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A close-up photo of Drake on the Grammy Awards red carpet. A red "X" has been drawn over his face.

Post-Truth Beef

The cover of Unwinnable Monthly #175 shows artwork from Child of Light showing main character Aurora raising a sword triumphantly while standing on a rock outcropping.

This column is a reprint from Unwinnable Monthly #175. If you like what you see, grab the magazine for less than ten dollars, or subscribe and get all future magazines for half price.


Now this.


When Biggie asked “what’s beef?” almost 30 years ago, the consequences were dire. Biggie’s meditation on the escalating violence in the war of words between the East and West Coast dropped 16 days after his murder in 1997, closing one of the scarier sagas in hip hop history. The bloody rivalry between Biggie and Tupac (surrogates for the beef between Suge Knight and Puff Daddy) may be the most publicly known feud, but it was far from the first and certainly far from the last. Marley Marl claimed Queens as the birthplace of hip hop back in the ’80s, and that didn’t sit right with KRS-One, who claimed the Bronx – bars were traded. Tim Dog released a track in the late ’80s directed at the startup hip hop industry on the West Coast and Dr.Dre called “Fuck Compton.” 50 Cent loves to get messy and yell at all sorts of rappers, including Jadakiss and The Game. And, of course, the Jay-Z vs Nas feud which ended with Nas’s “Ether,” which effectively coined a new term for winning a hip hop beef.  

Now, in 2024, we have a new round coming through with Kendrick and Drake. While, in some ways, this feels very similar to other beef, I also think this may become known as the first post-truth beef in hip hop. While the facts seem to be solidified, the interpretations of the tracks released by Kendrick, Drake and J. Cole, and their impact, all seem to depend on what side of the fence you land on. Is this a beef for the post-truth era?

First, let’s stick with the facts. Back in 2013, Kendrick and Drake collaborated on a handful of songs, but then fell out, with Kendrick dropping a vicious diss track “Control,” targeting Drake, Cole and about every other rapper in the industry. Since then, to my knowledge, Kendrick hasn’t explicitly acknowledged tension between the two – maybe because Drake was busy taking shots from Kanye and Pusha T, and Kendrick was just biding his time. That all changed in February when Kendrick, in a feature verse on Future and Metro Boomin’s recent album, We Don’t Trust You, took his first shot, rapping “fuck the big three, it’s just big me.” This was a reference to a recent J. Cole bar about the big three – Kendrick, Drake, and Cole.

In response, Cole dropped and quickly deleted a response, maybe proving him to be smartest man in the game, because in the last two weeks it has gotten wild. Drake took a couple weeks, and then released two diss tracks: “Push Ups” and “Taylor Made.” These two tracks amounted to Drake accusing Kendrick of a) being short and b) trying and failing to make popular music. This happened approximately within the last five days of writing this article.

Kendrick Lamar performs on the Coachella Stage during day 3 (Weekend 2) of the Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival on April 23, 2017 in Indio, California.

I’m making this time stamp because it’s just gotten even more wild since then, and who knows what’s going to happen between my writing this and the release. On May 3 and 4, Drake dropped a track claiming that Kendrick and several other rappers are teaming up against him, Kendrick assaulted his wife, and that his son is actually Dave Free’s. In turn, Kendrick dropped three tracks starting 15 minutes after Drake released his, claiming: Drake is a pedophile; Drake has an unacknowledged daughter; Drake is co-opting the Black culture of America for his own profit while giving nothing back; and then, Drake rebuffing the pedophilia accusations and claiming that he baited Kendrick into thinking he has a daughter. Now, that covers about 25% of the content in all the verses from everyone involved, and I’m not even bringing Rick Ross into this.

But the whole beef is far from settled – depending on where you side, I’m not sure anything can happen to sway anyone’s mind. Stan culture is the post truth culture, in the sense that if you are ride-or-die for one of these artists, I don’t think a verse or killer line can change your mind. I mean, Pusha T objectively knocked Drake out in 2018 when he called him out for having a child he didn’t acknowledge. And yes, this proved true and Drake has since been in his kid’s life, and yes, Drake has continued to be the most popular rapper by a long shot since then. While Pusha T won that beef, objectively, Drake continues to win in numbers.

When you are an ardent believer/fan/constituent of a group, what does it take to change your belief? Can your mind even be changed at that level? Kendrick and Drake both claim the facts and lyrical skill are on their side, but I’m not sure it will end up mattering. In the post-truth era, facts are alternative, and pointing out Drake’s propensity to groom young women or Kendrick being conned by his opponent may not be enough to sway the public. I mean, similar accusations didn’t stop people from voting for Trump in 2016, so why would they stop people from supporting one of the biggest pop stars in the world in 2024?

But those are broad questions for the general public. For the heads, the folks who are deep in the know, I feel like the question is – can Drake withstand the onslaught? Kendrick has clearly decided to be his number one hater. Can Drake clear these hurdles and maintain his popularity? If numbers say anything, then apparently yes. If Kendrick says anything, hell no. I think in the post truth era though, the answer to these questions ends up depending on what side of the fence you fall on – and I know where I am siding. But, on the other hand, who knows what chaos either rapper is planning for tonight, so, to be continued I suppose.


Noah Springer is a writer and editor based in St. Louis. You can follow him on Twitter @noahjspringer.


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