Sunday, December 18, 2016

Top 10 Verses Of 2016

Unlike my beats list which struggled to find the cream of the crop, verses was a cake walk. While the sheer wealth of music I listened to in 2016 made beats collapse to the middle, ten essential verses stood out. Now sure, some of these are predictable, as Hip-Hop in 2016, lyrically, is dominated by a handful of artists. But that doesn't make their accomplishments this year any less impressive. In fact, making this list multiple times only goes to prove their dexterity, dedication, and overall dominance. And yet, no matter how hard all the newcomers tried, or the seasoned vets thrived, as we all know, there is no beating a legend. And a legend sits atop this years candidates, proving simultaneously why he's the greatest rapper I've ever known.

Daveed Diggs | The Breach | Splendor & Misery

What did you expect? Of course I'm going to write about 'The Breach.' It's Daveed Diggs' one album blur to kick things off. This one might arguably be better than anything he's done before as well, not in terms of speed, although that is the first thing anyone will notice, of course, but more so the intricate lyrics on display. He's not rapping about prototypical street life, no matter how exciting it is to hear him rap like that. Within the concept, 'The Breach' serves as a prelude to the ensuing events, reading like a construction manual while detailing the story of the slave escaping and taking over the ship. It's one thing to rap fast saying simple words, it's another thing entirely to string unusual ones together.

Kendrick Lamar | untitled 02 (2nd) | Untitled Unmastered

The best part of the constantly evolving 'untitled 02,' Kendrick quickly turns 90 degrees into a more darker area, with a faster tempo that viciously snarls rather than whines as previously heard in the song. His words slur together while remaining characteristically clear, comparing his CEO Punch to his deity God. Never once does he stop, stutter, deviate, or sway from the concrete flow he commandeers here. There were a lot of eye-opening moments on Unitlted Unmastered, but Kendrick's snarling verse has to stand atop the podium.

G Herbo | Up Next 3 | Summer Songs 2

Unless there's a more obvious case that I'm forgetting, no one in 2016 goes as hard G Herbo on 'Up Next 3.' Coincidentally enough, his closest competitor is found on the song, but not because of Yachty's work in the song, rather his outrageous verse on Carnage's 'Mase In 97.' They're close but Herbo manages to jumpstart an incendiary verse without letting off the gas, able enough to flow through twisted and gnarled lyrics with a startling ease. Sure there's moments he's slurring, but for the most part, it's shocking how easily understandable he is, considering his reckless nature. All that and he manages to show poignant aggression throughout.

Danny Brown | When It Rain (1st) | Atrocity Exhibition

Danny's reckoning began earlier in the summer when he dropped Atrocity Exhibition's lead single, 'When It Rain.' Joined with a music video, the track, in all its odd intricacies, showcased Danny's next phase perfectly. In reality, it was everything he's been working up for combined into one track. It's a well-hidden party anthem laced with lyrics about impoverished Detroit life. It also manages to have two excellent verse from Brown, who utilizes his out-of-breath flow brilliantly. But it's the first, where growing instrumentation aims to unseat him constantly, where he warrant the greatest acclaim. Witty lyrics, dangerous flows, and wordplay that'll make you think, 'When It Rain's' first verse has everything someone would want to see out of Danny.

Chance The Rapper | Ultralight Beam | The Life Of Pablo

If you didn't believe Chance was on the Hip-Hop map, him being the first verse on Kanye's newest album will declare that. Not only does he appear in revitalizing fashion, but he provides a stellar verse on 'Ultralight Beam' that shows every facet of his talents. Starting off slow and reflective, Chance calls out to his daughter, something Kanye does all the time, worried about her future in the limelight, something Kanye also has pondered about. He then develops his style, as the drums and choir eventually come in to join him, boasting about 'Sunday Candy' and working with Ye, before erupting in a danceable bash.

Elzhi | The Healing Process | Lead Poison

Okay. For starters, I've never heard an emcee, period, rap as fast as Elzhi does here whilst being able to adhere to certain qualities that make verses appealing. Most fast emcees do it as a gimmick, a way to draw people in, ignoring any potential depth. But here, Elzhi accomplishes what little have even attempted, combining both speed with introspective lyrics that work. Best of all, it's over minimalist orchestration that keeps it fresh and inviting. 'The Healing Process' is a heartfelt ode using unusual means.

Noname | Angles | The Healing Component

Leave it to Noname, one of Hip-Hop's best femcees, to come out of nowhere and usurp Mick on his own project. While there's no denying Mick held his own on 'Angles,' and the entire LP, Noname's verse is just sensational. Hell, it might be better than any verse on her own Telefone, and that's saying something. What makes it so great? Well, for starters, the flow is unreal. Sure, it bears some resemblance to her other flows, but with the beat moving along at a strong click, her speed ramps up here, without any loss in annunciation. And then there's her lyricism, which is funny, ironic, and revealing, something that definitely comes from her poetic background.

Serengeti | I, Testarossa | Testarossa

I can not effectively describe to you how good this verse is. Best to just listen to it. Serengeti always has a way to absolutely floor me, as he did on Sisyphus' 'Alcohol,' and here is no different. Pointing music's most famous metaphor, hair cutting, to his daughter, allowing for a revelatory breakdown that sees him building and building in uneasiness before revealing his intentions to return to the family is just one of the most gripping things I've heard in recent memory. 'I, Testarossa' finds Serengeti panicking, unraveling at the seams, all whilst rapping with a clarity that wasn't previously seen on Testarossa. Better yet, it feels entirely off-the-cuff.

Earl Sweatshirt | Really Doe | Atrocity Exhibition

While each emcee went hard on 'Really Doe,' yes that includes Ab-Soul sans a couple asinine bars ("For heaven's sake, I'm the GOAT, you haters can go to hell," on a song with three rappers who are easily better than him), it was Earl Sweatshirt, bringing up the rear, who shined the brightest by going into the darkest depths. People shocked by Earl's tenacity here haven't bore witness to his more violent, anarchistic tracks, related more so to his work on I Don't Like Shit. Here though, he brings out every facet of his enigma; an aggressive charisma, a showman-like attitude that actually feels like it, and interlaced lyricism, the type that made him a sight to behold in the first place. 'Really Doe' brought competing lyricists against one another, and for fans of Earl, the youngest of the four, not surprisingly, took the lead.

Andre 3000 | Solo (Reprise) | Blonde

And here we are. Our once a year stunner from Andre 3000. This man, my favorite rapper of all-time, has epitomized the definition of quality over quantity in the last half decade. His verses, with a stunning level of variety, ambition, and creativity, are still utterly unmatched in Hip-Hop today. 'Solo (Reprise),' as you've now come to expect, is no different. I won't go so far as to say it's one of his best since 2010, only because every verse he's released is top tier quality. But man, 'Solo (Reprise)' is a blur of how far rappers can go if they really want to push themselves. Everyone talks about Young Thug advancing the genre with his flows, and while that may be true, and many may be ignoring just who influenced him a decade prior (hint hint: it's Andre), Three Stacks is able to master these wild flows and vocal deliveries with astonishable lyrics and thought-provoking imagery. Just the best you'll ever find.

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