By Spencer Bowen
“Y’all got till April the 7th to get y’all shit together” – Kendrick Lamar, “The Heart Part 4”
Kendrick warned us, and praise be to the messiah of rap because y’all better prepare yourself. You have until April 7th to stop saying things like “Drake is the best in the game!” or “Kanye is just biding his time” or “J. Cole is good.” Do not bring that nonsense in here. Do not even approach me with that or I will Dikembe you right out of my life.
Kendrick is the undisputed master of the rap world and it’s not close. And that includes Chance the Rapper, last seen doing his best to make me move to Chicago and run the “Chance 2020” Senate campaign.
How do I know? Because “The Heart Part 4” is probably better than the entirety of Drake’s very respectable More Life. Yeah, I’m taking shots today! Hop on the too much bravado and cutting analysis train, because I am conducting a goddamn Amtrak in celebration of all 5’5″ of the rap genius from Compton.
Chance is busy doing stuff like this which is admittedly amazing but is not better rap than Kendrick. Drake is busy dating J-Lo and complaining about being too rich and too famous and too… Canadian? Kanye is stuck in a mid-career existential funk, and that’s just his music. J. Cole once thought this lyric was a good idea: “They say I’m like the human body, I produce my own shit.” All Kendrick is doing is rapping for social and racial justice, taking down Big Sean and Drake simultaneously, and meditating on the greatness of James Brown and Big Pun. And that’s the first half of “The Heart Part 4.”
To help guide any hopeless wanderers out there who are still in the dark, I’ve come up with some analogies to help clarify the current rap picture.
Rappers as Fast Food
Kendrick – In-N-Out. If you’re trying to come up with reasons why In-N-Out isn’t the best, you’re already wrong. Kendrick is busy going Animal Style on the rest of these jokers.
Drake – Wendy’s. Mainstream, but not unenjoyable. Some of the recent offerings are a distinct upgrade. Still Wendy’s.
Big Sean – McDonald’s. Some flashy and hip new features cannot obscure that this is boring and mainstream and possibly hazardous to your health.
J. Cole – Popeyes. Within four hours you will regret this decision.
Rappers as Broadway Musicals
Kendrick – “Book of Mormon.” Jon Stewart said it best: “so f***ing good it makes me angry.”
Drake – “Mamma Mia.” Fun, but ultimately does little to move the genre forward. Also, where is the Drake / Pierce Brosnan collab???
Big Sean – “Cats.” You’ll never forget some of the songs, but you will forget ever seeing it and question why it exists.
J. Cole – “Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark.” I enjoy this analogy immensely.
Rappers as Star Wars Episodes
Kendrick – “The Empire Strikes Back.” The one every other one is trying to be.
Drake – “Revenge of the Sith.” I had a good time, but ultimately it’s less than the sum of its parts. Rihanna definitely has the high ground.
Big Sean – “Attack of the Clones.” Yoda’s lightsaber duel is the equivalent of “Memories, Pt. II” It’s awesome but you still have to deal with Padme and Anakin stuck on Naboo, the movie equivalent of “I Don’t F*** With You.”
J. Cole – “The Phantom Menace.” “Chesco, Sebulba. Chipoka oomen geesa. Me teesa radical fbombati chop chawa” – Jar Jar Binks, or maybe J. Cole from his forthcoming single, “Sebulba Ain’t Shit (pt. 2)”. Tough to say.