New Ho King, a Chinese Restaurant, Is Winning the Kendrick Lamar-Drake Beef

New Ho King, a Chinese Restaurant, Is Winning the Kendrick Lamar-Drake Beef

By Oghale May7,2024

The last six weeks have seen the long-simmering feud between the Compton, Calif.,-born rapper Kendrick Lamar and the Canadian rapper Drake turn into a full-fledged beef, with confrontations delivered in the form of diss tracks.

But the squabble didn’t boil over until April 30, when Mr. Lamar released “Euphoria,” a six-and-a-half minute dressing down of the “Nice for What” rapper. On Friday, Drake replied to “Euphoria” and another track, “6:16 in L.A.,” with “Family Matters,” which has more than 15 million views on YouTube.

Caught in the middle of this culture-consuming rivalry is New Ho King, an unassuming restaurant in Toronto’s Chinatown. The restaurant, which has served dishes like hot-pot grouper and tofu, and sweet-and-sour pork with pineapple to Torontonians for nearly 50 years, was briefly name-checked in “Euphoria.” (“I be at New Ho King eatin’ fried rice with a dip sauce and a blammy, crodie,” Mr. Lamar raps, ending the lyric with a spin on local Toronto slang.)

The mention from Mr. Lamar, a Pulitzer Prize-winning rapper, led to a flood of five-star reviews on Yelp and Google for New Ho King, many of them written by people who had never set foot in the restaurant.

“Never eaten here but it’s getting five stars from me because Kendrick is the GOAT! From California w/ Love,” wrote one Yelp reviewer. (Yelp has since attached an “unusual activity alert” to New Ho King’s page.)

It’s not the only restaurant in the mix. In his “6:16 in LA,” Mr. Lamar mentions the pizza restaurant Lucali, in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn: “My visa, passport tatted, I show up in Ibiza, Lucalis dwellings in Brooklyn just to book me some pizza.”

There are several fan theories as to why Mr. Lamar chose to reference the Chinese restaurant in such a withering diss track, including that it might be related to a 2009 incident in which Drake was robbed at gunpoint in a Toronto restaurant, though that connection is unconfirmed.

Regardless of the subtext or rapid analysis by rap fans, Johnny Lu, the restaurant’s owner, was happy to be mentioned. “We usually receive 20 to 30 orders of fried rice a day,” Mr. Lu told The Toronto Star two days after Mr. Lamar’s “Euphoria” was released. “Today we made three times as much.”

On Friday, Drake put the restaurant right back at the center of the rivalry with the music video for “Family Matters,” his response to “Euphoria.” The final minutes of the video feature Drake and members of his entourage dining at an empty New Ho King. The video then flashes between images meant to dig at Mr. Lamar, including a shot of a ring that once belonged to Tupac Shakur, one of Mr. Lamar’s idols, which Drake bought in 2023 for $1 million at auction.

The music video was presumably shot and produced in the three days between the release of “Euphoria” and “Family Matters,” highlighting how quickly the rappers are working to fire diss tracks back and forth. Whether Drake or Mr. Lamar will come out on top is still up for discussion, but so far the undeniable winners in this transcontinental rap feud are Mr. Lu and New Ho King.

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By Oghale

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