So last night rap Twitter imploded when Funkmaster Flex released “Control (HOF),” a track cut from Big Sean’s upcoming album for sample clearance reasons. Obviously, no one was up in arms because of Big Sean. In case you haven’t heard it, in his verse Kendrick Lamar names names and calls out a pretty good sample of popular MCs (Jay Z, Nas, Tyler The Creator, Drake, Mac Miller, Pusha T, among many others) while simultaneously claiming to be the King of New York. So much for “innocent Kendrick.”
Some of the hype seems a little suspect – Kendrick seems like a really smart dude, and it’s hard not to see at least some calculation to such an inflammatory verse., which makes it difficult to get super earnestly into the verse as an all-time great. And the verse, while excellent and fascinating for a glimpse of truly angry Kendrick, isn’t quite pantheon level (at least to my ears, after 15 listens or so). At the very least, I think if Jay Electronica (who has a decent verse after Kendrick’s) actually put some effort into it (which, let’s face it, he probably won’t do) he could do something of a similar, if less high profile caliber.
What’s more exciting is the thought that a bunch of MCs are going to have to step their shit up and fire back, especially everyone from New York. A few rappers have already fired back on Twitter (I know how ridiculous that sounds, but bear with me), most prominently Joey Bada$$. It’s probably too much to hope that a bunch of elder statesmen come out of semi-retirement/laziness to drop bombs on Kendrick (imagine a younger Jay Z’s response), but at the very least there’s a shit-ton of talent (Joey, Flatbush Zombies, etc.) who I’d love to see up their games. It’s easy to dismiss “rap beefs” as stupid, but they tend to produce really good shit. For that reason alone, music fans should be excited about “Control.” Here’s hoping there are at minimum 5-6 worthy responses.