Now that Damn has dropped, it’s clear that we’re seeing the true arrival of Kendrick Lamar as proverbial God MC. And with the internet currently losing its damn mind, tweeting all sorts of praise, pledges of allegiance and sheer shock (the name obviously fit), now is as good a time as ever to remind you of all the ways that’ve been felt, as well as all of the unsavory attitudes taken towards Cornrow Kenny. Sure, that includes Drake, and not that it matters but also Shyne, but there have certainly been others who’ve Carl Thomas-ed themselves at some point in the last five years of Kendrick’s ascension. Don’t let it surprise you if some of these same folks are seen tweeting up praises over the next few days.
If we’ve learned anything about human behavior as it pertains to rappers, and how saltiness works in general, it’s this: People always feel entitled to throw hate at the Top Dawg.
In the wake of Damn's release, Wale has already switched back to Team K.Dot. But two years ago in December, MMG’s feeling-est member replied to a tweeted question from someone he may or may not have known, apparently asking if Wale would be doing shows with Kendrick soon, or something. Whatever the case, according to Rap-Up.com, the D.C. emcee said, “AIN'T ANSWERED THAT PHONE SINCE THE LAST NOMINATION . I GET THE DEMI LAVATO TREATMENT FROM HIM NOW. IT'S HARD OUT HERE.” The result was Wale getting the Wale treatment from Kendrick’s labelmate Jay Rock, and, well, Wale took the usual L.
Anybody see a pattern developing here? The recently tweetstormed New York rapper, who is famous for dating Khloe Kardashian, and being around Max B when he invented the term “wavy,” would not even feel comfortable sharing his opinion in the golden era of rap when you had to be good to talk shit. But we are now in an era where you can fail upward in the hip-hop-related economy by not even being decent at your day job. French, who is actually Morrocan, is the embodiment of this new wave, and felt he needed to weigh in on the Compton rapper’s notoriety, apparently taking the number of Grammy nominations K. Dot received for To Pimp a Butterfly as an abomination.
Although he kept it very diplomatic in the immediate days, weeks, months and even a couple years after the “Control” verse heard ‘round the globe, it became clear that the feelings began to bubble in Big Sean’s gut. As time went on, he began to shift his position from keeping it positive to saying that the song had a lot of negativity on it, until two months ago he finally stood up firmly against any perceptions that Kendrick owned him on his own song, during an appearance on The Breakfast Club. "No, he didn’t,” Sean said when Charlemagne asserted that he’d been washed by his guest. “Stop it, stop it, stop it. And, how long ago was that? What year was that? And I still don’t feel like I got washed, anyway." Witnesses at the scene have not confirmed if they caught wind of a curiously soap-like scent in the air.
One could argue that Jay-E took the bigger L than Big Sean on “Control,” since absolutely nobody stuck around for the “but what about Jay Electronica’s verse tho?” conversation. The enigmatic rapper had been rebuilding a decent buzz after one of his extended periods of wanderlust, but now saw himself cast as an also-ran rapper who’d gone missing in plain sight, thanks to Kendrick’s scene-stealing verse. NME reported that Jay-Elec, who’d been asked in a Periscope Live video to play a Kendrick song, responded to the request by saying, “Kendrick would tell you himself he couldn’t body me. Kendrick is my son. Kendrick is my baby. Kendrick wishes he could be me.” Then he disappeared in a ball of salty gypsy smoke.
The "Dark-Skinned Activist"
This very weekend two years ago, a young lady saw a photo of Kendrick and his fianceé Whitney Alford, and decided she’d had enough of the disrespect. What pushed her to the edge? It was fact that Alford’s skin is fair, which in terms of who’s allowed to date Kendrick Lamar is apparently not. So the young lady protested and got active the way so many modern activists do: on Facebook. Calling him “fake conscious” in all-caps, she told FB friends that she would not support him or his music and encouraged “all dark skin women not to either!” Social media came with Lamar's defense, but some came to hers, if only to say they understood that the politics of skin tone, as pushed upon black women by mainstream culture, played a role in her rage. In the event Kendrick was even aware an exchange was happening at all, he probably didn't agree with the aggrieved activist's opinion, but it's possible he found it to be enlightening.
The audio from the televised exchange that took place on Geraldo Rivera’s Fox News program shows up on Damn.’s “D.N.A.” in spectacular fashion. But there’s something special to watching the footage as the two commentators, who aren’t important enough to identify, look as corny as you imagined as they attempt to slander the song that motivated more than just black or white people. “Alright” was a global force, but that didn’t stop it from being ridiculed/scapegoated as the underlying factor behind black poverty, struggle and apparent criminality. Of course they were just really mad that their kids probably love the song and there’s nothing they can do in response except keep the corny train moving.