Kendrick Lamar "Euphoria": We Might Finally Get The Surgical Summer We Deserve

BYAron A.7.7K Views
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NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 01: Kendrick Lamar attends The 2023 Met Gala Celebrating "Karl Lagerfeld: A Line Of Beauty" at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 01, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Arturo Holmes/MG23/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue) ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 9: Drake performs onstage during "Lil Baby & Friends Birthday Celebration Concert" at State Farm Arena on December 9, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Prince Williams/Wireimage)
Drake's response will determine whether Kendrick intends to "take it further."

Drake has been war-ready since he wrapped up his tour. As he performed from city to city to conclude the It’s All A Blur tour, the online tension that built from the success of “Like That” became palpable: a #1 song from the first of two albums dedicated to the “elimination of Drake.” Kendrick, however, became the only noteworthy competitor in rap’s Royal Rumble considering that he’s, at least, been consistent in his disdain for the Boy for over a decade. Everyone else – from Future to ASAP Rocky and Rick Ross – had nothing but love for Drake up until recently.

Euphoria,” Kendrick Lamar’s response to Drake’s back-to-back releases of “Push Ups” and “Taylor Made Freestyle,” didn’t contain some sort of bombshell revelation that many anticipated. There’s clearly a shifting parameter regarding what’s expected – some feel as though this feud should exclusively consist of TheShadeRoom-worthy tea while others just hope that they get a club banger out of it. Both seem to be right up Drake’s alley. 

But, back to “Euphoria,” Kendrick's six-minute response that jabs at Drake’s insecurities, heritage, and general presence in hip-hop. Kendrick addresses everything that Drake laid out throughout two diss tracks, including publishing splits, AI Tupac, and the potential shot at his wife while simultaneously questioning Drake’s authenticity. Still, the primary criticism surrounding the track is that Kendrick doesn’t necessarily drop some sort of “new information” – a “The Story Of Adidon” type bombshell. Practically, a diss record to end all diss records and assert itself in the ranks of “Ether,” “Hit Em Up,” and even “Back To Back.”

This beef isn’t one of instant gratification. Their respective releases have shown that neither are ready to press the red button just yet. It’s a slow-burning feud, one that has built up for almost a decade and finally burst into mainstream conciousness. It’s been just over 24 hours since Kendrick Lamar released “Euphoria” and we’re all collectively still putting together the pieces that would make this song make sense. Whether it’s from the time in which it was released (8:24 am) as a tribute to Kobe Bryant, the title itself – a reference to the controversial HBO show that Drake executive produces -- or the intro that samples Richard Pryor in The Wiz starring Michael Jackson, the number of layers in Kendrick’s intricate and dense record makes this feud all the more riveting. As much as rap fans are consumed by this beef, the heaviest shots that both Drake and Kendrick have taken at each other have been subtle and it seems like only they know what the other is talking about. 

With that in mind, it appears that Kendrick Lamar is more committed to the idea of prolonging this battle until someone decides to raise a white flag. On both sides of the war, the goalpost has been shifted several times over. Drake was able to wait nearly a month until “Push Ups” appeared on DSPs (not that “official releases” have anything to do with rap beef). Days prior, Drake taunted Kendrick by suggesting that Taylor Swift was his new boss, inspiring the controversial “Taylor Made Freestyle.”

Then, Kendrick’s “Euphoria” struck, delivering on the anticipated “quadruple entendre” in the title alone. Yet, Kendrick still played into the predictions made by Drake on “Taylor Made” – potshots at Drake’s complexion, Canadian heritage, and the like. But those were only the ones that everyone was able to pick up immediately. Over time, we imagine that there will be plenty more to decipher, especially as Drake gears up to respond. 

It’s clear that Kendrick did a bit more research than many would give him credit for on "Euphoria." Take, for example, the New King Ho shout-out. Sure, Kendrick paints an image of himself in the core of Toronto eating fried rice with a strap on his waist but more importantly, Dot appears to be alluding to the death of rapper Sizzlac who, days before his passing, released a diss record and shot the music video at that same restaurant. Sizzlac, interestingly enough, has been tied to the infamous 2009 robbery involving Drake. 

A coincidence? Probably not, especially once you start digging a bit deeper into bars like “I know some shit about n***as that make Gunna Wunna look like a saint.” Back in 2010, The Globe & Mail published an article titled, “What happened after two men robbed Drake at gunpoint.” The article itself shares a detailed account of the aftermath of the incident from a supposed police report, revealing the allegations of “snitching” Drake faced in the wake of the robbery. Though a police report was reportedly filed at the time, according to the article, Drake ultimately refused to cooperate. “A lawyer close to the process said the withdrawal of the charges was agreed before anyone had to testify but all indications were that Drake was ready to take the stand. He said the artist was ‘not exactly forthcoming, put it that way,’ but that he didn’t refuse to help the authorities at all," Joe Friesen wrote. So, in the same way, people have argued whether Gunna’s Alford Plea consisted of snitching, it ultimately appears that Kendrick suggests that he has some sort of “dirt” on Drake that would make the public – and the streets – look at the Canadian rapper in the same light. 

Still, for as salacious as this may be, this is publicly accessible information, and Kendrick didn’t dig too far deep for the obvious blows. “Why would I call around tryna get dirt on n***as? Y'all think all my life is rap?/ That's ho shit, I got a son to raise, but I can see you don't know nothin' 'bout that.” This bar, in particular, does point out a contradiction. For one, Kendrick threw the first shot on "Like That" and also threw plenty of subliminal shots at Drake at any given opportunity. To act like this particular feud hasn't somehow lived on for the past decade seems a bit disingenuous. Plus, the attacks on Drake's paternal instinct became watered down through years of memes. Nonetheless, the fact that Kendrick continues to claw at Drake's parental skills, from coping with divorced parents to the birth of Adonis out of wedlock, shows that Kendrick has been studying his adversary for years. Perhaps, to a nearly obsessive degree. Sure, Kendrick might be gunning at Drake’s insecurities but this song isn’t simply just a “nana nana boo boo” taunt. At its core, it’s a scathing evaluation of Drake that plainly spells out his insecurities and moral compass as a man beyond the persona he's created within pop culture.  

The consensus among Drake stans and Kendrick haters alike was that the Compton rapper reiterated the same talking points of Rick Ross, Pusha T, Megan Thee Stallion, and Meek Mill. Honestly, that should be less of the focus. As the saying goes, it's not about what you say but how you say it. That argument feels like a coping mechanism for Drake's obsessive fanbase, especially when the self-proclaimed GOAT has proven that he needs someone to push his back against the wall to sound inspired, at least when he's rapping. Drake's feud with Meek, for example, showcased his ability to weave together his lyrical tenacity and commercial appeal to ridicule one of his peers. It's not that surprising though, considering Meek once advised his followers to play chess "like a king."

Kendrick seems to be similarly methodical as Pusha T, which becomes clear by the end of "Euphoria." "Infrared" and "Like That" became bait, though the former triggered a compulsive response. Less than a week after releasing "Duppy Freestyle," Pusha T completely disarmed the Canadian star. Pusha T basically forced Drake to issue an apology for wearing Blackface, exposed him for hiding a “secret son,” and ultimately, sabotaged the rollout for Scorpion. Drizzy backed out and the promises of a “surgical summer” ended before the summer even began. 

The main card event between Kendrick Lamar and Drake will hopefully pan out throughout the summer. Drake and Lamar have already hinted at obtaining career-damaging intel on each other but the last time we heard that, J. Prince intervened and thwarted any plans to release a nuke on the rap game. This time, Drake seems to have learned from his mistakes and attempted to move a bit more diligently than he did in the past, even if the majority of the barbs traded are akin to playground insults. However, Drake’s response will ultimately determine whether Kendrick intends to “take it further."

About The Author
Aron A. is a features editor for HotNewHipHop. Beginning his tenure at HotNewHipHop in July 2017, he has comprehensively documented the biggest stories in the culture over the past few years. Throughout his time, Aron’s helped introduce a number of buzzing up-and-coming artists to our audience, identifying regional trends and highlighting hip-hop from across the globe. As a Canadian-based music journalist, he has also made a concerted effort to put spotlights on artists hailing from North of the border as part of Rise & Grind, the weekly interview series that he created and launched in 2021. Aron also broke a number of stories through his extensive interviews with beloved figures in the culture. These include industry vets (Quality Control co-founder Kevin "Coach K" Lee, Wayno Clark), definitive producers (DJ Paul, Hit-Boy, Zaytoven), cultural disruptors (Soulja Boy), lyrical heavyweights (Pusha T, Styles P, Danny Brown), cultural pioneers (Dapper Dan, Big Daddy Kane), and the next generation of stars (Lil Durk, Latto, Fivio Foreign, Denzel Curry). Aron also penned cover stories with the likes of Rick Ross, Central Cee, Moneybagg Yo, Vince Staples, and Bobby Shmurda.