Kendrick Lamar on ‘Control’ has been widely accepted as the standout verse of 2013, and with three months left in the year and no more big name releases expected, that could very well be the case. As a newcomer in hip-hop, Kendrick has been lauded for his command of lyricism and storytelling on the debut album Good Kid M.A.A.D City. Being someone who’s confidence is unabashedly displayed in his work, it’d be hard to believe Kendrick didn’t anticipate the effect his verse would have on the genre and rappers’ feelings.
With everyone reenacting scenes from The Hunger Games for studio time to reply, and social media holding presidential-style debates over who should or shouldn’t be offended, Kendrick effectively shook the proverbial table. But in the midst of the excitement, let’s take a look at another possible side-effect we might’ve been overlooking.
Earlier this year, in promotion for his upcoming album Nothing Was The Same, Drake released the track “Jodeci” with J. Cole, which fits seamlessly with the sound of NWTS but somehow didn’t make the cut. Big Sean’s “Control” also didn’t make it to the final project (for good reason) and with the exception of interlabel features and collabs with the “Gods of Rap” (Jay-Z, Nas, etc.) it seems like features and joint efforts have seriously taken a backseat to solo projects. It would appear as though the genre’s artists are giving their audience more focused efforts, and solidifying their own individual voices and ranks within the hip-hop hierarchy, but could this also be looked at as a fear; reluctance to collaborate spurned by a fear of being bodied on your own track?
I’d love to say that Kendrick brought rap back to it’s roots of battles and “Bedtime Stories” but the truth is, the majority of rappers out currently didn’t come up in that era, and/or feel they’re too “big” to reply. Both of these are evidenced by the artists that have responded such as Joell Ortiz, Joe Budden, Papoose and Kendrick’s admitted favorite, King Los of Bad Boy. To paraphrase what Live Civil contributor Eskee mentioned in his Drake vs. Kendrick post, responses form Drake or anyone else “big” is like Lebron in the dunk contest, it’s what we all want but know would never happen.
So in response to Kendrick indirectly forcing rappers to yell from their safe spaces, we present the question, how much will we scrutinize Kendrick, if at all, when it comes to collaborations in the future? Understanding that K. Dot was taking a strong stance in calling out the competition, even when stating he had love for them, he made it very clear his intentions, as far as his work versus their career. So at this point, how would you go about working with someone when you know this is no longer a collaborative effort on a song; someone who’s openly put a hit out on your career? Will we respect Kendrick for working with artists he name checked; will we respect those artists? It’s hard to say because this isn’t a regular beef over a subject that can just be resolved or looked past. From the time you enter the industry it’s your job to be the best you can be, and in hip-hop to be the best of your peers. How do you guys think this will effect Kendrick in the long-run?