Released in 2013, ‘Control’ sent shockwaves through hip-hop after Lamar proclaimed himself the king of New York, and – along with Jay-Z, Nas, Eminem and Andre 3000 – one of the greatest MCs of all-time. He also pledged to “murder” his current competitors.
Rumours later emerged that the pair had beef, even after having a history or working together.
In an interview on Joe Budden’s Pull Up series, the 31-year-old set the record straight about the “mutual respect” he shares with the Compton rapper.
“One of the people that, especially after Nipsey [Hussle] died was important for me to connect with was Kendrick,” he told Budden. “Me and Kendrick got a history of songs… When this whole Big Sean, Kendrick beef was going on, it was something I wish I would have spoken up about because there was nothing.” He also acknowledged that Budden was one of the people to “push the narrative.”
The Detroit rapper noted that rumours of a beef started when he dropped his 2015 freestyle ‘Me, Myself, and I’, due to the lines: “Ya’ll braggin’ about so and so, like ‘Oh, he really it?/ The new n***a in rap? Well, can he really spit?’/ Or do he just hide behind his skits like half of these rappers do/ And then ya’ll fucking go and praise him and his bitch like they saviour of this shit.”
Lamar’s ‘good kid, m.A.A.d. city’ included a lot of skits.
Speculation opened up further when Sean dropped ‘No More Interviews’ in 2016, rapping: “I’m not impressed with the whoopty woop, I don’t know who is who/ And can’t pretend like I’m hip to it, no hula hoop/ And I can’t lie like I like this shit like I usually do/ And I’m just not impressed by you niggas rapping fast/ Who sound like one big asthma attack but trash when I’m rapping it back/ Who you put in your top five and claim they the saviour of rap.”
Speaking on ‘No More Interviews’, Sean said: “So then I remember going online and seeing like, ‘Oh, is he talking about Kendrick?’ ‘Cause I’m talking about people who rap fast.” He added: “I wasn’t beefing with nobody.”
In 2017, Lamar released ‘The Heart Part 4’, where he rapped: “My fans can’t wait for me to son ya punk-ass/ And crush ya whole lil’ shit/ I’ll Big Pun ya punk-ass, you a scared lil’ bitch.”
Thinking the lines were about him, Sean called TDE’s Top Dawg, who told him: “It ain’t about you at all.”
“Every verse I do, people be like, ‘Oh is this a response? Is this a response?’ And I’m like, ‘Damn I can’t even show no aggression, people think it’s a damn response,’” he explained to Budden. “It got to a point where somehow, it was just a weird tension between me and him even though it was already said it wasn’t no beef because people made it that way.”
Last year, the ‘Dark Sky Paradise’ rapper ended up on a plane to J. Cole’s Dreamville festival with TDE president Punch. “He’s like, ‘Bro, what’s up? You ever hollered at Kendrick?’ And then as soon as he said that… it was like, ‘Ohhh.’ I damn near put it on the back burner in my brain. I’m like, ‘Damn. No, I never did.’ And he was like, ‘Man, you should’ve definitely hollered at him.‘”
The two rappers finally spoke on the phone, and Sean revealed that “the respect is mutual.”