"It’s real funny how things go in cycles, the way Bobby Brown is just amping like Michael". The great Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest uttered those words nearly 22 years ago, and yet that axiom has never been so true. As I told you all a week ago, the sports world is a second, minute, and hour turner. From A-Rod, to the white hot Dodgers, Arian Foster's health, your upcoming fantasy drafts, like the Dayton’s on Chris Rock's toaster, it keeps spinning. The latest foray into the spin cycle is Kendrick Lamar, rhyming his ass off (nothing new there) on his "Control" verse. My immediate reaction was that KDot NAMED NAMES, a rare occurrence amongst those that proclaim themselves as a King MC. I read the internets, as social media has become the de facto spot where the masses come to speak their piece about what’s going on in the world. Voices were split.
"My gawd Kendrick just murdered it".
"KDot dissed all those guys".
"The game will change after this. Kendrick bought it back to its essence".
Let's focus on that last line. This notion that KDot has "brought it back to its essence" is nonsense. If you peruse through Kendrick’s catalog, you’ll see that none of this is new in any way. Kendrick has always positioned himself as a top notch MC, as well as the one that will crush anyone in his path. Now, the hype beats and hyperbole spitters will jump up and down and insist that this is what hip-hop needed and all is well again. Hip-hop is trending in the right direction. I say STOP! Calm down and breathe for a minute.
Quick recap: I was born in 1976 AKA The Bicentennial. I am fortunate enough to experience life and witness things that allow me not to spew love juice everywhere whenever the next shiny object comes my way. I grew up in ''The Golden Era" of the 90s. I was there when B.I.G. busted on the scene, the birth(s) of Rap City, Yo! MTV Raps, the Source, XXL, etc., and I’m old enough to remember my Dad breaking down "Boyz N Tha Hood" verse by verse, VIVIDLY! Don’t get me wrong, I was excited by Kendrick’s verse and the subsequent reactions to it by various rappers. (Lupe! Chill man) As the great Prodigy of Mobb Deep said, "ya’ll don’t want beef, niggas died the last time there was beef like this."
I never thought this was a diss song either, more of a call to arms. It’s in my iPod along with the 30,000 other jams and dope verses of MCs claiming their spot on the throne. Unlike a lot of you while "Hip-Hop was dead", I was finding dope shit because dope shit was actually being made. There has always been dope hip-hop out, just like there’s been wack shit out. If you don’t believe me, go check the hip-hop charts in 1990.
The comparison, while it may be a bit of a reach, is the AND1 b-ball craze that bubbled over 20 years ago. Stay with me here. AND1 was an athletic apparel company that catered initially towards "The Street Baller". Their infamous mixtapes, which were actually videos of various players doing awesome dribbling tricks, alley oops and excellent trick shots, produced some household names such as, Hot Sauce, The Professor, AO, Spyda, to name a few. The star of this was Rafer "Skip to My Lou" Alston, a ball player out of Queens, New York. The first tape that came out in 1998, "The Skip Tape" as it came to be called, blew the doors open and AND1 became the hot b-ball event. Video Games, other mixtapes, pro athlete endorsements (Stephon Marbury), and a reality show would follow.
The reality show did expose some things and this is where the tie in comes to play. One of the scenes that stick in my mind is where Alston goes off on his fellow AND1 comrades, Hot Sauce, about "only wanting to be a street baller". "You’re just satisfied with $60,000, one endorsement deal, and some street love!!" Alston had a point as he learned the hard way about the things needed to get to the top. He was the only AND1 alumni to get to the NBA and did quite well for himself playing for six teams and earning himself about $28 million in salary. I say that to say this will reignite the battle rap world. The last few years have been led by the URL movement as well as others has brought to the forefront an element of the MC that fans claim to miss: the competitive element. When the Smack DVDs were bubbling in the late 90s to early 2000s, one of the knocks was that they couldn’t make good music. They were all one trick ponies. A lot of me feels that this is one of the elements that "killed hip-hop"; an inability to make exceptional music while keeping a lyrical edge. Kendrick can do it. He’s done it since he busted on the scene 4 or 5 years ago. Not many can and that’s why we shouldn't overreact to this verse. I love the battle rap scene, but I wonder if in the back of their minds if they get bothered by being pigeon holed by some as a one trick pony? Rafer tried to tell his peoples. Can Loaded Lux make a great album? Should that matter? I admit I wanted to see a Hot Sauce show, his wares in the league just to see if he could cut it. I would also love to see Kendrick Lamar battle Joey BadA$$. That’s going be a pretty penny. I got $100 on it. Kickstarter maybe?
Born in Dayton, Ohio but raised in Dallas. D.A. is no pushover