The Aim of Kendrick Lamar’s Words On Big Sean’s “Control”

Okay so the hip hop world is in an uproar over Kendrick Lamar’s verse on Big Sean’s Control HOF. The song, of which I saw on Version 2 Labratory’s website way early this morning, proves to have crossed barriers in the press it receives. The aforementioned site is predominantly aimed at gear-heads, but also caters to the average male’s interests including, but not limited to, women and music.

Back to the topic. Although many are calling this “beef” or a “diss track” the fact is, it’s exactly the opposite with the exception of  a Cali rapper calling himself the “King of New York” (that I will elaborate on down further.) The first topic about this song that has come under fire is the reference to some of the heaviest hitters in this new era of rap, as rappers he’s trying to lyrically “murder.” The list is as follows: Jermaine Cole AKA J. Cole, Big K.R.I.T., Wale, Pusha T, Meek Mill, A$ap Rocky, Drake, Big Sean, Jay Electronica, Tyler (Tyler the Creator), and Mac Miller.


He’s been on a track with every one of these guys in the past, if I’m not mistaken. His ploy behind these lines “calling them out” is anything but. He basically said, in this writer’s humble opinion, that NO one is off limits in his, if need be hostile, takeover of the rap game. Not even his friends. The only people that should be offended are those not mentioned so to expect a… response in any tone other than playful, is a bit silly. If you pay attention to Lamar’s band mates in Black Hippy,  Ab-Soul, Schoolboy Q, Jay Rock and Kendrick Lamar himself poke fun at each others’ rhyme scheme and wordplay all the time. Nothing wrong with a little friendly competition. His words are nothing more than a hungry artist saying what he’s been saying since the Kendrick Lamar LP, “I’m Kendrick Lamar. I’m a good kid from a mad city and you will know my name above the others in this profession.”

King Of New York Line

K. Dot mentions earlier in the song,

“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”

Let’s dissect this to it’s core. “I’m important like the Pope, I’m a Muslim on Pork” I am to the rap game, as the Pope is to Catholicism. I’m different than your societal norms like Muslims eating pork. Pork is forbidden in Islam to the best of my knowledge according to the Quran. Nothing too crazy there.

“I’m Makaveli’s offspring, I’m the King of New York
King of the Coast, one hand, I juggle them both”

Tupac-ShakurMakaveli or Tupac Shakur has been a constant source of inspiration for Kendrick Lamar. He has even gone on record stating that Tupac has come to him in his dreams and told him to continue the mission he started before his death. Regardless of Tupac’s beef with Biggie Smalls, which most feel was engineered by outside forces to the point of both rappers being killed by unknown assailants, Tupac wanted to unite the people against devilish would be oppressors like dirty cops and government. Tupac was born in Manhattan, in a sense he had both coasts influence. Born on one and raised on the other he carried them both on his back, though many including Nas and his posse, said Tupac was not allowed in New York at one point. Most dropped the act eventually out of respect for Tupac and his abilities including Nas. Tupac was never afraid to travel anywhere and he let it be known he was loved by the people even in “your” city. No matter what the masses may have said Pac had the blood of New York and California in his veins. If Kendrick is his offspring it is his job to carry both coasts on his back. Besides that Kendrick can go anywhere and sell out a show. Period. I’ve seen him live and he kills it every time, SOLD OUT.

No disrespect to Nbiggie-kingew York here. It’s up to New York to uphold its own, but Kendrick is most assuredly influenced by all three coasts. He has said this many times and you can hear it in his music everyday.

Others have come out to defend their territory and attack K. Dot for his words. A territory left unprotected for the most part. I say you’re about four years too late on that boat buddy. I also say you better eat your Wheaties, grab a dictionary and a thesaurus because you’re going to need them.


Choutout to mi hermano en Tejas Edgar Flores for the most hilarious Vine on this subject: Shun Goku Satsu!

4 thoughts on “The Aim of Kendrick Lamar’s Words On Big Sean’s “Control”

  1. Great post Bernard…I am not expert on new hip-hop…and I won’t claim to be…however, like you, I think that Kendrick’s words should be taken as whole, not just the part that people claim is the “beef”.
    I was big into hip-hop and rap when the East Coast/West Coast “battle” took place in the 90s. It took me a while to see what was really happening where people like Puff Daddy and Suge Knight were using the beef to make money and leading talented and truth-guided individuals astray (e.g. Tupac and Biggie). This track is distinctly different from those tracks, or “newer” ones from folks like Eminem or Nas. I would argue that what Lamar is doing is akin to someone like Lebron James saying that he is best basketball player in the world…yeah, their is debate on the issue, but this is essential trash talk that is a part of human culture. Lebron saying he is the best should motivate other players to become better than him. When I hear Kendrick say, “What is competition? I am tryna raise the bar high” I don’t hear anger, I hear hubris with a side of disgust. Lamar is saying, right now, no one is as a good as me. You can try to be me, but I am so good you will never be as good as me. Even those people who are my friends, they still aren’t as a good as me. Many of you are trying, but you are getting distracted by the things that don’t matter.

    These trash talking statements have been in rap and hip-hop as long as the genre. That is the core of every single rap battle that has ever taken place.If you believe that Lamar has true beef with all of these other rappers, then every time a rap battle has taken place, the people involved always have beef with each other. Thinking that is absolutely silly. Battles are like sports scrimmages…they aren’t just practice, they are simulations of the game with the express intent of challenging the players to become better. When I played soccer our coach set us up to play a girls team that was older than our team. Why? Because the girls team was better, but by scrimmaging them, we got better, but not after being humbled by a “group of girls”.

    As I mentioned, I don’t know much about Lamar, and most of what I do I know from you.However, I am a student of the late great Tupac Shakur. He called out fellow rappers all the time and challenged them to think differently about what they are doing. If Lamar is following in this tradition, then I would say he is not just saying “I am the best rapper out there” he is also saying, (and I think if you look at the entire context of his verse he IS saying) that rap should mean more than parties, girls and designer clothes…I cannot disagree with that and rappers like Wale, Meek Mill and Drake in particular (I am not as familiar with the others) are not doing their part in keeping rap away from that superficial bull shit.

    Anyway…there is my rant for the evening… hell of a post. I am glad you addressed it.

    • And that was a heck of a synopsis from a hip hop head who hasn’t gotten into Kendrick yet. I tell you what J, you touched on exactly what he’s saying. He’s always said don’t pop mollys, dont gang bang, don’t treat women badly (although that one gets contradicted) be you, an individual and pursue your dreams. Not many others saying that.

      Thanks for reading bro!!! Glad you liked it.

  2. You guys floor me with these analysis. I had to ask Bernard what the whole thing was about, because I kept seeing it on twitter and fb yesterday. I think superficial lyrics have their place in the world of music; but we also need lyrics that go beyond that. And I think the fact that Lamar’s verse has gotten a lot of people to stop and think about something is good.

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