As rappers (and Phil Jackson) begin to respond to Kendrick Lamar’s verse on “Control”, its important to take a moment to explain exactly why this moment is so crucial to the future of Hip Hop. (Side Note: We named Kendrick the Best New Artist of 2012 and he’s continuing to proved that listing was well earned.)
Kendrick’s “diss track” was not a diss at all but more like a friendly call for competition. For at least a decade, rappers (and fans) have complained that real lyricism has been missing from the music to make room for singing and selling records. Kendrick Lamar not only stepped up to this challenge, he called out others to do so as well. There’s no doubt that the result of musicians “stepping up their game” will benefit the fans and the caliber of artists seeking our attention (and dollars).
Producers 9th Wonder and Young Guru recently broke down the brilliance and importance of Kendrick’s “Control” verse and the challenge other rappers face in attempting to respond to it.
A key takeaway is Young Guru’s assertion that either way, Kendrick wins. If rappers respond, he wins. If they try to talk about album sales, he wins (Kendrick’s debut album has gone platinum, rare in today’s’ hip hop market). If they try to talk about his lyrics, he wins (Kendrick is respected by both young and old rap vets for his lyrics). If they try to talk about jewelry/clothes, he wins (Kendrick preemptively pointed out in his verse that he cares not about material goods, its all about lyrics).
See video below: