Kendrick is King: the Compton rapper lays waste to his peers in one verse
Tuesday 13th August 2013 | Daniel
My initial intention was to comment generally on the track that just surfaced from Big Sean’s forthcoming album Hall of Fame. Well sometimes you unknowingly stumble upon something grander within a story itself; something more significant spears its head from beneath the unlimited resources of music news that presents itself on a daily basis: As with so many times over the past 12 months, the news is Kendrick Lamar.
Not intending to marginalise the Detroit rapper (Sean); he also showcases his skills notably on his new track control (feat. Kendrick Lamar), and as with many hip hop fans I’m looking forward to having a listen to his highly anticipated album in the coming weeks: this is less a reflection on Sean’s lack of ability and more so a reminder that Lamar is simply of a different echelon; just two albums in (one of which was released without major label backing) and K dot is already trying to position himself, and justifiably so, as up there with the best of them. And the Compton juggernaut isn’t exclusively referring to his contemporaries.
Along with the bulk of the youth living in the western world, I’ve listened to Kendrick intently over the past year; engrossed with Lamar’s astounding lyricism, versatile flow and topping it off with an ability to make social commentary without appearing pretentious or preachy. His album good kid, M.A.A.D city already contends with My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy as the greatest rap album of the 2010’s so far (an extraordinary feat in itself), and has been universally hailed as among the greatest hip hop debuts in history; sitting admirably besides Nas’s Illmatic and Kanye’s College dropout.
As though being cowed “new king of the west coast” by Dre, Snoop and Game isn’t enough appraisal for one year, Kendrick starts off his verse by rapping: “I’m Machiavelli’s offspring, I’m the king of New York/King of the Coast, one hand, I juggle them both.” Lamar is attempting to transcend the puerile sectarianism of the “where do you come from” divisiveness; boasting the crown of Compton won’t satisfy the 26 year old: Lamar’s looking to lay waste to any entity that could be considered competition, newcomers and the old guard alike. Furthermore Kendrick is achieving this grandiose intention with an aggressiveness unseen since the days of 2pac himself.
Kendrick just issues his challenge outright; explicitly exclaiming his superiority over his peers: He’s uncontrollably raising the bar, you can attempt in complete futility to try and catch it if you want, but he’s running away with the game: “I’m usually homeboys with the same n****s i’m rhymin wit/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.”
Not that K dot intended the best verse of the year contender as a diss, but even if it was there’s not a ‘new school’ rapper that can contend with Kendrick’s ability to lyrically massacre. Kendrick understands that hip hop is a sport, your contemporaries aren’t your friends, their competition. However Kendrick has already demonstrated his dominance in that field. He’s not just competing with Drake, Cole, Meek and Sean; Lamar is beginning to look ambitiously towards Pac, Nas, Jay and Big.
With no disrespect to Big Sean intended, I haven’t even bothered including a link to the whole seven minute track, here’s one of the most impressive lyrical onslaughts you’ve heard in a while…