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August 13th, 2013
Hold up. Can we chat for a bit about Kendrick Lamar? Kendrick has the whole rap world in a polarized state. Let’s explain: Big Sean took to his Twitter to release a song that won’t be on his album Hall of Fame. The track titled, Control features Lamar and Jay Electronica and according to Sean is seven minutes of “no radio sh–.. Straight rap… I’m talking 7min sh–… Grimey sh–.” Grimey indeed. What makes it Grimey is Kendrick’s verse where he calls out everyone in hip hop. Listen to the track here.
Kendrick spits out, “Bout who’s the best MC? Kendrick, Jigga and Nas/ Eminem, André 3000, the rest of y’all/ New n—– just new n—–, don’t get involved/ And I ain’t rockin no more designer shit/ White T’s and Nike Cortez, this is red Corvettes anonymous/ I’m usually homeboys with the same n—– I’m rhyming with/ But this is hip-hop and them n—– should know what time it is/ And that goes for Jermaine Cole, Big KRIT, Wale/ Pusha T, Meek Millz, A$AP Rocky, Drake/ Big Sean, Jay Electron’, Tyler, Mac Miller/ I got love for you all but I’m tryna murder you n—–/ Trying to make sure your core fans never heard of you n—–/ They don’t wanna hear not one more noun or verb from you n—–“.
Let’s break this down. Kendrick is calling out these heavy hitters in hip hop, the masters like JAY Z, Eminem, Andre 3000… and equates himself with them. First, can he do this? Fans of rap and hip hop – is Kendrick Lamar even there yet? But at the same time, it is canon in rap to state and declare that you’re the best so maybe this isn’t even a thing. Secondly, Kendrick, calls out these secondary characters like Drake, A$AP, Tyler, the Creator, and tells them that yeah he loves them but he’s trying to murder these artists. Sounds like a back-handed compliment to me. To be called out that means as an artist, they are great enough to be even targeted. But at the same time, the verse dissolves this trust, a rap detente, that has been enjoyed for quite awhile now.
Another facet of the significance of the Kendrick verse is that for a Kendrick fan like this writer, hearing this vitriolic spit from an artist I had long thought of as docile is shocking. This is the man who had rapped one of the most beautiful lines in the history of my love of rap (“I can feel your energy from two planets away”, Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe) and now he wants to go murder these other rappers now (figuratively, obviously). It’s almost like Kendrick has taken off his mask and has revealed a darker, angrier version of himself. It’s unsettling. And I bet now that detente I spoke of earlier, will create this catalyst for other artists to bear their verbal arms… or go after Lamar personally, whether it be through verse or scandal.
I’m sorry, but I quite enjoy my rap without a side of beef. It’s just more enjoyable that way.
However, we got to look at the bigger picture, the true significance of Kendrick’s verse in the world of rap today. Maybe the most unsettling aspect of this is that we need these verses. We need verses like these to continue evolving rap. We need guys like Kendrick who are extremely talented to light the fire under other gifted artists to push them to create better work, to keep them scared. To keep them from relaxing. To keep on changing and improving upon their craft. So while Kendrick might be dissed and dismissed for shaking things up… at least he’s brave enough to risk everything to make everyone else better and try harder.
What do you guys think? But most importantly, how amazing it is that Lupe Fiasco got the last laugh? Tell us in the comments section below.
Big Sean, FireTweet