Twitter kinda freaked today with the release of “Control”. This choppy, droning Big Sean original is most notable for its Kendrick Lamar check-in that calls out 11 of hip-hop’s top “young lions” with K-Dot suggesting that he’d REALLY like to murder them. Metaphorically speaking.
Time will tell but “Control” may very well have fuelled the largest reaction to a(n alleged) diss track since Nas’ “Ether” and yet when examined more carefully, is “Control” REALLY a diss track at all?
It doesn’t appear so.
Kendrick’s words are HEAVILY quantified in the following manner…
1. After he spews out his bulleted list of targets (and with all due respect… Meek Mill?… really?!?), he quickly states that “I’ve got love for you all…”. It’s a nice moment.
2. A few verses earlier, he namedrops Jay-Z and some other older dudes, essentially stating that he identifies more with the “old school” than the “new school”. We kind of already knew this. I mean, “Compton”?? This was not new information.
3. He finishes by commenting that he is “tryna raise the bar high” and then goes into a difficult airplane analogy that wraps with the suggestion of using a latex condom as a parachute, which I doubt would work so not sure what he’s getting it here. It’s wordplay of some sort.
So to paraphrase…
1. “Hello. I have much respect for all my recent contemporaries in hip-hop circles.”
2. “In general, I tend to identify more with some of the artists that came before me.”
3. “I am always trying to improve and please be advised, this is one of my primary ambitions in the music business. A key goal would be to set a new performance standard for my fellow (ahem) ‘ballers’.”
What “Control” is is a marketing tool. Big Sean’s Hall of Fame full-length drops on August 27th. K.Dot may very well be the biggest MC in the game by year’s end. ETC.
Good timing. But yeah. We’ve seen this “hey, let’s start a fake fight” approach used a million times before. Why do consumers keep falling for this and more importantly, why do we even WANT our favourite rappers feuding? Seriously. Did “We’re All in the Same Gang” not teach us a damn thing?!?
At most, “Control” is a good-natured tickle on the tummy to K.Dot’s contemporaries and essentially a call-toiarms to collectively raise the bar.
It’s a lyrical reality check.
It’s a pep rally.
Just don’t try to position this as a warning shot. It’s clearly not.