Last night Twitter was aflame with discussion of one of the most aggressive throwdowns in recent memory, as a huge sinkhole swallowed part of a Disney World resort and the Earth officially started beefing with humanity. Just kidding: Most people were talking about Kendrick Lamar rapping about being a great rapper—indeed, a greater rapper than many other rappers—and the equally earth-shaking, industry-wide feud he seems to have started by remembering that hip-hop used to have a lot more talking shit about each other.
The conversation erupted over a leaked copy of “Control (HOF),” a track deemed unfit for release on Big Sean’s upcoming Hall Of Fame due to samples that didn’t clear, but still seems likely to attract more attention than anything from the album proper. That’s because of the below Lamar verse, in which—after the California-born emcee crowns himself “King Of New York”—he calls out nearly a dozen of his contemporaries:
I heard the barbershops be in great debates all the time:
"Who's the best MC?" Kendrick, Jigga and Nas,
Eminem, Andre 3000—the rest of y'all
New niggas just new niggas; don't get involved.
And I ain't rockin no more designer shit;
White Ts and Nike Cortez, this is red Corvettes anonymous
I'm usually homeboys with the same niggas I'm rhyming with,
But this is hip hop and them niggas should know what time it is.
And that goes for Jermaine Cole, Big KRIT, Wale
Pusha T, Meek Mill, A$AP Rocky,
Drake, Big Sean, Jay Electron, Tyler, Mac Miller:
I got love for you all but I'm tryna murder you niggas,
Tryna make sure your core fans never heard of you niggas,
They dont wanna hear not one more noun or verb from you niggas.
Listen to it yourself here. Lamar's verse begins around the 3:00 mark.
Of course, rappers rapping about being great rappers, while also specifically calling into question the rapping of other rappers, is a time-tested hip-hop tradition, and often done with a lot more vitriol than Lamar offers here. There’s also the fact that Lamar specifically mentions he has “love for you all”—including Big Sean and Jay Electronica, who appear on the very track he’s supposedly using to pick fights with them. In terms of diss tracks, to name just one example, it's certainly no "Hit 'Em Up." And especially considering the omission of other big names like Kanye West or Lil Wayne, mostly this is just a list of people Kendrick considers to be his fellow newish rappers, about which he is correct.
Still, in a day when the number of featured guests on your average hip-hop track stretches beyond the comprehension of iTunes, it's kind of nice to hear someone who's willing to make some enemies, however friendly. But really, Kendrick's “feud” is probably about as incendiary as the one between Anna Kendrick and Zach Braff.