J Cole apologises to Kendrick Lamar for diss track

There's been a plot twist in the just-igniting rap beef between modern hip-hop heavyweights Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole, as the latter has released a grovelling public apology where he regrets going against the Compton emcee.

Having released a diss track on April 5th called “7 Minutes Drill,” where he didn't hold back and downplayed Kendrick's discography, J. Cole is now backing down in what is one of the most humiliating episodes in hip-hop history.  

How it all started

In just over a decade of his career, Kendrick Lamar has managed to insert himself into the discussion of the greatest of all time in US rap, with exceptional albums and a poetic, inventive, and sometimes aggressive penmanship. 

This combination had the effect of a bombshell in the American rap game, notably when K.Dot appeared on Big Sean's track, "Control," where he asserted that he could outdo any MC of his generation. In the song, he explicitly named Drake, J. Cole, Meek Mill, ASAP Rocky, and a few others.

The very short beef of 2024 started with a track from Metro Boomin and Future's March 22 joint album, We Don't Trust You, which features Kendrick.

In the track called “Like That,” the rapper from Compton did more than just accept the invitation; he delivered a high-quality verse and, most importantly, managed to create buzz around the track by taking shots at Drake and J. Cole, and asserting his superiority over the duo.

This line is an obvious response to J. Cole's punchline in his feature with Drake, "First Person Shooter": 

"I love when they argue the hardest. Is it K-Dot? Is it Aubrey? Or me? We the big three like we started a league, but right now, I feel like Muhammad Ali." 

For Kendrick, there is no "Big 3," there's only him. A beautiful egotrip phase, which obviously has nothing malicious (Kendrick gets along very well with J. Cole), is there to reignite the competition at the top of the US rap game. 

The track went viral and now has over 105 million streams on Spotify. 

J. Cole's response

While Drake, the alleged primary target of the diss, appeared to rule out a music response in a concert, J. Cole needed just over two weeks to strike back.

On April 5th, he dropped a surprise album titled "Might Delete Later," featuring the track "7 Minutes Drill." 

In this track, J. Cole addresses the rapper from LA directly, without resorting to vague references or clues. Rather, he goes straight for the jugular even though, at no point, he mentions K. Dot by name. 

But the references are explicit enough for anyone to understand, including when he criticises the quality of Kendrick Lamar's projects.

"I came up in the 'Ville, so I'm good when there's tension.

He still did shows but fell off like The Simpsons.

Your first sh*t was classic.

Your last sh*t was tragic.

Your second sh*t put n***as to sleep, but they gassed it.

Your third sh*t was massive, and that was your prime

I was trailing right behind, and I have now hit mine.

Now I'm in front of the line with a comfortable lead.

How ironic? Since I got it, now he wants something with me."

Earlier in the track, J. Cole implies anyway that it's indeed a diss track, eliminating any doubt whatsoever. 

"I got a phone call; they say that somebody dissin'

You want some attention.

It comes with extensions.

My dawg likes, 'Say the word'

He on bulls**t, he itchin'

He put in so much work on these streets that he got pensions.

I told him, 'Chill out.

How do I look like I have henchmen?

If shots get to poppin' off, I'm the one doing the clenchin'."

It was also no coincidence that we found Ab-Soul, Kendrick Lamar's former label mate, on the rapper from Charlotte's project. One wouldn't bet on it, even though on "Might Delete Later," we also note the presence of many other guests like Cam'ron, Gucci Mane, Bas, Ari Lennox, Young Dro, Central Cee, and Daylyt.

Nevertheless, at this point, many hip-hop heads, commentators, and fans already believed that an all-out war had been declared. until! 

J. Cole deletes later

In front of a huge crowd at the Dreamville Festival on Sunday night, J. Cole revisited his words in a statement of peacemaking. 

"I'm so proud of this project, except for one part," admits the rapper. "I know my heart, and I know how I feel about my peers—these two individuals I've been blessed to follow squarely. I knew I didn't feel anything against them, but the world wanted to see blood."

J. Cole continues: "I've strayed from the path I've been on for the past ten years. I couldn't sleep for the past two days after seeing all these discussions.

He claims that pressure in the form of a barrage of thousands of calls and texts forced him to pen a response despite him. 

"How many of you think Kendrick Lamar is one of the greatest rappers of all time? You love Dreamville, don't you?" The audience nods in agreement. "Me too," he confesses. 

He concludes: "I messed up like I did ten years ago, and I pray he didn't take it the wrong way. I apologise to all of you.”

Even before the apology, many critics had dubbed 7 Minutes Drill too friendly for a clap back at one of the most acclaimed emcees of all time. J. Cole alluded to the fact that this was intentional.

Although many are familiar with J Cole's easy going personality, others have termed the apology cowardice as Cole has on several occasions bigged himself up as not just the number one with a "comfortable lead," but also a battle rapper. 

It remains to be seen if Drake will respond or if Kendrick will forgo the battle since J. Cole for many was just collateral damage to get Drake.