Why Kendrick Lamar’s verse on Big Sean’s “Control” is embarrassing to hip-hopBy Ricardo Baca | August 15th, 2013 | 25 comments
In the hours after Big Sean’s “Control” was leaked earlier this week, the Internet almost broke via all the conversation about Lamar’s verse on the song. Why? Because Lamar calls out other MCs. Because Lamar actually names names, dissing some of the bigger rappers in the game. Because Lamar flexes his hip-hop hubris, telling these 11 “new” MCs, “I’m trying to murder you ni**as.”
So let’s get this straight: An MC calls out his peers in a frenzied, beef-seeking guest spot, and the public loses its mind? The public behaves as if they’ve never heard such a thing? “A rapper starting beef?!” Have you seen all the Buzzfeed-lite charticles out there desperately gathering all the gasping responses from Twitter?
What happened to hip-hop?
Whether you get into rap beefs or ignore them, this has been an embarrassing week for hip-hop. Hip-hop is all about bravado, hubris, bragging rights, etc. We shouldn’t be surprised when one of the biggest rappers of the last year comes out with a damning verse naming names and starting shit – especially when he includes such a weak, back-peddling, apologetic qualifier before he delivers the “crushing” blow.
“I’m in a destruction mode,” Lamar tells us early on in his verse, the song’s second of three. He also calls out his not-so-distant relations and similarities to Makaveli (a.k.a. Tupac), the Beatles, Jay-Z, Nas, Eminem, the Marley family and OutKast MC Andre 3000.
Them’s big shoes. Bravado. Sure, now bring it.
Next comes the overhyped lines:
“I’m usually homeboys with the same ni**as I’m rhymin’ with/But this is hip-hop, and them ni**as 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.”
… he’s set up the knockout, and now the final uppercut:
“I got love for you all, but I’m trying to murder you ni**as/Trying to make sure your core fans never heard of you ni**as/They don’t wanna hear not one more noun or verb from you ni**as.”
The imagery is tight: Wiping memories clean. Pretending somebody never existed. Murder.
But if you’re going to go that far with this dark, twisted fantasy, why lead into all that menacing thought by telling all of your enemies that you love them? It’s an excuse, and legit lyricism should be presented without excuses. Hip-hop doesn’t apologize.
And Lamar shouldn’t apologize either, but since he did I have a hard time taking him seriously. Why rip into your peers if you’re not serious about it. For the hype? The notoriety? Lamar is a promising MC, but he should stick to the party rhymes until he has something honest to say – and when that time comes, I hope he says it unflinchingly, unabashedly and without apology.
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