Violence & Voyeurism: How the Kendrick Vs. Drake Feud Exploits Survivorship

By Tan Hayat, Sakhi Development & Communications Manager

In the dynamic and ever-evolving realm of hip-hop culture, where lyrical prowess and artistic rivalry often take center stage, the recent clash between Kendrick Lamar and Drake captivated audiences on a global scale. Yet, beyond the surface drama of diss tracks lies a troubling reality intersecting misogyny, racism, and gender-based violence that demands our collective reflection. The concerning themes displayed throughout this feud are a symptom of a larger problem–the recent lawsuits against Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs for sexual assault and a video showing him violently assaulting his ex-girlfriend Cassie Venture in a hotel hallway have only amplified these concerns, highlighting the pervasive issues within our society at large.

What sets the Kendrick-Drake feud apart from other high-profile events in the music world is not merely the exchange of insults or the tit-for-tat banter, but the collateral damage inflicted upon women ensnared in the fray without their consent or input. Accusations of abuse, infidelity, and predatory behavior have been hurled with alarming frequency, seemingly without much thought for the real-life consequences faced by the women involved. It’s a disconcerting pattern that lays bare the entrenched culture of misogyny entrenched in our culture. 

Statistics reveal a stark reality: one in three women worldwide experiences physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, with intimate partner violence being the most prevalent. This epidemic is exacerbated by intersecting factors like race, socioeconomic status, and sexual orientation. Against this backdrop, it’s disheartening that a feud unfolding on the global stage has been at the expense of unconsenting survivors of violence and abuse, while their stories are exploited for entertainment. The recent media attention on the video of Diddy and its pervasive presence throughout social and mainstream media underscores this issue, showing how our society’s focus on high-profile individuals often overshadows the suffering of victims, treating their experiences as mere plot points in a larger narrative. 

Another troubling factor in this feud is how it touches on the intersection of race and gender-based violence. Historically, women of color, particularly Black women, have endured systemic dehumanization and hypersexualization–a toxic legacy that continues unabated in modern American culture and media. Society ignoring the themes of violence and abuse being portrayed in these diss tracks is particularly sinister when considering that Black women experience significantly higher rates of gender-based violence compared to women of other racial backgrounds. The women caught in this feud–mostly Black women and women of color–are being callously used to heighten drama and stoke rivalries with little regard for the systemic problems they face. They become mere instruments in a larger spectacle dominated by male artists, ignoring their agency and humanity. It’s a stark reminder of how deeply ingrained racism and sexism continue to be exploited in popular culture, often to the detriment of those who have historically been the most marginalized.

Perhaps the most concerning outcome of this rap feud is the tepid response—or worse, the outright indifference—exhibited by society at large. Rather than unequivocally denouncing the claims of violence and crimes and demanding accountability, there appears to be a collective shrug of indifference. While both Lamar and Drake have garnered mass acclaim for their diss tracks filled with problematic references to domestic abuse, grooming, child sexual abuse, and other forms of gender-based violence, there’s a stunning lack of accountability or investigation into the allegations made.  Similarly, the reaction to the Diddy allegations has been largely muted, with more attention given to the fallout of his career than the impact on the survivor. This pervasive apathy speaks volumes about our broader societal reluctance to confront uncomfortable truths about power dynamics, privilege, and the prevalence of gender-based violence.

The Diddy case brings these issues into even sharper focus. The lawsuit and accompanying video evidence are not just isolated incidents but part of a broader pattern where the suffering of women, particularly women of color, is sensationalized and then swiftly forgotten. This case should serve as a wake-up call, urging us to shift our focus from the hype surrounding celebrities to the real and urgent need for justice and accountability for the victims of such violence.

As a collective society, we must examine our own complicity and demand better from the artists we admire. Silence in the face of injustice is not acceptable, nor is the willful ignorance of the public harm inflicted upon women under the guise of entertainment. It’s evident that much like any other form of artistic expression, this hip-hop feud mirrors the values of the society it emerges from. The feud has been making headlines for weeks, but the focus is squarely on the theatricality of the moment and the implications for hip-hop, not the survivors and victims who are being used as tools to gain notoriety and acclaim. 

While the ultimate conclusion of the ongoing feud between Kendrick Lamar and Drake remains to be seen, it is a highly visible reminder of the urgent need to confront and address gender-based violence within the music industry and our national discourse. The recent allegations against Diddy only further underscore the importance of this issue. As a survivor-led movement for gender-justice, we know that progress will require critical analysis, open dialogue, and collective demands for accountability. Allyship demands action, and we all share responsibility for how women are exploited for acclaim and notoriety, often overshadowing the trauma and violence they endure. The repeated airing of diss tracks and violent videos is retraumatizing for victims and survivors, with little regard for their well-being. Together, we must work towards a future where hip-hop and other music thrives as a beacon of artistic expression without sacrificing inclusivity and respect for all individuals, regardless of gender or background.