King Kendrick Lamar? – The Rizzle Report

Beef, Big Sean, hip-hop, Jay Electronica, Kendrick Lamar

The internet went kerrrrazy today when Big Sean dropped his newest song, Control ft Kendrick Lamar and the elusive Jay Electronica. Unless, you have been living under a rock, you will know that the following is true:

  1. Big Sean is regretting putting those two on the track with him
  2. Jay is annoyed that his otherwise solid verse is now an afterthought
  3. Kendrick has reignited an interest in lyrical content in commercial hip-hop (finally!)
For too many years mainstream hip-hop has become a watered-down version of itself. In fact, it’s almost veering towards parody (see: Trinidad James and 2 Chainzzzz) where fads, clothes and trap beats far outweigh the lyrical content that saw it ascend to the top of the charts from the mid 90’s until the mid 2000’s.
Aside from the regular big names such as Jay-Z, Nas, Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, (who are as much ingrained in popular culture as they are in the hip hop culture they were born into), Kendrick Lamar is arguably the biggest star of the new breed of MC’s. He has been dropping stellar guest verses, as well as two critically acclaimed full length projects for a couple of years now but a popular debate that I’ve been having with my friends is whether he is just the best of a bad bunch or if he’s the real deal?

In his verse, he calls out the names of the “new n*ggas” who are currently deemed to be the hottest in the game and goads them to step their games up. Furthermore, he proclaims himself the King of New York, despite hailing from Compton. These friendly lyrical jabs are what hip-hop has been missing. The art of beef died a long time ago with 50 Cent’s popularity and has been replaced with a mediocre landscape where everyone is best friends and all appear on each other’s albums freely. While there’s nothing wrong with a beef-free rap game (vegetarian rap?), hip hop was about the survival of the fittest, from the best breaker, to the hottest DJ, to the most innovative graffiti artist. When there’s no competition, the standard stagnates and people don’t raise the bar.
Is Kendrick the king of New York? I think the question is who is actually representing fully for New York these days? A$AP Rocky isn’t the most lyrical dude, Joey Bada$$ has great potential but I worry about his ability to turn from underground hero to full on King like Nas or Biggie. Jay Electronica needs to put out his mythical album and stop relying on the plaudits of Exhibit C. The crown is there for the taking, so Kendrick is taking it.

As far as the other guys on the list, I think J Cole can match Kendrick lyrically but whether he will react is another issue. Drake is actually surprising me this year with the straight bangers that he keeps releasing (half of the tracks aren’t even making the album) and despite it being fashionable to hate him (shout out to Amanda Bynes), he is a solid lyricist with crossover appeal.
One thing is for sure – people are talking about lyrics in hip-hop again. Whether it will last and people will go back to poppin’ bandz and twerking remains to be seen, but either way, it will be an interesting watch.