Kendrick Lamar’s “Control” verse was incendiary by design. By calling out his peers and claiming to be the “King Of New York,” he set off two different fires that are difficult to put out. On one hand you’ve got people who are angry that they were left off the list of names he rattled off over No I.D.’s instantly iconic beat. By choosing to name who he named, Kendrick was establishing his own contemporary lyrical rap canon, a group he considers his primary rivals and equals. In declaring himself “King Of New York,” he created an even bigger point of contention, signaling his dominance of a region he’s not even from. The biggest question on everyone’s mind this week was this: Who will respond?
While none of the heavy-weights named in the song have dropped songs or verses yet—though most made jokes or references to the song on social media—that hasn’t stopped a variety of rappers from taking on the challenge. From established stars like Lupe Fiasco to up and comers like Astro to NBA players, the song has reverberated throughout hip-hop, crossing regions and genres. Some of the responses were inspired, obviously feeding off Kendrick’s intensity and fire. Others were… less than inspiring.
To help you go through the various “Control” responses, we’ve sifted through them all and provided a rating for each on the classic S to XXL scale. So let’s take a look at 16 different attempts to dethrone Kendrick—and please, try to control yourself. – Compiled by Dan Jackson and Eric Diep