It’s about halfway through the year, and now with Release-Yo-Shit-On-June-18th-Calypse firmly in the rear-view, it’s time to reflect on the year’s tightest verses so far. (Spoiler: Ye, Cole, and Mac are nowhere to be found here). There have been a ton of masterful bars in 2013, so heading into the rest of the year, this top ten is going to be a tough list to crack; it’s full of vocal experimentation, dizzying speed, jaw dropping, gut-busting punchlines, wrap-around flows, and earned philosophical truths. Lyricism is on the rise, innovation is at a high. Here’s our list of the ten best verses from the sharpest pens of 2013’s first half.
10. Action Bronson – “Compliments 2 The Chef” (Verse 2)
Action Bronson starts right out by quoting the English language’s oldest proverb–it’s about there only being so much you can give someone before he or she has to think or act independently. Then, he follows it up with one of his own: “Two in the pink, two in the stink.” Bronson is a born giver, always going that extra mile. He then paints the vivid picture of his father and him as the unstoppable team he saw them as in his youth. “Right seat sittin’, left hand shiftin’ / You know that every team needs a Paxton and a Pippin”, he tells us, before zooming back to the present with the most satisfying of old school flows, “Bronson rhymin’ like he on an acid tab trippin’.” That’s for damn sure–there’s no other way he could come up with the punchline (of the year?) he spits 3 bars later. Again, he sets the scene with masterful brevity, “Hi-5 love, 5’5” plump”, before uttering the most simultaneously nerdy, disgusting, astounding comparison imaginable: “Sell the pussy ’til that shit look like a Ty Cobb glove.” If you don’t know your baseball, follow the link to feel the full, vivid nastiness of that one. As if anything even mattered after that gem of a line, Bronson continues with his typically clever and cartoonishly gross antics, comparing what the girl is going to do to his balls to drinking bubble tea. In an interesting move, Bronson spits a very different kind of simile towards the verse’s closing. Far more serious and poetic, Bronson says that the blueness of his girl’s eyes is “important like an August rain”. There are so many reasons that that line is interesting, among them the odd switch in context that comes from the way he talks about rain, and the strange word choice of “important”. Regardless, one thing is clear, you can always count on Bronsolini to bring you to real, vivid places and moments, and, more often than not, make a joke about ruining a vagina.
9. Freddie Gibbs – “Freddie Soprano” (Verse 1)
Freddie Gibbs has been praised far and wide for unfailingly finding the invisible pockets in beats that lesser rappers simply can’t hear or access. He also possesses a deep, wailing voice reminiscent of Pac, and, as if that wasn’t enough, he has a bone-chilling, natural ability to say, frankly, cool gangsta shit. All of Freddie’s talents come out in the opening verse from one of the late singles off ESGN. Though the opening couplet speaking on how dope in his bloodstream is both his way of life and his path to death is clever and darkly compelling, the first true highlight comes in bar five, when Freddie smoothly speeds up in a way only he can pull off. “Started be-low mothafuckn’ zero / First check that I got off rap, man I raised my ‘Lac and copped a Kilo”. Fred tells of how, as a broke young man, he intertwined the business of gangsta dealings and gangsta rap. It’s a distillation of the true hustler’s mentality, but the delivery is an example of how Fred also possesses the mind of a stellar percussionist. “Started be-low mothafuckin’ zero”, hits every beat in single time, before speeding through the next bar and slowly descending back into the realms of the mortal for the end of the line after that. Then, Freddie whips out a left-field alignment with Die Hard‘s hero, John McClane. Cleverly, he uses the dual comparisons to Bruce Willis, the actor, and the badass character Willis portrays to help tell Fred’s story of ascension from outsider to show-runner in the streets. Also, it may be blasphemous to Die Hard fans, but the iconic catch phrase sounds just as good or better coming from Gangsta Gibbs as it did in the original movie. Maybe it’s because of the righteous conviction Fred delivers the line with. His delivery is even better as he spits one of his career’s best, most concise one liners–“Renovate these niggas’ houses over quarters and ounces”–and then swears on his mama that he never had an allowance. You can hear the importance of his years of struggle and how far he’s come since then embedded in the strained way he says “mama”. Here, Freddie is at the top of every aspect of his well-respected game–it’s a performance to behold.
8. Earl Sweatshirt – “Whoa” (Verse 2)
While “Home” was Earl‘s awkward return coronation, and “Chum” was the beacon of change and substantial departures to come, “Whoa” was the OF prodigy’s mission statement. Earl
showed reminded the world that he was more than ready to hold his own with the top tier, and that he’d be doing it in his wordy, free-associative, sinister teenage way. It’s of course not about the deep substance of what Earl is saying–the sum total equates to “Earl is not to be fucked with”–but how he says it. The Early Man flows like few (other than DOOM) have flowed before. It’s no knock to say that Earl damn near disappears into Tyler’s banging, RZA-inspired beat: his deceptive artistry shows staggering command over the sounds he uses. Each line is airtight. “Chick, chronic thrift shopper. Thick like the Knicks roster”, doesn’t have a single sound out of place: every syllable (except for “like”) either rhymes with “chick” (“thick”, “chronic“) or “shopper” (“chronic”, “roster”). That’s not to mention the slew of creative flips Earl brings to typical rap boasts, a great example of which is in the above line. Every day, a new rapper calls his woman thick, ususally comparing them to something that’s physically thick, but Earl plays on the figurative use of the word, which describes a team that has talent across the board. It’s a point of reference nobody else would think to use. (Side note: it was random of Earl to magnify her thrift shopping. But in Earl‘s semi-stories, everything is specific.) A great example of Earl‘s ability to use the elements of storytelling to his self-mythologizing advantage comes at the verse’s beginning. “Yeeeah, the misadventures of a shit talker”, is a fantastic self-titling of Earl‘s escapades. Better yet, it shows how Earl is putting an Eminem formula to good use (no, not shock value): by confidently downplaying himself, Earl makes being a loser cool in the same way Em used to. These creative angles, backwards bragging and tongue-twisting soundbites just continue as the verse winds on, with “Bruising gimmicks with the broom he usually use for Quidditch” in all its over-rhyming glory, and “Steaming tubes of poop and twisted doobies full of euphemisms” and its head-turning meta joke being among the best examples. Earl‘s “pissed as Rick Ross’ fifth sip off his sixth lager” attitude comes in full force here–he shows that he barely cares if you understand what he says on the first or fiftieth take, he’s just here to cause ruckus and flow like the degenerate human thesaurus that he is.
7. Pusha T – “Doesn’t Matter” (Verse 1)
Since Hell Hath No Fury, Pusha Ton has exhibited a removed wisdom in his best verses, using philosopher-esque broad strokes that show he understands the larger patterns of life. He uses constant returns to the Coke-Rap well as a starting point to speak to greater truths (a trait not unlike a certain other Kanye West affiliate). Since his solo career began, Push has used this style even more, and one of its best iterations came on Wrath of Caine’s “Doesn’t Matter”. Push opens, “There’s a meaning to the kissing of the ring / gods don’t mingle with the mortals / peasants ain’t sittin’ with the kings / Goliath ain’t worried bout ya sling / and Cassius aint bothered by ya swings”. There is so much going on in the first bar alone, that it deserves immense attention. With the brevity and control of a master spokesman, and the venom of a truly imposing crime lord, Pusha implies that every show of power, every assertion of status, has immensely important symbolism. The control and dominance he exhibits are the reasons he’s able to stay on top. Push continues, unfurling a list of fantastic comparisons, scathingly dismissing those who stand so far beneath him. Pusha wants his foes to know just how removed they are from touching him. Be it on the mic, in the distribution game, or with physical harm–there’s not much you can do to the man. While the rest of the verse has trouble standing up to such a masterful opening, this 16 earns extreme respect on the strength of it’s opening couplets. That’s not to say that there aren’t any more quotables in its latter parts, though. “I do it my way, I hit the highway with the batter / so when Kanye go on his hi-a’, it don’t matter”, is a great example of Pusha‘s underrated ability to mesh sounds together as well as yet another creative way to say that even if it wasn’t for rap, Pusha would still be getting paid. That’s the unshakeable heart of hustler. Lastly, as evidence of Pusha‘s range as a writer, he departs from the verse’s regal opening and mocks those who are so far below his way of living that they lack the proper words for it–“Let’s talk about the cars and why mine shaped funny” is the perfect use of a simpleton’s way of speaking to show the stratospheric levels that he’s ascended to. The verse is uneven, but it has moments of mastery beyond all competition; Pusha has carved out a, frosty, sermon-like lane all his own.
6. Drake – “5AM In Toronto”
Though it could be argued that Pusha has fired the more devastating shots of their ongoing feud, Drake certainly gets the last laugh here, landing one spot ahead of his adversary. “5AM In Toronto” was a big moment for Drake. Like “Lord Knows”, it finds Drake flexing on his enemies, standing in defiance of claims that he either fell off or never had it to begin with. Drake brought so many quotables, so many brutal truths and clever points that he had even the most jaded haters telling their hater friends “Yo, Drake actually came hard on this.” As if to warn the listener of the oncoming barrage, Drizzy starts out by telling us “You underestimated greatly”, before sliding into a reminder that he has the most #1 singles in hip-hop history–already–and that even those who mock him need him in order to make it, so he’s “got everybody on safety”. Each time Drake fires back–even though there have now been several high-profile instances–he still has the shock value that comes with being the quiet, bullied kid who is finally standing up for himself. This semi-surprise factor gives an extra sting to lines like “A couple somebodies started killin’ themselves / A couple albums dropped, those are still on the shelf / I bet them shits would’ve popped if I was willin’ to help”. That’s not even to mention the line-of-the-year contender, “Give these niggas the look, the verse and even the hook / That’s why every song sounds like Drake featuring Drake”, which is probably the Toronto MC’s greatest use of his brevity, status, hubris, and self awareness to date. Drake shows off his impressive ability to see the bigger picture and uses it to his advantage multiple times here, exemplified in the penultimate line about how astounding it is that Drake only got big long after Lupe Fiasco, an artist who has since descended from the spotlight that Drake currently commands. Drake is an extremely versatile artist, one who often wades deep into waters that more traditional hip-hop heads consider overly sensitive, but Drake isn’t hurt by all the talk–he’s just sensitive enough internalize it and it turn it to fuel–“Niggas make threats, can’t hear ’em over the laughter / Yeah, that’s ’cause I’m headed to the bank, nigga.”
5. Big K.R.I.T. – “KING Pt. 3”
In the third installment of Big K.R.I.T.‘s “King” series, he deals with most of his tried and true topics: God, the reception of Live From The Underground, loyalty, vice and virtue. It is the passionate, vulnerable approach that K.R.I.T. takes, however, that elevates the lengthy verse to spectacular heights. “King Pt. 3” is also one of K.R.I.T.‘s most poetic, idea-packed outings to date. In the third line, he cleverly adopts a classic phrase to add a pastor-like level of gravity to it. “It takes a village to stop the pillage of serpent seekers” is K.R.I.T.‘s dramatic play on the idiom, “It takes a village to raise a child.” In K.R.I.T.‘s version, the stakes are higher: a child isn’t being raised, a village is being saved. Krizzle has a lot more to offer than just re-animated idioms, though. He’s deep, a man of constant doubt and search, one who is often under scrutiny to abandon his philosophical, religious ways in favor of more “typical” hip-hop material. Though this begs a potentially endless, complex debate, K.R.I.T. knows better than to get bogged down, instead using one of the few simple truths he believes in–“It’s either heaven or hell”–to propel him forward. K.R.I.T. charges on, shouting in defiance, “Who are you to mock my healin’? What’s a message without feelin’?” and he’s right to note his own deeply-felt lyrics: K.R.I.T.‘s soulful, vulnerable delivery sets him apart from the overly-wordy, message-driven ways of other MCs who get boxed into the “conscious rap” category. In the song’s final third, K.R.I.T. highlights his play on the song’s original title and recurring sample–“Stay”–by turning it into a question(s): will K.R.I.T. stay true to himself, will he stay in the rap game? His drawl plummets into a near whisper before rocketing skyward as he questions the heavens, “What can I show from here?” It’s another valid question after having wrestled with the world’s truths and lies for over 200 songs. A chilling moment. K.R.I.T.‘s anguish, his loss of direction, comes in at full force. This deserted sentiment is underlined in the final moment, when K.R.I.T. is asked, even after he’s fretted, shouted, preached, and prayed, “Who the fuck you savin’?” Though it’s a deflating moment, and an abrupt, defeating end to an epic, far-reaching verse, it’s not a question without merit. Above all else, it highlights two things: salvation is not for everyone, and “King Pt. 3” is a song of more questions than answers. K.R.I.T. surely knows the old idiom that applies here: the wisest man is he who is aware he knows nothing.
4. Chance The Rapper – “Everything’s Good (Good Ass Outro)”
“Everything’s Good (Good Ass Outro)” serves as a parting word for Acid Rap—the mixtape that was much of the world’s introduction to Chance The Rapper. Chance uses the opportunity to close the occasionally dark album (see: “Paranoia“, “Acid Rain“) on a comforting note. The childhood-obsessed MC starts by taking us back to his days of ignoring the teacher in favor of bumping Dilla on his headphones, then fires off a slew of disjointed images with Tazmanian-Devil-speed, linking them only with an exaggerated last syllable–a quirk typical of his style–and the repetition of the song’s title and mantra, “Everything’s good”. Though the writing is interesting as Chance shows us his younger self, his possible future, the contents of his manager’s backpack, and his SAVEMONEY crew, the first lyric that stands alone as masterful–without Chance‘s electrified delivery–is this touching and clever couplet: “I ain’t really that good at goodbyes, I ain’t really that bad at leavin'”. Chance plays on the song’s recurring theme of “goodness” and, by calling attention to the difference between “goodbyes” and “leaving”, a character quirk. He’s always on the move, but he’s sensitive and has difficulty letting go–or has difficulty being the stand-up guy he knows he should be. That last point is continued through the next few lines, as Chance details his stickup-kid past, how he was “worse than worthless” and then contrasts that with how he’s worth “hooks and verses” now. He then continues with religious imagery, showing us how rhyming and making music meant salvation for the Chicago youngster. It’s important to note–and hard not to notice–Chance‘s flow here is absurd. It’s freshly weird, deceptively technical, and makes a point of constantly changing its own rules, particularly when he makes the listener expect a change in the rhyme scheme after “Harold’s and Hook’s and Church’s / Everything’s good”, but instead he continues battering the same sound: “See my name when you google search it / Use a card when I make a purchase”. Also, those are two particularly humble rap brags; Chance is still amazed he made it as far as he has, and his excitement is infectious. Helping to tie the song together, Chance creates another refrain: in reference to the above line, “I ain’t really that good at goodbyes…” He raps, “I ain’t really that good at goodnight, I ain’t really that bad at sleepin'”–this pairing reveals even more about Chance‘s character; how he can be such a hardworker and so lazy at the same time. Then, using the same rhyme pattern as before, Chance details another rotten aspect of his past–he wasn’t just a stickup kid, he was a creep. Again, the flashback is contrasted with his current good fortune. Chance‘s voice gets particularly harsh as he fires off “Workin evenin’s, birthdays, even Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, weekends / Rehearsing verses, murdering merch and events”, indicative of the insane grind that Chance has upheld to put out this project. More than congratulate himself on the hard work, though, he admirably thanks others: in another childhood flashback, he thanks someone for lending him pencils. Chance‘s style is the complete package: it’s full of tight, poetic phrasings, exciting and elaborate flows, comedy, gravity, and the game’s most unique voice–which can hit a note, too. This verse is an equally complete package, with heaps of each of those qualities, as well as multiple refrains. Chance seals the deal and the album with one final flashback…to the present: “‘Member the first time you heard this dude and thought ‘Damn, that’s that niggaaaa.'” Just like that, the memory is made, and everything’s good.
3. Meechy Darko – “Mraz” (Verse 1)
Among the most impressive aspects of Meech’s savagely raw verse from “MRAZ” is that if you were to actually follow his opening recipe and “Get M-E-T-H-O-D, Drought 3 Dwayne Carter / With a splash of Busta’s craft and a hint of Big Poppa / little dash of Nasty Nas, top it off with Bob Marley” and throw it all in a blender–not before removing the dash of Nas; there’s not much of a link–he really would be what (the fuck) you’re gettin’. Meech proceeds to exhibit exactly why he deserves the lofty comparisons. The beat drops moment after the list of legends, and the Zombie goes into all-out face-eating mode, sounding spastic and strained, yet somehow deliberate, rapping “I am like Randy Savage on acid / that’s very vibrant and classic / a walking disaster, hazard to any rapper”. Meech adds gravel as well as peaks and valleys of pitch to show off his rabid ferocity—a vibe that links him rather directly to Bussa Buss—while still over-enunciating to show he means every damn word—a Wayne move, as is the rather random wrestler reference. Meech‘s slithering flow as he slurs “Rapping with underground killas, but globally they feel us” draws a straight line to B.I.G. and the through-the-teeth growl he employs is 100% Meth. Lastly, it’s not hard to tell from his voice, his topic-to-topic swerve, his dreads, references, or visuals, that Meech is high as Mr. Marley himself. The adlibs and wordplay are Meech‘s own, though. He lets off a signature, demonic “Haah!” before sliding into a deceptively clever, backwards-phrased punchline. “Rack in my mouth, teeth made of gold / Suckin’ the areolas, my nigga the best of both!” he rasps, stretching out each bar’s last syllable. It’s only by the next bar’s opening–“Double entendre”–that most listeners notice that there’s more at work here: a fantastic play on the word “rack”. Meech has to tell us about his subtle mischief for it to really ignite. This verse is so intriguing because it hits the listener directly over the head with its blunt, nasty, wild style, but it also takes a few rewinds to fully appreciate a few of Meech’s head-turning, lyrical boobie traps. He’s firing on all cylinders. The trickiest line of all comes directly after the double entendre, when Meech says “If they auctionin’ niggas, then I’m the top product / What am I sayin’? They used to auction our forefathers”. With the first bar, Meech no doubt caused more than a few WTF screw-faces. The ignorance is quickly rectified by the second half of the couplet, and by the time the bar is passed, your head is spinning and Meech has added an uncomfortable racial air to the rap game’s atmosphere of self-promotion. It’s a clever, biting point, one that Meech strangely follows up with a stoned line about how hard it is to find the remote control after smoking. This is how you keep people guessing, how you keep things more interesting than anyone else, how you not only “Enter the game with remarkable timing” but with undeniable style.
2. Black Thought – Statik Selektah’s “Bird’s Eye View” (Verse 3)
First off, Black Thought has the best voice in rap. Voice–not meaning the somewhat-above-average singing voice he whips out on “How I Got Over” and occasional other joints, but meaning the eighty trash bags full of flint stones it sounds like Black gargles with before and after each meal. It’s not just gravelly though, Black Thought’s voice is passionate, aged; it tells a story in its sound alone. It’s a blessing then, that Black is also one of the game’s premier writers, able to bust a conscious rhyme with the best of them but keep from being preachy, able churn out a string of punchlines without being too corny, able to tell a story that will break your heart and uplift you at the same time, and to spazz, to mercilessly slaughter a beat (see “75 Bars”). As “Bird’s Eye View”‘s anchor, Black exhibits all of these top-tier skills at once. Aided by the rising choir and boom bap of Statik Selektah‘s operatic beat, The Roots‘ frontman begins with some of the most vivid, beautiful self-mythologizing that hip-hop has seen in some time: “Created by a collision of the sun and the moon / My sonogram was a image of a gun in the womb”. Black begins at his birth, re-introducing himself to the younger generation and re-imagining himself for the oldheads, and he boasts in a way entirely uncommon to his peers. Black Thought paints himself as an otherworldly child, though one still tied to the Philidelphia violence that raised him. He’s a poet above the rest, and an equally unmatched performer. The earned relief in his voice as he raps “Honestly, my future’s lookin’ promising” is inspirational, and speaks volumes. Black Thought realizes his own cinematic tendencies, barking that he uses “The same tools to shoot that Ku-b-rick use / Take your hero to the river, give him two b-rick shoes”. The flow of these lines is undeniably on-point, and the image of the hypothetical victim-hero having two brick shoes lets us know that Black is not the hero, he’s far more complex, strained, even paranoid. Black Thought goes on to wonder aloud, “Who lose / If you really ain’t nobody ’til somebody love you” and counters it with his own philosophy, “I say you ain’t nobody ’til they speakin’ highly of you”, showing how, in his world, clawing to the top is all that matters. This conflicted character has no time for love. Loyalty, however, is a must, as Black proves his commitment to an unseen ally: “You got a couple homies down to catch a hommie for you? / Well I’ma fold niggas into origami for you”. Aside from being hilarious, this line furthers the image of a Black Thought of unmatched devotion, which is continued as he persists with that same balance, rapping “Y’all tomato head niggas are / Impastas, long drawn out process / Triple OG’s got a worn-out conscience” beginning with another eye-widening pun and then switching lanes to deliver what is a chilling one-liner, given his resumé and age. There’s a reason Black was given such a behemoth verse in comparison to collaborators Joey Bada$$ and Raekwon–his performance simply demanded it. If it wasn’t for a somewhat corny grab for cultural relevance (“You got me chopped like Miley Cyrus“), Black Thought would’ve had the perfect verse. It’s filled with guts, glory, wisdom, wit, and true poetry. Not to mention that voice.
1. Kendrick Lamar – “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe (Rmx)” (Verse 3)
If you’re tired of seeing Kendrick Lamar at the top of lists, that’s cool, because Kendrick is not tired of writing list-topping verses. Knowing he’d be rhyming along his highest profile collaborator to date (is there a higher-profile collaborator alive?), Kendrick understood that he had to step correct. K.Dot‘s closing verse on the remix to good kid m.A.A.d. city‘s loner, stoner anthem matched the song’s anthemic quality in a way that none of the original verses did, and proved to be one of the LA kid’s most satisfying performances ever. Kendrick served up one hell of a closing act, not only for the song, but for this stage of his career, and he details it with unmatched grace, artistry, and tenacity. At his best, Kendrick is an unbeatably good rapper. This is one of those times. Starting right in with a bunch of tightly woven sounds–“Between you and me, turn eulogy to urinals”–and then and then an abrupt stop to catch your ear–“Niggas pissed off”–Kendrick re-announces himself on the track, and then lets off a dazzling pirouette of near-rhymes and interlocking rhyme schemes. “I’m in this lil’ diss shit, I’m pushin’ my fart / Leader of the new school / On my toes like a ballerina, who knew I’d be black swan”, he raps with expert precision and lyrical footwork. “New school” and “who knew” is a solid slant rhyme, but the pairing of “my fart” and “black swan” is where Kendrick really surprises the ear–listening to the verse, there’s an overwhelming feeling that the rhyme came out of nowhere, that whatever bar it’s rhyming with must have sped by too fast for us to catch anything but a memorable blur. Then K.Dot brings a noteworthy punchline to hammer home the point of his unexpected, stratospheric rise: “World in my palms / Ironically, I am the Globetrotter’s best ’cause I didn’t drop the ball”. Not only does he play on the Globetrotters’ slapstick style, but also their name–it points to Kendrick‘s international influence. (And again, note the extreme slant rhyme of “palm” and “ball”.) The theme of victory over doubt continues: “Told niggas when I as 16, that I’d write a 16 / To put a nigga right on the big screen / In the paddy wagon with six teens / Should’ve been in the pen, but now my pen ran with morphine”. These bars are seemingly standard affair: the classic “I told you I’d make it” story, peppered with plays on the words “sixteen” and “pen”, but when Kendrick raps them, he does it in such a technically precise double time, the whole thing seems like a highlight. The “morphine” mention serves as a set up for the dazzling stack of rhymes and images that come next: “I heal niggas, touch down with more fiends / I kill niggas, audio crack, khakis to meal ticket”. Here, Kendrick speaks on the two sides of his musical coin. Its potency, its simultaneous ability to heal (with its uplifting messages) and destroy (with its sometimes aggressive and intimidating qualities) is just like morphine. Dope. Keeping a staggering amount of different plates spinning as far as rhyme sounds are concerned, Kendrick victoriously spits, “Cardio lap, was runnin’ for dear life, but now I’m runnin’ the map, bitch I’m here nigga!” He continues the “audio crack” rhyme with “cardio lap” and “runnin’ the map” and leaps all the way back to “I heal/kill niggas” with “I’m here nigga”. It’s an extremely impressive bar on a technical level, but more importantly, it’s rap’s best summary of the “rags-to-riches” story in recent memory. This is what next-level artists do: they are able to see the bigger picture, find patterns, and paint from dot to dot. Kendrick continues to splatters his canvas with a bevy of rhymes that pretzel in and out of each other: “You ain’t get killed in Vegas, or in a Suburban, nigga Puff Daddy wasn’t your favorite / So many washed up with detergent but I don’t dry tears I just aim at em on purpose“. In addition to the barrage of different rhymes, Kendrick plays on the ridiculousness of his doubters’ attitudes in a particularly clever way, and bats around a sly extended metaphor, playing with the idea of being “washed up” and the two meanings of the tattooed tears that gangsters have been known to ink on their cheek. From then on it’s all out assault until the final moment, where Kendrick ends as climactically as is humanly possible. “I am the bad, the good God, the last the hood got / the last that would try to pass a good job” he shouts as the curtains begin to sweep down upon him, appointing himself as the savior so many already knew him to be. It’s a refreshingly earned moment of self-congratulation. Kendrick, even in these final, grandiose moments, manages to be humble again, saying that if Jay-Z is a Beatle, then (all) he needs is a 10 second drum solo. Accordingly, many people swear by Kendrick the way that they hippies fainted at the feet of their rock gods. It’s important to note, though, that there are people out there, even Kendrick himself, who do not want to call good kid, m.A.A.d. city a classic yet, who do not want to be caught drinking the Kool-Aid, going gaga over each verse he spits. While, not every verse he pens is a jaw dropper, he has more than proved this verse and with the album that this verse celebrates, he has an unprecedented talent for occasion, for story telling and connection. Luckily, this is merely the end of the first novel of Kendrick‘s career. Congratulations.
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