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Kendrick Lamar's 'Control' verse: The Shot Heard Round The World

August 13, 2013|By Ernest Wilkins, @ernestwilkins | RedEye Sound Board

Last night on New York radio station Hot 97, Big Sean debuted a new song  featuring Kendrick Lamar and Jay Electronica that was cut from his upcoming album "Hall Of Fame." Other than the usual 80-pound bench press boasts (That would be Sean) and uninteresting new bars from the rap equivalent of your cousin who was a starting linebacker for Michigan who quit and then took a few years to "find himself" after college (That would be Electronica.), it wasn't a big deal. 

Oh crap, I forgot about Kendrick! 

His verse was an example of why he, Drake and Nicki Minaj are the No. 1 contenders for the "Are we really sure the exposure we get from this feature is worth the realistic possibility of our guy  getting murdered on his own song?" title. (I hear there's going to be a ladder match at Summer Jam next year.)

That isn't news. That isn't why I'm sitting on my couch writing this.

This part is.

For those whose bosses keep you oppressed YouTube behind the fire wall, he said the following: 

"I heard the barbershops be in great debates all the time
Bout who’s the best MC? Kendrick, Jigga and Nas
Eminem, Andre 3000, the rest of yall?
New niggas just new niggas, 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 niggas I’m rhymin wit
But this is hip hop and them niggas should know what time it is
And that goes for Jermaine Cole, Big KRIT, Wale
Pusha T, Meek Mill, A$AP Rocky, Drake
Big Sean, Jay electron’, Tyler, Mac Miller
I got love for you all but I’m tryna murder you niggas
Tryna make sure your core fans never heard of you niggas
They dont wanna hear not one more noun or verb from you niggas
What is competition? I’m tryna raise the bar high
Who tryna jump and get it? You all better off tryna skydive

In one fell swoop, Compton's own called out the last 4 XXL Freshman classes and every current young rapper not named Trinidad James that gets played  in the backgroud of your little sister's twerk video she made with her friends from Poms.*

You can imagine the reaction the verse garnered from most rap fans and writers. Actually, you don't have to. Here's what it looked like:

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All in all, this is easily the biggest verse that won't end up with someone losing a shoe deal since Nicki's verse on Kanye West's "Monster." Everyone from Bun B ...

to DA GAWD Missy Elliott chimed in.

— Missy Elliott (@MissyElliott) August 13, 2013

Now, what to make of it? Is this Kendrick's moment to make his presence known to a wider audience? Does this mean we're due for a bunch of response records that we'll have to spend valuable hours debating over? People are already responding ...




 Speaking openly, I hope the following happens.

  • We get actual response records: Rap music is at it's best when there's competition afoot. Rap Game Mike Ovitz (DJ Khaled) and his " Everyone on the same song on some We Are The World, While Also Being The Best " tactic was a fun and exciting concept when it started, but has grown flat in time. The best moments in hip-hop are when two amazing rhymers go back and forth and address each other directly. No subliminals. No press statements dodging the intent of the record. If you truly feel you're the best, then prove it.
  • Rappers stop phoning it in:  That above Fabolous tweet should get you excited. There are a lot of artists who don't truly push themselves to make great music after their initial successes (that statement isn't just limited to rap, by the way), and sometimes a little nudge can get them back in the zone. Much has been said about Kanye pushing Jay-Z to rhyme harder on "Watch the Throne" than he had in a long time. Maybe this will inspire that same mentality. If anything, it may lead to better rap overall. That is a good thing.

*As a bonus, can I make a point in asking the general media to avoid trying to make this a "NY vs. Kendrick" beef thing? I realize the Biggie-Pac East Coast/West Coast thing was the last time a lot of you paid attention to rap, but that knee-jerk mentality only leads to trouble. Calm down. I heard a rumor that Katy Perry and Lady Gaga have bonus tracks on their upcoming albums where they go in on Adele and Lana Del Ray respectively over the "Hail Mary" beat. Look into that, maybe?

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