It was the verse that woke up the rap game and made everyone start looking around and eyeing each other uncomfortably; King Kendrick, still on the ascent after dropping the best debut rap album in recent memory with 2012's good kid, m.A.A.d city, had just laid down his first set of laws, and they were not exactly what other rappers wanted to hear. In a hip-hop landscape dominated by big beats with massive hooks, K. Dot brought lyricism back into the conversation in a way that forced people to stand up and pay attention. And, as he so helpfully pointed out in his BET Cypher two months later, "Nothing's been the same since they dropped 'Control.'"

There were two major flash points that raised alarm bells for two different reasons: the first was his "King Of New York" assertion, the second when he named names. The latter read like a murderer's row of the biggest up and coming MCs in the game—J. Cole, Big K.R.I.T., Wale, Pusha T, Meek Mill, A$AP Rocky, Drake, Big Sean, Jay Electronica, Tyler, The Creator and Mac Miller—each called out for being Kendrick's peers, and also on his hip-hop hit list. The former lit a fire under some of New York City's most established MCs, provoking responses from almost every level of New York rapper. One thing was certain: Kendrick might not have broken all new ground, but he definitely caught a lot of people's ears.

The fallout to his lines on "Control" was both swift and sustained; despite what Drake might have tried to have you believe, we are still talking about this verse right now. So without further ado, XXL is diving into the nine biggest storylines that came in the aftermath of the verse that put the rap game on a crutch. Tell Flex to drop a bomb on this shit. —Dan Rys (@danrys)

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Joell Ortiz

With the rap community holding its collective breath, it was Slaughterhouse's Joell Ortiz who wound up being the first to respond to Kendrick's verse, addressing his King of New York claim with a freestyle that wound up among the best responses. I ain’t even gotta give this too much thought / Joell Ortiz won every war that he ever fought / This ain’t no different, I’m listening, you the king of New York? / Lil homie you ain’t the king of New York, you the next thing on my fork," Ortiz said, though he would later explain he respected Kendrick for what he did.

”It hit me as am MC.. The MC in me wouldn’t stand for that. So I did what I did," the Brooklyn native would tell Vlad TV. “I really love what [Kendrick's] doing for the culture. I love what he’s doing for hip-hop and being such an honest person, and when I heard the record I loved it. This is what I’m talking about, bringing it back to that competitive nature that we all grew up on…I appreciate his bravery. I gotta respect it. Although, I obviously immediately disagreed."

J. Cole

One of the last to address his shoutout in the track was J. Cole, and he didn't respond back at Kendrick so much as incorporate his own reaction to hearing the track into a story about a woman scorning him (how typically J. Cole). "Thought you was a down ass bitch / 'til I found that shit a couple days ago / I was home alone, next thing I know / That long ass verse from a song called 'Control' was on / The room got nearer, the tune got clearer / That's when I seen the shit playing on your phone / Girl, what is that, a ringtone / Shit, not you too / Man that hype done got you too / Everybody and their momma gassed / Even my momma asked what I'mma do."

Cole's reaction was highly anticipated, if only because of the constant rumors of a collaborative album or mixtape between him and K. Dot, and Kendrick would later acknowledge that Cole did his thing on his verse. He did manage to sneak in a little retort—"Decisions, decisions / In case this is war, then I load up on all ammunition / If a nigga want problems, my trigger's on auto / I'll make sure that nobody miss him"—but it was nothing serious. The bigger story was that Cole even addressed it at all.



Of all the people Kendrick name-checked on "Control," the most curious may have been Drake; the two had collaborated in the past and would appear to have been on good terms, but Drizzy was also arguably the one rapper on the roll call that was bigger than Kendrick in both sales and stature. Drake initially let the wave build and and crash against the beach, but he also was gearing up to drop a little thing called Nothing Was The Same, and would wind up being asked about it repeatedly in the press. His response came off as if he'd barely noticed, as if it was a minor irritant—a fly in the kitchen—rather than something worth responding to.

"I know good and well that Kendrick’s not murdering me, at all, in any platform," he said bluntly to Billboard in September. "So when that day presents itself, I guess we can revisit the topic." But Drake was forced to keep revisiting it, eventually responding in a near-hostile manner during a CRWN interview, saying exasperatedly, "Are you listening to it now? At this point?... It’s been, like, one album. Consistency is make more than one album. I look forward to seeing what he does... When it comes to competition, I’m more worried about consistency, about bodies of work."

Strong words from somebody who had professed to not care. When Kendrick was asked about Drake for his GQ cover story, he was cordial, if a little dismissive. “Pretty cool,” Kendrick said when asked if the two were cool. "I mean, I would be okay if we weren’t." More on that one later.


Meek Mill

Of the 11 MCs to get name-checked by King Kendrick, the only one other than J. Cole to respond on wax was Philly spitter Meek Mill. The MMG lieutenant initially spoke about it during an event he held in Philadelphia, telling a local CBS affiliate that the verse was about "competition," and that he wouldn't be responding. But then he did, first by titling a Cassidy-aimed diss track "Kendrick You're Next," and then by unleashing on K. Dot in September with "Ooh Kill 'Em."

"Man you claiming you the king of New York / What the fuck wrong with you nigga, step back / Hundred shots, aim straight at your snap cap / Everybody want the crown so I snatch that / Heard your gun go doo-doo-dooo-dooo / Well my gun go blap-blap-blap-blap-blap," Meek said over a beat that samples "Forgot About Dre." And then he really goes in. "What the fuck wrong with him? / Like really I'm sick of you niggas / You've been in the game like a year and some change / And you feeling yourself so I'm killing these niggas."

But in an even stranger twist, Kendrick fired back, saying at his first show in New York since the track dropped, "There's one nigga in particular that needs to realize that there's levels to this shit. I'm motherfucking King Kendrick." The whole exchange got a little heated—prompting us to wonder if the beef was real—but Meek squashed it later on, saying it was all straight hip-hop. What's beef, anyway?

Kendrick's Explanation

After letting things simmer for the better part of three weeks, Kendrick finally called in to Hot 97's Peter Rosenberg's show to clarify his intentions and speak about the verse, saying he felt he had to "dumb down" his lyrics because so many people took his King of New York line the wrong way.

"At the end of the day, man, I feel like you only have certain chances to take it to the next level, make it a rivalry thing, and try to bring back that old school, homie," he told Rosenberg, saying that both Jay Z and Diddy had respected the track. "I think the ones that took it out of context was the people that wanted to grab an opportunity off the fact of the hype of the record, rather than tuning in and listening and knowing how hungry I am."

In the outtakes to XXL's TDE cover story, Kendrick again addressed his lyricism, alluding that he was less than impressed with the lack of understanding of where his verse came from (he actually flips a Kurupt lyric, which he acknowledges later in the verse as well). "I feel like, when you’re a student of it and you have a sense of knowing what’s going on, you hold other people accountable at knowing what’s going on, too—people that you respect—so you feel like there’s no need to explain yourself," he said. "If I’m not gonna explain myself to people that I know, that understand it, I don’t feel like it’s needed to explain myself to people that’s totally oblivious to it. So I just keep my mouth quiet, be a man of few words, and let everybody else go crazy and figure it out themselves, whether it takes tomorrow or it takes ten years from now."


Trinidad Jame$/New York's Harsh Realities

When Trinidad Jame$ told a Brooklyn audience that Atlanta ran New York hip-hop, he inadvertently tapped into a lot of the same sentiments that Kendrick's King of New York claim stirred up: that New York had no alpha dog, that the city had lost its edge, that radio didn't support its local artists, that there was no one big enough or lyrical enough to stand up to Kendrick and say that no, you're not the King of my city. And many—most notably Maino—were quick to bring "Control" back into the conversation.

Immediately after "Control"'s release, Maino had done an interview with Kay Slay where he addressed the idea that because radio didn't support New York artists, a climate was created that allowed Kendrick to say that. "It made a lot of sense, because that's the same way—being from L.A.—my rap peers around us, that's the way we used to feel about our radio supporting us, just stations in general," Kendrick said at the time of Maino's words. "It just brought me back to that, because I totally agree with what he was saying; it's not the radio, but the people who supported."

After Trinidad's on-stage assertion made just about all of New York upset, Maino repeated his sentiments, and differentiated Jame$ from Lamar. "Kendrick said something," Maino told XXL. "Kendrick was rapping man, and they’re was a million responses that came right after. That was some rap shit. You don’t see the difference?"



Of all the responses, it was Papoose's that was the most fiery, and may have hit closest to home for Kendrick. After all, the old friends got into it a little bit over the summer after Pap's strange and surprising cameo at the end of Kendrick's Summer Jam set, from which the Compton rapper distanced himself. But after "Control," Pap was no longer holding back.

“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 / Ya’ll probably stick dildos in each other like Stevie G / I mean Stevie J on that sextape with E-V-E," Pap rapped, going in for over four minutes and getting personal with Kendrick and his team.

"He knew what he was doing; the disrespect was intentional," Pap said in an interview with XXL after dropping his response. "I just feel like New York gets disrespected so much, and that’s why the game is the way it is now. These cats feel like they can disrespect us whenever they feel like it, but they got all the love here. It is what it is, just don’t disrespect New York, ’cause I’ll have to disrespect you."

Kendrick got a little cheeky with Pap's response on his interview on Hot 97, calling it "comical," after which Pap responded again via Twitter, saying the joke was on K. Dot. And this little duel was far from over.


BET Cypher

October 3rd, AllHipHop got a hold of a 15-second teaser clip from Kendrick's BET Cypher, and the craze officially revved back up. "Nothing’s been the same since they dropped 'Control' / And tucked a sensitive rapper back in his pajama clothes / Ha-ha, joke's on you / High-five, I’m bulletproof / Your shit's never penetrate / Pin the tail on the donkey / Boy you been a fake," he rapped in the clip, sending the blogosphere into a frenzy trying to interpret his words.

The first and instant reaction was that it was shots fired at Drake—the "nothing's been the same" line was too close to Drake's Nothing Was The Same album title, plus Drizzy's been dodging the "sensitive rapper" tag for years now—but then things got a little muddier. A detailed breakdown—which XXL compiled here at the time—suggested that K.Dot was actually pulling apart some of Papoose's response verse and attacking it, firing shots at the Brooklyn rapper instead.

Two very distinct things came from this clip: people started talking about "Control" again—much to Drake's dismay, it's assumed—and Papoose was given the opportunity to fire back. "I think [my response record] just ate his soul alive," Papoose said in another interview with XXL following the Cypher teaser. "As much as he wanted to take the high road and try to say that he was too much of a big shot to respond, I think it ate him alive and he couldn’t resist... I think that struck a nerve, definitely."


Future, "Shit" (Remix)

And then, finally, the moment everyone had been waiting for arrived: Drake responded to Kendrick in a verse. It wasn't a very good verse—it was the remix to Future's track "Shit" with Juicy J—nor was it a very good response, but it was one nonetheless, and finally beef was confirmed to be back among some of the biggest rappers in the game.

“And if a nigga say my name he the hot shit / But if I say that nigga name he still the hot shit / Fucked up / Lucky I don’t feed into the gossip / Niggas act like they don’t know but they should know / I just think it’s funny how they danglin’ the bait / But I’m the one whose killin’ niggas on the hooks though,” Drizzy said in a subliminal that was a little too in the abstract when compared to Kendrick's direct, aimed shots. When Kendrick says he's trying to murder rappers, Drake's saying he's already doing it.

The response set off another firestorm, but it didn't impress TDE bosses Top Dawg and Punch, both of whom tweeted that they were underwhelmed. "If this is the best shit niggas got... I feel sorry 4 em...lmao" tweeted Top Dawg, while Punch later added, "Hahahahah. That's it? Really?" Kendrick, we assume, won't respond unless it's on wax, but that remains to be seen. Truly, nothing has been the same since "Control" shook the game up; even Drake's responding on remixes. It'll be interesting to see how the rest of this plays out.

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