Kendrick Lamar’s “Control” Verse: Falling on Deaf Ears?

Rap diss records are usually about maintaining a bravado. It also has shock quality presented to those that listen to the music. “How could this dude, say something so insanely confrontational? His skills must be superior because he isn’t afraid of any possible responses.” More than anything, a diss record is an attempt to create something sensational while highlighting your skill set. Dissimilar to most rap diss records Kendrick Lamar released a verse on Big Sean’s “Control” that really lays it in to rappers he admits to having respect for and being friends with.  It was as if Lamar was pronouncing that the truth needed to be told no matter the relationship he has with these recording artists, he had to burst bubbles.

Could this calling out of rappers be a strategy to improve Hip Hop?

Could this calling out of rappers be a strategy to improve Hip Hop?

The main dagger thrown is the separation Lamar makes between himself and rappers he lists as being subpar or below his caliber of talent. He says:

“I’m usually homeboys with the same n—-s i’m rhymin with/ But this is hip-hop and them n—-s should know what time it is/ And that goes for Jermaine Cole, Big K.R.I.T., 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 n—-s/ Tryna make sure your core fans never heard of you n—-s/ They don’t wanna hear not one more noun or verb from you n—as,”

 Though many of these artists seem to have taken their acknowledgement in the verse to be a complement coming from one of most praised MC’s of the year, what is there to be said about the lashing? I mean Lamar’s turn on this verse increases the intensity so high that sing-songy flitter of word play Big Sean whirls into is dismissed, and the verse afterward contributed by the usual lyrical Jay Eletronica felt like a defeated mellow exit.

 Lamar has presented himself as a rapper with foresight, creativity, and deliberate interest in raising the bar and quality of Hip Hop distributed to consumers. However, how many of his fans will be more swept up into the sensational aspects of a diss record, rather than elevating their listening abilities to identifying good Hip Hop music? There doesn’t seem to be enough space carved out for rappers with exceptional lyrical skills. Perhaps Lamar needs to look outside of mainstream Hip Hop to find a contemporary he believes spits with similar fire? What’s crazy about the way this challenge is presented is that many of the mainstream rappers mentioned on this list and not mentioned on this list will respond and attempt to compete in what has historically been the rap battle. However, Lamar’s verse is calling for mainstream rappers to be more reflective and produce higher quality art, something not always done in emotion rebuttals.

Big Sean “Control” Featuring Kendrick Lamar and Jay Electronica

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