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list May 14 2019 Written by

25 Of Talib Kweli’s Favorite Hip Hop Verses Of All Time

[Editorial note: this is a republication of a list Talib Kweli did for his own Tumblr page six years ago. It is re-published here with Talib Kweli’s permission.]


Not every rapper is an MC, and not every MC is a lyricist. There are great songs with stupid lyrics and lyricists who have never made great songs. It’s usually the beat that grabs you first. Sometimes it’s the hook. But for the true Hip Hop fan, it’s the verses that bring it home.

A verse could be dope because of how it feels when you rap along with it, like Greg Nice on Dwyck or Nas on Live at the BBQ. Or it could be the content that gets you, like Rass Kass on Nature Of The Threat. For style, some of the best verses ever are on Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s Shimmy Shimmy Ya.

For me, a great verse is one I could hold up as an example of how truly poetic Hip Hop is. Jay Electronica, creator of many incredible verses, once told me that Shakespeare got nothing on the best MCs.

When you read thru these verses, I bet you’ll agree. Shout out to, go there for accurate (almost! the closest I’ve ever seen!) translations of some of these lyrics.

1. Rakim, Follow The Leader, Verse One - Eric B & Rakim (1988)

Follow me into a solo
Get in the flow – and you can picture like a photo
Music mixed mellow maintains to make
Melodies for MC’s motivates the breaks
I’m everlastin, I can go on for days and days
With rhyme displays that engrave deep as X-rays
I can take a phrase that’s rarely heard, FLIP IT
Now it’s a daily word
I can get iller than ‘Nam, a killin bomb
But no alarm – Rakim will remain calm
Self-esteem make me super superb and supreme
But for a microphone still I fiend
This was a tape I wasn’t supposed to break
I was supposed to wait, but let’s motivate
I want to see who can keep followin and swallowin
Takin the making, bitin it and borrowin
Brothers tried and others died to get the formula
But I’ma let ya sweat – you still ain’t warm
You a step away from frozen, stiff as if ya posin
Dig into my brain as the rhyme gets chosen
So follow me and were ya thinkin’ you were first?
Let’s travel at magnificent speeds around the Universe
What could ya say as the Earth gets further and further away
Planets are small as balls of clay
Astray into the Milky Way – world’s outasight
Far as the eye can see – not even a satellite
Now stop and turn around and look
As ya stare in the darkness, ya knowledge is took!
So keep starin soon ya suddenly see a star
You better follow it cause it’s the R
This is a lesson if ya guessin and if ya borrowin
Hurry hurry step right up and keep followin
The Leader

2. Inspectah Deck, Triumph - Wu-Tang Clan (1997)

I bomb atomically, Socrates’ philosophies
And hypotheses can’t define how I be droppin these
Mockeries, lyrically perform armed robbery
Flee with the lottery, possibly they spotted me
Battle-scarred shogun, explosion when my pen hits
Tremendous, ultra-violet shine blind forensics
I inspect view through the future see millennium
Killa Beez sold fifty gold sixty platinum
Shackling the masses with drastic rap tactics
Graphic displays melt the steel like blacksmiths
Black Wu jackets Queen Beez ease the guns in
Rumble with patrolmen tear gas laced the function
Heads by the score take flight incite a war
Chicks hit the floor, diehard fans demand more
Behold the bold soldier, control the globe slowly
Proceeds to blow swingin swords like Shinobi
Stomp grounds I pound footprints in solid rock
Wu got it locked, performin live on your hottest block

3. Eminem, Renegade - Jay-Z (2000)

Since I’m in a position to talk to these kids and they listen
I ain’t no politician but I’ll kick it with ’em a minute
Cause see they call me a menace; and if the shoe fits I’ll wear it
But if it don’t, then y’all’ll swallow the truth grin and bear it
Now who’s these king of these rude ludicrous lucrative lyrics
Who could inherit the title, put the youth in hysterics
Usin his music to steer it, sharin his views and his merits
But there’s a huge interference – they’re sayin you shouldn’t hear it
Maybe it’s hatred I spew, maybe it’s food for the spirit
Maybe it’s beautiful music I made for you to just cherish
But I’m debated disputed hated and viewed in America
As a motherf***in drug addict – like you didn’t experiment?
Now now, that’s when you start to stare at who’s in the mirror
And see yourself as a kid again, and you get embarrased
And I got nothin to do but make you look stupid as parents
You f***in do-gooders – too bad you couldn’t do good at marriage!
(Ha ha!) And do you have any clue what I had to do to get here I don’t
Think you do so stay tuned and keep your ears glued to the stereo
Cause here we go – he’s {*Jigga joint Jigga-chk-Jigga*}
And I’m the sinister, Mr. Kiss-My-A*s it’s just a RENEGADE

4. AZ, Life's A Bitch - Nas (1994)

Visualizin the realism of life and actuality
F*** who’s the baddest a person’s status depends on salary
And my mentality is, money orientated
I’m destined to live the dream for all my peeps who never made it
cause yeah, we were beginners in the hood as five percenters
But somethin must of got in us cause all of us turned to sinners
Now some, restin in peace and some are sittin in San Quentin
Others such as myself are tryin to carry on tradition
Keepin the effervescence street ghetto essence inside us
Cause it provides us with the proper insight to guide us
Even though, we know somehow we all gotta go
but as long as we leavin thievin we’ll be leavin with some kind of dough
so, and to that day we expire and turn to vapors
me and my capers-ll be somewhere stackin plenty papers
Keepin it real, packin steel, gettin high
Cause life’s a bitch and then you die

5. Andre 3000, Return Of The Gangsta - OutKast (1998)

It’s the return of the gangsta thanks ta’
Them n****s that’s on that blow
That run up in yo’ crib which contains
Your lady and an 8 month old
Child to raise plus you true blue ’bout this music but
They do not want to hear it because they’d
Rather be bouncin’ and shootin’ and killin’ and bouncin’
And sh** get down
Return of the gangsta thanks ta’
Them n****s that thank [think] you soft
And say y’all be gospel rappin’
But they be steady clappin’ when you talk about
Bitches & switches & hoes & clothes & weed
Let’s talk about time travelin’ rhyme javelin
Somethin’ mind unravelin’ get down
Return of the gangsta thanks ta’
Them n****s who got them kids
Who got enough to buy an ounce
But not enough to bounce them kids to the zoo
Or to the park so they grow up in the dark never
Seein’ light so they end up being like yo’ sorry a*s
Robbin’ n****s in broad a*s daylight get down
Return of the gangsta thanks ta’
Them n****s that get the wrong impression of expression
Then the question is Big Boi what’s up with Andre?
Is he in a cult? Is he on drugs? Is he gay?
When y’all gon’ break up? When y’all gon’ wake up?
N**** I’m feelin’ better than ever what’s wrong with you
You get down!

6. Pharaohe Monch, Prisoners Of War - Organized Konfusion (1991)

Wake up to the mathematics of an erratic rap
Rejuvenator of rhyme, that sort of come automatic
Poetical medical medicine for the cerebellum
I divert em and flirt em insert em then I repel em
A breakdown, poetical shakedown
Fifty-two pick-up a stick-up so get on the floor facedown
The ammo to keep the people steppin
Breakin open the vault because I’m like a verbal assault weapon
I’m mathematical, acrobatical
Attack the wack take rap to the maximum
You’re strung out you’re hung out when you heard the style
That I brung out of faint air must come out my mouth
Where I stick my tongue out in the at-mos-phere
Take a good look at what’s happening here
On the microphone, I’m rappin
Pickin-em-stickin-em up, breakin-em-shakin-em up, and bashin
The lyric dictator, the aviator of antonym
All beware to prepare for the guillotine
Rhymes go express, expert, extreme
Be up to par with wisdom and intellect
Detatching one’s head directly from one’s neck
Still I’ve been illing and drilling your brain
Like a villain I came in the darkness to spark the literature for sure
When I rhyme for the prisoners of war

7. Nas, NY State Of Mind, Verse One (1994)

Rappers I monkey flip em with the funky rhythm I be kickin
Musician, inflictin composition
Of pain I’m like Scarface sniffin cocaine
Holdin a M-16, see with the pen I’m extreme, now
Bulletholes left in my peepholes
I’m suited up in street clothes
Hand me a nine and I’ll defeat foes
Y’all know my steelo with or without the airplay
I keep some E&J, sittin bent up in the stairway
Or either on the corner bettin Grants with the ceelo champs
Laughin at baseheads, tryin to sell some broken amps
G-Packs get off quick, forever n****z talk sh**
RemIniscing about the last time the Task Force flipped
N****z be runnin through the block shootin
Time to start the revolution, catch a body head for Houston
Once they caught us off guard, the Mac-10 was in the grass and
I ran like a cheetah with thoughts of an assassin
Pick the Mac up, told brothers, “Back up,” the Mac spit
Lead was hittin n****z one ran, I made him backflip
Heard a few chicks scream my arm shook, couldn’t look
Gave another squeeze heard it click yo, my sh** is stuck
Try to cock it, it wouldn’t shoot now I’m in danger
Finally pulled it back and saw three bullets caught up in the chamber
So now I’m jetting to the building lobby
And it was filled with children probably couldn’t see as high as I be
(So whatchu sayin?) It’s like the game ain’t the same
Got younger n****z pullin the triggers bringing fame to they name
And claim some corners, crews without guns are goners
In broad daylight, stickup kids, they run up on us
Fo’-fives and gauges, Macs in fact
Same n****z’ll catch a back to back, snatchin yo’ cracks and black
There was a snitch on the block gettin n****z knocked
So hold your stash until the coke price drop
I know this crackhead, who said she gotta smoke nice rock
And if it’s good she’ll bring ya customers in measuring pots, but yo
You gotta slide on a vacation
Inside information keeps large n****z erasin and they wives basin
It drops deep as it does in my breath
I never sleep, cause sleep is the cousin of death
Beyond the walls of intelligence, life is defined
I think of crime when I’m in a New York state of mind

8. Prodigy, Shook Ones Part Two - Mobb Deep (1995)

I got you stuck off the realness, we be the infamous
You heard of us
Official Queensbridge murderers
The mobb comes equipped with warfare, beware
Of my crime family who got nuff shots to share
For all of those who wanna profile and pose
Rock you in your face, stab your brain wit’ your nosebone
You all alone in these streets, cousin
Every man for theyself in this land we be gunnin’
And keep them shook crews runnin’
Like they supposed to
They come around but they never come close to
I can see it inside your face
You’re in the wrong place
Cowards like you just get they’re whole body laced up
With bullet holes and such
Speak the wrong words man and you will get touched
You can put your whole army against my team and
I guarantee you it’ll be your very last time breathin’
Your simple words just don’t move me
You’re minor, we’re major
You all up in the game and don’t deserve to be a player
Don’t make me have to call your name out
Your crew is featherweight
My gunshots’ll make you levitate
I’m only nineteen but my mind is old
And when the things get for real my warm heart turns cold
Another n**** deceased, another story gets told
It ain’t nothin’ really
Hey, yo dun spark the phillie
So I can get my mind off these yellowback n****s
Why they still alive I don’t know, go figure
Meanwhile back in Queens the realness is foundation
If I die I couldn’t choose a better location
When the slugs penetrate you feel a burning sensation
Getting closer to God in a tight situation
Now, take these words home and think it through
Or the next rhyme I write might be about you

9. Black Thought, Act Too: Love Of My Life - The Roots (1999)

The anticipation arose as time froze
I stared off the stage with my eyes closed and dove
into the deep cosmos
The impact pushed back, the first five rows
But before the raw live shows
I remember I’se a little snot-nosed
Rockin Gazelle, goggles and Izod clothes
Learnin the ropes of ghetto survival
Peepin out the situation I had to slide through
Had to watch my back my front plus my sides too
When it came to gettin mine I ain’t tryin, to argue
Sometimes I wouldn’ta made it if it wasn’t for you
Hip-Hop, you the love of my life and that’s true
When I was handlin the sh** I had to do
It was all for you, from the door for you
Speak through you, gettin paper on tour for you
From the start, Thought was down by law for you
Used to hit up every corner store wall for you
We ripped sh**, and kept it hardcore for you
I remember late nights, steady rockin the mic
Hip-Hop, you the love of my life
So tell the people like that y’all (that y’all)
And it sounds so nice
Hip-Hop, you the love of my life
We bout to take it to the top…

10. Chuck D, Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos, Verse One - Public Enemy (1988)

I got a letter from the government
The other day
I opened and read it
It said they were suckers
They wanted me for their army or whatever
Picture me given’ a damn – I said never
Here is a land that never gave a damn
About a brother like me and myself
Because they never did
I wasn’t wit’ it, but just that very minute…
It occurred to me
The suckers had authority
Cold sweatin’ as I dwell in my cell
How long has it been?
They got me sittin’ in the state pen
I gotta get out – but that thought was thought before
I contemplated a plan on the cell floor
I’m not a fugitive on the run
But a brother like me begun – to be another one
Public enemy servin’ time – they drew the line y’all
To criticize me some crime – never the less
They could not understand that I’m a Black man
And I could never be a veteran
On the strength, the situation’s unreal
I got a raw deal, so I’m goin’ for the steel

11. Cappadonna, Winter Warz - Wu-Tang Clan (1997)

You heard of the rasp before but kept waitin
for the sun of song, I keep dancehalls strong
Beats never worthy of my cause, I prolong
Extravaganza time sits still
No propaganda, be wary of the skill
As I bring forth the music, make love to your eardrum
Dedicated to rap n**** beware of the fearsome
Lebanon Don, Malcolm X beat threat
CD massacre, murder to cassette
I blow the shop up, you ain’t seen nothin yet
One man ran, tryin to get away from it
Put your bifocal on, watch me a-cometh
into your chamber like Freddy enter dream
Discombumberate your technique and your scheme
Four course applause, like a black dat to dat
You’re stuck on stupid like I’m stuck on the map
Nowhere to go except next show bro
Entertainin motherf***ers can’t stop O
in battlin, you don’t want me to start tattlin
All upon the stage cause y’all snakes keep rattlin
Bitch, you ain’t got nothin on the rich
Every other day my whole dress code switch
So just in case you want to clock me like Sherry
All y’all crab bitches ain’t got to worry
Can’t get a n**** like Don dime a dozen
Even if I’m smoked out I can’t be scoped out
I’m too ill, I represent Park Hill
See my face on the twenty dollar bill
Cash it in, and get ten dollars back
The fat LP with Cappachino on the wax
Pass it in your think, put valve up to twelve
Put all the other LP’s back on the shelf
And smoke a blunt, and dial 9-1-7
And you could get long d*ck hip-hop affection
I damage any MC who step in my direction
I’m Staten Island’s best son f*** what you heard
N****z still talkin that sh** is absurd
My repertoire, is U.S.S.R.
P.L.O. style got thrown out the car
and ran over, by the Method Man jeep
Divine can’t define my style is so deep
like p*ssy, my low cut fade stay bushy
like a porcupine, I part backs like a spine
Cut you like a blunt and reconstruct your design
I know you want to diss me, but I can read your mind
Cuz you weak in the knees, like SWV
Tryin to get a title like Wu Killa Bee
Kid change your habit, you know I’m friends with the Abbott
Me and RZA ridin name printed in the tablet
under vets, we paid our debts for mad years
Hibernate the sound, and now we out like beers
and blunt power, born physically power speakin
The truth in the song be the pro-black teachin

12. Big L, Ebonics, Verse One (1999)

Check it, my weed smoke is my la
A ki of coke is a pie
When I’m lifted, I’m high
With new clothes on, I’m fly
Cars is whips and sneakers is kicks
Money is chips, movies is flicks
Also, cribs is homes, jacks is pay phones
Cocaine is nose candy, cigarettes is bones
A radio is a box, a razor blade is a ox
Fat diamonds is rocks and jakes is cops
And if you got robbed, you got stuck
You got shot, you got bucked
And if you got double-crossed, you got f***ed
Your bankroll is your poke, a choke hold is a yoke
A kite is a note, a con is a okey doke
And if you got punched that mean you got snuffed
To clean is to buff, a bull scare is a strong bluff
I know you like the way I’m freakin’ it
I talk with slang and i’ma never stop speakin’ it

13. Mos Def, Thieves In The Night - Black Star (1998)

Yo, I’m sure that everybody out listenin agree
That everything you see ain’t really how it be
A lot of jokers out runnin in place, chasin the style
Be a lot goin on beneath the empty smile
Most cats in my area be lovin the hysteria
Synthesized surface conceals the interior
America, land of opportunity, mirages and camoflauges
More than usually – speakin loudly, sayin nothin
You confusin me, you losin me
Your game is twisted, want me enlisted – in your usury
Foolishly, most men join the ranks cluelessly
Buffoonishly accept the deception, believe the perception
Reflection rarely seen across the surface of the lookin glass
Walkin the street, wonderin who they be lookin past
Lookin gassed with them imported designer shades on
Stars shine bright, but the light – rarely stays on
Same song, just remixed, different arrangement
Put you on a yacht but they won’t call it a slaveship
Strangeness, you don’t control this, you barely hold this
Screamin brand new, when they just sanitized the old sh**
Suppose it’s, just another clever Jedi mind trick
That they been runnin across stars through all the time with
I find it’s distressin, there’s never no in-between
We either n****z or Kings
We either bitches or Queens
The deadly ritual seems immersed, in the perverse
Full of short attention spans, short tempers, and short skirts
Long barrel automatics released in short bursts
The length of black life is treated with short worth
Get yours first, them other n****z secondary
That type of illin that be fillin up the cemetery
This life is temporary but the soul is eternal
Separate the real from the lie, let me learn you
Not strong, only aggressive, cause the power ain’t directed
That’s why, we are subjected to the will of the oppressive
Not free, we only licensed
Not live, we just excitin
Cause the captors.. own the masters.. to what we writin
Not compassionate, only polite, we well trained
Our sincerity’s rehearsed in stage, it’s just a game
Not good, but well behaved cause the ca-me-ra survey
most of the things that we think, do, or say
We chasin after death just to call ourselves brave
But everyday, next man meet with the grave
I give a damn if any fam’ recall my legacy
I’m tryin to live life in the sight of God’s memory
Like that y’all

14. R.A. The Rugged Man, Uncommon Valor - Jedi Mind Tricks (2006)

True story…
Call me Thorburn, John H. Staff Sergeant, Marksman
Skilling, killing, illing
I’m able and willing
Kill a village elephant, rape and pillage your village
Illegitimate killers, US Military guerillas
This ain’t a real war, Vietnam sh**
World War II, that’s a war, this is just a military conflict
Soothing, drug-abusing, Vietnamese women screwing
Sex, gambling and booz, and all the sh** is amusing
Bitches and guns, this is every man’s dream
I don’t want to go home, where I’m just an ordinary human being
Special OP, Huey chopper gun sh**, run sh**
Gook run when the mini-gun spit, won’t miss, kill sh**
Spit four-thousand bullets a minute
Bit the Charlie, hit trigger, hit it
I’m in it to win it, get it
The lieutenant hinted the villain, I’ve ended up killing
The killing, I did it, cripple, did it, pictures I painted is vivid, live it
A wizard with weapons, a secret mission we about to begin it
Government funded, behind enemy lines bullets is spraying
It’s heating up, a hundred degrees
The enemy’s the North Vietnamese, bitch please
Ain’t no sweat, I’m told “be at ease”
Until I see the pilot got hit, and we about to hit some trees
Tail rotor broke, crash land, American man
Cambodia, right in the enemy hand
Take a swig of the whiskey to calm us
Them yellow men wearing black pajamas
They want to harm us
They all up on us
Bang, bang, bullet hit my chest, feel no pain
To my left, the captain caught a bullet right in his brain
Body parts flying, loss of limbs, explosions
Bad intentions, I see my best friend’s intestines
Pray to the one above, It’s raining and I’m covered in mud
I think I’m dying, I feel dizzy, I’m losing blood
I see my childhood, I’m back in the arms of my mother
I see my whole life, I see Christ, I see bright lights
I see Israelites, Muslims and Christians at peace, no fights
Blacks, Whites, Asians, people of all types
I must have died, then I woke up, surprised I’m alive
I’m in a hospital bed, they rescued me, I survived
I escaped the war, came back
But ain’t escape Agent Orange, two of my kids born handicapped
Spastic, quadriplegic, micro cephalic
Cerebral palsy, cortical blindness, name it they had it
My son died he ain’t live, but I still try to think positive
Cause in life, God take, God give

15. KRS-One, Why Is That, Verse One - Boogie Down Productions (1989)

The day begins, with a grin
And a prayer to excuse my sins
I can walk anywhere I choose
Cause everybody listens to the B.D.P. crew
We’re not here for glamour or fashion
But here’s the question I’m askin
Why is it young black kids taught {flashin?}
They’re only taught how to read, write, and act
It’s like teachin a dog to be a cat
You don’t teach white kids to be black
Why is that? Is it because we’re the minority?
Well black kids follow me
Genesis chapter eleven verse ten
Explains the genealogy of Chem
Chem was a black man, in Africa
If you repeat this fact they can’t laugh at ya
Genesis fourteen verse thirteen
Abraham steps on the scene
Being a descendant of Chem which is a fact
Means, Abraham too was black
Abraham born in the city of a black man
Called Nimrod grandson of Kam
Kam had four sons, one was named Canaan
Here, let me do some explaining
Abraham was the father of Isaac
Isaac was the father of Jacob
Jacob had twelve sons, for real
And these, were the children of Isreal
According to Genesis chapter ten
Egyptians descended from {Hahm,Kam}
Six hundred years later, my brother, read up
Moses was born in Egypt
In this era black Egyptians weren’t right
They enslaved black Isrealites
Moses had to be of the black race
Because he spent fourty years in Pharoah’s place
He passed as the Pharoah’s grandson
So he had to look just like him
Yes my brothers and sisters take this here song
Yo, correct the wrong
The information we get today is just wack
But ask yourself, why is that?

16. Jay-Z, What More Can I Say, Verse Three (2003)

Now you know a*s is willie
When they got you in a mag
For like half a billi
And your a*s ain’t lily
That mean that sh** you write must be illy
Either that or your flow is silly
It’s both
I don’t mean to boast
But damn if I don’t brag
Them crackers gonna act like I ain’t on they a*s
The Martha Stewart
That’s far from Jewish
Far from a Harvard student
Just had the balls to do it
And no I’m not through with it
In fact I’m just previewin it
This ain’t the show i’m just EQ’in it
One, Two and I won’t stop abusin it
To groupie girls stop false accusin it
Back to the music
The Maybach roof is translucent
N****s got a problem Houston
What up B
They can’t shut up me
Shut down I
Not even P.E.
I’ma ride
God forgive me for my brash delivery
But I remember vividly
What these streets did to me
So picture me
Lettin these clowns nit pick at me
Paint me like a pickaninny
I will literally
Kiss Tee-Tee in the forehead
Tell her please forgive me
Then squeeze until your forehead
I’m not the one to score points off
In fact
I got a joint to knock your points off
Hova the God n***8 blast for me
I’m at the Trump International
Ask for me
I ain’t never scared
I’m everywhere
You ain’t never there
N**** why would I ever care
Pound for pound I’m the best to ever come around here
Excluding nobody
Look what I embody
The soul of a hustler I really ran the street
That CEO’s mine
That marketing plan was me
And no I ain’t get shot up a whole bunch of times
Or make up sh** in a whole bunch of lines
And I ain’t animated, like say a Busta Rhymes
But the real sh** you get when you bust down my lines
Add that to the fact I went plat a bunch of times
Times that by my influence
On pop culture
I supposed to be number one on everybody’s list
We’ll see what happens when I no longer exist
F*** this

17. Ice Cube, A Bird In The Hand, Verse One (1991)

Fresh out of school cause I was a high school grad
Gots to get a job ’cause I was a high school dad
Wish I got paid like I was rappin’ to the nation
But that’s not likely, so here’s my application
Pass it to the man at AT&T
’cause when I was in school I got the A.E.E.
But there’s no S.E. for this youngsta
I didn’t have no money so now I  gotta punch the
Clock at a slave, and be happy man
But whitey says there’s no room for the african
Always knew that I would clock G’s
But welcome to Mcdonalds can I take your order please
Gotta sell you food that might give you cancer
’cause my son doesn’t take no for an answer
Now I pay taxes that you never give me back
What about diapers, bottles, and similac
Do I gotta go sell me a whole lotta crack
For decent shelter and clothes on my back?
Or should I just wait for help from Bush
Or Jesse Jackson, and Operation Push
If you ask me the whole thing needs a douche
A Massengil what the hell crack’ll sell in the neighborhood
To the corner house bitches,
Miss Parker, Little Joe and Todd Bridges
Or anybody that he know
So I got me a bird, better known as a kilo
Now everybody know I went from poor to a n**** that got dough
So now you put the feds against me
Cause I couldn’t follow the plan now the president see
I’ll never givin’ love again
But blacks are too f***in broke to be republican
Now I remember I used to be cool
Till I stopped fillin’ out my W-2
Now senators are gettin’ high
And your plan against the ghetto backfired
So now you gotta pep talk
But sorry, this is our only room to walk
Cause we don’t want a drug push
But a bird in the hand is worth more than a Bush

18. Nas, Rewind (2001)

The bullet goes back in the gun
The bullet hole’s closin this chest of a n****
Now he back to square one
Screamin, “Shoot don’t please”
I put my fifth back on my hip
It’s like a VCR rewindin a hit
He put his hands back on his bitch
My caravan doors open up
I jumped back in the van and closed it shut
Goin reverse, slowly prepared
My n**** Jungle utters out somethin crazy like, “Go he there”
Sittin in back of this chair, we hittin the roach
The smoke goes back in the blunt, the blunt gets bigger in growth
Jungle unrolls it, put his weed back in the jar
The blunt turns back into a cigar
We listen to Stevie, it sounded like heavy metal fans
Spinnin records backwards of AC/DC
I give my n**** dap, jump out the van back first
Back upstairs, took off the black shirt
I’m in the crib with the phone to my ear
Listen up so y’all can figure out the poem real clear
The voice on the phone was like, “Outside right we”
So with my mouth wide, holdin my heat
Bullets I had plenty to squeeze, plenty for ya
‘Cause Jungle said, “Block your on enemies the”
Hung up the phone, then the phone rings (phone ringing)
I’m laid in the bed thinkin ’bout this pretty young thing
Who left, she came back, her clothes just fell to the rug
She fell to my bed and gave me a hug
I told her, “No hell”
She talkin ’bout, “Me kiss”
Bobbed her head then spit the nut back in my d*ck
Started suckin with no hands, a whole lotta spit
Then got up and put her bra back on her t*ts
Got fully dressed and told me, “Stressed really I’m”
Picked up her Gucci bag and left her n**** behind
Walkin through the door, she rang the bell twice
I vomited Vodka back in my glass with juice and ice
The clock went back from three, to two, to one
And that’s about the time the story begun
That’s when I first heard the voicemail on the cell
It said, “Son we found that n**** we gotta kill”
Message Beep
Ay yo son, ay yo son, you hear me, you hear me?
Listen man, this dude right on the block, right now, man
I found him, right now, I see him right now!
Let’s kill him)
Message Beep
“Yo, this Nas, leaving, Peace”

19. Jean Grae, #8 (2008)

Possibly I could, drop in some knowledge I should
But I ain’t finish college and I’m not a Kanye, got it, good
Intelligent rhetoric, brain packed like a tenement
Aim back at the tenants my face crack in a venomous rage
I really wanna blaze all you, burn you like 8whores do
Pearl you like Florida store furniture
Permanent marker Jean is tagging blacking up your partners p*nis
Pardon the phoenix while I mark you plus I bark the meanest
Hardly elitist, I know the struggle
I mostly bubble underground like a soda below some broken rubble
At ground zero I get down n****, like them brown people
Saturday night like Geechi Suede and Sonny Chiba lift ya
I’ll levitate the scriptures just so I can see em better
Each and every letter was conceived by Jean I’m the Coretta
Scott King of my day I mean, stand by my mate, my king
Planning for Jamaica honeymooning, vacationing
CD break it in, skipping on this track like I been
scraping it, scraping it, scraping it, bring it back
Sicker than rap, I’ll stick you with a picket axe
Pick up your soul and then control it what’s bigger than that?
You don’t like the way I flow? “She needs more emotion” no
I’ll give you emotion, it’s you, holding your broken nose
I’ll leave you comatose with a pound of Columbian snow
At your side so when the cops arrive, they’ll just say you overdosed
This ain’t a battle, I would make your cranium rattle
Skull in pain as if a hundred veins had popped, a dangerous madam
The Heidi Fleiss of words, like a verse, find a purse
I could make you love me if you f*** with me violence occurs
New York pimp game the worst chic since the birth of words
That I first met on a Thursday I think I’m cursed
Don’t blink n****s, cuz I will figure
A way to kill you in a second with my ring finger
Think quicker, my vision multiplied like liquor drinkers
I’ll kick your sister til she’s crippled make you step with her
Cuz I could mark you too, show you what a dart could do
When your aorta’s a target, n****, pardon you

20. Big Pun, Dream Shatterer, Verse One (1998)

Ay-yo I shatter dreams like Jordan, assault and batter your team
Your squadron’ll be barred from rap like Adam & Eve from the garden
I’m carvin’ my initials on your forehead
So every night before bed you see the “BP” shine off the board head
Reverse that, I curse at the first wack n**** with the worst rap
’cause he ain’t worth jack
Hit ’em with a thousand pounds of pressure per slap
Make his whole body jerk back, watch the earth crack
Hand him his purse back
I’m the first Latin rapper to baffle your skull
Master the flow, n****z be swearin’ I’m blacker than coal
Like Nat King, I be rapping and tongue’s packing
The ones, magnums, cannons and gatling guns
It’s Big Pun! The one and only son of Tony…Montana
You ain’t promised manana in the rotten manzana
C’mon-pana we need more rhymers
Feel the marijuana snake bite anaconda
I’m in Havana with Juana, try to match my persona
Sometimes rhymin’ I blow my own mind like Nirvana
Comma, and go the whole nine like Madonna
Go try to find another rhymer with my kinda grammar

21. Busta Rhymes, Scenario - A Tribe Called Quest (1991)

Watch, as I combine all the juice from the mind
Heel up, wheel up, bring it back, come rewind
Powerful impact BOOM! from the cannon
Not braggin, try to read my mind just imagine
Vo-cab-u-lary’s necessary
When diggin into my library
Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh!
Eating ITAL stew like the one Peter Tosh
UH uh UH, all over the track, man
UH, pardon me, UH, as I come back
As I did it yo I had to beg your pardon
When I travel to the Sun I roll with the squadron
RRRRRROAW RRRRRRROAW like a dungeon dragon
Change your little drawers cause your pants are saggin
Try to step to this, I will twist you in a turban
And have u smelling rank, like some old stale urine
Chickity-choco, the chocolate chicken
The rear cock diesel buttcheeks they were kicking
Yo, bustin out before the Busta bust a nut the rhyme
the rhythm is in sync (UHH!) the rhymes are on time (TIME!)
Rippin up the sound just like a radio
Observe the rhyme and check out the scenario!!

22. Jay-Z, Regrets, Verse Two (1996)

I found myself reminiscin, remember this one
When he was here he was crazy nice with his son
I miss him, long as I’m livin he’s livin through memories
He’s there to kill all my suicidal tendencies
In heaven lookin over me, or in hell, keepin it cozy
I’m comin life on these streets ain’t what it’s supposed to be
Remember Newton, mutual friend well me and him feudin
On your life I tried to talk to him
But you know n****z, think they guns can stop four n****z
Frontin like they’re, Big Willie but really owe n****z
Hoe n****z, this year I’m show n****z think I’m slippin
I’m bought to send you a roommate, no bullsh*ttin
For my hustle’s goin too well to hit him
You was right n****z want you to be miserable wit em
Anyway, I ain’t tryin to hear it, I think I’m touched
This whole verse I been talkin to your spirit, a little too much

23. Notorious B.I.G., Notorious Thugs (1997)

Armed and dangerous, ain’t too many can bang with us
Straight up weed no angel dust, label us notorious
Thug ass n****z that love to bust, it’s strange to us
Y’all n****z be scramblin, gamblin
Up in restaurants with mandolins, and violins
We just sittin here tryin to win, tryin not to sin
High off weed and lots of gin
So much smoke need oxygen, steadily countin them Benjamins
N**** you should too, if you knew
What this game’ll do to you
Been in this sh** since ninety-two
Look at all the bullsh** I been through
So-called beef with you know who
F*** a few female stars or two
Then I blew like, n**** who, like Mike, sh**
Not to be f***ed with
Motherf***er better duck quick, cause
Me and my dogs love to buck sh**
F*** the luck sh**, strictly aim
No aspirations to quit the game
Spit yo’ game, talk yo’ sh**
Grab yo’ gat, call yo’ click
Squeeze yo’ clip, hit the right one
Pass that weed, I got to light one
All them n**** I got ta fight one
All them hoes I got ta like one
Our situation is a tight one
Whatcha gonna do, fight or run?
Seems to me that you’ll take B
Bone and Big, n**** die slowly
I’ma tell you like a n**** told me
Cash Rule Everything Around Me
Sh**, lyrically, n****z can’t see me
F*** it, buy the coke
Cook the coke, cut it
Know the bitch ‘fore you caught yourself lovin’ it
N**** with a Benz f***in it
Doesn’t it seem odd to you
Big come through with mobs and crews
Goodfellas down to the Mo Thugs dudes
Who’s the killa, me or you?

24. Common, Communism (1994)

Chick-a chick-a i’m
Chick-a chick-a on
Chick-a chick-a my
My, own sh**
Like an entrepreneur, that stepped in manure
Man I’m newer than a jack I went up the hill with Jill
And jacked Jill’s big booty
I did the booty up, I told the bitch she better have my money
Or step to the AMG
You know Com Sense, OK him be
That n**** that be making all the bid-by-by-bye sounds
But since then, Common calm down!
I’m on some calm sh** watch com get complicated
Simple motherf***ers say the way that com communicated
Was too complex, I got a complex not to complain
On my brain no complain and so will my community
And I prefer compliments
So I complement at an angle, of ninety degrees
It’s the nineties, and easy got known for grease
I got a sense of direction and a compass
Come past mc’s with compassion, though I heard the screams of em
But I ain’t Shai, so why shall I comfort
Com should’ve been at the fort with jeff I’m so ill
But I chilled in my compartment with no company and no meals
Now com can get the pan(t)y, but I want my own company
And Com is on a mission not to work for commission
It’s a common market and it’s so much competition
But to me, competition is none
To my comp I’m a ton I get amped like Watts in a riot
My compact disc is a commodity, so buy it
Instead of competing with pete
Com compromised, com made a promise
Not to commercialize, but compound the soul
With other elements, compelling sense into communism

25. Ghostface Killah, Impossible - Wu-Tang Clan (1997)

Call an ambulance, Jamie been shot, word to Kimmy
Don’t go Son, n**** you my motherf***in heart
Stay still Son, don’t move, just think about Keba
She’ll be three in January, your young God needs you
The ambulance is taking too long
Everybody get the f*** back, excuse me bitch, gimme your jack
One, seven one eight, nine one one, low battery, damn
Blood comin out his mouth, he bleedin badly
Nahhh Jamie, don’t start that sh**
Keep your head up, if you escape hell we gettin f***ed up
When we was eight, we went to Bat Day to see the Yanks
In Sixty-Nine, his father and mines, they robbed banks
He pointed to the charm on his neck
With his last bit of energy left, told me rock it with respect
I opened it, seen the God holdin his kids
Photogenic, tears just burst out my wig
Plus he dropped one, oh sh**, here come his Old Earth
With no shoes on, screamin holdin her breasts with a gown on
She fell and then lightly touched his jaw, kissed him
Rubbed his hair, turned around the ambulance was there
Plus the blue coats, Officer Lough, took it as a joke
Weeks ago he strip-searched the God and gave him back his coke
Bitches yellin, Beenie Man swung on Helen
In the back of a cop car, dirty tarts are tellin
But suddenly a chill came through it was weird
Felt like my man, was cast out my heaven now we share
Laid on the stretcher, blood on his Wally’s like ketchup
Deep like the full assassination with a sketch of it
It can’t be, from Yoohoo to Lee’s
Second grade humped the teachers, about to leave
Finally this closed chapter, comes to an end
He was announced, pronounced dead, y’all, at twelve ten

Written by

The Brooklyn-based MC earned his stripes as one of the most lyrically-gifted, socially aware and politically insightful rappers to emerge in the last 20 years. “I’m a touring artist. I’m an artist that’s …

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