Kendrick Lamar, who made headlines earlier this year with a much-discussed verse on Big Sean’s “Control,” recently explained how he feels about the selection.
“I think I said everything I need to say [with] Peter Rosenberg [on] Hot 97,” Lamar says in the upcoming cover story for XXL. “If people don’t get it from there, then I don’t feel [I need] to explain myself any more. I think they’ll run it down to the ground rather than me. You know, I just wrote a verse. I think everybody’s just taking it to the ground and don’t want to let it go. I spoke my piece on Hot 97. If people wanna take it further than there, that’s their entertainment. I’m on a whole ‘nother plateau of thinking now. That was just for that moment of writing a verse. That’s how I feel about it.”
In August, Kendrick Lamar’s verse was released. On the track, the rapper names several other emcees.
“I’m usually homeboys with the same niggas I’m rhymin’ with,” Kendrick Lamar raps on the song. “But this is Hip Hop and them niggas should know what time it is / That goes for Jermaine Cole, Big K.R.I.T., Wale / Pusha T, Meek Mill, A$AP Rocky, Drake / Big Sean, Jay Electron[ica], Tyler[, the Creator], Mac Miller / I got love for you all but I’m tryin’ to murder you niggas / Trying to make sure your core fans never heard of you niggas / [And that] they don’t want to hear not one more noun or verb from you niggas / What is competition? I’m trying to raise the bar high.”
After the song was leaked, Kendrick Lamar spoke about this with Hot 97.
“I got to probably dumb down my lyrics nowadays, for the people to take [‘the King Of New York’ line] way out of context the way they did.” Kendrick Lamar said to Hot 97. “The irony behind it all is that the main heads that really understood the context of the line, were the actual Kings of New York… There is an understanding that it’s not about the coast, its not about what side we on, it’s about being great like Biggie and ‘Pac, the two cats that I reference from jump.”
During his recent XXL interview, Lamar also added that others can decipher his rhymes on “Control” while he will remain quiet about it.
“I feel like, when you’re a student of it and you have a sense of knowing what’s going on, you hold other people accountable at knowing what’s going on, too—people that you respect—so you feel like there’s no need to explain yourself,” Lamar says in the cover story for the upcoming issue of the magazine. “If I’m not gonna explain myself to people that I know, that understand it, I don’t feel like it’s needed to explain myself to people that’s totally oblivious to it. So I just keep my mouth quiet, be a man of few words, and let everybody else go crazy and figure it out themselves, whether it takes tomorrow or it takes ten years from now.”
Kendrick Lamar Says He Wants To Be The Best
Lamar also addressed what he meant by wanting to “murder” several rappers on “Control.”
“Simply Hip Hop,” Lamar says. “The art and the culture. Don’t got nothing to do with anything outside of writing lyrics. That’s what I don’t want people to get it confused from. We’re talking about lyrics, we talking about rhyming. And when you say the word “murder,” I’ve been feeling that way since I was 16. I wanted to be the best at it. If I was mopping floors, I want to be the best at it. If I’m cleaning pools, I want to do the best at it. Fortunately, I’m doing Rap music and I want to be the best at it. Period.”
During the interview, Lamar also said that the rappers he named on “Control” keep him interested in their music. Kendrick was asked to single out who he feels is a competitor lyrically on his level.
“Them individuals on that list, man,” Lamar said. “They do their thing. I can’t point out the ones in particular. But, as a whole, I feel like they’re gonna get it when they got in there [into the recording booth] and hopefully it’s like that forever. The way I think right now, my mindset right now, bro, is really on some, this shit don’t last forever. Something could happen tomorrow, and if you ain’t putting your best foot forward today, then what are you doing it for? I’m thinking that way.”
When asked about the various responses to “Control,” Kendrick Lamar explained that he was not offended by rappers who took the opportunity to respond to his verse.
“I mean, it’s 50-50,” Lamar said. “Some people took it as fun, some people took it as opportunists. Huge opportunists. And more power to them.”
During the interview, Kendrick Lamar also spoke about how success has affected him.
“I’ve been doing this for ten years,” Kendrick Lamar says. “But when that light beams on you, it happens fast from an aspect where you’re doing so much every day [that] you’re not really aware of the attention that you’re getting, ’cause you’re doing interviews, you do a show, then you do a studio, it’s just a constant, daily plan, so you can’t look at yourself. You can’t be in the crowd looking at yourself on stage, you know. I can only look in the mirror and know I’m Kendrick, and see that same little boy I seen seven years [ago], but I can’t see what everyone else sees. So more and more, I’m really unfazed by it as more and more success is hitting me and I’m not really sure [about it all]. It’s a tricky thing, for sure.”
The full interview is slated to appear on XXL’s October-November issue.