Control
by Big Sean (featuring Kendrick Lamar)

Album: Single Release Only (2013)

Songfacts®:

  • This No I.D. seven-minute track starts off with Sean talking about his home city, family, and relationships. Kendrick Lamar takes no prisoners on his middle verse, before Jay Electronica anchors the cut. Sean described it as: "Straight rap... I'm talking 7min s--t... Grimey s--t."
  • Kendrick Lamar's 64-bar rap blew up the internet, upstaging the other two rappers in the process:

    "I'm usually homeboys with the same niggas I'm rhymin' wit
    But this is hip-hop and them niggas should know what time it is
    And that goes for Jermaine Cole, Big KRIT, Wale
    Pusha T, Meek Millz, A$AP Rocky, Drake
    Big Sean, Jay Electron', Tyler, Mac Miller
    I got love for you all but I'm tryna murder you niggas
    Tryna make sure your core fans never heard of you niggas
    They dont wanna hear not one more noun or verb from you niggas
    What is competition? I'm tryna raise the bar high."

    Lamar's challenge to Hip-Hop's big guns to raise their game and top him caused a stir not only among fans, but other rappers as well with many responding with their own rhymes.
  • The song is a leftover track originally recorded for Sean's Hall of Fame record. It didn't make the album due to a sampling issue stemming from No I.D.'s beat, so was released online for free.
  • Jay Electronica told Revolt TV that he wasn't bothered by being eclipsed by Lamar's verse. "I like the song and the stir it's causing," he said. "It's good for rap music."

    Jay Elec added that he only found out that Kendrick also had a verse just days before the track was released online. "A month or two ago, Big Sean asked me to be on this record with him for his album. He had a demo hook on it at the time. I did my verse and sent it back," Jay explained. "I found out a couple days before it was released that Kendrick had put a verse on it."
  • Some fans speculated that Big Sean switched his bars to match Kendrick's verse, but the Detroit MC told Vibe magazine that he did no such thing. "I started the song, I laid my verse first. I sent it to Kendrick and Jay Elec too. And then Kendrick sent that verse back... So when I heard it I was kind of like cracking up," said Sean. "When I heard that verse I was like, 'Man I'm not about to go back and change my verse — that's cheating."
  • Sean speaks about the problems of his home city when he raps: "They say that Detroit ain't got a chance, we ain't even got a mayor." He explained on the Rap Genius website: "Detroit's the only city where the government had to come and take control of the mayors responsibilities. so officially there's no mayor… technically. Detroit is 15.8 billion dollars in debt and people are literally giving up on the city. i feel nobody is talking about this type s--t in rap. I hear it on CNN but half the people i know don't even watch CNN."
  • Lamar said in a call with the radio station Power 106 that his boastful explosive verse, in which he called himself the king of New York, had been misunderstood. "I didn't know there would be so much speculation, I just want to rap," he said.

    "I think it's a case of maybe I should dumb down my lyrics just a little bit," Lamar added. "The irony of that line is that the people who actually understood it and got it were the actual kings of New York, you know, me sitting down with them this past week, and them understanding, it's not actually about being the king of whatever coast, it's about leaving a mark as great as Biggie, as great as Pac."
  • Speaking with Vibe magazine, Jay Electronica revealed that he wanted the song for his debut album. "It was me and Big Sean, we had verses on there," he said. "And then when he told me it wasn't on his album, I was going to use it for my album. And then he told me the day before it came out that, 'yo, Kendrick put a verse on it, we're gonna put it out.' It's a good thing for hip-hop music because hip-hop has being laying dormant for a long time."

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