Opinion: Coldest rap verses of 2016


 Yucheng Zhang, Review Contributor 

Feature Photo By: Yucheng Zhang – Sophomore Peter Vo looks up Black Hippy Remix by Schoolboy Q. This song is one on the list for the best rap verses of 2016. 

Summer 17’ is approaching with a number of albums planned to be released. Notable albums such as Kendrick Lamar’s 14 track LP which includes the song, HUMBLE, and Logic’s new 13 track album, Everybody, are planned to be released on April 14th and May 5th respectively. With all the talk of the upcoming albums, I decided to take a step back and recap 2016’s coldest and finest rap verses. Though it wasn’t a game-changing year for hip hop, it was undeniably a year of prosperity that welcomed a number of noteworthy newcomers while almost every major rapper dropped a prominent project in the rap game.


10 ~ Chance the Rapper, “Blessings” – Coloring Book

Verse : 2

Chance the Rapper could be argued as the most prominent artist of 2016, and this isn’t the only time he appears on this list. Coloring Book introduced many unique vibes that Chance perfected, especially in “Blessings.”  In the first verse of his song, Chance uses a slower more mellow flow over a gospel choir in the instrumental. His serendipitous wordplay sounds like a prayer, discussing his rewards from loving and praising God. He uses purposeful lines such as, “Like my ex girl getting pregnant, And her becoming my everything.” Throughout the song, Chance praises his individual success, the birth of his daughter, and refers to rap as a blessing as a whole. His verse in “Blessings” is grateful and evokes a unique different feeling than other songs on this list.


9 ~ Noname, “Shadow Man” – Telefone

Verse : 1

Noname made a name for herself (no pun intended) with her debut mixtape, Telefone. “Shadow Man” Her first verse in “Shadow Man” boasted her lyrical flow and creative lyrics that set her above everyone else in the game. Her verse seems to be a flirtation with death, where she talks about dancing with death. She is dancing around the “Shadow Man” while he orchestrates her death with playful lines such as “Moses wrote my name in gold and Kanye did the eulogy.” This song, along with every song in her debut mixtape, revealed the lyrical talent of this upcoming rapper.  


8 ~ Kendrick Lamar, “Untitled 02 | 06.23.2014” – Untitled Unmastered

Verse : 3

The lyrical talent of Kendrick Lamar is unparalleled. Untitled Unmastered was different from the traditional Kendrick, but the album was still orchestrated perfectly with songs such as “Untitled 07” and “Untitled 02”. His wordplay and flow over the undervalued jazz instrumental discusses success, time, God, love, women, and self-love in Kendrick’s own unique world that is impossible to compete against. “2Teez told me I am the one, I can put a rapper on life support.” Kendrick Lamar knows that he is one of the best, and justifies it through this whole album.


7 ~ Earl Sweatshirt, “Really Doe” – Atrocity Exhibition

Verse : 4  

Earl Sweatshirt’s verse in Danny Brown’s “Really Doe” has a dope flow with authentic lines that makes his verse hard to sleep on. Earl packs dense wordplay and experiments with unorthodox schemes to tear up the track. All four artists perfect this track use their own unique methods to trace how their lives have changed since the beginning. Earl’s wordplay, “So disrespect will get you checked like the top of the month” portrays his dominance and talent in this collaborated hard-hitter.  


6 ~ J Cole, “everybody dies” – Single

Verse : 1

J Cole already asserted himself as one of the kings of hip-hop, and his verse in “Everybody Dies” continued to secure his spot on the throne. In his studio album, 2014 Forest Hills Drive, Jermaine Lamarr Cole proved to the world he was a dominant name in the rap game. In his single, “Everybody Dies”, not only does he reiterate this dominance, he calls out “short bus rappers”, using the quote, “Especially the amateur eight week rappers, Lil’ whatever – just another short bus rappers.” He uses this quote to target newer rappers Lil Yachty and Lil Uzi Vert. Over a chill beat and genius lyrics, Cole asserts his superiority once again against the new upcoming and rising rappers.


5 ~ Q-tip, “Lost Someone” – We Got it From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service

Verse : 1

A Tribe Called Quest’s final studio album, We Got it From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service was both memorable and emotional, marking the finale of a group consisted of some of the best MCs, as well as having contributions from former member Phife Dawg, who had died 8 months prior to the release of the album. This verse is different from the rest on the list. Though the wordplay and flow are still outstanding, Q-tip earned his spot on this list for his heartfelt tribute to Phife Dawg: a eulogy that summarized his life over a unique beat. “The one thing I appreciate, you and I, we never pretended, Rhymes we would write it out, hard times fight it out”. Tip and Phife were childhood friends and brothers and this is a touching verse and a final parting for his death.


4 ~ Nas, “Nas Album Done” – Major Key

Verse : 1

It’s no doubt that Nas changed the rap game. His revolutionary lyrics and unbeatable flow dominated rap in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, and he brings his raw talent back into DJ Khaled’s song, “Nas Album Done.” Nas uses his time on this song to remind everyone of his lethal flow and genius expertise in the rap game. He mentions his immense influence on the rap game, “Everywhere all I see is Pablo, Esco/Last time I checked I was still breathin’” to remind everyone who felt like “Pablo” first. His lyrical skill was on point in his verse, and makes everybody excited in anticipation of this said album.


3 ~ J Cole, “4 Your Eyez Only” – 4 Your Eyez Only

Verse : 4

J Cole is back on this list, and I’m sure no one is surprised. In his song, “4 Your Eyez Only,” Cole discusses life, family ties,
hustling, and revolves around the general notion that love is always the most important things. His genuine and captivating lyrics and flow evoke a number of emotions for the listener, and he discusses the unselfish and generous act of hustling – the men who hustle on the streets to keep their family off the streets. “Your daddy was a real n—- cause he loved you. For your eyes only.” The authentic and wistful lyricism in verse 4 gives an important message – “Through all drug dealing, crime, money, sex, and incarceration, the only thing that really matters in the end is love.”


2 ~ Kendrick Lamar, “THat Part (Black Hippy Remix)” – Single

Verse : 2

Kendrick Lamar is notorious for taking over every collaboration song and he goes off to prove his lyrical dominance over Schoolboy Q, Jay Rock, and Ab-Soul. His verse in the “Black Hippy Remix” is near impossible to decipher, with a number of allusions, flips, and metaphors that confirmed Kendrick Lamar’s raw talent and lyrical genuity. Kendrick seemed to be in a different mode this verse, seemingly automatic in his flow and wordplay that rocketed him ahead of the quartet in this remix. “Reminding me of the block I repped, The turf I stepped, the church and the earth I blessed. The first I guessed the alert was the murk I chef.”


1 ~ Chance the Rapper, “Ultralight Beam” – The Life of Pablo

Verse : 2

Chance the Rapper starts and finishes this list, and his verse on Kanye West’s “Ultralight Beam” was uncontested for the hottest verse of 2016. Chance excels at capturing the magnitude of a moment. Chance again flows over a gospel vibe beat, with dexterous bars and enchanting lyrics, not to mention his vexing vocals. Chance proved his ability to take over anything this year; his undeniable ability and heartfelt lyrics secured Chance the Rapper’s spot as one of the best. “This is my part, nobody else speak.” There is so much to say about his verse, or the whole song in general but it really speaks for itself. Chance’s verse was iconic, it will be a classic that truly set “Ultralight Beam” as the headlights illuminating the way for welcome 2017’s rap game.