For years, rap fans have maintained that Drake’s greatest foe and rival is not Kanye West or Pusha T, but Kendrick Lamar. While neither rapper has released any overtly disrespectful material mentioning the other by name, fans are convinced that Drake and Kendrick have been subtly shading each other for nearly a decade despite Drake giving Kendrick a leg-up on his 2011 album Take Care and even going to his concerts.
Baby Keem and Kendrick’s new song “The Hillbillies” has added fuel to the flame, with fans noting Kendrick using a similar flow to Drake and wondering whether it’s yet another subtle jab at the Canadian star. As one fan noted, “Kendrick Lamar and Baby Keem used Drake’s Sticky flow and this is how it came out.” Another noted the similarity between Drake’s Honestly, Nevermind track “Sticky” and Kendrick and Keem’s use of Jersey club drums and similar cadences, writing, “Now give Drake his credit for predicting dance music was the new wave cause Hillbillies is just Kendrick’s version of Sticky.”
However, some fans have interpreted the use of the so-called “Sticky flow” a sneaky dig at Drake, with one comparing their lyrics and asserting that “kendrick is not jacking drake he’s CLOWNING HIM.” Others are using the wording of Keem’s own tweet promoting the track as evidence it’s meant to be a parody or spoof of Drake’s, noting that Keem himself called it “Baby Keem & Kendrick Lamar – The Hillbillies (Sticky Dub).”
There is, of course, the third option: that it’s a homage, made out of respect for Drake’s efforts in pushing the boundaries of hip-hop. After all, the use of “dub” is a nod to the Jamaican dancehall practice of “dubbing” popular hits with remixes and covers. In fact, the soundclash battles upon which hip-hop was founded stem from DJs competing to find or mix the rarest dubs in order to draw bigger crowds and responses with their respective sound systems.
Now, whether it’s a diss, a dub, or a case of follow-the-leader, it’s still pushing forward the genre and the culture — and goes to show how both Drake and Kendrick aren’t just fixtures of rap, but pioneers in guiding it to its future.