Kendrick Lamar meticulously plans everything he does. Known for his ambitious concept albums, he already had a reputation for being fastidious. However, his battle with Drake elevated his status further. Lamar is now celebrated as the most dangerous artist on the planet, demonstrated by the legendary “Pop Out” show. At this event, he led an entire stadium (essentially an entire coast) in singing along to his scathing diss tracks. Amidst all the hatred, he included a hidden message for another rapper in the Big Three.

The media noticed a crucial detail during Lamar’s performance of “Alright.” The song sounds just like it does on To Pimp a Butterfly, but at the five-second mark of the video, J Cole‘s voice can be heard. Cole distinctly says “yeah” before K. Dot begins the chorus. What does this imply? Back on Black Friday 2015, Kendrick Lamar and J Cole swapped instrumentals: Lamar rapped over Cole’s “A Tale of 2 Citiez,” while Cole rapped over “Alright.” Both artists excelled, though the general consensus is that Lamar outperformed his fellow superstar.

Kendrick Lamar apparently used ad-libs from J Cole’s version of “Alright” in his recent live performance. This minor detail carries significant implications. On his “Like That” verse, Lamar challenged both Drake and J Cole’s supremacy, asserting that neither rapper could match him. In response, Cole released “7 Minute Drill.” Cole’s handling of the situation will haunt him for the rest of his career, but ultimately, he apologized. Lamar and Cole now seem to be on good terms again, as evidenced by Lamar’s collaborators, Daylyt and Ab-Soul, appearing on J Cole’s recent album.

Kendrick Lamar has not publicly commented on the Big Three battle, letting his music and live performances speak for him. He is unlikely to address his relationship with J Cole directly, but incorporating Cole’s vocals into his LA-centric “Pop Out” show suggests that Lamar is showing appreciation for the Dreamville icon. This decision also serves as another jab at Drake, who spent much of 2023 collaborating with Cole on tour and in recordings. Diabolical.

Stay tuned.