Friday, August 16, 2013

Kendrick Lamar: Much Ado About Nothing

Oh, Kendrick, Kendrick, Kendrick. Well, apparently you threw down the gauntlet on hip-hop on a verse that was leaked and now will not be released. In case you missed it, here is what Kendrick Lamar did last week that has everyone going absolutely fucking nuts.

But it's his extended verse on "Control (HOF)," a Big Sean track that didn't make it onto Sean's upcoming "Hall of Fame" due to licensing issues, that had Twitter gasping for air Monday night. Lamar appears with Sean and elusive rap demi-god Jay Electronica, but they're not spared from his venom. 

After memorably half-mocking Funkmaster Flex for dropping so many bomb sounds on songs he debuts, calling himself the King of New York (Lamar's from Compton, California), once again ripping molly's current place in rap and shouting out John Lennon Paul McCartney and Bob Marley, the 26-year-old sets up the real meat of the verse

By putting everyone on notice, Lamar solidifies his place as not only one of rap's most gifted lyricists, but positions himself as a defender of the culture, inspiring his peers to put in more effort into their work. By doing so on a song that includes two of the rappers he's ripping, Lamar also once again reminds his fellow artists and fans that while he has plenty of emotional, "conscious" tracks, he's also here for the competition.

Let's  get something very straight here...this uproar about how he has elevated hip-hop to another level, thrown down the gauntlet, shown artistic courage, shown his genius, is all pretty much bullshit. I am going to tear down everyone's arguments piece by piece because I just don't get the reaction out there in the blogosphere.
  • This is not Jay-Z vs. Nas. That beef got really nasty and very personal, but Kendrick says his lyrics in such a way that he didn't want to really offend anyone. I liken it to the phrase, now so and so, I love them to death, but...All he does is name drop a bunch of guys and basically say he would like to have their fans. Another analogy would be Lebron saying that he really respects Derrick Rose and even spends time with him off the court, but he will still try to kill him on the court. He doesn't get specific at all about these rappers and that is the problem. All he basically is saying: all you other good rappers, I would like your fans, but if I don't get them we can still hang out.
  • Oh, my! He dissed guys on the same song who rapped on it too. Uhh, how do you know that Big Sean wasn't in on this from the start? He leaked the track, then basically pulled it afterward most likely. This verse as a news story seems almost too calculated, too pre-planned, too good to be true. Big Sean is trying to sell a new record. Don't you think that entered anyone's mind at some point? The other weird thing was that everyone really didn't get too pissed or angry about it. The East Coast West Coast wars caused people to die. This caused people to create memes. The real rappers simply made jokes about it. I made the comment that this verse was an outtake from YOLO by The Lonely Island, which Diddy rapped on.
  • The critics and writers of hip-hop made way too big of a deal about this. Once again, they talk about rap lyrics in this high-minded, artistic, esoteric way that I just don't buy. They seem to articulate this in a way that it is the equivalent of Martin Luther nailing the 99 Theses to the church's door. That is the stupidest bullshit I ever heard. These critics are analyzing the lyrics in a profound, philosophical way that you don't see in any other art form because rap's art form is words. One of my takeaways from that is this verse was not groundbreaking as you think because one of the things about rappers is most barely finish high school. If rap is so high minded as these critics want you to think then why do so many drop out of high school or start at age 17 like Kendrick. They are talking about him as if he is a fucking Beat poet seeing his generation of rappers destroyed by madness.
  • Another piece of the puzzle that makes Lamar a complete moron is the fact that he calls himself the King of New York. First, this is not true because Jay-Z is still the king. Second, he is from Compton. This makes no sense. You cannot take seriously a statement like this from a rapper who is a protege of Dr. Dre. I think the rule is that you have to be actually from a particular city in order to be the king. I don't know, but it sounds stupid none the less.
  • Finally, is hip-hop dead? The question becomes quite relevant when you see that EDM is really the king right now. The truth is that the genre has become quite stale with the new artists Kendrick included not creating any buzz except for that of their lyrical genius. I blame this more on their over reliance on lyrics only with very little creative focus being spent on the actual music. There are no hooks to some of these songs. Lil Wayne has samples that sound exactly the same song after song after song. It is sad that this obvious, easy, lazy way to garner attention to the genre is being held up even higher than Kanye West's Yeezus. Kanye took hip-hop and threw it on it's ear by simply saying: hey rappers, your way of doing things is boring, listen to this. Kendrick Lamar is not saving hip-hop, Kanye is.

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