Outside of all of the name dropping and the resulting furor, the most exciting thing Kendrick’s “Control” verse was his delivery, which was ragged in a way that he hadn’t really reached before. Since the verse got so much attention, it seemed only a matter of time before rappers stopped recording weak comebacks and started adopting similar deliveries instead.
Julian Malone, the young BRKF$T Club member and former Stones Throw rapper, is one of the first to do this with his soulful “Letter from a King.” The beat, built around a gorgeous a guitar sample and a few choice vocal samples, is easily one of the best beats that Malone has ever made. He uses the almost always effective strategy of rapping angrily over a quiet soul beat, and his grittier than normal vocals don’t sound at all like an ill-fitting affectation as Kendrick’s occasionally did on “Control.”
Ju’s career has taken some tough turns over the last year, with his quick rise to prominence above his fellow 2008ighties crew members to his frustrating departure and mini-feud with Stones Throw on through the delays of his upcoming Diff.rnt mixtape. His frustration is palpable throughout the song, confessing that he’s “tired of niggas thinking just cause I keep it low pro that somebody losing the floor/ I’m scared that I ain’t gon’ blow.” It’s a powerful statement of vulnerability, and it shows that he’s poised to do just fine on his own.