The Meaning Behind “Like That” by Future, Metro Boomin, and Kendrick Lamar and the Rap Rivalry It References

This week, “Like That” by Future, Metro Boomin, and Kendrick Lamar reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

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Future and Metro Boomin have five tracks from their new album We Don’t Trust You in the Hot 100’s Top 10. Meanwhile, the album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and secured the biggest week of the year thus far from any artist.

Future has reached the top spot on the singles chart for the third time, following “Wait for U,” featuring Drake and Tems in 2022, and a collaboration on Drake’s “Way 2 Sexy,” also featuring Young Thug, in 2021.

Despite Future’s past chart-topping appearances with Drake, “Like That” has the music world buzzing around Lamar’s verse and what appears to be a swing in Drake’s (and J. Cole’s) direction.

Big Three

Lamar aims at Drake and J. Cole in an apparent response to their song “First Person Shooter” from Drake’s album For All the Dogs (2023).

In “First Person Shooter,” J. Cole mentions the Big Three: “We started a league, but right now, I feel like Muhammad Ali.” But Lamar responds on “Like That” with “F–k sneak dissin’, first-person shooter. I hope they came with three switches.”

Ayy-ayy, let’s get it, bro
D-O-T, the money, power, respect
The last one is better
Say, it’s a lot of goofies with a check
I mean, ah, I hope them sentiments symbolic
Ah, my temperament bipolar. I choose violence

Prince v. Michael Jackson

Drake riffs on “Beat It” during the outro to “First Person Shooter” as he’s now reached Michael Jackson’s Hot 100 total with 13 No. 1 hits. However, Lamar responds with: Prince outlive Mike Jack, drawing comparisons to the ’80s pop Cold War.  

He then hits Drake with a Stephen King reference: Before all these dogs get buried. That’s a K with all these nines. He gon’ see Pet Sematary.

The reference to Prince and Michael Jackson furthers the slight against J. Cole as Lamar subtracts the Big Three to only two.

Simmering Rivalry

Drake and Lamar’s rivalry has been developing for nearly a decade. Frazier Tharpe at GQ detailed the background to the growing feud. In 2011, as Lamar’s buzz grew, Drake gave him an interlude on his album Take Care. Meanwhile, Drake invited Lamar on the Club Paradise Tour to support Take Care. However, Lamar admitted his frustration with Drake’s success in the interlude, “Buried Alive,” when he said, It made me even more rude and impatient.

When Lamar released his brilliant good kid, m.A.A.d city, he collaborated with Drake on “Poetic Justice.” But when Lamar appeared on Big Sean’s 2013 song “Control,” the goodwill ended when he name-dropped a long list of hip-hop legends, including Drake and J. Cole.

At the 2013 BET Hip-Hop Awards, Lamar rapped about “Control” and said nothing’s been the same since they “tucked the sensitive rapper (Drake) back in his pajama clothes.”

For his part, Drake pushed back in interviews and ended his verse on a Future remix of “Sh-t” with someone getting “switched up.” But the rivalry was plausibly subliminal until Future and Metro Boomin’s “Like That.”

Tweet and Delete

Metro Boomin produced “Like That” and sampled Rodney O & Joe Cooley’s “Everlasting Bass” and Easy-E’s “Eazy-Duz-It.” The song is Metro Boomin’s first No. 1 single as an artist. Meanwhile, Lamar has had two previous No. 1 singles: “Humble” and “Bad Blood” with Taylor Swift.

According to Billboard, “Like That” received the most streams (59.6 million) since “Flowers” by Miley Cyrus. It also had the most debut-week streams since Taylor Swift’s “Anti-Hero” in 2022.

Whether the Big Three feud is real or an imagined publicity stunt to promote an album, the intended commercial results have been extraordinarily successful.

But Lamar isn’t the only one in a soft power war with Drake. Last year, Metro Boomin removed a social media post he’d written out of frustration when his album Heroes & Villains lost awards to Drake and 21 Savage’s 2022 collaboration album Her Loss.

Metro Boomin’s previous work with Drake includes producing Drake and Future’s essential mixtape What a Time to Be Alive in 2015.

The Main Event

Future and Metro Boomin are responsible for some of hip-hop’s biggest hits of the past decade. We Don’t Trust You feels like a big event moment, and “Like That” is the album’s main attraction.

The old-school rap war isn’t the only piece of nostalgia on We Don’t Trust You. Future and Metro Boomin turn West Coast “Everlasting Bass” into an Atlanta trap hit while Kendrick Lamar makes headlines going after Drake. It’s already one of the biggest songs of the year.

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Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for MTV

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