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J. Cole bows out of rap battle with Kendrick Lamar

Graphic by Audrey Garcia

J. Cole fans have never experienced more disappointment than after his actions at Dreamville Fest this past weekend. 

The “No Role Modelz” hitmaker apologized to Kendrick Lamar in front of thousands of fans for dissing him on his new song “7 Minute Drill” from his surprise EP “Might Delete Later.” 

“I’m so proud of that project, except for one part,” Cole said. “It’s one part of that sh— that makes me feel like, man, that’s the lamest sh— I ever did in my fu— life,”

“I was conflicted,” Cole added. “I know I don’t feel no way, but the world wanted to see blood. I moved in a way that I spiritually feel bad about.” 

On “7 Minute Drill,” Cole raps, “I got a phone call, they say that somebody dissin’, you want some attention, it come with extensions…he still doin’ shows, but fell off like the Simpsons.” 

Cole then attacked Lamar’s discography, rapping, “Your first sh— was classic; your last sh- was tragic. Your second sh— put N— to sleep, but they gassed it. Your third sh— was massive, and that was your prime. I was trailin’ right behind, and I just hit mine. Now I’m in front of the line with a comfortable lead.”

The diss, a response to Lamar’s verse on “Like That,” sent shockwaves through the rap community. Lamar confidently declares that he’s better than his contemporaries on the song featured on Future and Metro Boomin’s latest album, “WE DON’T TRUST YOU.”

Social media debated which diss was better and if Lamar’s second project, “To Pimp A Butterfly,” is a legendary rap album or overhyped, as Cole claimed. 

After Cole’s apology, the debate was put to bed, and conversations shifted to whether he was right or wrong. 

Fans who disagreed with Cole’s decision cited songs in which he rapped about being the best or wanting “smoke” with any rapper, yet apologized once he was challenged. 

For example, on “Crocodile Tearz,” Cole raps, “Them boys kiss the ring when they see the king come in. They know I run things like the police comin’. Yes sir, it’s me, not two, not three. The uno G-O-A-T, I need my fee, fu- kudos.”

Fans who supported Cole argued that it took tremendous courage to admit he was wrong to diss a lifelong friend despite the backlash he received. 

Cole’s apology was mature, but went against the unwritten rules of hip-hop. Rap is a sport built for competition, especially from a rapper who has invited it in songs over the years. 

In 2022, Cole rapped, “Some people say that I’m running third; they threw the bronze at me. Behind Drake and Dot, yeah, them n— superstars to me. Maybe deep down, I’m afraid of my own luminosity.” 

Last weekend, Cole proved what fans have been saying for years to be true. For someone who claimed to feel like the Muhammad Ali of the rap game on the 2023 track “First Person Shooter,” Cole left the ring after just a single blow.

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