After turning 45 this past weekend, many feel as though hip-hop has hit its midlife crisis. Golden Age purist think the genre has replaced its creativity with unmatched quantity. Also, old-heads believe that newer rap lovers have ignored the lyricism and history that coincides with the art form. But here at No IDs, we LOVE rap. Like Dr. J and LeBron, we feel like every era serves a purpose in advancing the music we’re infatuated with. So, as a result, we decided to consider technical composition, impact, and/or entertainment value to comprise a list of our favorite verses of all time.
15. Devil In A New Dress [Verse 3] — Rick Ross
After being pressured by the neurotic perfectionist, Kanye West, Ross delivered the most impactful verse of his career. Even though Nicki’s verse (On MBDTF) garners a lot of attention, Rick Ross revamped his style through this verse, delivering the first of many 16s that are riddled with filthy eloquence. From this point forward Ross propelled himself into one of the best feature artists in recent history.
14. No Vaseline [Verse 1] — Ice Cube
With this song – specifically the first verse, – Ice Cube shows his fearlessness by responding to the attacks from former NWA group members with one of the best diss songs in history. Cube also showed his bicoastal appeal with this record as it shook the whole core of hip-hop making Ice Cube one of the most electrifying artists Hip-hop had ever seen.
13. I Get Around [Verse 1] — 2Pac
Straying away from his more serious content, 2Pac used this playful track to gift hip-hop a perfect verse. On “I Get Around,” 2Pac reestablished his roots by linking up with the group that started his career. This record and verse showcase the duality of ‘Pac’s personality allowing him to create a carefree party record that withstands the test of time.
12. We Gonna Make It [Verse 3] — Jadakiss
Highly considered one of Rap’s more underrated lyricists, Jadakiss unleashes a perfect verse on “We Gonna Make It.” Here he embodies the aggressiveness of The Lox while carefully placing references that solidify his solo stardom. “We Gonna Make It” is a timeless track that sits not only at the top of Kiss’s discography but also that of a fellow group member, Styles P’s, who helps elevate the totality of the track.
11. Stan [Verse 4] — Eminem
On this historic rap song, Em drops 4 iconic verses. Yet, the last verse sets itself apart. Here, Em responds to the crazed fan completing the well-rounded story. Through “Stan” it is easy to see how Eminem garnered his cult-like following. The record also showcases Slim Shady’s cultural impact as the adjective “stan” is now used to describe crazed fans, of which Em has a lot.
10. Int’l Players Anthem (I Choose You) [Verse 1] — Andre 3000
With possibly one of the most quotable verses in Rap history, Dre proved his lyrical dominance as he had the standout performance on a track that featured the meeting of Hip-hop supergroups, Outkast and UGK. On “Int’l Players Anthem (I Choose You),” Andre 3000 perfected the conversational delivery while also playing with the theme of the song to create a story that resulted in a legendary music video. Also, his placement at the introduction of the song allowed the beat to build, setting the stage for the other three featured artists to shine. Making one of the more perfect tracks in music history.
9. Check Out My Melody [Verse 2] — Rakim
Highly regarded as the God MC, Rakim’s impact on Hip-hop is unrivaled. This is best displayed in his second verse on “Check Out My Melody.” This record might be the best example of what Rap music will manifest into. While the song has no chorus, with the verse being separated only by the loop created by DJ Eric B, Ra still displays the importance of wordplay. Not only does he lace the verse with 5 Percent references that explain his name, he also uses his flow to constructs math class. He employs the spiritual numbers of 7 and three to explain how he can destroy 21 whack MCs if he so pleased.
8. The What [Verse 4] — Notorious B.I.G.
Despite his tenure being tragically cut short, Biggie is highly regarded for his premiere flow. And although this Method-Man assisted song doesn’t display his track record of clearly devouring his featured competition, B.I.G. showcased his Hall of Fame attribute. This peaked on the last verse of “The What.” Here Biggie catches stride highlighted by the records standout bar, “I used to do stick up ‘cause hoes is irritating like the hiccups. / Excuse me, flows just run through me.”
7. Dead President, II [Verse 1] — JAY-Z
This second installment of Hov’s original promotional single was featured on his classic debut album, Reasonable Doubt. On this verse, Jigga uses a modified version of the cadence he developed as part of the duo, The Originators, with mentor Jaz-O to propel the track into underground fame. But instead lacing this flow with the bubblegum lyrics of “Hawaiian Sophie,” Hova slowed his stream down so that the street opulence that will become his calling card can be introduced to a largescale audience.
6. A Milli [Verse 1] — Lil Wayne
This career-defining verse was the translation of Mixtape Weezy into a palatable album. The standout verse from Wayne’s critically acclaimed project, Tha Carter, III, came at the height of his reign. It brought in a flow that would be mimicked and copied for years to come and can be considered as one of rap’s first viral sensations.
5. Nuthin’ But A G Thang [Verse 1] — Snoop Doggy Dogg
Through the lead single of Dr. Dre’s classic, The Chronic, Snoop ushered in his signature flow and penmanship. Here, the Long Beach teenager showed an advanced wisdom of funk cadences. This verse also grabbed the world’s attention to the powerhouse label that was Death Row Records while rolling out the carpet for another iconic project, Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle.
4. Murder [Verse 2] — Bun B
Appearing on the crown jewel of The South, UGK’s Riding Dirty, Bun B removed himself from the shadows of his eccentric group member, Pimp C. Via “Murder,” Bun delivered one of the most mind-blowing rhyme sequences in rap history. Doing this over an instrumental that sampled genre pioneer, MC Shan, helped the record stick to the essence of the genre. Bun’s verse placed UGK into the realm of Hip-hop which previously overlooked the group. Furthering the prophetic statement of Outkast’s, Andre 3000, three years prior, that “The South has something to say.”
3. N.Y. State Of Mind [Verse 1] — Nas
The opening verse of Nas’ magnum opus revealed his lyrical power. The Queensbridge tyrant jumped straight into the beat raw (depicted by Nas say “I don’t know how to start this shit”) to paint a perfect picture of the Rotten Apple in the mid-1990s. The combination of the DJ Premier’s instrumental and Nas’ ruggedly perfect lyrics mirrors the sound of the E train to Queens, building the platform for the classic that is Illmatic.
2. Control [Verse 2] — Kendrick Lamar
Channeling the aura of his idols (namely Kurupt), Lamar allowed the competitive spirit of hip-hop to resurface through his nearly three min. verse. At this point in rap, artists were still tiptoeing around names in hopes to preserve the politics of the genre. Lamar, however, used his position as one of hip-hop’s newest and exciting acts to “attack” every rapper that was hot at that time. And the LA-native did this in pure hip-hop fashion, rapping circles around the mentioned artists on route to claiming he is the “King of New York.” This set the stage for Kendrick’s dominance as the verse will forever live in infamy.
1. Crew Love [Verse 2] — Beanie Sigel
With this verse, Beans personified the rugged diamond that was the Rocafella empire. Not only did he brandish an overt ghetto wisdom that compliments his infamous off mic persona, he also created an extended metaphor that fits perfectly into the brand JAY-Z introduced. Interjecting himself into the conversation that started with the visual for “Dead Presidents, I,” Beans dismantled and rebuilt the Monopoly game board to solidify a vivid story wrapped in street references.
*Honorable Mention. Monster [Verse 3] — Nicki Minaj*
On “Monster,” Nicki proved herself as hip-hop’s supreme feminine. Her electric style and aggressive rhyme pattern allowed her to dominate the star-studded line up of Kanye West, Rick Ross, and JAY-Z. Like Ross’s appearance of “Devil In A New Dress,” this placement propelled Minaj’s trajectory. She is now considered one of rap’s figureheads, a position that began with her standout performance on “Monster.”