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How St. Louis is represented throughout Drake and Kendrick Lamar’s rap beef

Drake, left, performs in November 2014 and Kendrick Lamar, right, performs in February 2013.
Drake, left, performs in November 2014, and Kendrick Lamar, right, performs in February 2013.

Last year marked the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, and fundamental elements of the genre were celebrated: music, art, dance, fashion. So far, 2024 is showcasing the fifth element of hip-hop: rap beef. Compton-born Pulitzer Prize-winner Kendrick Lamar and international superstar Drake — two of the biggest and most celebrated rappers alive — are at the center of what’s arguably the biggest rap beef in the past decade.

What’s most exciting for hip-hop fans in St. Louis is how much the city’s sound and homegrown talent are involved in the feud.

St. Louis-born music producer Metro Boomin is one of the most prolific beat makers of today. His productions top Billboard charts, win Grammys and make stars out of his collaborators. He recently released an album with one of his frequent collaborators, Future, called “We Don’t Trust You,” which is essentially a diss album to Drake. It’s on that album that Kendrick Lamar first expressed his disdain for Drake on the track “Like That.”

Here’s where the beef comes in: J. Cole posited that he, Kendrick Lamar and Drake are the “Big Three” (i.e. the best rappers alive) in the hip-hop duet “First Person Shooter.” Kendrick Lamar disagreed, saying he is No. 1 with no competition from either rapper. Drake responded in kind with his own diss against Kendrick — and was sure to include a shot at Metro — in “Push Ups.”

Metro Boomin performed at the CITY SC Block Party season kick off in 2023.
Chad Davis
Metro Boomin performs at the CITY SC Block Party season kickoff in 2023.

Then, on Tuesday morning, Kendrick released a 6½-minute diss track called “euphoria” in which he name-dropped Sexyy Red, a rising star in hip-hop who’s proudly from north St. Louis, and left the internet buzzing a week later with diss track after diss track over the weekend.

Arts and culture reporter Chad Davis and political correspondent Jason Rosenbaum joined St. Louis on the Air to talk about rap beef’s place in hip-hop culture and why St. Louis’ influence in this beef — and hip-hop overall — is of importance.

For more about Drake vs. Kendrick Lamar, audience reaction to the lyrical punches thrown and Metro Boomin’s “diss beat,” listen to St. Louis on the Air on Apple Podcast, Spotify or by clicking the play button below.

How St. Louis is represented throughout Drake and Kendrick Lamar’s rap beef

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is produced by Ulaa Kuziez, Miya Norfleet, Emily Woodbury, Danny Wicentowski, Elaine Cha and Alex Heuer. Roshae Hemmings is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Miya is a producer for "St. Louis on the Air."