Since Kendrick Lamar‘s famous verse on Big Sean’s “Control” back in 2013, he and Drake have been exchanging subliminal messages in song form and interviews. There was the time Lamar appeared to call Drake a “sensitive rapper” who needed to be “tucked into his pajama clothes.” Later Drake rapped “I got a backyard where money seems to come from trees” in reference to Lamar’s song “Money Trees.” Lamar has also taken digs at Drake following the rumors that he used a ghost writer, but for the most part, this has been a cold war and not a full fledged beef. That said, Lamar doesn’t seem to be letting Drake off easy on his new album Damn.
On the song “God,” Kendrick serves up his what might be his most clever Drake troll ever. Thing is, the apparent dig doesn’t even come in lyrical form, which is obviously surprising given Lamar’s reputation as hip-hop’s most lyrical emcee. All he really does is seemingly imitate Drake’s singing voice on the song’s chorus, particularly on the repeated ah-ha‘s throughout. This isn’t the first time Kendrick has apparently imitated Drake, either. Some pointed out that his flow was oddly Drake-ish on “Untitled 02” off his 2016 album Untitled Unmastered on a verse that concludes with the exclamation “You was never the homie!”
As for “God,” one could read a little deeper and note that the song’s overall sounds most similar to something that Drake would rap over or something crafted by his most reliable producer, Noah “40” Shebib. There’s also the song’s title. Lamar is a dedicated Christian, while Drake, who was raised Jewish, rarely raps about faith and calls himself the “6 God.”
It’s hard to know if any of this is a diss for certain, and as far as subliminal messages go, it doesn’t get more subtle than this. So, this latest jab—if it’s a jab at all—isn’t exactly the kind of direct-aim headshot Lamar’s fans are always wanting him to take. But it’s the kind of diss that will get in Drake’s head. Wait, is Kendrick trying to sound like me? Is that what I sound like? That kind of thinking can do more to a man’s psyche than simply being made fun of. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Could it also be the sincerest form of trolling?