All images courtesy of Daily Vice

We Asked Canadians If Kendrick Lamar Is Better Than Drake

"Ah shit, I'll probably get beat up around here for saying it but probably Kendrick."

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Jul 26 2017, 3:37pm

All images courtesy of Daily Vice

Despite its vibrant, influential rap scene being barely recognized by the Canadian music industry at large, Toronto's hip-hop fans are passionate and show up for concerts by artists of all levels. Of course, the rapper they show the most love for is the Boy himself, Drake. You still can't walk a kilometer (that's a little over half a mile for the Americans and Brits reading) in the city without seeing someone wearing OVO-branded merch or hearing the thud of a Drake single booming from a car. Canadians are unflinchingly loyal to the man who put Toronto on the map... Or are they?

On the occasion of Kendrick Lamar's DAMN. Tour stop in Toronto, his fans waited outside Livestock, a local streetwear shop, for an opportunity to grab merch at the pop-up event. The line stretched around the block. Seeing as it's tough to get Torontonians to care about anything, this was a big deal. We decided to ask these people, some of whom were wearing OVO hats and shirts, the toughest questions of 10s rap. Will civic pride override #facts? Do those Torontonians who prefer Kung-Fu Kenny feel like traitors? Does copping fire jawns matter more than all of that? Read on and find out.

Sean, Who Was Front of the Line

Noisey: How long have you been here?
We've been here since five in the morning.

Okay, let's get this out of the way: who is the better artist, Drake or Kendrick?
Kendrick is better. Kendrick's music usually tells a story and in the past, I had a life like the stories he tells.

Have you stood in line for OVO merch?
Never in line but I have gone to the store and bought some stuff. I own a hat.

You're from here and you picked Kendrick. What do you think this says about you as Torontonians?
I like both of them! I can say Kendrick is better, but Drake put Toronto on the map, so respect to both of them.

Chris and His Friend Spencer

Drake or Kendrick?
Ah shit. I'll probably get beat up around here for saying it, but probably Kendrick. He comes from more humble beginnings so he's got a lot more passion behind his music whereas Drake, he wasn't exactly broke growing up.

Have Kendrick's lyrics ever got you through tough times like a good Drake song?
Not really. I didn't grow up in Compton so I don't think I can relate to it [laughs].

Have you stood in line for OVO merch?
I've stood in line for Kanye merch, not OVO merch.

What do you think this says about you as Torontonians?
I guess I'm a shit human being, I dunno. [Drake] can disown us. That's what I'd do.

Harleen

Drake or Kendrick?
Kendrick, hands down. Kendrick has poetry. Have you looked at his lyrics? Everything has a meaning, like, just, uggggggh I can't! The way he puts secret messages, the context, it's beautiful. If you look at Drake's, it's very simple. Anybody can strain the message out of it, but Kendrick you have to analyze it, you have to really understand his messages. He speaks about a lot of social issues right now, especially with a lot of Black movements…

Have you ever stood in line for OVO merch?
No.

Does this make you a bad Torontonian?
No, I'm so appreciative of what Drake does for this city and how much he reps it. He brought up so many artists like the Weeknd, artists like NAV… Tory Lanez I believe?

Leonardo

Drake or Kendrick?
Kendrick. Lyrically speaking, the stories he tells, the struggles he's been through. He writes his own lyrics.

Who do you like listening to more, though?
I'd still say Kendrick. I grew up with Dominican music and since Dominican music has so many roots I can still hear the African roots, the Native roots, in his music.

Would you say you're betraying Toronto?
I'm not. Not at all.

But Drake made this city!
I'd rather go for music than what the city is. Music has been around for thousands of years. For somebody to create that from what they wrote, from their own head, Kendrick is a much better rapper.

Jacob

Drake or Kendrick?
Kendrick, man. It's HiiiPower every other hour since Eddie Bauer. You already know. Kendrick is the greatest rapper to live since Tupac. Tupac reincarnated if you ask me. And if you know about Tupac you know that Drake don't hold a candle to Tupac which means he don't hold a candle to K. Dot.

So you've never stood in line for the OVO store or anything to do with Drake merch.
I stopped by the OVO store once but I didn't wait in line. That's not me, bro.

Do you feel conflicted in any sense?
I feel like this, okay? I feel like Kendrick inspires anyone who listens to be true to themselves, right? And to be completely true to myself, Kendrick is the superior rapper, you know? So I don't feel like I'm doing wrong by my city all because yo, Drake just needs to come harder. He needs to bring back that old flow.

Jor-El

Drake or Kendrick?
If I'm looking for real rap, definitely Kendrick. If I'm looking for something dance-y, going to a party, gotta go with Drake.

Okay, but who's the better rapper? What is "real rap?"
Kendrick Lamar. He is the best lyricist of our time. He is easily the most creative and genuine thinker and the tenacity in his vocals, the attack he gives in his music, it's reminiscent of 90s hip-hop. He is the rapper. Drake does dancehall music now, he does tropical house, he does soulful singing songs, so he's more of an artist in that sense. But Kendrick is a rapper, in the truest sense of the word.

Have you stood in line for OVO merch?
Never. I own a bunch of it, but no.

Do you not feel conflicted about this?
Not at all. They're two different people now. Drake is a superstar, Kendrick is the best rapper alive.

Right. I hear it's your birthday today?
Yes.

Happy birthday!
Thank you!

Why are you spending it here?
I mean, the hoodies look sick. But also I met some cool people and it's the culture. Do it for the culture. Not Migos, but Migos is sick.

Abdul-Kalim and His American Friends, Allen and Otis

Drake or Kendrick?
Abdul-Kalim: Rapping-wise, it's Kendrick Lamar, 100 percent. Drake might have more reach than Kendrick does but purely based on his rap skills and what he's able to do through his message, Kendrick Lamar is a better rapper.
Allen: At the end of the day it's about the music and people like to bring up money, they like bring up fame, but it's gotta be Kendrick. Hands down. Sonically he just makes better music.
Otis: Yeah, I agree. I have to go Kendrick all day. Each album he puts out he's pushing his boundaries.

Do you guys like any Drake songs?
All: [General murmurs of affirmation.]
Abdul-Kalim: I'm Canadian so of course I like Drake.

Finally, thank you.
Allen: It's different music for different times. When you're at the club or you at a party, you got one or two songs you can play by Kendrick. But Drake has a whole discography you can play at a party.
Abdul-Kalim: For some of those dudes, they got the heartbreak, they got the Drake for that side, too. You know, Take Care. Drake can do that, he has that soft side to him that girls appreciate.

Have you guys ever owned OVO merch?
Allen: I bought some off the website.

Lance

Drake or Kendrick?
I gotta say Kendrick. Just preference. I feel like I connect to his artistic side. Nothing against Drake, he put Toronto on the map so shout out to him.

Are you going to OVO Fest this year?
Not this year, some of the lineups were bangin', though. The J. Cole one with Bas, the whole Dreamville lineup, Big Sean. There's a few.

Do your friends who are big Drake fans look at you weird?
It's just my music preference. I listen to a lot of Canadian rappers and Drake is up there, but-

Is this because you prefer the Jays to the Raptors?
[laughs] No, no! I actually ride hard for the home teams, you know? Even the Leafs.

Even the Argonauts? [for foreigners: this is the name of one of our Canadian football teams. Yes, we do have a league. It's not worth knowing more than that]
[pause] Damn. You guys are gonna put me on the spot like this? They're alright. I mess with Toronto FC also.

But not Drake.

So, we can gather from this that Canadians have no loyalty (loyalty, loyalty) to their local heroes. One good foreign rapper comes in and they're instant turncoats. Granted, we are still pretty chill and measured debaters, which is good. We could learn a bit from Americans on how to celebrate our country and be blindly patriotic, though.

Phil didn't memorize all of 'If You're Reading This' to be insulted in this way. He's on Twitter.