Calling Drake an "OV Ho" Is Just One Piece of Kendrick Lamar's Lyrical Brilliance

Kendrick Lamar's "OV Ho" term is a reference to Drake's record label.


Jul. 5 2024, Published 10:39 a.m. ET

While the rap game is defined by its beef, few have been as one-sided as the beef between Kendrick Lamar and Drake. Kendrick has emerged the clear victor in many people's eyes, and that's in part because he has exuded so much brilliance on his tracks aimed at Drake.

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Chief among them is "Not Like Us," Kendrick's track about the ways that Drake has adopted African American culture without being authentic. As many dissect the song and its many references on TikTok, here's what we know about the phrase "OV Ho," which Kendrick uses on the track.

The OVO logo, which features an owl.
Source: OVO
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What Does 'OV Ho' mean?

Like most of the lyrics on "Not Like Us," "OV Ho" is a Drake diss. It's a reference to Drake's record label OVO (October's Very Own), and is meant to be a diss directed at Drake like pretty much everything else on the track. The lyric is part of a call and response section on the track, which is a reference to old school rappers who used to ask their crowds to "Say Ho" decades ago.

This technique was often a way for rappers to build a connection with their audiences, but Kendrick gives it an added layer of meaning here by suggesting that Drake is the "Ho" in question. By building his call and response around a diss directed at Drake, he's not just uniting his audience in support of him, but in strong opposition to Drake, who this whole track is directed at.

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Kendrick has been thoroughly dismantling Drake.

#OVHO has become a popular hashtag to include in videos discussing the beef, and that hashtag is almost always associated with videos that are on Kendrick's side of the whole thing (which, let's be honest, most of these videos are anyway).

Kendrick has thoroughly dismantled Drake since the start of their beef, coming at him both for his inauthenticity and for his already well-reported relationships with young and sometimes underage women.

Source: YouTube
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Kendrick finally released the video for "Not Like Us" on July 4, and the video contains additional references to Drake and his record label OVO. It also seems like something of a celebration for Kendrick, who now knows almost without a doubt that he was the victor in the beef between them.

Among the figures who appear in the video are DeMar Derozen, a Compton native who played for the Toronto Raptors, and the song's producer Mustard, who is sporting a Toronto Blue Jays cap. The video also contains several references to owls, which are usually associated with the OVO label.

The video even features a disclaimer that says “no OVHoes were harmed during the making of this video.” The phrase has clearly taken off, then, with many knowing exactly what it's a reference to even if they have only heard the song once. Kendrick's total dismantling of Drake is complete, and OV Ho is just one of many new phrases that exist as a result of his brutal, lyrical campaign.

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