Kendrick Lamar’s Control Verse Changed Hip Hop ?
Shout out to Black Dot author of the book Hip Hop Decoded, he took to Facebook to give his view on the Kendrick Lamar verse on Control.
Check out what he had to say.
MY TAKE ON THE KENDRICK LAMAR VERSE…
THE “SUN” HAS RISEN IN THE WEST
By The Black Dot
Author of Hip Hop Decoded
When everyone can emcee, no one can emcee. I need you to really ponder the significance of this statement, I’ll wait…
Over the last 20 years or so, we have seen the decline of true lyricism at an alarming rate. This was purposely done because corporations couldn’t sell complex lyrics as much as they could promote and market the beats and easy to remember hooks. Whether we want to admit it or not, Corporate America gave birth to the Rap industry, not Hip Hop. This gave birth to the rapper, and forced most real emcees underground, or out of the game entirely. A rapper need not know how to emcee. He or she relies on a hot beat and a nursery rhyme hook to sell records. This made the music more palatable to those who couldn’t understand the complex flows and intricate metaphors. A true emcee is judged on his or her level of intelligence which is displayed by the words that come out of his mouth, which are always a reflection on ones thoughts, travels, actions, and mental state.
A rapper can rhyme (barely), an emcee can elevate, teach, inspire, motivate, etc. Now here’s where things can get complicated, as KRS ONE stated, “an emcee can be a rapper, but a rapper can never be an emcee”. So when Jay Z said, (I’m paraphrasing) “I used to rhyme like Common sense, but after five million sold, I haven’t rhymed like Common since” this lends credence to the fact that there is a difference. Jay Z is a true emcee, but he made a choice to slow it down and lower the vibration of the music. Hip Hop is of a very high vibration. It entails the science of dance (B-Boy/Girl), the science of the Drum (DJ/producer), the written word (graph writer), and the spoken word (oracle/emcee). This is how we retain the knowledge of our great ancestry. These are ancient art forms that are embedded deep within our DNA that we have used to bring about paradigm shifts throughout the annals of time. We would not have been able to make it through slavery, the Civil Rights movement, or even our current condition without them. And those who understand what the sacred science of Hip Hop is truly all about, hold it in high regards.
This brings me to the inspiration for this particular article. Kendrick Lamar’s verse on Big Sean’s song called, “Control” featuring Jay Electronica represents a paradigm shift in the culture of Hip Hop. Was it one of the best verses in the history of Hip Hop? Far from it. In the 80’s this would have been considered an average verse at best, but the timing of this verse is very significant. Now I want to be clear, this is not a knock on Kendrick Lamar. He is on the cusp of greatness. But I am 45 years old, and a high initiate in Hip Hop (read Hip Hop Decoded), so my point of reference is far greater than the average 18 year old, 25 year old, or even 35 year Hip Hop novice. I grew up in Cedar Park, sat at the foot of lyrical legends like, Grandmaster Caz, Kool Mo Dee, and Melle Mel. I have studied and practiced in the same schools of thought as KRS ONE, Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, Kool G Rap, etc. I have even watched the emergence of Notorious B.I.G. Nas and Jay Z as lyrical Gods. I say all of this to say that I can recognize a paradigm shift when I see one. When the culture of Hip Hop has been casted into darkness, ordinary can become extraordinary. I will say that again. When true lyricism, intelligence, progressive thinking, and originality have been lost, an ordinary offering (by 80’s standards) can have extraordinary affects. And this is what we are seeing with Kendrick Lamar.
We have been dumb down so much that we have forgotten what true lyricism sounds and feels like. This is not to suggest that real emcees have ever left (see Slaughter House), but the gateways have been heavily guarded to ensure that only rap could excel in the mainstream. But lyrical light bearers rejoice, because Kendrick is one of us! When I see him, I see light, bright light. He didn’t water down his verse or use complicated metaphors that would go over the head of the average listener. He took a direct shot at all of today’s so called emcees. When was the last time you heard an emcee call out every emcee of his era, even those of equal skill set and caliber? I’ll wait… There is no speculation here. But who will answer the call? True lyrical masters will now be forced to engage this young warrior to ultimately test his fortitude (Joel Ortiz has already accepted the challenge). Neophytes need not apply. Hell, I even took my rusty sword off the wall in case of a chance encounter with this soon to be master (LOL). The Grandmasters like Caz, Kool Mo Dee, Rakim, KRS ONE, Nas, etc are somewhere smiling at the potential of Hip Hops triumphant return.
In the end, Iron sharpens Iron, so the art of Hip Hop will be better for it. Our ancestors were masters at reading the signs which indicated change. And for as long as man can remember, the sun has always risen in the East. Historically speaking most of the ancient sciences we have learned have also come from the East. Hip Hop is no different. So as the planet goes through a cosmic pole shift, metaphorically speaking, a new sun is rising in the West. For Hip Hop it is the sign of a new day. When West Coast artist display this level of lyrical mastery, it is undoubtedly the sign of a new day. Kendrick Lamar is that shining light! But this is just the beginning. The next paradigm shift will be when the female emcee is returned to her rightful throne. Be on the look out for Sa-roc, Narubi Selah, Stahhr and Tiye Phoenix. They are coming to restore balance to the game, trust me! So in the end, let’s not get ahead of ourselves by anointing Kendrick as one of the greatest. To even compare him to the elders of the craft at this stage of his journey is not fair to him. Let’s allow him to write his own mythos. Let’s allow him to light his own path. And for those who have been in the dark for far too long, follow this beam of light back to the path of true Hip Hop.
Do you think this verse will really change Hip Hop ?