So the other day my entire Facebook feed was flooded with updates about Kendrick Lamar‘s new verse on Big Sean‘s Control. Eeeeeveryone and their mama (and even Lindsay Lohan‘s dad… LMAO) was talking about the previously unreleased track and I finally got to listen yesterday. By the time I got through with 7 minute song I was reminded of one simple fact: some people seriously do not get rap music. Like. Seriously. Now I’m no expert, but I know a friggen diss record when I hear it, and Kendrick Lamar did NOT write a diss record or a diss verse or anything of that sort. Not even a little bit. What he actually did was say something that pretty much every rapper has said or says at some point in their career, he just said it with a little more aggression in his tone, and he did it in kind of a brilliant way. Let’s click inside to settle this K-Dot confusion once and for all, AND to re-live and re-lurve some legit diss records from back in the day!
Okay. Here’s the song. I love it, for the record. Kendrick Lamar definitely stole the show, but Big Sean and Jay Electronica also had good verses. We don’t hear songs like this much in Hip-Hop anymore, so I can def appreciate the hype:
And here’s the part of Kendrick‘s verse that has hella people confused. Le sigh:
I heard the barbershops spittin’ great debates all the time
Bout 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 T’s and Nike Cortez, this is red Corvettes anonymous
I’m usually homeboys with the same niggas I’m rhymin’ wit
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 Millz, A$AP Rocky, Drake
Big Sean, Jay Electron’, Tyler, Mac Miller
I got love for you all but I’m tryna murder you niggas
Tryna make sure your core fans never heard of you niggas
They dont wanna hear not one more noun or verb from you niggas
What is competition? I’m tryna raise the bar high
Who tryna jump and get it? You better off tryna skydive…
Okay. Number one. He doesn’t really mean he wants to murder J. Cole, Big KRIT, Wale, Pusha T, Meek Millz, A$AP Rocky, Drake, Big Sean, Jay Electronica, Tyler the Creator, and/or Mac Miller. It’s a common saying in rap, y’all. To ‘murder’ someone on a track means to, simple, be better than them; write a better rhyme, spit a better verse, etc.
Number two, I love Kendrick‘s verse because I see it as more of a celebration of Hip-Hop than anything else. These are rappers he legitimately respects as artists and that’s why he sees them as his competition, which– in a game as competitive as Hip-Hop– they are. And any rapper who gets Hip-Hop (like Meek Mill) would agree with Kendrick‘s approach here, which is why Kendrick specifically says this is hip-hop and them niggas should know what time it is. Exactly.
Now there is one line where Kendrick (who’s from Compton) claims to be the King Of New York, but again, I think it’s all in the spirit of friendly competition. In Hip-Hop there’s always this battle for the crown, and I like that he comes out and stakes claim somewhere where he’s technically ‘not allowed.’ It’s kind of brilliant.
So, in the words of Jay Z, it’s not a diss record, it’s a real record. And just to further clarify the difference, here are some of my favorite throwback diss records of all time. And yes, somehow, Mariah Carey managed to make the list. Strange, I know.
1. 2pac feat. Outlawz, Hit ‘Em Up (Notorious BIG, Puff Daddy, Bad Boy Records, Mobb Deep, etc. diss)
When you start off a song claiming that you absolutely had sex with the other guy’s wife, THAT, my friends is a diss record. I honestly don’t know if there is a more vicious, venom-filled diss verse in the world– 2Pac went in. And then just kept going in. Although I’m not fully convinced that the Biggie/2Pac beef is the reason that we lost both rappers (that is to say, I don’t know that Biggie or his people were responsible for Pac’s death and vice-a-versa), it is a shame that when we hear this song we can’t help but think of how it all ended.
2. Nas, Ether (Jay Z diss)
It felt appropriate to start out with 2Pac, but Ether is actually my personal favorite diss record of all time. I know what you’re thinking! But Shannon, you LOVE Jay Z… and you guys kind of dated once or something… LMAO. I know, I know! However, even Jay Z is not beyond reproach and I just have to give it to Nas on this one. First of all, the beat alone is nutsballs. And then, he just gets insane. That second verse? Yikes:
And his manuscript just sound stupid
When KRS already made an album called Blueprint
First Biggie’s your man
Then you got the nerve to say that you better than Big
Dick suckin’ lips
Why don’t you let the late, great veteran live
And then the entire third verse?! OMG… so embarrassing. Like, I was embarrassed for Jay when I first heard it. It still makes me uncomfortable. And then there was this epic line:
And Eminem murdered you on your own shit
LMAOoooo. Oh man. Madness. But it’s fine. They’re cool now.
Click over for 5 more real, live diss records!