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K.Dot & The Warning Shot - Chris 'Preach' Smith

Last night, notice was served.

It came in the form of a guest verse from Compton’s own Kendrick Lamar, on ‘Control’, a Big Sean track that didn’t make his upcoming album due to sample clearance issues. So Sean goes to Funkmaster Flex and debuts this single on-air with him, Kendrick and Jay Electronica.
And the Internet imploded. That’s the best way to capture it. As of now, Kendrick’s verse has become hip-hop legend. The savagery. The outright boastful tone. The fact that he named many of the current big-name rappers out and told them he’ll take them all on. He even got East Coast heads doing double takes with the bars saying he’s the ‘King of New York’. That is how you murder someone on their own track. This does bring up a lot to chew on though.

For one, I dig the verse. I’m a fan of Kendrick. And as great as this verse is, I truly believe there will be better. This verse is crucial not because he threw shots as a West Coast MC towards East Coast MC’s. (And truth be told, do we really want to rehash a whole coastal battle again given that the last one got out of control and cost hip-hop not one, but two vital figures?) What Kendrick’s verse has done is, it RAISED the bar for the fickle ass rap fans. One or two of whom may be reading this article. It might have shattered complacency by those who have grown indifferent to hip-hop all because of the diluted talent that exists out there. Weedcarriers with bodega minds and gutter water talent. The standards have been low, been that way arguably since D4L and ‘Laffy Taffy’. And please note again that I’m not throwing regional shots. Because those that complain about too much trap influencing New York rappers have a point, but then some can’t answer the question as to why they don’t fully support real Southern MC’s like Bun B, Killer Mike & others over Trinidad James and Gucci Mane. The rap game and its corporate trappings have helped lower the standard for what we NEED from MCs because radio play, sponsored blogs and sites and cross-promotions rule.

Think about Big Sean for a sec; he knew this track would never make the album. Why put it out there? Because he a) knew it was fire cause of Kendrick and b) it would help his sales because his HOF album is on pre-order now. Every little bit helps when your album is saturated with features. As much as K.Dot MURDERED this track, let’s not ever forget that he did so in a space and time where hip-hop has been sorely lacking for this. And that the masses are in part responsible. It’s the choice of supporting rap that’s equivalent to a sack of Crown Fried Chicken and washing it down with Boone’s Farm that has brought the game to this point. Supporting it at the expense of other deserving MCs and groups. And we’ve done it far too much.

I won’t sit here and go absolutely bonkers because this year has seen a slew of great music. Music that some of the public may not check for because a big name isn’t attached or it’s not
posted up in Helvetica on a website. Doing so would prolong the disservice done to some of these MCs and give more fuel to the fickle. Consider this: J.Cole’s own fan-based Twitter account told him DIRECTLY that ‘he lost’. You’ve got cats comparing Kendrick’s verse to Drake’s ‘5 AM in Toronto’ verse. Laughable. Kendrick joins venerable vets like Black Thought (who is underrated as someone who eats rappers on their own tracks - check the resume), Pharoahe Monch who have earned their stripes doing what he did to Big Sean and Jay Electronica. Any MC worth his salt is supposed to do this.What this guest turn by K.Dot is, is like a Zen Buddhist monk shouting ‘KATSU’ as a way to awaken acolytes to truth. Doesn’t matter if he was from Compton, California or from Crown Heights, Brooklyn. It was needed. For fans and other MCs. Challenge and competition lie at the heart of this culture. That got lost in chasing paper, reality shows and Twitter love. MCs shouldn’t be statisticians. Even now, there’s MCs who are prepping to rise to the challenge. And the energy is akin to the time Nas and Jay Z went at each other for a whole summer. 

Kendrick Lamar sent off that warning shot. Who’ll fire back?

The hip-hop world waits for the answer.