Who Won the Drake and Kendrick Lamar Diss War? The Numbers Behind the Beef

Drake and Kendrick Lamar's explosive jabs at each other through diss tracks have made headlines, and now that the dust has settled, what do the numbers say about who won?

Who Won the Drake and Kendrick Lamar Diss War? The Numbers Behind the Beef
Third Bridge Creative
Third Bridge Creative
May 29, 20245 min read
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Written by Peter A. Berry, a Third Bridge Creative contributor.

It’s not quite an established adage, but it’s true: drama sells, and since the beginning of the year, hip-hop has had a lot of it. Since January, artists like Megan Thee Stallion, Kendrick Lamar, Drake, and others have leaned into their hostility to serve up vicious diss tracks, and the results have usually been receiving huge numbers on streaming platforms. 

Megan Thee Stallion kicked things off in January with her scathing diss song, “HISS,” which took aim at adversaries like Tory Lanez, Nicki Minaj, and Drake, among others. The track debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and former collaborator turned foe Minaj responded days later with the less positively received “Big Foot.” On March 22 came Future & Metro Boomin’s Kendrick Lamar-assisted single “Like That,” which sees Kendrick throw multiple darts at Drake and J. Cole. A few months prior, J. Cole had claimed in a feature on Drake’s “First Person Shooter” that he, Drake, and Kendrick were the three biggest rappers in the industry, to which Kendrick responded on “Like That” with “f*** the big three, it’s just big me.” With its triumphant horns, anthemic hook, and incendiary disses, the single was designed for an explosive debut — and it earned just that when it landed at No. 1 on the Hot 100. To date, it’s earned over 308 million streams on Spotify. 

“Like That” spurred new disses, too. First was J. Cole, who fired back with “7 Minute Drill” on April 5. Even Cole realized the song wasn’t the move, apologizing to Kendrick while performing at Dreamville Fest. He removed the track from his album and streaming services, but not before it did well enough to land a Top 10 Hot 100 debut. Next up was Drake’s “Push Ups,” responsible for truly kickstarting the beef. It was a Kendrick response track that doubled as an exercise in multi-tasking: he dissed Kendrick and just about everyone else who had choice words for him in the preceding months. While the song generated online acclaim when an unfinished version leaked on April 13, the release was a botched one, with an unfinished version leaking online days before Drake unloaded the official version on DSPs. Of course, Kendrick then responded with “euphoria” on April 30. On May 3, Drake replied with “Family Matters,” only to have Kendrick swallow him whole with “meet the grahams” less than an hour later. This beef was becoming a landmark moment in hip-hop; Kendrick struck back again with “Not Like Us” less than 24 hours later. The day after that, May 5, saw the final song in this wave of diss tracks with Drake’s “The Heart Part 6.” It’s in Kendrick and Drake’s last exchanges that we find the victor, and it’s pointing to Kendrick.

Who Won the Numbers Game?

As two of the most critically and commercially successful rappers of their generation, it was always clear that the battle between Kendrick and Drake was going to be a big deal — and it has been. Following their initial barbs on “Like That” and “Push Ups,” Kendrick and Drake have only captured more public attention. While they each dropped multiple intermediate disses (Drake unloaded his “Taylor Made Freestyle” in April before Tupac Shakur’s estate forced him to remove the Instagram-exclusive from the web, and Kendrick dropped a song called “6:16 in LA” before unloading a devastating counter strike to Drake’s incendiary diss, “Family Matters” on May 3), they were quickly overshadowed by a few real commercial winners.

A few weeks removed, and on the Billboard Hot 100 for the week of May 18, Kendrick’s disses “Not Like Us” and “euphoria” landed at No. 1 and No. 3, respectively, alongside “Like That” at No. 6. Meanwhile, Drake’s third Kendrick diss, “Family Matters,” debuted at No. 7, as did Kendrick’s “meet the grahams” at No. 12. Just a few spots down was Drake’s “Push Ups” at No. 17, enjoying its third week on the chart. Those are awfully hearty rewards for so much negativity. 

While both MCs have enjoyed big streams and new entries into the Hot 100, Kendrick has emerged as the decisive victor. Both “Not Like Us” and “Like That” have individually out-streamed the combined total of “Family Matters” and “Push Ups” on Spotify. On top of that, both tracks, along with “euphoria” have already peaked higher than any of Drake’s disses on the Billboard charts. This gap also translates to YouTube, where “Not Like Us” has over 61 million views, compared to 28 million for “Family Matters.” 

Kendrick’s wins have also translated to a surge in his all-around streaming numbers. Aiding Kendrick in generating streams were the rapid-fire releases with increasingly controversial subject matters. At the start of February, Kendrick’s Spotify monthly listeners sat at just under 52 million. Now, following the release of “Like That,” “euphoria,” “meet the grahams,” and “Not Like Us,” he’s at over 77 million. 

On his end of things, Drake has remained relatively consistent dating back to early February, when he was hovering around 85 million Spotify monthly listeners. That number dipped to around 80.6 million in mid-April, but following the release of “Push Ups” and “Family Matters,” he’s shot back up to 83 million. Still, it hasn’t lifted him up to levels he reached just a few months ago, but the difference overall has been largely negligible for an artist his size. 

Beef Led to the Biggest Songs of Kendrick Lamar’s Career

While it might not have been his intent, Kendrick has clearly cashed out in this battle of diss tracks, and he got started early. “Like That” held down the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for three weeks, giving Kendrick his longest stint at No. 1. His previous visits to the top were 2017’s “HUMBLE.” and his guest spot on Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood,” which both had one-week stays at No. 1. “Like That” was victorious enough, but with “Not Like Us,” Kendrick could climb even higher. 

Fueled by an infectious, West Coast soundscape (courtesy of Mustard), “Not Like Us” is a Drake diss song framed in a certified anthem. From the hook to Kendrick’s bouncy inflections and cutting insults, the track is designed for cookouts, clubs, commercials, social media, and just about everything else. It even appeared in transition segments during TNT’s NBA Playoffs coverage. Released on May 4, it became Kendrick’s first-ever solo single to debut at No. 1 on the Hot 100. Considering the shockingly confrontational nature of the track — he mockingly calls Drake a pedophile and an unfit parent throughout the song — its position is historic in terms of content. The context makes it notable, too. After all, when was the last time the two biggest rappers in the industry exchanged diss songs? 

While the streams and chart positions speak to a win for Kendrick and Drake, Kendrick’s commercial dominance, along with public opinion, crystallizes his status as the biggest winner of the 2024 Rap Wars. 

Visualizations by Nicki Camberg and cover image by Crasianne Tirado. Data as of May 28, 2024.