Were Drake and Kendrick Lamar once on the verge of a major beef? Marcellus Wiley says so. The former NFL player discussed the two rappers on his ESPN radio show Max & Marcellus, and along the way he dropped a very interesting bit of information.
“All I know is there was a beef, and all I know is I was witness to when the beef would have ignited to proportions we have not seen since Ja Rule/50, maybe even Ice Cube/N.W.A.,” he said. “Like it went there. But that was destroyed from everyone’s property. That was destroyed, that interview, that moment was destroyed. That’s all I’m gonna say. But I was there and I heard the shots fired.”
Wiley declined to say which of the two artists had made the remarks, but said that the rapper’s publicist had caught wind of it and made sure it was never made public. It should be noted that Drake did appear in the ESPN studios—where Wiley works—not too long after “Control” dropped. Kendrick’s “Control” verse was a famously sticky point of contention between the two rappers at the time after Kendrick name-checked Drake (alongside many other rappers) on the song.
Although Drake shrugged off the idea that he was hurt or threatened by the song, he did seem strangely dismissive of it in a September 2013 interview with journalist Elliot Wilson. “Are you listening to [“Control”] now? At this point?” he asked. “I can’t wait to see what [Kendrick] does because now it’s time to show and prove consistency. It’s been, like, one album. Consistency is make more than one album. I look forward to seeing what he does. He’s super fucking talented. When it comes to competition, I’m more worried about consistency, about bodies of work.”
Kendrick would go on to be named a GQ Man of the Year. During his interview, he told the magazine that Drake and him were “pretty cool,” but added one caveat: “I mean, I would be okay if we weren’t.” He would eventually go on to address the controversy during his BET Awards cypher that October, in what many perceived as a dig at Drake. “And nothing’s been the same since they dropped ‘Control’/And tucked a sensitive rapper back in his pajama clothes/Ha-ha, jokes on you,” Kendrick said.
There have been subliminal shots ever since, but the beef mostly died down as the rappers pushed towards different lanes in hip-hop. Would everything have been different if this beef came to light? It’s hard to tell, but it’s certainly interesting to think about.