Kendrick Lamar "Not Like Us" Lyrical Breakdown

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LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 02: Kendrick Lamar performs live on stage during day two at the Barclaycard Presents British Summer Time Festival in Hyde Park on July 2, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Simone Joyner/Getty Images)
Kendrick came not just for Drake, but the OVO crew as well.

Kendrick Lamar released "Not Like Us,"  on May 4, as the latest in a number of lyrical onslaughts that target Drake. The tensions between Kendrick Lamar and Drake seem to have escalated after J. Cole referred to them as the "big three" of modern Hip Hop. However, it’s become increasingly evident that Kendrick has a bone to pick with Drizzy. In fact, one would say that he absolutely despises the Toronto rapper, and Kendrick is airing Drake’s alleged dirty laundry on the track. As a result, their back-and-forth disses have continued to evolve from playful jabs to personal shots. It looks like Kendrick is currently at an edge over Drake though, as the public has been leaning in his favor following the back-to-back disses on "Meet the Grahams," and now, "Not Like Us."

Deconstructing The Beat

While Kendrick’s lyrics about Drake definitely steal the show, the production on “Not Like Us” does deserve a few points as well. The instrumental is a collaboration between producers Mustard and Sounwave. The track's tempo is relentless, creating an urgent atmosphere that features pronounced snares and bass, emphasizing the aggressive tone. Nonetheless, Kendrick Lamar's vocal performance takes center stage, with the instrumentation allowing his words to cut through. 

Sex Offense Allegations 

The song opens with a haunting line, "Pss, I see dead people," referencing M. Night Shyamalan's Sixth Sense (starring Haley Joel Osment) before diving into a barrage of insults aimed at Drake. Kendrick calls him a "free throw," an easy target and continues with a series of accusations and metaphors that paint Drake as weak, untrustworthy, and worse, a predator. Throughout “Not Like Us,” Kendrick accuses Drake of having inappropriate sexual relationships with minors. This is also a topic Drake has had to debunk in the past. However, Kendrick doesn't shy away from blowing up the rumors surrounding Drake's personal life with his lyrics like, "Say, Drake, I hear you like 'em young / You better not ever go to cell block one / To any b**ch that talk to him and they in love / Just make sure you hide your lil' sister from him."

Accusing Drake of being sexual with underaged women has become a recurring topic in Kendrick’s diss tracks. However, K. Dot found new, creative ways to hurl these heavy allegations at Drizzy, but that’s not all. Another standout moment in “Not Like Us” comes when Kendrick hits Drake with the line, "Why you trollin' like a b*tch? Ain't you tired? Tryna strike a chord and it's probably A-Minor." With this, Kendrick is referencing all of the memes and online insults Drake posted on social media last month in order to goad Kendrick into responding. 

Coming For The OVO Crew

The predator accusations on “Not Like Us” don’t stop with Drake, as Kendrick moves on to accuse the entire OVO crew. The cover art for the track is in fact an aerial view picture of Drake's mansion, allegedly dotted with sex offender location tags. Kendrick alleges that Drake's close friend Chubbs, gets his “hand-me-downs;” a metaphor for the women Drake has sexual relations with. He also accuses PartyNextDoor of having a drug addiction before moving on to address Baka Not Nice, Drake's former bodyguard and rapper who has had a history of run-ins with the law. "They tell me Chubbs the only one that get your hand-me-downs / And Party at the party, playin' with his nose now / And Baka got a weird case, why is he around? Certified Lover Boy? Certified pedophiles," he raps. Later, he doubles back on these allegations, rapping, "And your homeboy need a subpoena, that predator move in flocks / That name gotta be registered and placed on neighborhood watch."

J. Cole & Lil Wayne Relationship 

One of the most striking lines on “Not Like Us” is "Led a n*gga to the cross, he walk around like Teezo." Here, Kendrick doesn't just stop at suggesting that Drake's actions have always been hypocritical. He follows up with names of those who have allegedly been subjected to Drake's wiles, starting with J. Cole and Lil Wayne. "Did Cole fouI, I don't know why you still pretendin' / What is the owl? Bird n***as and bird b***hes, go. The J. Cole lyric is perhaps referencing the fact that Drake keeps mentioning Cole in a beef he does not want to be a part of anymore. Evidently, this comes off as an attempt to goad a reaction out of him too. 

"Fucked on Wayne girl while he was in jail, that's connivin' / Then get his face tatted like a bitch apologizin'," he continues. The second lyric is much more explicit in its meaning and is as on-the-nose as can be. Kendrick references Drake getting intimate with Lil Wayne’s girlfriend while Wayne was in prison. Wayne confirmed the rumor in his 2016 memoir Gone Til November. Drake subsequently tattooed Lil Wayne’s face on his arm in 2017, which Kendrick claims was a way to apologize. 

Kendrick Questions Drake's Authenticity On “Not Like Us”

Kendrick also lists other names within the industry on “Not Like Us,” specifically rappers from Atlanta, whom Drake allegedly leveraged to get his street cred. However, first, he opens the second verse condemning Drake for using A.I vocals of rap legend 2Pac in his diss track “Taylor Made Freestyle.” "You think the Bay gon' let you disrespect Pac, n***a? / I think that Oakland show gon' be your last stop, n***a."

The social climbing accusations are also consistent with his lyrics on “Meet The Grahams.” Summarily, K. Dot reminds listeners about how Drake allegedly only embraces his Blackness when it’s convenient. Kendrick gives a history lesson about how slaves built the city of Atlanta on their backs. White settlers eventually exploited these slaves. He then infers that Drake, who is biracial and Canadian, is a white settler in Hip-Hop. Altogether, he believes these Atlanta rappers have helped Drake get his reputation in the industry.

"Atlanta was the Mecca, buildin' railroads and trains / Bear with me for a second, let me put y'all on game / The settlers was usin' town folk to make 'em richer / Fast-forward, 2024, you got the same agenda/ You run to Atlanta when you need a check balance / Let me break it down for you, this the real n***a challenge / You called Future when you didn't see the club / Lil Baby helped you get your lingo up / 21 gave you false street cred / Thug made you feel like you a slime in your head / Quavo said you can be from Northside / 2 Chainz say you good, but he lied," he raps on the third verse.

Drake Responds To Kendrick’s “Not Like Us”

Drake's previous diss tracks, including "Push Ups," released in April, took direct aim at Kendrick Lamar. On the track, Drake referred to Kendrick as a "pipsqueak." He also questioned his stature in the industry. How the f*ck you big steppin’ with a size-seven men’s on?

This was in response to Kendrick's verse on Metro Boomin and Future's "Like That," where he dismissed the notion of the "big three," which included himself, Drake, and J. Cole. No one expected that those lines would lead to a series of songs that serve as character assassinations. However, 24 hours after “Not Like Us,” Drake followed with “The Heart Part 6.” On the track, he made sure to address Kendrick's pedophilia accusations while also claiming Kendrick was working with false information about him.

"I never been with no one under age but now / I understand why this the angle that you really mess with / Just for clarity, I feel disgusted I'm too respected / If I was fucking young girls, I promise I'd been done arrested / I'm way too famous for this shit you just suggested, but that's not the lesson, clearly there's a deeper message," he raps. Though it marked the first time

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About The Author
Demilade Phillips has been a Features Writer for HotNewHipHop since 2023. The self-proclaimed music fanatic deals with most things Hip Hop and RnB, while also covering film, television, and the entertainment industry at large. When he’s not working, the International Relations graduate is either binging anime, immersing himself in the underground EDM scene, or crafting up original pieces.