirin'

Of course, Kendrick wasn't named, but Drake made sure that you knew he was "the one you should worry 'bout."

Oct. 15, 2013 - Kendrick drops subliminals during BET Awards cypher

A few weeks later, Kendrick—who took home five BET Awards that night—let Drake have it during the now-infamous TDE cypher.

Yeah, and nothing's been the same since they dropped "Control"
And tucked a sensitive rapper back in his pajama clothes

Bruh. One thing's for certain: the speed of information and technology has made disses drop so quickly.

Dec. 19, 2013 - Drake comments: "I also stood my ground as I should"

During Vibe cover story interview, Drake was asked specifically about whether "The Language" was a sub at Kendrick's "Control" verse. Drake said he didn't "want to get into responses," and called "The Language" "just energy." While he said Kendrick's verse was more about MCs wanting to be the best, he opened up about why "The Language" would've been perceived a certain type of way.

"Where it became an issue is that I was rolling out an album while that verse was still bubbling, so my album rollout became about this thing. What am I supposed to say? Nah, we’ll be buddy-buddy? Mind you, I never once said he’s a bad guy [or] I don’t like him. I think he’s a fucking genius in his own right, but I also stood my ground as I should. And with that came another step, which then I have to realize I’m being baited and I’m not gonna fall. Jordan doesn’t have to play pickup to prove that he could play ball, no offense. But I’m not gonna give you the chance to shake me necessarily, ’cause I feel great. There’s no real issue."

It's interesting to note that in the remix to Future's "Shit," Drake raps, "It's funny how they dangling the bait," which would align with the comments made in this Vibe piece.

Drake also acknowledged the lines from Kendrick's BET cypher, saying Kendrick's "going to do what he has to do like the BET [cypher]. But again, it’s not enough for me to go. We haven’t seen each other [since the BET cypher] but I’m sure we’ll see each other and it’ll be cool. And if it’s not, then I guess that’s how our story unfolds."

Aug. 5, 2014 - Drake calls Kendrick a "king" during OVO Fest

With news regarding a Drake/Kendrick beef going cold in 2014, it was dope to see J. Cole bring Drake out during his set, and Drake end his time saying, "Shout out my nigga Kendrick Lamar." The praise didn't stop there: "Kendrick was on my album, we went on tour...that's one of the hardest niggas alive. He should be standing right [here]. There’s a lot of kings in this shit, so shoutout to Kendrick and shoutout my brother J. Cole."

Oct. 29, 2014 - Kendrick goes in on the "motor mouth"

On Jay Rock's single "Pay for It," Kendrick made a reference to Drake's claim of being "the kid with the motor mouth" on "The Language" with the following lines:

I tell 'em all to hail king Kendrick, resurrecting my vengeance
Been dissecting your motor mouth till I break down the engine

He also mentioned that those lines weren't a "warning shot," and that he'd "rather die alone" so he's "endin' our friendship." Awkward.

Feb. 13, 2015 - Drake talks Kendrick on If You're Reading This...

Two lines on "Used To" sound like they're for Kendrick:

They gon' say your name on them airwaves
They gon' hit you up right after like it's only rap

During a 2013 interview for Elliott Wilson's CRWN series, Drake called Kendrick "the underdog who's extremely hungry," saying that his "Control" verse was "real cool for a couple of weeks." But Drake made it a point to say that he's giving people moments instead of long-lasting material. He then dropped this.

"I know that verse had no malice behind it, because I saw him five days later at the VMAs and it was all love. He didn’t come on there in some wild, ‘I’m in New York, fuck everybody, don’t look at me.’ It was one of those things, I almost wished he had come in there on that shit, because I kind of lost a little respect for the sentiment of the verse. If it’s ‘really fuck everybody’ then it needs to be ‘fuck everybody.’ It can’t be halfway for the sake of the people."

Drake later said that when it comes to competition, he's "more worried about consistency, bodies of work."

Mar. 24, 2015 - Kendrick references ghostwriters on "King Kunta"

While never confirmed, Kendrick's "King Kunta" contained some lines that, given the Quentin Miller ghostwriting saga, may have been aimed at the 6 God.

I can dig rappin'
But a rapper with a ghost writer? What the fuck happened?

Oh no!

Aug. 7, 2015 - Kendrick takes Drake to Compton

Who'da thunk that Kendrick, on Dr. Dre's album Compton, would've borrowed Drake's "Energy" to throw a quick shot at the Boy? Take these lines from "Darkside/Gone":

But still I got enemies giving me energy, I don't wanna fight now
Subliminally sent to me all of this hate, I thought I was holding the mic down

Then, on "Deep Water," Kendrick dug the burial plot for Drake:

They liable to bury him, they nominated six to carry him
They worry him to death, but he's no vegetarian
The beef is on his breath, inheriting the drama better than
A great white, nigga this is life in my aquarium

March 14 and 18, 2016 - The $2 bills

There was a week in March where both Kendrick and Drake appeared on the Internet with some $2 bills. First it was Kendrick, who was seen on Dave Free's Snapchat thumbing through a stack of $2 bills. Four days later, Drake posted some $2 bills on the 'gram. Why, though?

June 4, 2016 - Drake releases "4PM In Calabasas"

While not a shot at Kendrick, Drake did take some time out on "4PM" to reflect on the Club Paradise Tour, saying he "drew for" Kendrick and Rocky when he was told to "take an R&B nigga on the road" because he "tried to make the right choices with the world watching." One could twist this as Drake trying to boss up and be on some paternal shit, but again, with all of the claps back and forth between these two, and who Drake was actually calling out on "4PM," K-Dot likely didn't lose sleep over this one.

June 15, 2016 - The destroyed interview

Let former NFL player Marcellus Wiley tell it, there was in fact a beef between the two, and he had a front row seat. "All I know is there was a beef," Wiley said, "and all I know is I was witness to when the beef would have ignited to proportions we have not seen since Ja Rule/50, maybe even Ice Cube/N.W.A. Like it went there. But that was destroyed from everyone’s property. That was destroyed, that interview, that moment was destroyed. That’s all I’m gonna say. But I was there and I heard the shots fired."

Wiley never did say who the two artists were, but Drake was at ESPN studios around the time Big Sean dropped "Control." Whatever the case may be, Wiley said the rapper's publicist made sure that this interview never went public. Who knows what could've went down if a) this was in fact Drake going in on Kendrick and b) the world got to hear the interview....

Mar. 23, 2017 - Kendrick might've had subs for Drake on "The Heart Part 4"

Don't do it. Don't kick that "but you said he was going ham at Big Sean" ish. He most certainly was. But as we pointed out, it's not hard to imagine that Kendrick was going in on Drake, too, especially since the song was released shortly after More Life dropped.

Was Kendrick's "One, two, three, four, five/I am the greatest rapper alive" a shot at Drake's "I know I said top five, but I'm top two/And I'm not two and I got one" from "Gyalchester?" Or was "You jumped sides on me, now you 'bout to meet Westbrook" an answer to Drake's "Weston Road Flows"? Could all of that paper crumpling be a nod to Drake's ghostwriter accusations?

Whatever the case may be, it feels like these two had mutual respect for each other (and most likely still do), but somewhere along the way shit went left.

Latest in Music