Have you heard? This guy named Kendrick Lamar pushed every rappers button in one verse and now has every blogger, rap stan, and Twitter tweeter running around like chicken freakin’ little. What Kendrick did, and let’s hope this reads like a case file, is two fold: In a verse for Big Sean’s “Control” he declared himself the King of New York and name dropped nearly every rapper — including ones he’s been on songs with (and including Sean) — declaring war; despite their pleasantries and friendships, the throne can only seat one and K. Dot says it’s is going to be him. So, these bold statements got everybody feeling some type of way, most notably rappers who disagree with Kendrick’s claims and have responded via “Control” verses of their own.
There is a lot to discuss in the wake of Kendrick’s verse, and a majority of it has already been said: casual rap beef is too foreign in today’s world, rappers are too reactionary, everyone is only proving Kendrick’s point by spitting inferior bars on the same beat. But these response tracks are flooding in regardless (and predictably not from any of the artists that were originally checked). We’ve counted
15 many many thus far, and rather than ignore them — the sensible thing to do — we’ve decided to listen to all of them, in full, multiple times, pressing the right headphone into the right ear while leaning onto the right elbow, so you don’t have to.
First up was Joell Ortiz, who retaliated less then 24 hours after “Control” first dropped. Joell has long positioned himself as a lyrical force and is focused here to not only be the first responder, but do so with strength and ferocity. Best lines include, “Little homie, you aint the king of New York / You the next thing on my fork,” “When we met you said ‘It’s an honor, man, the Yaowa can spit,’” “I rock with some con’s out west, like the boy Ye.” Final verdict is… that this is likely the best of the bunch. Joell has the best wordplay, the best energy, and the best case to actually challenge dude.
Like Joell and his Slaughterhouse brethren, B.o.B. wasn’t mentioned in Kendrick’s list. He comes through with “How 2 Rap,” though, a semi-response that isn’t so much a declaration of importance as one of skill. The only tie to “Control” is the opening bar and flow, which both borrow from Lamar’s “Swimming Pools.” After that, B.o.B. switches into a “Versace” flow, unloads some more bars, and closes it out with a Lenny Kravitz-like guitar riff. Final verdict is… far from the Ortiz viciousness and not even all that closely related to the original verse. It’s nice for the B.o.B. fans out there still checking for new music.
Next was Bizzy Crook, an up-and-coming Miami rapper who saw all the ruckus as an opportunity to catch a wave and generate buzz. Biz wants to know why he wasn’t mentioned alongside the other marque rappers. The song is over it’s own instrumental, and not even much of a conventional response. The hook repeats the title, and Bizzy finishes the second verse off with “Kendrick you gon remember me.” Final verdict is… mixed. Sort of nice that he took his own route in responding, sort of whack that he’s just coasting on this whole overblown craze.
Fred The Godson took a similar approach, rapping over a different instrumental, with a “Breaking Bad” lead in sample, all while questioning why his name wasn’t said. Most of the track is Fred lamely flipping Kendrick songs into puns like, “Been in the room with the spitter / King of New York? Drunk, Swimming Pools full of liquor,” and “TBM is willing to ride, this is verbal murder I know I’m killin your vibe.” There are other references, to New York and New York rappers, but the final verdict on this one is a ‘no.’
Los returns to the “Control” beat, but rather than send it volleying back to Kendrick, he merely spits a few bars and references the catalyst verse. Aside from the fact that he TOTALLY stole our ‘control-is-like-a-sandwhich’ metaphor, the rhymes here are nice at times. He closes his freestyle expanding upon Kendrick’s laundry list of rappers, but rather than washing them out, he gives props. “Kendrick I think you genius, J. Cole got these niggas worried / Big K.R.I.T is a southern killer, Wale is a Visionary,” and so on. The final verdict is… that this is pretty tame. Los raps, “I hope that I just provoked you to notice that I am different,” but jumping on this track or talking about it or anything related to it is far from different.
Lupe blacks out on “SLR 2” which is another of these ‘(Kendrick Lamar Responses)’ that isn’t all that much of a ‘response.’ He addresses the much talked about verse with only a few bars in the near 4-minute song. “And my left foot is in L.A. but my right foot is in Spain / Now we all heard what he said, but what he said means we dead / And that shit is insane, He’s so crazy, look at the little baby / Nigga you ain’t Nas, nigga you ain’t Jay-Z / You will respect me, you will reject me / But I’ve done so much, no matter how far you go, you will reflect me.” The final verdict is… Lupe goes in in typical Lupe fashion. He kicks a bunch of banana metaphors in the beginning and switches up his flow and energy throughout. In terms of his actual response, it’s short, pointed, and effective.
Whereas others went light, Mickey Factz goes at Kendrick and all of Black Hippy in a South Park inspired response. He name checks all four members of the group, but lays the heaviest into Kendrick, or Kenny, in this episode. “You the king of New York, beg your pardon? / The King of L.A. is dead and that nigga from Harlem (2Pac),” he says, in reference to Kendrick’s bi-coastal claims. The final verdict is… Mickey gets an A for effort here, actually going at Kendrick and not just riding the beat or taking some BB gun shot. Ultimately though, Kendrick would do more damage with less lyrics.
Well, things are starting to get much worse. Just today Cassidy dropped a 6 minute (?!?!) “Control” freestyle that meanders in all sorts of directions. There are a few Kendrick barbs, but they’re boring and delusional, like “Since you scared to come at me, I’ma come at you / What the fuck is the game coming to? Kendrick couldn’t shine on me on a song if he wanted to,” and “I snatch the mic / I’m a veteran, you rookie, you a dick head, but you a pussy, a hermaphrodite.” Uh, what? Cassidy is doing some serious reputation tarnishing with this and his other recent releases. The final verdict is… If there is a soul that exists that wanted a 6 minute Cassidy-on-Kendrick freestyle, then even they are cutting this early.
is was the most recent rapper to jump on the “Control” beat, actually flexing some lyrical prowess. He makes brief mention to Kendrick, but comes most direct at Nicki Minaj, who slammed him for claims of ghostwriting early verses in her career. “Kendrick’s doin him but then all I get is some TMZ / Fuck what you sayin’ Onika, treat you like Monica / Back when they was Minajin ya, I was tryin’ to acknowledge ya / Now it’s time to abolish ya,” he says. The final verdict is… not too shabby. Those unfamiliar with Ransom might be impressed, but as is the motif with most of these things, used played weapons to attack your opponent isn’t likely to do serious damage.
Joe Budden raps for an impressive five minutes with dexterity and punch lines, but at this point, the ceiling for these responses is Willy Wonka fun house low. With that said, though, Budden is one of the more capable responders, with the appropriate perspective on it all, “Fuck whoever mad, you said how we all suppose to feel,” he raps. More than shots at Kendrick, he has words for Joey Bada$$, A$AP Rocky, Drake, Meek, and Tyler, though some of them are complimentary (“But the irony, you all inspire me”). The final verdict is… these probably need to stop, for everyone’s sake, but if all the raps were at this caliber, the feeling might be different.
So….Papoose took things to a different level, and not upwards. The long reigning King of the New York Underground starts things off by biting the hand, rapping, “Hey yo, Kendrick, good looking’ on that Summer Jam move, But you ain’t the king of shit,” only later to take a turn towards homophobia. There’s isn’t much to be said, or printed, about Pap’s response, but the final verdict is… that Papoose is the friend who took the joke too far and made everything awkward.
Uncle Murda joins the cast of New York MC’s firing back, but makes it clear that he’s not bent out of shape over Lamar’s bars. “Tell Kendrick I ain’t mad at him, This exactly what the game needed,” he spits, referring to the competitive and antagonistic spirit that started all this hoopla. Murda touches on some of the names dropped, stating that it’s really on him and Fabolous competing for the King of New York title. All in all, the final verdict is… good, but not great. Going back to the low ceiling standard, this might fall into the better half of these responses, which is to say, the inspiration has still been exhausted.
Next is New York Knicks guard and global flat top role model Iman Shumpert, who also raps, and also released a #ControlResponse. Shump tweeted, “In response to Kendrick verse…he is my fav rapper. He can say what he wants. He is the BEST out. But ill still dunk his ass #crown” and released “Dear Kendrick” shortly after. The song isn’t critical of Kendrick, with “But Phil Jackson a legend, I aint quotin you / Woody is approachable, he sees the goon I’m turnin to, he’s scouting you and circle you / locking you like valuables in hotels, and he say, as a Knick don’t let you say that / you the king of New York cause 007 don’t play that,” serving as the only direct reference to the controversial verse. The 007 is likely Carmelo Anthony, who wears number 7. The final verdict is… that it’s hard to compare this to the rest. Shump is a basketball player first, and has some nice one liners here, particularly the above quote. He more so wants to be recognized and so he is.
Hold up wait a minute. Y’all thought this was finished? Yeah, us too. But in an interesting twist, we get an actual formidable New York rapper getting back at Kendrick. The first since Joell’s initial rebuttal. Joey Bada$$ was omitted from Kendrick’s kill list, but is arguably peers with the young guns name checked. And Joey does come straight for Kendrick, but overall, the song is pretty ho-hum. He references Lamar’s triumphant claim in both verses, first rapping “It’s Nathan all I gotta do is just spit a flame / No escaping, you in a swimming pool of champagne / You set yourself up for that one mane /The Kind of New York? /Ha! We aint just goon’ let that one hang,” and later, “I’m well aware, NY not Delaware/ I’m the real king fella here, You more like Prince of Bel-Air.” The final verdict on this one is… that Joey is better served letting his non-response music speak for itself. He doesn’t need to rap in Kendrick’s shadow for even one bar.
3D Na’Tee reps New Orleans, but take it upon herself to join the fray and let off a couple shots. In all seriousness, this girl can spit, and rises to the top of this mostly stinking pile. She gets straight to it, rapping, “And I heard Kendrick’s “Control” verse, everyone said it’s, “a cold verse” / Ask me and I’d say, “When he met me on Sway that lil f*ck n*gga studied my old verse” before unleashing some impressive double time flows with a super relevant Lamar Odom punchline. The final verdict is… that this may be the winner out of all of this #controlresponse nonsense. Somebody with skill and decent buzz who catches the wave with the right command and widens their audience in the process.
Hey guys, it’s me again. I know some of you might be reading this for the first time, but after updating it several times over the past four weeks, this has started to feel like a diary; the diary of a sane man slowly devolving into a self-imposed mania. But today is a good day! We finally have *gasp* a response from one of Kendrick’s named names. Meek Mill spits over the “Forgot About Dre” beat for his upcoming Dreamchasers 3 mixtape and takes the opportunity to respond to K. Dot. Meek is from Philly, but offers a few bars debunking Kendrick’s controversial claim, “Hov gave you 24, let you have that / Man you claiming you the king of New York / What the fuck wrong with you nigga, step back.” The final verdict is… short and sweet is the way to go for these responses, though it feels a bit artificial to label everything that references “Control” as a ‘response.’ Using Vine sensation Terio as a muse works to Meek’s advantage here, though the best response will be a stellar mixtape.