It's Funny How One Verse Can F**k up the Game


Kendrick Lamar said that on Hood Politics from To Pimp a Butterfly. He was right in 2015 when the song was released the same way he was right in 2013 and right again in 2024. Anyone with any semblance of understanding of modern hip-hop history knows about the “Control” verse. Kendrick Lamar, fresh off of the success of good kid, m.A.A.d city, hops on Big Sean's single, in the few-year stretch, when he was a still prevalent pop rapper. Sean still wanted to show off that pride in dense lyricism that Detroit was known for, along with that he invited Jay Electronica to the track, who, off the strength of a single song, “Exhibit C,” became a white-hot prospect and immediately earned the respect of legends. Noticeably Jay-Z who co-signed and supported Electronica over the decade-long wait for his debut album. With all this hype around the track in mind, it was eclipsed entirely by what Kendrick did.

Naming a dozen rappers on the come-up and promising them he’s at the top. The gall he had to do this prompted the entire rap game to respond, mostly talking about how refreshing it was to have that sportsmanship and sense of competition in hip-hop. 50 Cent said “It’s a breath of fresh air for me [...] That’s necessary for Hip-Hop. That’s what it is!” But, there was one notable detractor, Drake, who took the verse as vapid and a weak way to call for attention. He wasn’t wrong. Kendrick calls out so many, but nothing specific and cutting is said other than a broad “I’m better than you.” This was part of a beef that would be in its infancy here but would develop over the decade to be a clash of the intent of artistry between two titans of the hip-hop genre. Unlike his “Control” verse, Kendrick went harder and more specific on “Like That as a complete surprise feature on Metro Boomins and Futures collab album WE DON’T TRUST YOU.

The beef had been festering in the form of sneak disses almost entirely from Drake's side. Speaking on an insincerity in Kendrick's music and a clear assertion that he believes himself to be standing on business more than Kendrick ever would. Going from collaborating in 2011 to a clear divide between the two not long after left fans wanting something to come out of the rivalry.

There is no shortage of iconic rivalries in hip hop like Tupac V. Biggie and Jay-Z V. Nas, Drake himself being part of two high-profile ones: Drake V. Pusha-T and Meek Mill. Hip-Hop lends well to competition. The ability to be able to tarnish someone's public image with nothing more than the power of your penmanship is enticing, especially if it's as rapid-fire and brutal as a track like “Story of Adidon,” a song so cutthroat It silenced Drake from even referring to the artist who released it by name in interviews (It was Pusha-T, whom invited Drake to come after him in the first place and kept his word with his response).

What makes LIKE THAT particularly special, however, is the context behind it. Metro and Future have had a historically amazing run of collaborations with one another and all together as a powerhouse trio. What a time to be alive is still amongst the best projects each of them has been involved with. By Metro and Future linking up and putting Kendrick on the song, it already says something about where current loyalties lie. What's more, Kendrick dedicated an entire verse that he barely does for any artist but his own work in recent years to bash Drake and J. Cole by proxy of collabing with Drake himself in #1 hit “First Person Shooter”. Lamar is clarifying he’s not in their league, he’s in his own, and he’s offended they’d imply as such.

It’s Control again. Loyalties are being formed, and the highest figures in the rap industry are turning their heads all for one verse. Kendrick didn’t just name-drop this time. He prompted the war he’s waging with specificity, and he’s sure he’ll win. It’s so exciting to see the entire scene of Hip-hop with this much drama and as high stakes for the creation of music can get. The sportsmanship is electric to see unfold, and the anticipation eats at me. The fuse has been lit, and now we will see where it goes. Hopefully, this is all just how it starts.


Writer: Tony Molina

Artist: Solymar Estrella