Last week Kendrick Lamar managed to out-shine Big Sean on his new song ‘Control’. His voice melts into the second verse and then goes in on the beat. Building up aggression, passion and career threats directed at some of his best track features to date, including Drake, J. Cole, Pusha-T, Jay Z and A$AP Rocky. As a result of claiming to own New York or lines like taking your audience and murdering n****’ s he’s thrown a bomb on a sleepy Hip Hop world and provoked responses from rappers Joel Ortiz, or Papoose who said in a XXL interview:
“Even if I wasn’t from New York, I would respect that enough to not say that I was the King of a place that I’m not even from.” Papoose said, “I had to just represent for my city. It was defending my city where I was born and raised, blood sweat and tears. I felt like, all y’all media outlets and award shows and different platforms, y’all make these dudes feel like they’re greater than what they are, and it ultimately leads to a situation like this, where they feel like they can just disrespect everybody like that.” —Pappoose
Papoose certainly makes a very fair point about a false sense of security, the media and who’s ‘in’ at the time. It has been a minute since Kendrick Lamar dropped good kid, m.A.A.d city. In that time A$AP Rocky and his mob have played New Zealand and their show quality wise, gave Kendrick’s show a run for its money. I was beginning to wonder what Kendrick was up to. The last I really paid attention to him, he was being labelled the next Pac.
However, with the hip hop masterpieces assigned to his name so far: Overly Dedicated, The Kendrick Lamar EP, Section.80 and Good Kid I had enough faith that he wasn’t sleeping. There was no way it was possible.
Then, last week, Big Sean dropped a track ‘Control’. But in one verse Kendrick made the track his and set the Hip Hop world alight. Many responses in the way of tweets or tracks followed. A Tweet from Ice T read:
“I love how ONE verse woke hip hop THE FUCK UP. It’s been a long time since people talked about ANYTHING someone said in their rhyme.”
“I’m sure there’s gonna be a lot of replies and diss tracks. Don’t trip it’s just Hip Hop.”
Within the week rappers Joel Ortiz, B.O.B, Lupe Fiasco, Joe Budden and more have taken to Big Sean’s beat and remixed a message to Kendrick that all pretty much said, ‘watch it mate’. None of the verses however, can hold a candle to the shadow of Kendrick’s one; so we’re back at the question: What is Kendrick up to?
Anyone that doesn’t recognize how the man went from a small lull (possibly due to playing summer festivals in the States) to having people he’s pissed off put his name on their track titles need only to wake up. Certainly, getting people going was one of his intentions in the song. For as long as Hip Hop has been, there’s been a competitive nature to it. And Kendrick’s no stranger to confrontation. Whether it’s his peers, family or rivals. What I’m more concerned with above Kendrick claiming New York is, how-come the rappers he called out on the verses have remained dead quiet? Called out rhymers who are notorious for rap beef, Drake or J.Cole haven’t said a thing. Not just that, Kendrick calls out Big Sean and Jay Electron who feature before and after him on Control. To those really hating on K.Dot – anything unjustifiable and unintended for fans to hear wouldn’t have made it past mixing and mastering. Have you thought about that?
Last time I checked, the person in first place stands in the centre on the winner’s podium.
Not only did Kendrick kick Big Sean’s ass on his own song with technique alone, he’s got people up in arms so much, they’re starting a conversation within the culture.
When he was compared to Tupac he told Vice Magazine:
“I’m a student of the game. I look to some of my favourite rappers; like Eminem, he’s probably one of the best lyricists of all time. Then you got Jay Z who has a real conversational type of way of flowing, Nas is the storyteller and Pac’s got aggression.”
Granted, the Control verse was aggressive and controversial. But I don’t think any of it has been miscalculated especially by someone who’s family are gangstas and have made sure Kendrick kept his nose clean. Someone strong enough to stand up and say, ‘you ain’t gotta get drunk to have fun,’ when everyone else is, gets my respect and attention.
“My sound is from me practicing all these flows and all the different styles I can put into my own niche. Whether I like it or not my voice is already distinctive as hell, so I stand out on the track anyway. You can hear my voice before you hear anything else. I’m blessed for that.”
On the Heart Part. 3 recorded amidst pressures of being ‘Pac reincarnated’ he raps, ‘I need to separate myself to stand out/ I need to find a better way to take your fans now/ I need to kill you motherfuckers dead/ three hollow tips at your head/ I be damned if the chopper jam now.’
On the Heart Part.1 he rapped, ‘I believe it’s one God, it’s one love/ And I believe if I fly we all doves’.
I don’t believe the fame from good kid, m.A.A.d city would have transformed him into an asshole as so many people seem to have concluded. As Hip Hop just turned 40 it’s given it’s patrons opportunities to have easier access to riches and success; but it’s the kind that doesn’t fulfill the soul. It’s brought industry contracts and networks. Pre-bought cars and houses with infinity pools and flat screens — achieved with no talent required. The further Hip Hop succeeds the more shit it collects, just like anything else in life.
Kendrick’s point of view is refreshing and healthy. Sometimes the truth hurts. And even if he isn’t the king of New York, he still has you thinking about it.
Check out ‘Control’ HERE
By Thandi Ntshinga and Aleyna Martinez