The biggest piece of news in the hip-hop world today came with the leak of a 15-second clip—since removed—from Kendrick Lamar’s verse on the TDE section of the BET Cyphers, where K.Dot goes after a “sensitive” rapper and kicks it off by saying “nothing’s been the same since they dropped ‘Control,’” a clear reference to Drake’s recent album title Nothing Was The Same. The hip-hop world immediately and collectively ran with it, claiming Kendrick was going at Drake for the second time, after name-checking Drake alongside a whole host of their peers on Big Sean’s “Control” from a few months ago.
But within the last hour, another conspiracy theory has emerged: Kendrick was going after Papoose, who was one of the first to release a response to Kendrick after the verse dropped, taking particular exception to his “King of New York” claim. In the weeks since the verse dropped, Papoose has gone on a diss-track spree of sorts, going after Big Sean, Drake and Kanye West, to name a few, then going after Sean again in another track a few weeks later after Sean said he didn’t know who Papoose was.
So let’s break down this theory. Pap’s initial “Control” response, released the same week as the original, included the lines, “Tell Kendrick and TDE they need to lay off the PCP/ Far from the king, this is the city of BDP/ You’ll never be a real West Coast artist like Eazy-E/ You fucking joke, we laughing at you like hehehe.” Toward the end, he adds in the line, ”Strip him to his socks, I bet you he got a pussy/ My bullets hit ‘em dead in his cooty, come out his booty.” That set the stage for a real battle, as Pap went hard and didn’t back down.
The ensuing weeks played out more in the press, with Papoose following up his verse with an interview with XXL, in which he defended his city and laid claim to the title of King of New York, calling Kendrick disrespectful in the process. Kendrick was then forced to acknowledge the variety of responses that came his way in an interview with Hot 97, and dismissed Pap’s as “comical.” Papoose, as you’d expect, didn’t take kindly to that at all, following it up with a tweet quoting his own response and telling Kendrick that the joke was on him.
Okay, with that out of the way, back to the BET freestyle. The short clip of K.Dot’s cypher verse continues, “…And tucked a sensitive rapper back in his pajama clothes/ Haha joke’s on you, high five…I’m bulletproof/ Your shit never penetrates/ Pin the tail on the donkey, boy you been a fake.” Looking at the verses side by side, it’s hard to deny that Kendrick was refuting both the first and last part of Pap’s response verse, flipping the laughter and calling himself bulletproof. Then, of course, when you add in the fact that the word “papoose” is also a type of pajama, it looks a lot like he was aiming his assault toward Pap rather than Drake.
The two have a history, after all; this whole thing stems back from Kendrick’s performance at Summer Jam in June in New York City, when Papoose confused everybody by hopping on stage after Kendrick’s set and performing “Get At Me” off Nacirema Dream. That incident sparked a heated exchanged on Hot 97, with Papoose regaining a footing in the hip-hop mainstream.
Then again, there’s another wrinkle here, which is that Kendrick is clearly aiming for the crown, and Drake is the one standing at the top of the charts and dangling it right in front of him. The rumors swirling around the TDE cypher were that K.Dot’s verse was 4 minutes out of the 10-minute segment, and that it had all the makings and feel of “Control Part II.” Drake has been throwing some subtle shade Kendrick’s way in recent interviews, saying he doesn’t feel threatened by anyone and that nobody is still talking about the “Control” verse.
Well, they are now.
Let’s face it: if Kendrick was going after Drake, he could have gone a lot harder and really forced Drizzy into a response. And if he was going after Pap, I mean, what’s the point in going after somebody who has less shine than you? Look what it did for Meek Mill when he went after Cassidy—it put Cassidy back in the headlines, and that was about it. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves—the BET Hip-Hop Awards don’t air until October 15, and if the company is smart they’re keeping the rest of that cypher under lock and key because they know everybody is focused on what else Kendrick has to say. Maybe K.Dot did go after Drake, but that that particular segment that came out wasn’t the piece where he did. Maybe somebody purposely leaked that segment, knowing that the “nothing’s been the same” line would immediately point the spotlight at Drizzy. And maybe he goes all the way back in and eviscerates everybody on the planet, taking his newfound cocky, heel persona and running with it until the bitter end. But until we see the full verse, the video—or the memory of the video, since it’s been scrubbed from YouTube—a slew of conspiracy theories will have to tide everyone over.
One thing is definitely for sure—Kendrick is keeping things interesting. And there’s definitely nothing wrong with that. —Dan Rys (@danrys)
Update (10/4, 5:09 pm): Papoose has responded to Kendrick Lamar’s verse, saying that Kendrick will “never be able to shine my shoes, lyrically,” and asserting that he will definitely respond with a new track. On K.Dot’s diss, Pap said it was “comical” and that “[BET] should have brought me there if they wanted a real MC on the microphone.” Check the full response here.