The idea that New York has, or needs, a “king,” is a silly one, but it’s one that the people of the New York rap world can’t seem to let go. A few years ago, I watched Busta Rhymes crown himself King of the city at Hot 97’s Summer Jam, with Swizz Beatz putting an actual crown on his head and everything. It was goofy, but that’s the kind of thing people do there. Kendrick Lamar’s message in his mind-boggling verse from Big Sean’s “Control (HOF)” was a simple and clear one: I am awesome and I’m trying to be the best. But he named a bunch of rappers, didn’t name a bunch of others, and called himself both the King of New York and of the West Coast. Some people got offended, I guess? So now Kendrick has to go on the radio and explain himself.
This morning, Kendrick is doing interviews for both L.A.’s Power 106 and New York’s Hot 97, and Power 106 posted a quick preview of the interview ahead of time. Here’s Kendrick on the verse’s impact: “The irony of that line is that the people that actually understood it and got it was the actual Kings of New York — sitting down with them this past week, and them understanding that it’s not about actually being the King of whatever coast, it’s about leaving the mark to be as great as Big, as great as Pac.” Here’s the full clip:
As far as I’m concerned, the fact that Kendrick has to explain his verse to people is further proof that it was an amazing verse. Also, he’s presumably talking about Jay Z and Nas with the “actual kings of New York” comment. He probably did not sit down with DMX, though it would be cool if he did.