Come here lil man, let me talk with ya…

What’s beef? In this day in age, the term “beef” is many things. It’s ubiquitous, diluted and, most of all, worn out. In fact, the word is so overused that when artists—namely rappers—share the slightest bit of a difference, instigation comes posthaste, courtesy of out of touch, click-chasing media. But we digress.

Earlier this week, Lil Pump appeared on the red carpet at the Billboard Music Awards, and had to downplay what has been the weirdest “beef—such as it is—of the past decade. “I don’t know what’s been going on,” he said of the much-speculated differences weighed between himself and would-be foe J. Cole. “I don’t know, man.” Other than Pump’s answer reflecting the thought on all of our minds, it does come after the two have been sharing (way too many) headlines in recent months.

Last month, J. Cole released K.O.D. and, of course, stirred much attention with the closer “1985 (Intro to The Fall Off). The song, which is more or less a blanket statement for rap’s new breed, sent investigators down a speculation rabbit hole in search of the identity behind his unnamed target(s). Of course, that trail led right to Lil Pump, who has been trolling Cole since 2016. Since then, the two have whisked even the slightest idea of a rift, with Cole telling Angie Martinez last week, “I actually fuck with their music. It’s not like I drive around listening to it, but I’ve spent time with it. It’s fun.” If that wasn’t enough, a snippet of what appears to be an interview between the two have since hit online—once again downplaying, for what it’s worth, a “beef.”

To better understand how we got to this point (and look at Pump’s brilliant marketing strategy), let’s revisit the weird and bumpy road that led to this J. Cole and Lil Pump sit-down.

November 2016

According to screenshots of now-deleted messages, J. Cole has been the target of several Lil Pump tweets, including one notable post on November 25, 2016, that reads: “Bitch I’m better than j Cole… Fuck all that lyrical shit.”

December 2016

Just one week after Pump’s tweet, interestingly enough, J. Cole releases “Everybody Dies.” The piercing three-minute track features the now-famous line: _”I hate these rappers / Especially the amateur 8-week rappers / Lil ‘whatever,’ just another short-bus rapper / Fake drug dealers turn tour-bus trappers / Napoleon complex, you-this-tall rappers.”_

April 2017

Taking to social media, Pump unloads a preview to a supposed J. Cole diss track, titled “Fuck J. Cole.” At 30 seconds, the snippet finds Pump simply repeating “f—ck J. Cole” eight times, calling him both a “b*tch ass” and an “ugly ass” on the bridge. Smokepurrp produced the record.

January 2018

In an interview with Montreality earlier this year, Smokepurrp admits that he and Pump were trolling with the J. Cole tweets. “Everything is kind of a troll, so people know [our’F_ck J. Cole tweets’] trolling,” he said. Interestingly enough, Lil Yachty shared similar sentiments back in 2016 about past tweets targeting Cole. Speaking to 106KMEL, he admitted, “I don’t know why back in the day I was heavy on saying ‘fuck J. Cole,’ I don’t know why.”

“The first one was 2011, I was in tenth grade I think,” he recalled. “I have nothing against J. Cole, I was young, I was just talking shit trolling. I didn’t think I was gunna be a rapper.”

April 2018

J. Cole drops his fifth studio album KOD, which features the track “1985 (Intro to The Fall Off).” Many theorize that Lil Pump is the target of Cole’s stream of wisdom. So in response, he hopped online and said, “So much props. You dissed a 17-year-old. Lame ass jit.” Later, Pump laughed off the situation on his Instagram story and addressed Cole, thanking him “for all the clout.”

May 2018

Following their respective sets at Rolling Loud 2018, Cole and Pump reportedly met and sat down for a conversation that has since surfaced online via a snippet. Interestingly enough, Lil Pump was spotted vibing out next to the stage when Cole performed “1985” for the large crowd. During his set, Cole also shut down a “fuck Lil Pump” chant.

In the immortal words of The Notorious B.I.G., “What’s beef?”