J. Cole at iHeartRadio Music Festival

Here’s one of the stranger — and most strangely satisfying — remixes of the year. Justin Timberlake’s “TKO” was originally a workable but underwhelming second-tier 20/20 Experience single — just your average R&B-inflected dance-pop banger. Now it’s a hip-hop posse track on which JT barely features and a trio of top MCs show up to wreck shop over a barely tweaked version of Timbaland’s typically jittery beat. A$AP Rocky is there to do A$AP Rocky things, and Pusha T shows up at the end to make the Album Of The Year case for My Name Is My Name. But the most notable verse is the first, in which J. Cole responds to Kendrick Lamar’s “Control” verse, the one where K-Dot called out all his perceived rivals, playfully promised to destroy them, and riled up NYC traditionalists by declaring himself the king of New York.

J. Cole rightfully catches a lot of flak for being a particularly derivative A-List rapper — his Born Sinner singles sound like five-years-late Kanye retreads — but I have to hand it to the the guy here: He’s delivered one of the few respectable “Control” responses, albeit a few months after the media storm around the song died down. Cole cops Kendrick’s cadence to land a flurry of blows and reflect on how even his mother got swept up in the hype. As CoS points out, Cole and Kendrick have traditionally had each other’s backs, so this may just be playful ribbing, but as with the original “Control” verse, it’s nice to hear some pointed competition in rap, even lighthearted competition. Listen below.

Comments (3)
  1. Woah. That “pretty mothafucka”‘s verse was more ho-hum than usual, but to me I immediately felt the beat we’ve been listening to since September felt more at home accommodating rap verses, This is much better than I thought.

    J. Cole’s verse is delivered so naturally its impressive, might be the most phono-aesthetically pleasing delivery I’ve heard on a verse all year.

    Though I’m still not entirely sold on him. He’s undeniably talented and intelligent, and competent to handle a catchy hook which most technical rappers can never do (See: Eminem). I just feel like he’s been so committed to being That Dude that he doesn’t let his work breath and its tough to really get a good grasp on his identity. He’s obviously part of this new generation of rappers (I think of it as the best rap draft class of all time: A$AP Rocky, Ferg, Black Hippy, Danny Brown, Odd Future, etc.) but he seems like the outsider to the rest of them. I feel like his inability to kick his feet back and get weird is what deprives his albums of the personality they need. Ultimately I think its the only reason why he isn’t the best rapper of the past few years.

    Control was huge in part because its context. It was the icing on the unstoppable bullet-train/cake Kendrick rode to the top. I actually like his cypher verse more, but I don’t expect another verse to
    be as popular for a long time.

  2. snoreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

  3. Hey Lobsterdog I have been going through your opinions on this site and would like to hear some of them via emails on on my hiphop podcast please email me at disleksik at gmail

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