Kendrick Lamar “Not Like Us”: Did He Pay Tribute To Drakeo The Ruler Or Bite His Flow?

Ralfy the Plug said the quiet part out loud when he alleged that Kendrick Lamar‘s lingo and flow on the diss track, “Not Like Us,” is a trickle-down version of his brother Drakeo The Ruler’s style of rap. And while there were naturally a lot of dissenting opinions, many seem to agree with the statement. This was even before Ralfy brought it up. However, the nuances should not be ignored. K-Dot has always shown signs of being a student of rap first and foremost. While his style is innovative, there will always be similarities here and there. But is this a classic case of copping another artist’s flow? Or did Kendrick Lamar give Drakeo the Ruler a very subtle shoutout on the record-breaking “Not Like Us”?

Read More: Kendrick Lamar “Not Like Us” Lyrical Breakdown

Not A First Time Critic

Ralfy the Plug has previously expressed his thoughts on Kendrick Lamar’s music following the release of Lamar’s album Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers. On an episode of Bootleg Kev’s podcast, Ralfy criticized the album, specifically suggesting that it had “barbershop old n***a vibes” mixed with “politic music.” He particularly argued that Kendrick Lamar should not be hailed as the messiah of rap, especially when there were artists like his brother who had been releasing “heat no skips.”

Ralfy made it clear that he acknowledged a few records on the album as good. He also claimed to appreciate Kodak Black‘s contributions. However, he did not want Lamar’s album to be seen as the saving grace of rap. He then further elaborated on his views on Twitter, stating: “Kendrick make the type of music you listen to when you on yo way to a job interview or when you at home doing homework so you got to put yo head phones on to block everybody out because knowledge is power I don’t be on that type shit don’t be mad at my opinion.” Unsurprisingly, this criticism was met with backlash.

Drakeo The Ruler’s Influence 

Drakeo the Ruler’s rap style and lingo were truly distinct. His work quickly set him apart in the L.A. rap scene and beyond. Notably, his musical approach was characterized by a laid-back yet assertive delivery, often described as “creeping” through the beat. His music also often featured dense and claustrophobic beats, and he was recognized for his whispery vocal delivery and complex lyrics. Drakeo was also a pioneer of words.  He was known for coining phrases like “flu flamming,” “uchies,” “Pippi Longstockings,” and “mud walking.”

However, Drakeo the Ruler himself confessed his unique style was influenced by a number of LA classics. He was greatly inspired by the battle rapper Cocky, who Drakeo admired for his smooth and calm delivery despite the aggressive content of his lyrics. Besides the delivery though, Drakeo was widely known for creating atmospheric music. His flow was unconventional; and he  would often mumble in a blunt yet compelling manner. This stylistic approach is known as the “nervous” rap. Despite not being a chart-topper, Drakeo the Ruler defined a new generation of LA rap with his unique style and language.  

Did Kendrick Lamar Pay Homage To Drakeo The Ruler? 


Kendrick Lamar has long been associated with the old school style of West Coast rap. After all, K-Dot is a proud Compton native. Beyond that, Kendrick seems to be quite distant from newer acts. However, a second listen to “Not Like Us” shows that some aspects of Kendrick Lamar’s track give off similar vibes to Drakeo the Ruler’s work. 

For one, there are the lyrics. Words and phrases like “Deebo,” and “certified boogeyman I’m the one that upped the score with ‘im,” seem to carry Drakeo the Ruler’s signature on them. Evidently, one can argue that words like these are direct effects of the LA rap scene. But it’s also enough to claim that Drakeo’s shadow looms large over the track. “Walk em down I know he got some ho in him” and “man call an amperlamp tell ‘em breath bro” both mirror Drakeo’s art. In fact, the entire first verse on the track seems to be a testament to Drakeo’s legacy.

So it’s not a stretch to say that Kendrick Lamar is adopting Drakeo the Ruler’s flow. But what’s most important is identifying Kendrick’s allegiance to the West Coast. It’s definitely worth mentioning the similarities, as well as the homage, but Drakeo the Ruler is not the only artist K-Dot references on the track.

Read More: Adam22 Calls Drakeo The Ruler The Most Influential West Coast Artist Of The Past Decade

Masters Of Their Craft 

Kendrick, a master of his craft, is not one to shy away from drawing inspiration from his contemporaries. His silence on adopting the new style championed by Drakeo doesn’t diminish the evidence presented in his music. But then it also raises the question of Kendrick’s intentions to emulate this rap style on his diss track against Drake, especially when the Canadian rapper previously collaborated with Drakeo before his passing. Moreover, the production by DJ Mustard — known for his “ratchet” style West Coast beats — adds another layer of complexity. 

Despite the rumors of Mustard’s alleged falling out with Drakeo the Ruler, the beat for “Not Like Us” does carry the essence of his sound. It’s quite evident that fans of both artists will easily pick up on it. However, a simpler theory is that Kendrick is simply branching and trying out a newer West Coast sound, one that’s inspired by the younger homegrown LA artists.

Both Kendrick Lamar and Drakeo the Ruler’s music often falls squarely into the tradition of classic L.A. rap. However, what makes them stand out is their wit, as well as their refined and vivid perspectives. They are both authentic and original artists, known to adapt to the flows of the legends before them. Despite his untimely death, Drakeo the Ruler’s legacy continues through his music. Evidently, Kendrick Lamar’s work, whether consciously or not, pays homage to this legacy. Regardless, they will forever be influences within the genre of West Coast Hip Hop.