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Kendrick Lamar Control Analysis

Kendrick Lamar begins this influential verse with a warning to fellow artists, He inexplicitly sates that he is “about to go off”. He quickly dims the mood bringing up images of the Vietnam War and bombs dropped on innocent lives. He goes on to call out “these fake rappers” and revel over his own beats. Stating he is important like the pope and will continue to thrive as long as the music industry continues to provide the cash flow. Kendrick continues to attest to his greatness stating, “I’m the King of New York” by doing this he calls to the emotions of fellow NYC rappers calling for rebuttal.

Kendrick ties his music to an unstoppable force and further proposes his ties to the underground music scene, hinting at his old school method and traditions. He goes on to connect his lyrics to a major ESPN analyst, and reputable NFL coach attributing to his untamable career, while connecting his music to the sports community.

As the verse continues it touches on the social media status of today’s rappers. Being the more traditional rap star, Kendrick calls out these other stars on their over-obsessive social media use. This is very interesting because the verse relied heavily on the social media integration that followed-allowing rappers to voice their refutation.

Kendrick further voices his opinion on popular rap culture today and his dislike for trends such as taking molly (pure form of ecstasy) and its effect on turning rappers into “rich white girls looking for parties”. Kendrick essentially calls today’s rappers rich teen girls, naming Lindsey Lohan and Miley (presumed Cyrus) in particular. Kendrick again compares himself to legends in the music industry, stating the genius behind his lyrics is lost on the dull audience, again isolating him from the modern rap game.

Kendrick’s most influential lines come through closer to the end of the verse, naming in his opinion the top 5 living rappers: Eminem, Jigga, Nas, Andre 3000, and himself. He attests to the rap career claiming that modern day artists are preoccupied with designer clothing and less involved with the actual music. He exclaims that he has no grudge against other rappers but this is a competition and “everyone should know what it is”. This line hints on rap returning to its roots in the 90’s, and the rise of rap battle institutions such as the UK league “Don’t Flop”. He threatens, by name, the most known modern rappers, stating that he will “murder” them. He goes on to state that he will become so famous that their names will be lost.

Kendrick uses threats, emotional callouts, and all around great music to pass a statement onto the rap community. He effectively changes the rap game, drawing it back to its roots. By calling out the best of the best Kendrick forced a movement of good music and a change in the basis of modern day hip hop. He exclaims a bar has been set and challenges every rapper to meet it.  He released this track at a time when rap battle popularity was climbing and the reaction was very much immediate spreading through social media. The verse was played over and over and famous rappers began to formulate their reactions, many of them becoming hit singles. By widely appealing to his audience for a rebuttal he creates more involved music and engages the entire rap community.


Scholarly sources

Different sources: –learned about ProQuest in class the other day. —– –Scholarly internet sources, search by category or key words– Journals primary sources and now including Books by librarians over 35,000 sources–Merge of internet public library and librarians internet index

Narrow your search terms to find more focused pieces of scholarly info on your analysis

Eg.) My original Kendrick Lamar search came up with multiple sources and it was hard to find one that spoke directly to my point, I narrowed the search to Kendrick Lamar’s literary background and found much more direct, concise articles on the subject

This can also go vice-verse, sometimes it is hard to find a scholarly source based on your literary topic. For many of the sites above the search Kendrick Lamar did not show very many sources, you may have to switch your search terms to something more general.

Eg.) Kendrick Lamar did not receive any feedback on some of these sites. So I switched my search term to East/West rap rivalry and then to Literary Rap Roots. These more general terms helped me to find background on my subjects rather than a very precise view.


Possible presentation formats

As I noted before in my presentation I would like to incorporate both an analysis of Kendrick Lamar’s Control verse, and also a detailed description of the widespread reach of the verse and the impact it had on the rap community. There are many opinions on the song, and each opinion add value to the interpretation, therefore if it would be possible I am aiming to play the controversial section of the song, explain the subculture and background behind it and then ask for the audience opinion on the verse.

From this I would also like to hit on the influence the verse had on the rap game. I am not sure how I am going to do this. To represent differing rapper/celebrity opinions I could either pull up direct quotes from social media/interview/etc, or I could play snippets from a wide variety of songs, from various famous rappers, that rebuttal Control’s challenge. I have to figure out exactly how I am going to do this, but I think that it will come together nicely. I would also use academic sources to hint on the background from which the song came, and to interpret it in a wider context.

Search Terms

1. Control verse immediate impact

2. Control verse extended impact

3. Kendrick Lamar Control Response

4. Control rapper response

5. Kendrick Lamar Roots

6. Kendrick’s rap career

7. Kendrick’s literary foundation

8. Kendrick’s literary influence

9. Kendrick’s Featuring Artists

10. Big Sean’s reaction to Control call out

11. Kendrick’s purpose with Control?

12. Control Verse effects

13. Community reaction to Kendrick’s Control

14. Hip-Hop in the 90’s

15. East/West Rap feud

16. Tupac’s Juice

17. 90’s Compton

18. Hip-hop early influence


Researching into the whole Kendrick Lamar issue you really get a feel for how widespread his influence has reached, as for as the presentation goes I want to incorporate the reaction videos and tweets/other rappers songs that reference the verse/etc.

Whatever I do with my presentation I hope to incorporate a wide range of music and literary feedback from the event, I may do this through a video presentation or a live tweet stream. I’m not sure if these will work out to my benefit but it is what I will try to do.

With my Comments

The Sources

Rap Genius

This post reviews the entire album that was dropped August 12th 2013, by Kendrick. It is a Rap Genius site so it analyzes each of the lyrics in their own form. This is very useful for analyzing and really understanding what the artist is trying to say in the song. By knowing the meaning behind each line you can start to put the piece together and gather the enigmatic project of the writer. The website also offers analysis on some of his earlier songs and lyrics, which help by understanding where the work of the author is coming from and the history behind the pieces.


Genius, Rap. “Album Review: Kendrick Lamar’s good Kid, M.A.A.d City.” The Huffington Post., 25 Oct. 2012. Web. 19 Feb. 2014.

MPA Style

I chose MPA style of citing for a couple of reasons.

#1 I have only ever used APA style once before and I didn’t want to deal with it again

#2 MPA was the first choice and the more recognized style of format and an easier option to find on citing sites.

#3 MPA has been a set standard in the wide/vast majority of my papers, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to switch now.


Hollywood Life

This post/article serves to articulate Kendrick Lamar’s thoughts and statements on the verse. The post, made by a HL intern, explains the backlash of the verse and Kendrick’s thought process behind it. The post was released about half a month after the album dropped and included Kendrick Lamar’s thoughts on competition in rap and also many differing rapper opinions.  Another interesting thing regarding this post is the video linked in the sub-section, further showing the thought process behind the verse. This article aims to show the reader the hidden meaning behind the verse, and to dispel the notion that Kendrick did this all because he thinks he is the best.

HL Intern. “Hollywood Life by Bonnie Fuller.” Hollywood Life. Hollywood Life, Aug.-Sept. 2013. Web. 20 Feb. 2014.