Tuesday, August 13, 2013

0 Why Kendrick Lamar took "Control"

By: Marvin DeBose

"In Hip-Hop, the weapons are lyrical. 
To be the best you challenge the best and the blessings are spiritual" 
-Nas "Rule"

In the past 24 hours, ironically a few days removed from the 40th birthday of hip-hop, the internet has been buzzing with talks of Kendrick Lamar's groundbreaking verse of Big Sean's "Control".

In the song, Kendrick issues a fiery, cautionary message in a nearly growling voice to all of his peers in hip-hop about his place in the game.

For an idea of how hard Kendrick went on this verse, let's use this example: Remember how LeBron James played in the NBA finals after his headband came off?

Well, in this song, it's safe to say that Kendrick's proverbial headband came off, check it out:

"I heard the barbershops spittin' great debates all the time bout who's the best MC? 
Kendrick, Jigga and Nas
Eminem, Andre 3000, the rest of y'all new n*ggas just new n*ggas, don't get involved...
I'm usually homeboys with the same n*ggas I'm rhymin' wit

But this is hip hop and them n*ggas 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
I got love for you all but I'm tryna murder you n*ggas
Tryna make sure your core fans never heard of you n*ggas
They dont wanna hear not one more noun or verb from you n*ggas
What is competition? I'm tryna raise the bar high
Who tryna jump and get it? You better off tryna skydive"

Now some people were confused by this verse, some took it as being disrespectful to the artists he mentioned, some saw it as a foolish publicity stunt, but what people need to understand is that what Kendrick did was simply utilize one of the aspects which hip-hop was founded upon: Competition.

These days, many people have negative views of competition in hip-hop because they tend to associate hip-hop battles with personal feuds and violence. However, history shows that hip-hop's competitive spirit is isn't as violent or negative as it may seem.

Originally, hip-hop battles were simply used as friendly ways for artists to sharpen their skills, and in many it was used for artists to prove their skills. It could be compared to a sparring match between boxers, or a pick-up between basketball players.

Some of the pioneers of hip-hop were born out of this legacy of competition. Hip-hop legend Kool Moe Dee's prestige as an artist rose from his battles with MCs in New York in the early 1980s. Renowned hip-hop artist, KRS-ONE was put on the map through his song, "South Bronx" which dissed legendary Queens rapper MC Shan and Producer/DJ Marley Marl for what he perceived to be a failure to acknowledge the birthplace of hip-hop, The Bronx.

Rappers Big Daddy Kane, Rakim, LL Cool J and many others took friendly competitive jabs at one another during the primes of their careers.

Even 50 Cent's claim to fame was his 1999 song "How To Rob", in which he jokingly rapped about robbing many of the top hip-hop stars of the time.

Nearly all of the greats had to put their lyrical skills to the test at one point or another. Even in what is considered by some to be the "Golden Age" of hip-hop, one of the greatest rappers of all time had to defend himself to maintain his status as "The King".

"This goes out to those that choose to use disrespectful views on the King of N-Y 
F**k that, why try? Throw bleach in your eye. 
Now you're Brailling it, snatch that light sh*t, I'm scalin it...
Ain't no other kings in this rap thing, they siblings 
Nothing but my children, one shot, they disappearin'"

-Notorious BIG "Kick In The Door"

Today, we're entering another Golden Age in hip-hop, where there are many young, hungry, talented lyricists competing to be the best. Kendrick understood this and his verse was a clever, strategic move which distinguished him from the rest of the pack while upping the lyrical standards for rappers everywhere.

Kendrick is a student of hip-hop and his verse on "Control" proved that. Now, the student is ready to do some schooling.


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