Kendrick Lamar "6:16 In LA": Breaking Down His Lyrical Slaughter Of Drake's Character

BYGabriel Bras Nevares12.6K Views
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K.Dot's bars here specifically target Drake's dwindling loyalties, his misplaced priorities, and his thirst for clout. But are they enough?

Kendrick Lamar became one of the few rappers in history whose diss track's title and production credits are just as integral to his message as the lyrics themselves. Moreover, you've likely seen dozens of interpretations of what "6:16 In LA" means and what Jack Antonoff's (Taylor Swift's producer's) inclusion behind the board signifies regarding Drake's "Taylor Made Freestyle." But at the end of the day, what matters most is what K.Dot had to say about the 6ix God in this surprise verse, dropped just days after he unleashed his response track "euphoria." Whereas that song covered multiple angles and talking points, this effort is a much more specific, strategic, and surgical attempt at a takedown.

Furthermore, Kendrick Lamar hones in on Drake's character: the futile nature of his tactics, the disloyal evolution of his OVO camp, and the crucial difference that sets them apart as titanic artists championing the Black culture and community of hip-hop. Fully embracing the tactics behind "Taylor Made Freestyle" has allowed the former TDE MC to place his rival in a unique position where he must push the nuclear button, sharpen his pen to its highest proven level... or lose. No one doubts that the Toronto superstar is capable of this. But with "6:16 In LA," Mr. Morale suggests that even if he secures a victory, it will not help him sleep better at night between so many vultures.

Kendrick Lamar Sets Himself Apart

Before "picking the carcass apart," Kendrick Lamar first argues what makes him a more compelling artist. References to yachts and Phantoms not only indicate similar economic levels despite Drake's flaunting, but also paint his lifestyle as unperturbed, more pure, and more important to him than acclaim. This first part's narrative is a double-down on the "I got a son to raise" bar on "euphoria," prioritizing personal peace and privacy over the grandeur of public lauding. The Compton lyricist's art is merely the expression of his self that he lets loose when necessary. "Remember when picked up a pen, lyrics that I can trust / Timid soul, stare in the mirror, asking where I was from / Often, I know this type of power is gon' cost / But I live in circadian rhythms of a shooting star."

With that last line, Kendrick Lamar references the rhythm of a human body, determining when it's awake or dormant. As a notorious absentee in recent years, he could be proposing that, whenever he is awake, he is as special as a shooting star. Also, it calls to the moral "love and hate" conflict that this Drake beef creates within Kung Fu Kenny. "God, my confession is yours / But who am I if I don't go to war? / There's opportunity when living with loss / I discover myself when I fall short," he raps, slyly dismissing "size 7" disses that Drizzy had for him. It's all meant to represent a win that rap beef can't fill the void of, tying in later to the exploration of this alleged void in Aubrey Graham's circle.

The "Wires" In OVO

Through specific name-drops, Kendrick Lamar scrutinizes Drake's relationships and their seemingly at-risk loyalties. DJ Akademiks is "compromised" with his fav's lies, Kendrick defends his manager Ant, he says Cash XO isn't the real rat, Kash Doll's jewelry burglary reference calls back to her ex breaking up with her due to being too friendly with Drizzy, and even L.A. nightlife staple Zack Bia catches a stray as someone that Drake allegedly tries to use to get information on Kendrick. The "N95" creative sums it all up with this line: "Have you ever thought that OVO is workin' for me?" Whereas The Boy has plenty of dirt out and is trying to find some on K.Dot, Kendrick thinks he's bluffing. Let the records show that Pusha T claims he got the info on Adonis from OVO, and that Drake tried to pay for dirt on him, so this isn't a new take.

Regardless of whether there's something out there that could hurt Kendrick Lamar, he's confidently in his tight circle and his movement. But he thinks that Drake's in dangerous waters. In fact, Kendrick claims that the core parts of his opponent's inner circle are questionable, not just his peripherals. "A hundred n***as that you got on salary / And twenty of them want you as a casualty / And one of them is actually next to you," Mr. Morale spits, which could link back to Aubrey's bodyguard Chubbs, who also caught mention on "euphoria." However, he frames none of this as unfortunate backstabbing to merely get a slice of Drizzy's magnanimous pie, but rather as the idea that he's a "terrible person" who brought this on himself.

Drake's Methods

Specifically, Kendrick Lamar alleges that Drake contributed to this lack of loyalty by pursuing money, power, and respect the wrong way, for the wrong reasons, and with the wrong people. Many on social media have probably seen the "Twitter bots" that Kendrick is referring to, although the discourse has become so deafening that neither fanbase will ever beat the meat-riding allegations. Nevertheless, this is a game that K.Dot thinks the 6ix God is an active participant in, playing the "propaganda" game until it "blows up on him." By referencing Drake's recent social media obsessions in order to further the beef, plus his use of antics like the Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur A.I. voices, Kendrick thinks that he's exposing his own misguided ways on repeat without actually addressing any issues significantly.

"Your lil' memes is losing steam, they figured you out / The forced opinions is not convincing, y'all need a new route," Kendrick Lamar spits on "6:16 In LA." In addition, there are a few moments of pulled punches here, just like on "euphoria," that keep the focus on hip-hop and call Drake out for trying too hard to move the goalpost. "It was fun until you started to put money in the streets / Then lost money 'cause they came back with no receipts / I'm sorry that I live a boring life, I love peace." Perhaps most importantly, Kendrick suggests that Drizzy is still an actor in the rap game, continuing this narrative that all of Drake's shots are just obfuscating the lack of actual ammunition he has in store. To put it simply: Kendrick thinks Drake needs to self-reflect, think about his priorities, and reevaluate his behavior.

What Will Drizzy Do Next?

So after that recollection, Drake has a few different avenues to play this through. The first is to call Kendrick Lamar's nuclear bluff with a bomb of his own. Telling your opponent to grow up is a pretty boring diss at face value; surely a takedown of K.Dot's character and his own mistakes will excite the hip-hop community more, right? At the moment, Kendrick wants everyone to think that The Boy has nothing to offer, but a whole lot could change overnight. But that also carries a risk. The pgLang artist's moral vulnerability is far more of a shield against missteps than his mysterious movement, something we saw in action when OVO fans tried to call him out for self-admitted cheating years before his child was born. If there's a bomb, it has to be a big one, because Drake has much to explain.

Conversely, Drake could show his pen's prowess, challenging the multi-layered song titles, endlessly interpretable lines, and impeccable flow switches Kendrick Lamar has prioritized so far. That would be the best outcome here: let a winner take the crown for their skills (assuming there are no ghostwriters) and for their ability to engage, energize, and electrify. Alas, the OVO fanbase wants blood, not bars, and K.Dot has much more to lose from public embarrassment than the man who was "Ethered" on a diss track with him in blackface as the cover art. But "6:16 In LA" makes this much more than just rap beef. It's about how artists carry themselves in the public eye, their industry relationships, and their personal allegiances. For that, we fear, Drake has no answer, regardless of whether he lifts a trophy by the end of this.

About The Author
Gabriel Bras Nevares is a music and pop culture news writer for HotNewHipHop. He started in 2022 as a weekend writer and, since joining the team full-time, has developed a strong knowledge in hip-hop news and releases. Whether it’s regular coverage or occasional interviews and album reviews, he continues to search for the most relevant news for his audience and find the best new releases in the genre. What excites him the most is finding pop culture stories of interest, as well as a deeper passion for the art form of hip-hop and its contemporary output. Specifically, Gabriel enjoys the fringes of rap music: the experimental, boundary-pushing, and raw alternatives to the mainstream sound. As a proud native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, he also stays up-to-date with the archipelago’s local scene and its biggest musical exponents in reggaetón, salsa, indie, and beyond. Before working at HotNewHipHop, Gabriel produced multiple short documentaries, artist interviews, venue spotlights, and audio podcasts on a variety of genres and musical figures. Hardcore punk and Go-go music defined much of his coverage during his time at the George Washington University in D.C. His favorite hip-hop artists working today are Tyler, The Creator, Boldy James, JPEGMAFIA, and Earl Sweatshirt.