Friday, 16 August 2013

Thoughts on Kendrick Lamar's Verse on "Control"

On Tuesday, August 13th 2013, Big Sean released a track entitled Control featuring lyricists Kendrick Lamar and Jay Electronica. Big Sean claimed this track was supposed to make his upcoming album Hall of Fame but due to a problem with sample clearing didn't make the cut. So when this track leaked, the internet was set on fire. All I could see is tweets like "Kendrick Lamar just killed everyone in the game on Control" or "Kendrick claims King of New York and the game". Now to be honest, I am not the biggest Big Sean fan. I found his flow to be very basic, his voice annoying, and he has a terrible rhyme scheme so that pushed me away from the track at first. But me being the biggest Kendrick Lamar fan out there (He got the #1 spot on my Top Ten Lyricists in the Game) and all the claims people were making, I had to see what all the hype around this track was. Also, I highly respect Jay Electronica as an artists (Still waiting on that album though :P). After I listened to the track and Kendrick's verse in particular, I could definitely see something special that people are deteriorating with their stupidity. 

First, I'm gonna talk about Big Sean and Jay Electronica's verses briefly then dissect the content of Kendrick's verse and state my opinions on the controversy and acclaim its getting. The production was handled by legendary Chicago producer No I.D. and I gotta say the beat is monstrous! The instrumentation is mellow but when the bass comes in it sounds fantastic. The chanting sample makes the beat even more haunting. Big Sean's verse was ok, I'm not gonna lie and say it was terrible but he tried to hold his own. Some of his punchlines were very corny and his flow kinda gets lost in the track sometimes but he had some good lines. The problem to me is Big Sean doesn't sound very passionate and doesn't convey character when he's spitting. For example, I didn't hear any tone when he said personal lines like Detroit being mayorless. Jay Electronica's verse was pretty dope. He comes in at the end with a very poetic verse and references his success, signing to the Roc, and how he credits all of that to staying faithful. Lines like "I Earth, Wind, and Fire’d the verse, then rained on the hook" really stick out and show his creativeness. 

When the Bridge came in I thought Kendrick was gonna do the Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe flow. He was flowing very well but when the actual verse comes on, you can tell Kendrick wasn't fucking around any more. He switches up to the Jig Is Up (Dumpin') or The City flow but amps it up to the max. I always wished Kendrick rapped like this on more tracks so I was very happy to see him flow this viciously. Kendrick took no prisoners with his verse, not giving a fuck whether people would feel disrespected or attacked when they heard it. He claims king of the game, then name drops today's biggest rappers and says he's gonna murder them. The extended metaphor at the end was a perfect way to end the verse, reminiscent of a 1999-2001 Slim Shady. "I'm tryna raise the bar high/Who tryna jump and get it? You better off tryna skydive". Yeah, no prisoners. 

I think everyone can agree that Kendrick's verse was the highlight of the track and one of the best verses to come out in a while. The people that don't like the verse are either 1) Not Hip-Hop fans 2) Stupid 3) Snobby Backpackers or 4) Drake fans. I haven't seen a track create this much buzz since Jay Electronica's own Exhibit C. My Twitter feed was going insane and I loved seeing so many people showing Kendrick love and paying him the respect he deserves. Some people however were tweeting the stupidest stuff and it revolved around two main things: 1) Kendrick claiming he's the King of New York and 2) Kendrick "dissing" all the rappers he named (or the ones he didn't). I would like to discuss these two points real quick.

1) "King of New York" Line: I think people are taking this line way to seriously and literally. Kendrick Lamar is from the West, we all know that, so why would he claim to be King of New York? He's not stupid as to say New York is his city, and if you pay attention to what he's saying you wouldn't be flipping over this line. Kendrick said "I'm Makaveli's offspring, I'm the king of New York/King of the Coast, one hand, I juggle them both" Kendrick is saying he wants to challenge everyone, whether its from his area (King of the Coast) or from the opposite side of the game (King of New York). He wants kill MCs no matter where they're from (I JUGGLE THE BOTH). So really, if New York is gonna take offence to this, Cali should too because he wan'ts to challenged everyone no matter where they reside from.

2) "Dissing" the Mentioned/Non-Mentioned MCs: This is the one that everyone misunderstood. People quickly saw this as a diss when they heard Kendrick mentioning names which is completely stupid. People are skimming through the verse without taking a closer look at what he's saying. 

"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 K.R.I.T., 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 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"

The way I interpreted these lines is Kendrick is saying he got a lot of respect for these rappers, but Hip-Hop was always about competition and he wants to bring that back. Every rapper strives to be the best and to do so he has to claim he can rap better than all the other rappers in the game. And what's wrong with that? I think this is something that has been missing in the game on the commercial level for a while. Now did Kendrick diss the rappers that weren't mentioned? I don't think so because I'm sure he had other rappers in mind but naming all of them would take too long and would look stupid. As for responses, I believe the rappers that were mentioned should respond soon because they were specifically challenged on this track. I haven't heard many good responses so far but Joell Ortiz's response was incredible. 

Now the big question still needs to be answered: Will this verse change Hip-Hop by making rappers step their bars up? To be honest I don't think that matters right now. This track has already caused rappers to put forth immediate responses but it feels like the hype around the track will soon fade. I loved what the track did for Hip-Hop for the past 48-72 hours. It brought back life to the game and inspired many. I do hope it changes the game, but if it doesn't I wouldn't be so surprised. Either way, Kendrick still put out a stellar verse and I will go on record and say this is Verse of the Year so far. After multiple listens, his flow, wordplay, aggression and hunger still gives me goosebumps. So shout-out to Kendrick Lamar, thanks for giving us something we desperately needed. 

You know the drill. What did you think of Kendrick's verse (or any of the other verses)? Do you think it will bring a change to Hip-Hop and make rappers step their game up? Is this verse even worthy of all the praise? Let me know by leaving a comment. 

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