When video began circulating of Kendrick Lamar’s performance at the 2013 BET Hip-Hop Awards a few weeks ago, it was clear that the rapper would not be mincing words. In last night’s telecast, Kendrick went straight for the jugular and his apparent target was none other than Drake.
“Yeah, and 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!” Kendrick barked over Mobb Deep’s classic “Shook Ones Part II” during the cypher portion of the show. The jab seemed aimed squarely at Drake, whom Lamar name-checked in his “Control” verse, and who just so happens to have released an album titled Nothing Was the Same. After verses from his Black Hippy comrades ScHoolboy Q, Ab-Soul and Jay Rock and new signee Isaiah Rashad, Lamar hurled potshots at his contemporaries, “I got my thumb on hip-hop and my foot in the back of yo ass / Aftermath get the last laugh,” he snarled, before eventually nailing the coffin shut with “Ya scared to death, scared to look in the mirror when Kendrick is near ya / King Kendrick.”
BET had a feeling the verse would stir trouble. Before Lamar even began rapping, the network urged fans to tweet along reactions with the hashtag “#KendricksVerse,” which quickly became a trending topic.
Drake wasn’t in the crowd to react to the furor but the Toronto rapper did win big overall by taking home People’s Champ, Track of the Year and Best Hip-Hop Video accolades for “Started From the Bottom.” Lamar had a fine showing, too, winning Lyricist of the Year as Album of the Year, MVP of the Year and best verse for “Fuckin’ Problems.” Jay Z, another no-show, took home honors including Best Live Performer and Hustler of the Year, while A$AP Ferg won Rookie of the Year.
Another newcomer, Jon Connor, was a standout amid cyphers that included A$AP Rocky and the A$AP Mob and Slaughterhouse. Connor, a Flint, Michigan, native, has earned his stripes for some time bubbling under the radar and recently inked a deal with Dr. Dre‘s Aftermath Records.
The remainder of the show continued in usual fashion. Snoop Dogg‘s comedic timing resonated as host this year and was reminiscent of his short-lived sketch comedy show Doggy Fizzle Televizzle on MTV. “Uncle Snoop” was funny in vignettes including “Inside the Rappers Studio” with James Lipton. Kevin Hart and the cast of BET’s breakout Real Husbands of Hollywood also provided ample laughs between music.
Performers included younger rappers such as Future, Rick Ross and French Montana, and heritage acts like Queen Bee Lil’ Kim, who returned in a cypher alongside buzzy upstarts Action Bronson and Travi$ Scott. Juvenile came out for a retro Cash Money bout while Bone Thugs-n-Harmony closed out the show. Bone, accompanied by Claudette Ortiz of City High fame (and more recently, R&B Divas: LA), performed favorites from their catalogue including “1st of tha Month” and “Tha Crossroads.” The latter, dedicated to mentor Eazy-E.
Still, nothing could overshadow King Kendrick. His cypher verse only exacerbates the venom of “Control” and all but begs for a response. For now, all eyes are on him and any rapper that dares vie for his crown.