The award-winning voice of North Cobb High School in Kennesaw, Georgia.

The Chant

The award-winning voice of North Cobb High School in Kennesaw, Georgia.

The Chant

The award-winning voice of North Cobb High School in Kennesaw, Georgia.

The Chant

“The big three”: Kendrick Lamar remains the greatest artist of the generation

Courtesy of Joseph Okpako; edited by Ivan Mendoza
As prominent rappers Drake and Kendrick Lamar throw shots at each other through subliminal disses and ruthless lyrics, hip-hop fans debate who stands out as the superior artist. From his creative writing to his energetic cadence, Lamar separates himself from his peers as one of the most critically acclaimed artists of the current generation. With releases such as “Like That” and “euphoria”, Lamar continues to showcase his pengame and dedication to music.

The rivalry between rappers has remained a prevalent part of hip-hop culture since the genre’s inception. From DJs competing with one another to artists competing in rap battles, hip-hop stands out as a genre based on lyricism and the thrill of winning. Several artists clash with each other through diss tracks, and their notorious songs become ingrained in hip-hop’s history. From 2Pac’s notorious song “Hit ‘Em Up” to Pusha T’s ruthless track “The Story of Adidon”, a song where he exposed Drake for hiding a child, diss tracks fuel discourse and fans debate about who reigns as the superior artist. After Compton-born rapper and songwriter Kendrick Lamar’s explosive surprise feature on “Like That”, fans continue to compare Lamar and Canadian artist Drake. 

From his surprise appearance in Vince Staples“Yeah Right” to his verse on “Control” that sent shockwaves across the Internet, Lamar knows the amount of attention his words will receive. As American record producer Metro Boomin beefs with Drake over Twitter and Future holds animosity towards the Canadian rapper, the rapper-producer duo decided to bring Lamar into the mix as a feature on their album “WE DON’T TRUST YOU.” On his “Like That” verse, the Compton-based rapper threw shots at J. Cole and Drake by titling himself as the biggest rapper and comparing himself to Prince

From his discography to his Pulitzer Prize-winning writing, Lamar distinguishes himself from his contemporaries. Ever since he released his breakthrough album “Section.80”, critics and hip-hop fans have praised Lamar for his conscious lyricism and energetic performances. Although the “HUMBLE.” rapper manages to curate hard-hitting songs and memorable Billboard-leading tracks, his ability to portray realistic stories with astounding delivery and wordplay continues to amaze hip-hop listeners. For example, “good kid, m.A.A.d city,” released in 2012, acts as an autobiographical tale of Lamar’s teenage life in the city of Compton. With powerful meditations such as “The Art of Peer Pressure” and “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst”, critics have renowned Lamar’s sophomore album as the greatest concept album of all time

“Drake, J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar were only considered the big three because of the fact they were the most popular rappers during that time. However, when it comes to lyricism, Kendrick Lamar would be the better artist. He’s able to contextualize certain themes within his work while still keeping his audience interested. He could disappear like Rihanna for like 20 years and people will still listen to his music,” magnet junior Audrea Eyamo said. 

In October 2023, J. Cole and Drake dropped an incredible collaborative track titled “First Person Shooter”, where J. Cole boldly stated that he, Drake and Lamar stand out as the greatest rappers alive. After Lamar dismissed this statement in “Like That”, J. Cole quickly riposted with “7 Minute Drill.” People tend to consider J. Cole as a superb rapper who fuses storytelling with memorable bars; hip-hop listeners also feel a sense of nostalgia when listening to classics such as “No Role Modelz” and “Wet Dreamz.” However, when comparing Cole’s discography to Lamar’s discography, Cole’s albums lack creative longevity and his projects can become one-dimensional. Although people continue to christen “2014 Forest Hills Drive” as a classic, the North Carolina-based artist does not branch out in his production and lyricism in the way that Lamar does. Cole even stated that he felt terrible for dissing Lamar and removed “7 Minute Drill” from streaming platforms. 

Drake and Lamar have thrown shots at each other for years, and diehard October’s Very Own (OVO) fans title Drake the best rapper due to his record-breaking sales and top-charting songs. The Toronto native also knows how to display his melodic talents with his captivating choruses, with songs such as “Energy” and “Too Good.” Drake’s recent music, however, has declined in memorability and his albums suffer from becoming bloated with an excessive amount of tracks. Additionally, his wordplay on “For All The Dogs” resulted in the worst bars of his entire career; from weak lyrics about bisexuality and absurd Brazilian Butt Lift (BBL) analogies, it becomes clear that Drake now prioritizes reaching the charts rather than creating chart-deserving songs.

“The issue with Drake is that he makes music for the time. Drake has a few good hits and has better albums than J. Cole, however, his music is equivalent to Taylor Swift’s music where only certain songs hit, but others are just mediocre writing with a catchy beat behind it. He’s catchy, but he shouldn’t be considered the big three of all time. Either way, Kendrick is the better rapper, but Drake’s songs are alright,” Eyamo said. 

Although Drake and Cole deserve critical acclaim, it makes sense that Lamar wants to separate himself from standing on the same podium as these rappers. With a discography that includes “DAMN.” and “Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers”, all of his albums present difficult topics with powerful messages and musicality. Widely regarded as the best album of all time, “To Pimp A Butterfly” remains an eccentric album that discusses topics such as racial oppression and the negative influences of U.S. politics. Lamar’s 2015 project continues to awe listeners for its incredible concept and its fusion of jazz and funk with West Coast hip-hop. Even literary teachers became enamored with the album, as a teacher in New Jersey used “To Pimp A Butterfly” to draw connections to Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye.” 

Drake officially released his diss track “Push Ups” on streaming platforms April 19. With bars where the Canadian artist compares himself to 50 Cent and mocks Lamar for his height and shoe size, Drake provides listeners with one of his best songs in recent years. Fueled by ambition and a competitive spirit, the “Hotline Bling” artist attempted to out-rap Lamar and crown himself as the greatest rapper alive. April 30, Lamar shocked the world with his 6-minute rebuttal “euphoria,” a song where he ruthlessly throws punches at Drake’s insecurities. From addressing Drake’s peculiar infatuation with young women to him paying a sexual assault victim over $500,000 to dissing the Canadian artist for using an AI voice of 2Pac for a now-deleted diss track, the 5’5” rapper did not hold back on the song. From lengthy disses to iconic albums in music history, it will become difficult for upcoming rappers to take the throne away from the multi-Grammy winner. In regards to the hip-hop race between Kendrick, Drake and Cole, it remains obvious who takes the lead in the music genre. 

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About the Contributor
Ivan Mendoza
Ivan Mendoza, Page Editor
Ivan Mendoza is a senior at NC and has been a part of The Chant staff since 2022. Since his adolescence, he always pursued reading and writing and felt that The Chant provided the perfect outlet for him to write about whatever he wanted. From music reviews to thorough investigations to award-winning documentaries, Mendoza is not afraid to expose his thoughts and opinions on the world around him. Whenever he’s not writing for The Chant, Mendoza is either filming a video, biking or wasting his entire paycheck on amazing novels, memoirs or superb vinyls. Find him on Instagram at @ivans.interludes.  

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