What does DJ Khaled do, exactly? He gets Kendrick Lamar and Big Sean on a track together for the first time since that little "Control" thing happened. You may have heard about it.
While K. Dot's verse on "Control," as an isolated verse in and of itself, isn't that incredible, it's impact was enormous. He legitimately murdered Sean on his own shit and created a hip-hop cultural landmark and reference point. Getting "Controlled" didn't became a word like getting "ethered" did, but anyone alive and on the rap internet in 2013 will likely go to their grave remembering the hoopla surrounding that release.
So on some level it's impossible to listen to "Holy Key" - the new Kendrick Lamar and Big Sean song, but technically a DJ Khaled song, but actually a Kendrick Lamar and Big Sean song - and not feel at least an ounce of significance in the two emcees once again inviting measurement against each other. Certainly, as a shrewd marketer, Khaled was aware of the additional interest Kendrick and Sean's shared background would drum up in the song, and it's impossible to imagine Lamar and Sean didn't have it in their heads too when they recorded.
So how's the song sound? Holy shit, you need to hear this.
Before the release Khaled said that Kendrick had the best verse on the album, a heavy prediction considering Jay Z, Nas, J. Cole and more are also on the album, and Kendrick absolutely came through and ripped apart the mic like a Velociraptor, but ScHoolboy Q was right, we don't need another article about how great Kendrick is. Instead, let's talk about Big Sean - goddamn, there's not a whiff of murder here. We're used to clever punchlines from Sean Don, but the man also got straight up political, dropping some powerful lines about police brutality and love in the face of hate.
And as long as we're at it, goddamn-goddamn Betty Wright came through with an ultralight beam of a hook that's so powerful I feel bad calling it a hook. So yes, Kendrick did his damn thing, but don't stop what you're doing and listen to this for Kendrick. Listen to "Holy Key" for Big Sean and Betty Wright - holy shit, they killed this.
By Nathan S, the managing editor of DJBooth and a hip-hop writer. His beard is awesome. This is his Twitter.