Three is a crowd. There is only room for Lamar.

In Metro Boomin and Future’s most recent hip hop album, “We Don’t Trust You,” Kendrick Lamar is featured saying the words, “M********* the big three, n****, it’s just big me,” on the song “Like That.”

Lamar, one of the biggest — if not the biggest — rappers of our time, made headlines last month when he dropped this diss, targeting Drake and J. Cole, his counterparts in the “big three,” seemingly out of nowhere.

The lyric raises a big question in the world of hip hop: Is there one rapper who ultimately comes out on top?

The success of “Like That” seems to partially answer that question. On March 29, “Like That” debuted at No. 1 in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, and it has been in the top three ever since. Lamar now owns the summit.

It’s not like Lamar hasn’t ever been challenged, perhaps most effectively by Drake, who has been engaged in conflict with Lamar since 2013.

In fact, in response to Lamar’s line on “Like That,” on April 19 Drake released a track entitled “Taylor Made Freestyle,” making digs at both Lamar and Lamar’s collaborator, Taylor Swift.

But the diss didn’t seem to land. On April 24, Billboard obtained a cease-and-desist letter ordering Drake to take down “Taylor Made Freestyle” on behalf of the estate of legendary rapper Tupac Shakur. Calling the track “a flagrant violation of Tupac’s publicity and the estate’s legal rights,” according to The Independent, Shakur’s estate took legal issue with Drake’s use of an artificial intelligence version of both Shakur and Snoop Dogg in the song. It was taken down, and Drake seems to have been officially silenced.

But Lamar didn’t need this diss-track-battle triumph to launch him to his superior standing. Beyond the beef, Lamar’s music is just markedly better than the 37-year-old Canadian rapper’s.

When you compare the number of studio albums released between Drake and Lamar, Drake has the slight upper hand, championing eight compared to Lamar’s five. But Lamar’s music undoubtedly contains deeper lyrics and better production quality overall. In his discography, Lamar touches on subjects such as tough childhood experiences and growing up in Compton in the ‘90s. Lamar also raps about social justice, self love and materialism. When listening to  Lamar, one may not understand the message right away, instead having to sift through the figurative language and complex rhymes in order to understand the meaning of his music. With multiple ways to interpret his words, Lamar’s songs can be taken to represent a variety of different topics. 

On the other hand, Drake lacks meaning in most of his music, particularly on his new album, “For All The Dogs.” In his song “Amen,” Drake raps that “[those are] the perks of datin’ me … Red Mercedes with the red seats.” The problem with this lyric is that it is just another song where Drake shows off his wealth, bragging about his latest purchase. Drake’s music simply does not have the ability to go past its sound, and his lyrics are excessively redundant.

Lamar is also a highly versatile rapper,  whose music contains influences from West Coast hip hop, jazz rap, alternative hip-hop and gangsta rap.

Another important factor in the Lamar versus Drake debate is the number of awards each has won. The Recording Academy has awarded Lamar 17 Grammy awards out of 50 total nominations. Drake, on the other hand, is five for 55. Lamar has the most BET Hip Hop Awards in history, comparing his 29 to Drake’s 24. 

Lamar has also been recognized in ways that most hip hop artists, including Drake, have not. Lamar’s album “DAMN.” won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Music — the first time that the prize was given to an artist outside of the classical or jazz community.  

Overall, the combination of Lamar’s unique flow, relevance and numerous accolades prove him to be the best rapper of all time. It is just big him. 

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