Who Leads the Big 3? Kendrick, Drake, J.Cole?

In the latest shake-up in the hip-hop world, Kendrick Lamar has once again proven why he’s considered one of the most formidable lyricists of our time. His surprise verse on Metro Boomin and Future’s “Like That,” from the newly released album “We Don’t Trust You,” sent shockwaves through the internet, stirring the pot with what many perceive as direct shots at Drake and J. Cole. 

This bold move has fans and critics alike buzzing, dissecting every line for hidden meanings and potential fallout. It’s a moment reminiscent of hip-hop’s competitive spirit, with Lamar making a clear statement about his place in the rap hierarchy.

Kendrick’s Verse: A Closer Look

Kendrick Lamar Performing Live.

Kendrick Lamar’s uncredited feature on “Like That” didn’t just capture attention for its star power; it was his directness and lyrical wordplay that set the internet ablaze. 

Referring to the so-called “big three” – a term J. Cole used to lump himself, Lamar, and Drake in 2023’s “First Person Shooter” as the leading figures in hip-hop:

Love when they argue the hardest MC/ Is it K-Dot? Is it Aubrey? Or me?/ We the big three like we started a league, but right now, I feel like Muhammad Ali,”

Fast forward to 2024, Kendrick asserted his dominance, 

“Motherfuck the big three, n—a, it’s just big me.” 

distancing himself from the label and, by extension, from the ranks of Drake and J.Cole. 

K.Dot cleverly used the contentious relationship between Michael Jackson and Prince to underline this argument, 

“Your best work is a light pack / N—a, Prince outlived Mike Jack / N—a, bum, ‘fore all your dogs get buried / That’s a K with all these nines, he gon’ see ‘Pet Sematary.’”

suggesting that his legacy will surpass that of his contemporaries.

This move comes against a backdrop of speculated tensions within the hip-hop community, particularly involving Drake and Metro Boomin – adding layers to Kendrick’s verse. 

The politics of these relationships, the history of collaboration and competition among these artists offer a fascinating narrative thread that redefines the competitive landscape of rap.

The Essence of Competition in Hip-Hop

Longtime TDE associate ScHoolboy Q also touched upon the inherent competitiveness of rap in Drink Champs, Episode 402 – a sentiment echoed in Kendrick’s verse. 

The drive to be the best, to stand out among the “big three,” is a testament to the artists’ commitment to their craft. 

Q notes the importance of having a dedicated fan base and the risks associated with long breaks from the music scene. Underscoring the importance of a deep fanbase connection –

Rethinking the Rap Hierarchy

The dialogue initiated by Kendrick Lamar’s verse on “Like That” has brought to light the inevitable clash of the titans within the “big three” of hip-hop. 

It’s clear that the debate transcends mere rivalry, touching on deeper themes of:

  • artistic freedom, 
  • competitive spirit, and 
  • the importance of a solid fan connection. 

As the hip-hop community continues to digest Kendrick’s bold statements, the discussion on who leads the “big three” – Kendrick, Drake, or J. Cole – has sparked quite the controversy.

For those interested in further exploring the intricacies of competition in the rap game, Episode 402 of Drink Champs featuring ScHoolboy Q is an essential watch. It’s not just about the competition; it’s about understanding the principles that guide some of today’s most influential artists.


1 comment on “Who Leads the Big 3? Kendrick, Drake, J.Cole?

  1. ivan says:

    No question Kendrick. I’ll debate anybody. Trust me.

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