Control, a song that didn't make Big Sean's sophomore album due to a sampling issue, will - without question or debate - go down as the most polarizing song of 2013. Unfortunately for Big Sean, it's not because of the bars he laid down, although they are very good. It's also not because of the appearance of Jay Electronica, a MC whose skills have become more legend than fact, as he has failed to release a project since signing a record deal with Jay-Z's Roc Nation label.
This song is memorable and incredible because of the words in one person: Kendrick Lamar.
As the 1990s faded away and we moved to an era where competition is almost non-existent, the 26-year-old Compton MC shook the entire game up when he name dropped most of his relevant peers, even those that has working relationships with. Names like J. Cole, A$AP Rocky and even Big Sean are mentioned and in his voice you hear not only the intended shock value, but the underlying malice in his words. It's almost as if he's daring you to come at him.
His respectful call out is exactly what I think the rap game is missing. Every one is content being friends with one another – no matter what Drake has to say – and not push the game to higher levels, making it more interesting and meaningful. And I think this has a real life applicability to it.
As writers, even if we are writing about different topics and in different styles, we are all going to be trying to feed ourselves from the same plate. The money has to come from somewhere and we are all going to be competing for our own livelihoods, our own futures and a sense of security.
In my ideal profession – long form sports writing – there’s a ton of talent not only at the top (looking at you Wright Thompson, Ben Fowlkes and Jonathan Abrams) but even here at campus there are writers with bright futures that I’m going to go up against. There’s Christian Hoppens from the Post, who just recently caught my eye. And even at the magazine I write for - Backdrop - has two of my best friends in Athens (Zak Kolesar and Chris Longo) on staff and they both are fantastic.
Sure, I want to see them succeed (and it's a different game because there is far less money involved) but, in the end, I want to out write them every time I put my fingers on the keyboard and I want there to be no doubting my skills as a wordsmith.
And like Kendrick rapped on Control: “What is competition/ I’m trying to raise the bar high/Who tryna jump and get it?”