West Coast rapper Kendrick Lamar can no longer avoid the inevitable questions about his “Control” lyrics and likened his approach to athletes on the basketball court this week on late night talk show “Chelsea Lately.”
During the two-minute segment, K. Dot revealed his childhood dream to become the next Michael Jordan and how his “Control” lyrics could be seen in the same vein as NBA stars sparring.
“Nah, nah, a lot of the cats I named, they’re actually good friends of mine and I basically wanted to show that I’m competitive,” Lamar told host Chelsea Handler. “When you get out on that sport, get out on that basketball court and you’re playing — before music, I wanted to be Michael Jordan. No, seriously. But like you said, I’m a small guy, I only grew to like 5’6 and it deferred my dreams to actually writing rhymes and I pinned it somewhere else. I have a lot of insight on hooping, whether you know it or not. I know looks may be deceiving. … [I’m saying I’m a really good rapper] in a competitive nature, the same way basketball would be on the court. Kobe [Bryant] versus LeBron [James]. I’m sure they’re good friends off the court. But when you’re in that booth, you have to be able to annihilate whoever’s out there. That keeps the level of hip-hop alive as far as the culture.” (“Chelsea Lately”)
This week, Kendrick named a slew of tracks from mostly East Coast emcees which caught his attention following “Control’s” release.
“I liked the [King] Los verse,” Lamar said. “Joe Budden did his thing, Joell. A lot of people with different approaches. [Budden] had the facts in his verse, a few things that he felt. Papoose had the comical joint. Los was flipping his words and putting that spunk on it. I think he had the killer thing though. Yeah, Los killed it out of everybody. But the number one joint at the top of the list had to be Chocolate Drop.” (Hot 97)
Kendrick also denied wanting to spark a West Coast versus East Coast rivalry from the track.
“I feel as though there are certain cats that are going to take it to the next level and make it a rivalry thing. That’s old school homie. Nobody’s trying to do that. We’re black men out here trying to uplift the culture. My first sold-out show was in New York. I always looked at that place as a place that respected my lyrics and respected the culture and the birthplace of it. I think the ones that really took it out of context was the people we know want to grab an opportunity just off the fact of the hype of the record, rapping — a lot of people think it’s about talent. That’s where they get it wrong, I’m saying I’m the most hungry. I respect the legends of the game. I respect people that have done it before me, people that lost their lives over this. Because of what they laid down, I’m going to try to go that much harder and embrace it and live it. That’s the point of the whole verse and what I was trying to convey behind that verse. All the ignorance behind it, kill that noise. It’ll never be like that again, with two coasts rivals. Not on my behalf.” (Hot 97)
Despite the ample name-drops and proclamation of being the king of New York, Lamar initially admitted the backlash surprised him in an interview a few days ago.
“Honestly I didn’t know there would be so much speculation behind it,” said Kendrick. “I just wanted to rap. Anybody that knows me doing music, I wanna just rap.” He also proclaimed himself the “king of New York,” which rubbed some rappers the wrong way. “I think that’s the case right there of maybe I just dumbed down my lyrics just a little bit,” he said. But he didn’t mean it literally. He had a conversation with some of hip-hop’s elite, who weren’t offended by his verse. “The irony of that line is the people that actually understood it and got it, was the actual kings of New York,” explained K-Dot. “You know, me 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 a mark as great as Biggie, as great as ‘Pac.” (Rap-Up)
Check out Kendrick Lamar’s interview: