Drake "Family Matters": Unpacking The Bars

BYDemi Phillips10.6K Views
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US rapper Drake poses in the press room during the 2019 Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 1, 2019, in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Bridget BENNETT / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRIDGET BENNETT/AFP via Getty Images)
Drake targets K-Dot and a wide range of other artists on “Family Matters.”

On “Family Matters," Drake gives a bold retort to Kendrick Lamar's "Euphoria" and "6:16 in LA." This marks his third entry in their lyrical battle. As expected, Drake directs a barrage of pointed jabs towards Kendrick. But while he tries to dismantle the allegations Kendrick has woven into his own tracks, he makes sure to leave more than one verse for some of his other industry “enemies.” The result is a polarizing track filled with grand allegations, call-outs, and shots fired in multiple directions, including at A$AP Rocky and Rihanna.

Premise And Production 

The track features three distinct beat switches, mirroring Kendrick’s style, to emphasize the seriousness of the attack. Additionally, production credits for the track belong to Canadian producers Boi1da, Tay Keith, and Mark Ronson. Overall, the track's sound is as heavyweight as its content, and picks up from “Push Ups.” Drake also bends different musical elements to create a sound that's both familiar and fresh. While the beats are hard-hitting, the bass lines are deep, there's also urgency in the rhythm that matches the gravity of the words.

Opening Shots 

Drake's mother, Sandra Graham's voice opens “Family Matters” with “‘Maybe in this song, you shouldn't start by saying…” right before it cuts to Drake rapping: “N***a, I said it, I know that you mad  / I've emptied the clip over friendlier jabs / You mentioned my seed, now deal with his dad / I gotta go bad, I gotta go bad.” This line establishes that his anger at Kendrick was not just about questioning his Blackness. It's also about bringing his son Adonis into the beef.

Familial Offenses

Drake picks Kendrick's relationship with his family apart for the entirety of “Family Matters.” In regards to Kendrick's father Drake raps: “Your daddy got robbed by Top, you Stunna and Wayne, like father, like son / Anthony set up the plays, Kojo be chargin' you double for nothin'.” This references the claims he made on "Push Ups" where he alleged TDE boss Top Dawg locked Kendrick in a bad contract for the 17 years he was at TDE. Drake references, "DUCKWORTH," a song detailing how Kendrick's dad avoided getting robbed by Top Dawg.

Meanwhile the music video for “Family Matters” shows what looks to be Kendrick's mother's Dodge Caravan, which appeared on the cover of good kid, m.A.A.d city. The video sees the car getting towed through Toronto before getting violently crushed in a junkyard. Then, in the third verse, he shoots a line at Kendrick's trans uncle whom Kendrick references in his song “Auntie Diaries.” Drake raps, “Where is your uncle at? 'Cause I wanna talk to the man of the house."

Drake’s Comes For Kendrick’s Relationship

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 15: Rapper Kendrick Lamar (C) and Whitney Alford attend The 58th GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on February 15, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for NARAS)

“Family Matters” also touches on Kendrick’s romantic life. First, Drake goes ahead and flips the Black authenticity script on Kendrick. He points out that Kendrick's fiancée, Whitney, is also half-Black. He also references Kendrick allegedly cheating on his fiancée with white women. “You the Black messiah wifin' up a mixed queen / And hit vanilla cream to help out with your self-esteem,” he raps. 

Moreover, he suggested through his lyrics that Kendrick physically assaulted his fiancée Whitney. “Your baby mama captions always screamin, ‘Save me’ / You did her dirty all her life, you tryna make peace,” he said. As if that weren’t explicit enough, he continued, “When you put your hands on your girl, is it self-defense 'cause she bigger than you?” Furthermore, Drake alleged that Kendrick's label intervened amid the alleged domestic violence allegations. “They hired a crisis management team / to clean up the fact that you beat on your queen.

Finally, to seal the crown, Drake suggests that one of Kendrick’s kids is not his own. Specifically, he claims the baby might belong to Dave Free. So the track not only touches on K-Dot’s alleged infidelity, but also Whitney’s. “I heard that one of them little kids might be Dave Free / Don’t make it dave Free's / 'Cause if your GM is your BM secret BD / Then this is all making plenty f*ckin sense to me.

Accusations Of Inauthenticity And Disloyalty

On “Family Matters,” Drake accuses Kendrick of being a fake Black activist and a subpar rapper. He also questions his credibility within gang-related culture. “If you had a set they'd give your ass a DP / But you civilian gang, in real life you PC,he rapped. Drake also claimed that Kendrick’s best raps are actually the work of Baby Keem. “K.Dot shit is only hitting hard when Baby Keem put his pen to it," he raps.

Interestingly, he also reveals how Kendrick was allegedly behind his lawsuit for using 2Pac’s voice on “Taylor Made Freestyle.” The track, which made use of AI, was heavily polarizing upon release. Moreover, Drake faced criticism for the use of AI. "A cease-and-desist is for h*es / Can't listen to lies that come out of your mouth / You called the Tupac estate / And begged them to sue me and get that s**t down."

Prior to all this, Drake also calls Kendrick's loyalty into question. When Drake first announced "Family Matters,” it was with an Instagram post featuring a whole other song, "Buried Alive Interlude.” In the snippet, he flips a Take Care tune (the same song Kendrick appeared on) against the Compton rapper. Drake also raps about bringing Kendrick on his Club Paradise tour as an opening act in 2012. Moreover, he brings up J. Cole in one of the verses. “And wait, you say your brother Jermaine, but you wanted him to stay out of the light," he spits.

The Case Against Other Artists

Drake makes it clear on “Family Matters'' that no one is beyond reach. As a result, he launches verbal volleys at a host of figures. Metro Boomin, The Weeknd, Rick Ross, A$AP Rocky, and industry heavyweight Dave Free receive mentions on the diss song. For example, he accuses Metro Boomin of swaying Future against him and as a result, bringing artists like Kendrick Lamar to attack him further. “Leland Wayne, he a f*ckin’ lame, so I know he had to be an influence / These n****s had a plan and they finally found a way to rope you into it / Two separate albums dissin’, I just did a Kim to it, n****, skim through it.”

With ASAP Rocky, the insults even involve Rihanna, whom he refers to as “Fring,” a supposed nickname Drake gave her when they dated. “Gassed ’cause you hit my BM first, n**** / do the math, who I was hittin’ then? / I ain’t even know you rapped still ’cause they only talkin’ ’bout your ‘fit again / Probably gotta have a kid again ‘fore you think of droppin’ any sh*t again / Even when you do drop, they gon’ say you should’ve modeled ’cause it’s mid again / Smokin’ Fenty ’bout it, should’ve put you on the first one, tryna get it in” Unsurprisingly, much of Drake’s jabs at other artists were met with criticism. He was also accused of his inability to let his past relationships go. 

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.