Kendrick Lamar recorded a feature verse on Big Sean’s song “Control” and the media incited a conversation regarding the verse. In his verse he declares himself the “king if New York” and threatens to lyrically murder many of the prominent young rappers of his generation. The verse incited the media and the industry.
Kendrick is not the first young rapper to approach the game with the notion of getting at established artists; however, his verse is fire and it garnered the kind of attention many young MC hopes to gain.
The problem is that the concerns the media brought up in regards to his verse. In interviews Kendrick was asked about whether he worried about backlash from the rappers he challenged. There was this frenzy in the media coverage of his verse that would make one think Kendrick had declared war on all of Hip Hop. I think most Hip Hop heads shook their head at the spectacle.
Competition is a part of Hip Hop culture. It is not unusual for a rapper to challenge his peers and assert himself as the best in the game. The problem is that the mainstream media’s ignorance of this has made more of the verse than is really necessary. Kendrick pretty much adds a disclaimer to his challenge when he says:
I heard the barbershops be in the greatest debate of all time/ Bout who’s the best MC? Kendrick, Jay-Z p, and Nas/ Eminem, Andre 3000 and the feet if y’all/ New niggas just new niggas don’t get involved
In these lines Kendrick is stating who he thinks could have the power to weigh in on what he’s going to say next. Of course, he would say the names of the gods of rap Jay-Z and Nas. He and his peers are just “new niggas” and he says the rest shouldn’t get involved because what he’s doing is challenging his peers. He goes on to say:
Jermaine Cole, Big Krit, Wale, Pusha T, Meek Mills, A$AP Rocky, Drake, Big Sean (who’s track it is), Jay Electron’, Tyler, Mac Miller/ I got love for you all but I’m tryin to murder you niggas
These lines offer a peaceful challenge to the confidence of his skills. So Kendrick isn’t actually attacking his peers with force; it’s a respectful call to arms for them to meet him in battle.
I like what Skillz had to say and I, like him, am loving what’s happening. This is vintage Hip Hop. There’s no diss here. Kendrick is basically saying ‘I’m confident of my skills and I am trying to be the best out there and since these rappers are also on my level of up and coming, prove you’re better than me.
The fact is that we have gotten away from and forgot some of the basic tenants of Hip Hop — competition being one of them. If anyone thinks or suggests that Kendrick’s Control verse will bring back beef between rappers or that it in some way was him dissing his peers, they don’t know Hip Hop. While Kendrick’s verse has sparked conversation and inspired lyrical responses, it is just par for the course in the culture of Hip Hop. So while I relish the lyrical responses being made, there’s nothing extraordinary happening here. It’s just Hip Hop alive and well.
I’m not sayin; I’m just sayin,
An Angry Black Man