Rap Battle Song Hits No. 1, and 'It's a Bit Disconcerting'

Andre Gee of 'Rolling Stone' muses on lyrics in Lamar's diss track on Drake
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 18, 2024 5:30 AM CDT
Rap Battle Song Hits No. 1, and 'It's a Bit Disconcerting'
Rapper Kendrick Lamar, left, and Drake.   (AP Photo)

Earlier this month, Andre Gee declared in Rolling Stone that Kendrick Lamar "won the great rap war" between himself and Drake, a long-running feud that has resulted in a recent slew of diss tracks—including Lamar's "Not Like Us," which ascended to the No. 1 spot this week on the charts. Gee's not so sure that's a good thing, writing in a new opinion piece for Rolling Stone that the song's popularity "says a lot about the state of hip-hop." He touches on some of the content in the song, which he says hurls "career-ending—if not freedom-ending—accusations toward Drake," including the suggestion that Drake is a pedophile. "It's a bit disconcerting that one of the hip-hop moments of the year is referring to preying on a child," Gee laments.

But he writes that listeners are "having fun" with the song, as "dissonance shrouds hip-hop, and the tone of a diss song allows leeway to bars that would probably be called out on a 'normal' song." Perhaps bothering Gee in equal measure, however, is the fact that the song "is meant to be an anthem for those sharing the Black American experience, but its astronomical streaming numbers make it safe to assume that we aren't the only people enjoying the record." In other words, this particular rap battle has been absorbed into more mainstream circles, going viral at public events and on TikTok—and Gee is trying to figure out how he feels about that. "What are we to make of millions of listeners screaming 'They ain't like us!' to the heavens—including the people who aren't like us?" he writes. Read his piece in full here. (More rap music stories.)

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