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Drake, Kendrick Lamar beef’s unlikely Calgary connection

The ongoing feud between two of rap’s biggest stars can trace its roots back to an old promotional scheme refined in Calgary decades ago.

Known in the world of professional wrestling as “kayfabe,” the scripted conflict and drama outside of the ring was developed by the Hart family to drive ticket sales and hype events.

“It’s a way to drive interest, creating a largely fictional conflict for promotion,” said Darin Flynn, a linguistics professor at the University of Calgary who teaches a course in the language of rap.

Flynn says when it works, the money can flow.

But sometimes, outsiders not in on the script get involved and the lines between reality and art become blurred.

It has led performers to act out, and is common enough that there is a term for it: “shooting.”

“Shooting is literally the term that is used when an element is introduced that wasn’t planned,” Flynn said.

The “beef” between the two former collaborators spilled out of the entertainment world and into the public conversation on Tuesday after a security guard at Drake’s Toronto mansion was shot around 2 a.m.

The man was taken to hospital with critical injuries.

Toronto police have not said the shooting is connected to the war of words, which has included allegations of pedophilia and spousal abuse among other things.

Drake is known for a long list of massive commercial hits.

Kendrick Lamar is a critically acclaimed Grammy winner and the first musician outside of jazz or classical music to be awarded a Pulitzer Prize.

The string of “diss tracks” released over the past week has driven sales for both artists.

Past rap beefs, such as between Nas and Jay-Z in the early 2000s, had duelling tracks share the same producer, at times giving the wink to the planned nature of the conflict.

There is some worry about the fallout from the war of words – that if some of the more disturbing allegations are true it could affect radio and other businesses that play their music.

“If for some reason it were no longer appropriate to associate ourselves with Drake, that could have a negative impact on what we do as a business,” said Tyler Hall of Virgin Radio 98.5.

“Drake is one of our most popular artists.”

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