A few days ago Jay Electronica took to Periscope to say he'd slap 50 Cent and I ignored him because a rapper who's never put out an album threatening a rapper who hasn't had a hit song in nine years just doesn't get my blood moving.
But then someone pointed out that Jay ElectronaGrowingIncreasinglyDelusionalica also took the time to proclaim his greatness over Kendrick Lamar, and that felt like the kind of good old-fashioned, relevant rap debate I could get behind.
"Look, I like the one Kendrick song with Gunplay, 'Cartoons and Cereal,' but other than that we don’t know what nigga talking about.”
Come on now Jay, if you're going to troll the key is to do it in a way that doesn't make it seem so obvious that you're trolling. You don't know what Kendrick's talking about? You, Mr. "A midget in a casket like a baby in a bonnet," can't figure out the lyrics to "Alright"?
And "Cartoon & Cereal" is the only Kendrick song you like? The only one? The man's three albums deep into a career, four if you count Overly Dedicated, plus a litany of guest work, and that's the only one? Wait a minute....guest work...guest work...could it really be that Elec's still salty over what happened on "Control?" That song dropped three years ago, certainly he's not still in his feelings because Kendrick name-dropped a bunch of people and most people stopped listening before they got to his verse?
But ok, fine, whatever. So you only like one song. No one's legally obligated to like Kendrick's music, as long as Jay didn't really overstep his bounds and say something like he's categorically superior. Oh wait, what's that? He said something even worse?
"Kendrick is my son. Kendrick is my baby, Kendrick wishes he could be me.”
I feel like we're in a bit of a flat Earth situation here. Like, I don't have to actually spend my time expaining why the Earth is round or why the idea of Kendrick either wishing he could be Jay or Kendrick being Jay's baby is ridiculous, right? It'd be like writing a couple paragraphs explaining why pouring water on something makes it wet.
The only thing that really makes sense to me is that we all criticize in others what we most fear in ourselves, and in that sense Jay's words are actually kind of sad. In so many ways Kendrick's had the career we wished Jay Elec would have had, the avant garde lyricist who figures out how to also infiltrate the mainstream. But while Elec remains seemingly paralyzed because the perfect album he wants to release can only exist if it's never released, Kendrick is actually out in the world, taking risks, having an impact, occasionally falling short and then trying to do better.
So if Kendrick Lamar really is Jay Electronica's son, he's the son who learns from his father's mistakes and does better.