Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Response to Kendrick Lamar's "Control" Verse

The Twitter is ablaze with talk of Kendrick Lamar's new verse on the Big Sean track "Control," which throws down the gauntlet for pretty much every young rapper in the game, quite a few of them explicitly. Kendrick is bold in calling himself the "King of NY" and for telling pretty much every other rapper that they should just give up. While none of the rappers named in the song have dropped response tracks yet, quite a few others have.

First, though, let's take a look at Kendrick's verse:

Miscellaneous minds are never explainin' their minds
Devilish grin for my alias aliens to respond
Peddlin' sin, thinkin' maybe when you get old you realize
I'm not gonna fold or demise
Bitch, everything I rap is a quarter piece to your melon
So if you have a relapse, just relax and pop in my disc
Don't pop me no fucking pill, I'mma a pop you and give you this
Tell Flex to drop a bomb on this shit
So many bombs, ring the alarm like Vietnam on this shit
So many bombs, make Farrakhan think that Saddam in this bitch
One at a time, I line em up and bomb on they mom while she watching the kids
I'm in a destruction mode if the gold exists
I'm important like the Pope, I'm a Muslim on pork
I'm Makaveli's offspring, I'm the king of New York
King of the Coast, one hand, I juggle them both
The juggernaut's all in your jugular, you take me for jokes
Live in the basement, church pews and funeral faces
Cartier bracelets for my women friends I'm in Vegas
Who the fuck y'all thought it's supposed to be?
If Phil Jackson came back, still no coachin' me
I'm uncoachable, I'm unsociable
Fuck y'all clubs, fuck y'all pictures, your Instagram can gobble these nuts
Gobble dick up til you hiccup, my big homie Kurupt
This the same flow that put the rap game on a crutch
I've seen niggas transform like villain Decepticons
Mollies'll prolly turn these niggas to fucking Lindsay Lohan
A bunch of rich ass white girls looking for parties
Playing with Barbies, wreck the Porsche before you give em the car key
Judgement to the monarchy, blessings to Paul McCartney
You called me a black Beatle, I'm either that or a Marley
I'm dressed in all black, this is not for the fan of Elvis
I'm aimin' straight for your pelvis, you can't stomach me
You plan on stumpin' me? Bitch I’ve been jumped before you put a gun on me
Bitch I put one on yours, I'm Sean Connery
James Bonding with none of you niggas, climbing 100 mil in front of me
And I'm gonna get it even if you're in the way
And if you're in it, better run for Pete's sake
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 niggas just new niggas, don't get involved
And I ain't rockin no more designer shit
White T’s and Nike Cortez, this is red Corvettes anonymous
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 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 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
What is competition? I'm tryna raise the bar high
Who tryna jump and get it? You better off tryna skydive
Out the exit window of 5 G5’s with 5 grand
With your granddad as the pilot he drunk as fuck tryna land
With the hand full of arthritis and popping prosthetic leg
Bumpin Pac in the cockpit so the shit that pops in his head
Is an option of violence, someone heard the stewardess said
That your parachute is a latex condom hooked to a dread

I'll say this first, I like Kendrick and he had one of the best albums of 2012, but he isn't quite the king of anything yet. He might get there, but he hasn't put in the time and earned it and he pretty much knows that and says it by pointing out that Jay-Z and Nas are at his level or higher, making it obvious one of them is more the king of NY than he is.

But I like what he did here. When's the last time there was the last time that you saw this much talk about a newly released song? Particularly a song that wasn't being criticized for dumb-ass references to Emmett Till, sexual assault or equating gold chains with slavery? Probably Kanye when he dropped "New Slaves," and before that not much. And I can't see any of those other songs inspiring so many responses, not only including the ones that are already out, but the many more to come.

Let's take a look a look at those that have come out so far...

Artist: KR
Song: "Lost Control"
Originality?: I guess, it doesn't sound like the other responses or what you hear on the radio, but it doesn't grab me
Does it come hard?: Mostly, KR goes after a number of additional rappers that Kendrick didn't
Best line: Doesn't really have any standout lines
Verdict: I probably wouldn't listen to this again and it doesn't make me want to listen to any of his other stuff

Artist: Cassidy
Song: "Control Freestyle"
Originality?: Mostly, there are some tired lines, but most of it is stuff I haven't heard before
Does it come hard?: Yeah, despite his voice, which is a little squeaky
Best line: "Even if your flow is sick/I disinfect you/I'm special/if you're plugged in I disconnect you"
Verdict: This is one of the better responses, I'll check out more of his stuff and will probably listen to this again.

Artist: Lupe Fiasco
Song: "SLR 2"
Originality?: Yes. Some of the dopest lyrics on any of these tracks and a wide variety of delivery styles that show that he isn't playing
Does it come hard?: Yes, not just lyrically, but in the intellectual weight of the lyrics and the ability to copy Kendrick's style and other people's styles, as if there isn't anything anyone else can do that he can't do
Best line: "Team me is like meat eating animals meeting a meteor/Dinosaurs, I'm fine with all kinds of wars/Knives and swords, lions, tigers bitin' boars"
Verdict: Lupe is my favorite rapper of this group and this just adds to that

Artist: Mickey Factz
Song: "South Park"
Originality?: Yeah, he seems to have put more thought into the lyrics and metaphors than most of this gang, particularly with the series of puns on various other young rappers names. Very nice.
Does it come hard?: Yeah, not as hard as some of the others, he says he's having fun, but it's hard enough to get the point across
Best line: "I'd rather battle Picasso and Dali in the gardens of Garvey/Shadowbox with Ali, postin up Barkley"
Verdict: Enough to make me a fan

Artist: Astro
Song: "KONY"
Originality?: Yes, very good backing track and funny and intelligent lyrics dripping with references
Does it come hard?: Pretty much. It's not 2Pac hard, but it's Jay-Z hard
Best line: "Let's battle, it's nothing, you weak, I feel like you're bluffing/You the king? Oh my bad, boy, I feel like you puffin'"
Verdict: Good stuff. I'd listen to this and Astro again

Artist: B.o.B
Song: "How to Rap"
Originality?: Musically yes, lyrically, not t all
Does it come hard?: Not really. He defends himself by making a poppy song and by playing guitar
Best line: "25 million singles worldwide, I'll guess I'll take another hit/Matter of fact I find this rap shit boring, man I'm over it/Give me my guitar pick, I'll show you shit"
Verdict: Better than most of what I've heard from B.o.B, but he isn't convincing anybody that he belongs in this conversation

Artist: Los
Song: "Control (Freestyle)"
Originality?: Maybe, it's hard to figure out what the hell he's talking about. The track jumps all over the place and doesn't really address what Kendrick is talking about.
Does it come hard?: No. It tries to for a few seconds in the middle, between talking about Facebook and Twitter and saying how much he likes Kendrick and everyone Kendrick mentions
Best line: "They gone have to have me shackled and tackled at tabernacles/While havin my adams apple detached in a baptist chapel"
Verdict: Nope. Probably the worst of all the tracks. Doesn't sound terrible, but the words just don't make any sense.

Artist: Fred the Godson
Song: "Say My Name"
Originality?: Not at all. I've heard these rhymes before, some of them today
Does it come hard?: A little bit. He's trying to come hard, but the boringness of the lyrics undercuts it. And when the lyrics come hard, he doesn't
Best line: "You got New York sick so you the cancer/It's like Philly '96 draft, I'm the answer"
Verdict: The backing track is tight, but this is mostly worthless

Artist: Joell Ortiz
Song: "Outta Control"
Originality?: Lyrically, it's pretty good after the first few bars, which seem pretty typical. His flow, though, doesn't engage me that much
Does it come hard?: Not as hard as he thinks it does, but it's not horrible
Best line: "I'm Optimus Prime trucking your boulevard, just wishin'/That a star screams so I can go on a bombing mission"
Verdict: Not feeling his style, although he did have some pretty good lines

Artist: Iman Shumpert
Song: "Dear Kendrick"
Originality?: Yeah, the only one of these tracks with a sense of humor and one of the few with a variety of deliveries within the song
Does it come hard?: Not quite as hard as some of the others, but that's because Shumpert has a sense of humor
Best line: "Got dammit/you could tell that I planned it/Them X-Men come help me take over the planet"
Verdict: Probably my favorite flow of any of these rappers, most of whom I never heard of before. I'll be checking him out more.

Artist: Mysonne
Song: "Uncontrollable"
Originality?: Pretty much, some very good rhymes, metaphors and flow
Does it come hard?: Yep, although he makes the same "NY is mine" claim that Kendrick made, and it belongs to neither of them
Best line: "Jewish, Christians, Baptists, Muslims/Scholars, hippies, trappers, hoodlums/I ball with any being, believing in authenticity/This money shit these rappers be screaming don't mean shit to me"
Verdict: Good shit, I'll check out more of his stuff and this is probably the best of these tracks that uses the original song's beat

Artist: Da Youngfellaz
Song: "Turn Down That Sound"
Originality?: Not particularly
Does it come hard?: No, they don't go directly after Kendrick and a lot of the lyrics its kinda like, how is this a response?
Best line: "We spit crack here/the way that he rap rare/Like rhyming with black hair"
Verdict: I like some of the lyrics, but the beat and the hook put me to sleep. May listen to some of their other stuff, but that'd be despite this, not because of it.

My favorite response, though, has got to be Kevin Hart's parody, which you can watch at Vibe.

Lots of good Tweets about the verse, too, which you can check out at

My favorite is from Big Daddy Kane, who said: "ATTENTION M.C.'S: Complaining about @kendricklamar verse on twitter is Gossip. Getting in the studio trying to write a better one is Hip Hop"

Update: Two more responses have come in, so I'm adding them below. I'll continue to add new responses as they come out, although anybody who has waited this long has waited too long and whatever they come up with will be weaker just based on its lack of timeliness. Where are the guys Kendrick called out? Where are people like Fabolous, who tweeted about finding a studio that day? Still nothing?

Artist: Riff Raff
Song: "Ballin' Outta Control (The Neon Response)"
Originality?: Yep, the lyrics are poetic and lofty and really unlike any of the other rappers that have done responses
Does it come hard?: Unless its ironic, not at all. He loves everybody
Best line: "Still I wish success on everybody, never had a carbon-copy/I hope you have a beautiful family and your label is successful, financially"
Verdict: Once you get past the really annoying and repetitive intro, it's not bad. It's light on material and it's a little hard to understand what he's saying, but it at least tries to do something different

Artist: Papoose
Song: "Control (Freestyle)"
Originality?: Nah, not really. The same kind of homophobic and anti-woman insults we hear all the time
Does it come hard?: Hell yeah, hits harder than any of the previous response
Best line: "Singing like a lady/you get away with murder/you George Zimmerman"
Verdict: I already liked Papoose, and this doesn't change that much. I don't agree with everything he says in this verse, but it's a strong one that should help him elevate his name a bit

Update: Joe Budden jumps in the mix
Song: "Lost Control" (Freestyle)
Originality?: Pretty good, the sound isn't super original, but the lyrics are better than most of the previous responses
Does it come hard?: Yeah, although it doesn't seem like he's filled with rage or hate
Best line: "I state facts, not to say it's wack but check the playback/Outrhyming A$AP ain't showing me where your weight at"
Verdict: Don't know much about Budden, but this will make me pay attention in the future

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