Reality Is Now a Diss Track

Drake and Kendrick Lamar’s rivalry reveals our craving for controversy—and what’s lost when community is based on shared hatred, not love.

This piece was adapted from Russell Moore’s newsletter. Subscribe here.

Not since Tupac died have we seen the country quite as fixated on a feud between rappers. Over the past several weeks, artists Drake and Kendrick Lamar kept the news cycle abuzz with their dueling diss tracks—ridiculing each other in trivial matters of height and weight and popularity before getting nastier with implications of secret love children and the possible grooming of minors.

As the lyrics amped up, police even investigated whether the argument was related to a shooting of a security guard outside Drake’s home in Toronto. For most people, though, the feud didn’t seem dangerous; it just seemed fun. And that’s what worries me.

I am far from qualified to judge who the better artist is between Drake and Lamar. My dogs were named Waylon and Willie, but, come to think of it, the Outlaws wrote a diss track or two themselves. Even so, if this were just a story about musicians’ egos battling, it could be quickly forgotten. The greater concern is not that these two artists have diss tracks, but that we are all living in one ourselves.

Drake and Lamar obviously do have some genuine dislike of each other. I share sarcastic barbs with a good friend sometimes, but I’ve never accused him of being a pedophile or of neglecting his child support. And yet, it also seems that much of this feud is theatrical—meant to mutually benefit them both.

After all, the question in the music industry press right now is not whether restraining orders will be sought but whose tracks are beating whose on the charts. The truth is, no matter who is “winning” or “losing” in that competition, both are winning. People …

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