So I’m sure we are all in agreement that this battle is never going to happen, right?
After years of subliminal back-and-forths, Drake seems to have comfortably settled into the role of a pop dancehall singer and Kendrick has snatched the crown as the resident god emcee.
Basically, their paths never have to cross again.
But there was a time when the two greats occupied the same space and the threat of conflict and eventual battle seemed inevitable. Each skirmish however was either diffused or so subtle and covert that it went unnoticed.
But what would’ve happened if industry politics had been put aside and egos were allowed to reign?
So, in our ongoing series (check out Part 1 here) of hypothetical combat and in the name of good fun, I decided to break down the two could’ve-been combatants, Deadliest Warrior-style, to find out who would’ve won.
In the red corner Drake:
Classic Battle Tracks: Stay Schemin’, 6 pm in New York, Charged Up, Back to Back, Summer Sixteen.
Famous Bodies: Tyga, Meek Mill and Tory Lanez
Battle Style: Surprisingly, at this point Drake is a wax battle veteran. Much like his predecessor LL Cool J, his position on top and willingness to reach out to the mainstream has earned him the ire of his contemporaries, forcing him into conflict after conflict. As a result, Drake has developed an impressively sharp mind for battle, hardening his shell against the incessant onslaught of challenges from lesser foes.
Unlike LL however, Drake’s extremely careful about how he picks battles. He would rather take an L by forfeit and live with it than be destroyed outright. As a result, he has been accused of ducking conflicts with better rappers, such as his skirmish — or never-was skirmish — with the very scary and lyrically dangerous Joe Budden.
But when he’s forced to be direct, he can be amazingly tactical, incessant and above all petty. Drake is a petty motherfucker.
His battle with Meek Mill was an example of that.
Luring an unprepared opponent into a false sense of security, then attacking with a vicious offense complete with rollout and to-the-date referential marketing, Drizzy proved to be a thinking man’s battler.
Weapons of Battle: Because of his…INCREDIBLE…ego, Drake is afforded something that most rappers never achieve: Supreme confidence. This is his first weapon.
There’s nothing you can say that will shake Drake. He loses without caring. Call him a bitch, he doesn’t mind. Say he has a ghostwriter, he barely acknowledges it. This all comes from someone who knows that he knows that he knows that he’s good.
Drake’s second weapons are his mind and patience. He will wait for you to show your hand, analyze the best way for attack, then go all in, with the momentum of the mainstream behind him and with no guilt, no hesitation or pause.
For example, Drake donated $75,000 to Meek Mill’s high school. That’s the “Prince made us pancakes” of catching an L in hip hop terms and he thought about that. Like, he planned for that news to come out on the day, or within days, of his nail-in-the-coffin song “Back to Back”. That’s master level trolling.
Lastly, Drake’s best weapon is his ability to write a song that connects with the masses. No matter how hard you try, if you can’t craft a hit on his level, you’re going to have a rough row to hoe when it comes to competing with him. Lyrically, he may not be the best, but he knows how to connect with his audience and that’s a song-writing trait that will be hard for any opponent to overcome.
In the blue corner Kendrick Lamar:
Classic Battle Tracks: 2013 BET Chyper, untitled 7 (I guess), King Kunta (possibly), Control verse with Big Sean, Jay Electronica.
Famous Bodies: Aside from some YouTube videos of pre-fame days, no one of note that we know.
Battle Style: Here’s the thing (and the irony that actually makes this hypothetical battle something worth caring about), I don’t think Kendrick has any experience in battling. Whether its because no one wants to test him or because he enjoys keeping his head down, no one has ever decided to come out of the side of their mouth at him lyrically. Sure Jay Electronica said some slick shit, but nothing in a verse and nothing that Kendrick couldn’t dismiss with a slick line or two:
You niggas fear me like y’all fear God
You sound frantic, I hear panic in your voice
Just know the mechanics of making your choice and writin’ your bars
Before you poke out your chest, loosen your bra
Before you step out of line and dance with the star
I could never end a career if it never start
― Kendrick Lamar – untitled 07 | 2014-2016
What we do know from Kendrick’s abilities is that he’s incredibly lyrical, intelligent and, considering his technique, possibly one of the greatest poets hip hop has ever had.
He’s not the type of person to just write and record something off the top of his head, although his freestyle ability is noteworthy. No, Kendrick has never slacked on a track and puts his all into any and everything he’s dropped.
So expect any verse he drops — battle or otherwise — to be deeply intricate, lyrical, biting and intense.
Weapons of Battle: Kendrick’s weapons are very upfront and to the point: lyrics and punches. A good example would be his 2013 BET The Cypher verse, which is probably the closest thing to a battle verse that we’ve heard by him.
There are few emcees who can lay a verse next to Kendrick and not have it seem devalued.
The only possible downside to his style is that he may be, at times, too lyrical. The worst thing you can do in a battle is go over your audience’s head. This has actually been a critique of his style made by other rappers.
How Would a Battle Go:
Okay, first things first, this is a new generation battle, meaning: these guys don’t handle things like the old guys did.
Rappers are very vague with their attacks nowadays with most conflicts playing out on social media instead of behind a mic. Both Drake and Kendrick are guilty of this. So neither guy would openly admit that there is an issue and (if history serves us) would rather choose to begin the skirmish with subliminals.
Kendrick, I believe, wouldn’t be the aggressor. As nice with the rhymes as he is, he has one problem: He’s too damn nice.
He seems to be genuinely a good guy. Even in his Control verse he made sure to remind his competitors that he’s “got love for you all.”
He’s just not a mean-spirited dick by nature.
But you wanna know who is a mean-spirited dick by nature?
This guy, RIGHT HERE…is a FUCKING Diiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiick!
Drake would definitely be the first one to say something that wasn’t vague. It’d probably come out much in the same vein as how he unnecessarily slapped up the down-on-the-totem-pole-why-don’t-you-just-leave-him-alone Tyga: A quick two or four line acknowledgement of Kendrick, done in the most dickish way possible.
Now, for all intents and purposes, this has already happened. Drake has made non-vague threats and insults about Kendrick before.
The thing that has saved him from full-out war has been the fact that Kendrick chooses to be subliminal and move on. But what if he just decides to spaz this one time?
Let’s say that Kendrick’s BET Cypher was an actual song, two verses and a hook, released on some fuck Drake shit.
The hip hop world would collapse.
There would be rioting in the streets.
Memorials would be laid in Drake’s honor. Strippers nationwide would have a day of remembrance: light-skinned dudes get lap dances half-price. Dogs and cats, living together.
But that’s when the fun would begin. Drake is very cerebral with this shit and wouldn’t dare start something if he didn’t have a contingency plan.
Drake would respond, but not with something lyrically better, just something funnier, more personal (read: petty), and definitely way more mainstream.
Now, here’s the thing, normally with these mainstream vs. hip hop culture battles, the mainstream cat has something of an upper hand. But Kendrick is just as mainstream as he is a cultural darling. Most likely he would respond with a second track that would hit Drake in a way he wasn’t expecting: A song that would actually chart.
Kendrick. Is. A. Beast.
I don’t care how lyrically dense Kendrick is, he is a critically acclaimed and a culturally acclaimed master of words. There’s no way Drake is getting out of this with the half-assed, kinda-hip hop crooner style he’s adopted as of late.
Once Drake figures it out that he can’t out-mainstream Kendrick, he’ll do what he normally does, which is quietly take the ‘L and hope no one notices.
But everyone would notice.
The world would notice. Meek would notice.
Drake knows a loss when he sees one and will know enough not to “Meek Mill” himself by continuously trying to kick up at the dude stomping you.
He’d sneak off into the shadows, coming back in three months to drop an album featuring Jennifer Lopez that would go 10X platinum.
Then he’d bang Jennifer Lopez.
Winner: King Kendrick
But shiiiiiit, what do I know?
I could be wrong. Let me know if I’m full of shit in the comments below. Who do you think would win? More importantly, who else in the god level of hip hop needs to get in the ring and who do you think would win.