Rolling Out

Examining Drake’s feud with Kendrick Lamar and its impact on rap culture

Exploring the complexity of hip-hop beefs
(Photo credit: / Kathy Hutchins)

The ongoing feud between rappers Kendrick Lamar and Drake has reignited discussions about the intricacies of rap culture and the linguistic prowess it showcases. This rivalry, characterized by a series of diss tracks, highlights the artists’ adept use of language to convey double meanings and clever wordplay.

The art of the rap beef

Rap beefs are less about the veracity of claims and more about the display of lyrical dexterity and the performance of identity. They are a platform for artists to engage in self-conscious plays with language, employing hyperbole, irony, and innuendo to craft their verbal assaults.

Drake’s identity and authenticity

Drake’s identity as a Canadian-born, mixed-race, Jewish artist has often been scrutinized in the context of hip-hop culture. Critics have challenged his authenticity, citing his affluent background and sensitive persona, while others accuse him of cultural appropriation through his varied use of accents and styles.

Beefs frequently target Drake’s racial identity, with some artists questioning his Blackness and its authenticity within African American hip-hop culture. This criticism reflects the broader conversation about the construction of Blackness in the U.S. and Canada and the unique challenges Black Canadians face when navigating these identities.

Canadian hip-hop and blackness

Canadian hip-hop artists like Maestro Fresh Wes have historically challenged the notion that hip-hop’s authenticity is solely tied to U.S. origins. Drake’s experience as a Black Canadian artist further complicates this narrative as he grapples with belonging neither fully to Canada nor the U.S. hip-hop scene.

The debate over Drake’s blackface photo from 2007 and his explanation that it was a commentary on the stereotyping of Black actors underscores the tension between American and Canadian perceptions of Blackness and the invisibility of Black Canadian experiences.

Drake’s artistry and the controversies surrounding it serve as a lens through which to examine the complexities of Black identity in hip-hop, the pressures of cultural authenticity, and the often invisible narratives of Black Canadian artists.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Join our Newsletter

Sign up for Rolling Out news straight to your inbox.

Read more about:
Also read
Rolling Out