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Opinion: Drake Will Defeat Kendrick Lamar Like AKA Defeated Cassper Nyovest

The beef between the two heavyweights being touted as one of the greatest moments in hip hop is somewhat similar to our very own clash of the titans, the last great South African hip hop beef.

The world is currently consumed by the on-going beef between Drake and Kendrick Lamar. Rightfully so because very rarely do we ever get two evenly matched superstars still in the prime of their respective careers going at it with such intensity. Not only is this a great watershed moment in hip hop just on paper, but the actual output both of them are churning out is some of their most compelling material in years. So even at just an artistic level, we can all appreciate that if nothing else, this beef has forced Drake and Kendrick to show out in spectacular fashion.

While this comparison might be a little thin in substantive evidence, I can’t help but draw parallels to a similar showdown that occurred here on our shores – the feud between AKA and Cassper, arguably the two greatest 2nd generation South African hip hop artists. When they locked horns, lines were drawn very quickly in terms of how the two were perceived by the public. More so how even they saw themselves. Cassper was the man of the people, who presented himself as the humble boy from Mafikeng chasing a dream, a narrative that culminated in a neat rags to riches story. AKA on the other hand was quickly branded as the bullish spoilt brat from the suburbs, arrogant and full of himself, whose whole impetus was jealousy towards Cassper’s rise. Whether emphatically or tacitly, both stars embraced these personas.

This is kind of how this Drake and Kendrick Lamar beef is also playing out. Looking at it from a different perspective.

With the diss tracks he has released so far (“Euphoria”, “6:16” and “Meet The Grahams”) almost with sleight of hand, Kendrick is positioning himself as the direct opposite of Drake – whom he condemns as “a master manipulator and habitual liar” threatening him not to “tell no lies about him and he won’t tell truths about him…”. He continually posits Drake’s character as morally questionable, casting himself in a far better light comparatively. He says Drake is “not a rap artist” but “a scam artist with the hopes of being accepted…” and that he “must be a terrible person…” doubling down on this idea by going as far as saying to Drake ‘s dad, “You raised a horrible person, the nerve of you Dennis…”.

While speaking about himself, Kendrick is far more self-righteous. He says he “lives a boring life because he loves peace…” and that while Drake is a deadbeat father, he conversely “Puts his children to sleep with a prayer, then closes his eyes.” because that’s the “definition of peace” and because he “comes from love…”. He speaks even more glowingly about how much of a good parent he is, saying that he teaches his son “morals, integrity, discipline…speaking the truth and to consider what God is considering…” – things that he declares Drake knows nothing about.

In light of all the aforementioned, coupled with how much of an overwhelming support he has been receiving during this war, it’s not far-fetched to conclude that Kendrick sees himself as the more virtuous of the two. He’s the man of the people. Even more telling of this idea is when he raps, “We hate the bitches you fuck ’cause they confuse themself with real women, and notice, I said “we,” it’s not just me, I’m what the culture feelin’…” indicating that he firmly believes that his outlook and opinion of Drake is shared by the majority within hip hop culture.

The beef between AKA and Cassper did not produce this much insight because it was a different time and there was never this many back and forths with actual songs. Just a few subliminals on a bunch of songs, a whole lot of tweets and pivotal moments at award shows and clubs.  However, the two major songs each of them released present enough material for purposes of this analysis.

AKA drew first blood when he released “Composure” first in September of 2015. Amongst a flurry of stinging lines, the line that has always stood out is when he said, “I know you play like you’re humble but we’re just one and the same…”, effectively nullifying a major cog in Cassper’s whole operation and lifting the veil on a big part of what had carried him up to that point. Cassper certainly rode the coattails of ‘the painfully honest and vulnerable’’ rapper who was the new kid on the block. From how he ran to Twitter to gain sympathy each time he had run-ins with AKA, to his constant evocation of God and being God’s child, as well as pandering to the music industry. He famously rapped, “Compilers making me struggle, they ain’t feeling the man/ Wish the media would treat me like Kiernan and ’em,” on his debut album opener “I Hope You Bought It”. The sheepish demeanor he adopted in interviews would be proven to be masking an equally arrogant and egotistical persona surfacing in later years, but it was AKA who boldly made that early assessment.

Similar to Kendrick’s current strategy of leaning heavily on divulging Drake’s dirty laundry, Cassper’s response to AKA’s diss track, “Dust to Dust” was riddled with personal jabs, ranging from revelations of AKA’s former manager talking disparagingly about him, as well as AKA’s [alleged] drug use. Cassper would go on to address the beef numerous times on freestyles and songs but nothing caught fire like AKA’s “Composure”. Aside from AKA’s song being objectively better in that it boasted a better beat, AKA’s approach is also what contributed to its effectiveness. He did not sound angry or emotional, instead, he sounded confident and seemed to be having fun while dealing with his naysayers. A far cry from Caspper’s exasperated and flustered display in “Dust to Dust.” In all of the diss tracks that have surfaced thus far, Drake sounds just as comfortable and confident in all them. Kendrick on the other hand sounds genuinely upset and angry at Drake, with his hatred towards him palpable. He raps at length, rehashing the same points while maintaining a level of vitriol only reserved for one’s worst enemy. He continuously says he wants Drake to die, in a literal sense. In real life.

Yet as brilliant as Kendrick is as an artist, it is interesting to see him rely so much on playing up morality politics when it comes to his comparison of himself and Drake, which is what I believe is the slippery slope that will eventually lead to Drake assuming pole position as this beef carries on. The thing with being self-righteous is that you invite further scrutiny to your own life, which is almost guaranteed to reveal that you probably aren’t as righteous as you present yourself to be. Besides, portraying himself as morally superior to Drake does not mean he raps better than him. And if there’s anything that is continually being proven throughout this beef thus far, it’s that Drake is rapping better than Kendrick.

Kendrick has been strategically incisive, as a challenger should be. Him releasing “Meet The Grahams” minutes after Drake released “Family Matters” proves that, if nothing else, he is well prepared and may very well have a mole from Drake’s camp. His song completely neutralized Drake’s brilliant response. He has also attempted to write and approach his disses in a lyrically dexterous manner, however, he has so far been unable to distinguish Drake’s resolve, which is why with every diss, he is adopting a more and more sinister approach of venomous vitriol that relies on character assisination, while Drake merely makes mention of the unflattering parts of his guarded life.

Drake has hardly taken the high road in any representation he has made of himself. He has never been a beacon of morality at any stretch of the imagination. But just like AKA did with Cassper, Drake has been frank with Kendrick, saying: “You a dog and you know it, you just play sweet…”. A line which I suspect will be definitive when all is said and done regarding this beef.

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