There’s a misunderstanding of the term lyricism, one that fixates almost purely on intricate rhyming. JAY-Z starts off his closing verse of “What’s Free” with the context that he’s a descendant of a people deemed “three-fifths of a man” in a not-so-distant economy. That’s why he took the route that he knew would make everyone listen: a thrilling double-time flow over thumping 808s. Nipsey Hussle is known for his motivational anthems, but his storytelling ability is top-notch. Kanye West knows the answer to that question, but the full context of Meek’s hardships before that gut-punch of a quandary serves as food for thought for everyone who’s collectively sustaining a system ”designed just to eat us up,” as the Dreamchaser proclaimed. On “10 Years, 1 Summer,” Detroit’s Payroll Giovanni does what he does best: take us into the mind of a D-Boy to highlight how fleeting and hazardous the drug game is. Here are Complex's picks for the best rap verses of 2018. He unfurled it all with his typically fiery opening verse on “Ooodles O’Noodles Babies,” commandeering the soulful sample with poignant recollections that “I used to wish that my daddy was livin.’ I had a dream that I seen him as ghost” and the following passage: Killed my lil’ cousin, I’m like, “Damn it, man” Had to see the footage on a camera, man On the pavement, with his brains out With the white sheet, he was laid out Wanna ask ‘Ye, “Is this a choice?” It was like this when I came out. Herbo has been criticized for being a bit blue in the face on certain beats, but he hit his pocket and never looked back over the Three 6 Mafia classic, rhyming that flashy, gritty shit that the hood loves him for. The young Floridian sucked us into the confines of his mind as he suffers through a bid, where he can’t hug his mother on Christmas, and “can’t even post on my Instagram ’cause these pussy niggas be snitching.” America’s ignorance toward the plight of incarcerated people is especially disheartening when artists like YMN Melly are crying out, with bars like the following that highlight how the prison industrial complex doesn’t spur rehabilitation, but self-medication: When I’m all alone in my jail cell, I tend to get in my feelings And all I smoke is that loud, don’t pass me no midget And I’ma smoke all of my pain away ’cause that the only thing that gone’ heal it, His pain from incarceration — “everybody acting suspicious” — and phony women are all-too-common burdens in society, and the way he was able to encapsulate it all in concise couplets with sorrowful melodies made for one of the most heartfelt moments of the year. That’s what a lot of his peers did, including A$AP Rocky, 21 Savage, Lil Yachty, Trippie Redd, CupcakKe, Young M.A., and Lil Uzi Vert, who joined G Herbo on the remix he recorded. Meek has said that a lot of the men he was incarcerated with relied on him to tell their story, and this scintillating, insightful set off on “Oodles O’Noodles Babies” was his finest singular testimony of 2018. Our original plan was to limit this list to 20 selections, as we always do, but we couldn’t bring ourselves to eliminate any of these verses. He certainly dropped a bomb with his “Purity” verse, once again demonstrating that there are no limits to his musical ability. Watch their whole mood change, because there’s a little something for everyone here. There’s Royce Da 5’9, Nipsey Hussle, and Saba telling stories that feel like audial VR. Seuss,” she conquered a rite of passage for great MCs: berating phony rappers. 1. It doesn’t get more 2018 than a verse popularized by a meme finding its way onto the list, but G-Herbo’s “Who Run It” redux deserves it. Seuss,” a song from her Whack World project. Arguably the greatest guest rapper of all-time, no one has appeared on as many hits for as long as Snoop Dogg. by Michelle Rennex. The crazy shit, man, it wasn’t a lie.” His autobiographical verse reflects on society’s collective addictions, how his Aunt’s death from cancer made him quit smoking, and how, even though he spent his first big check on jewelry, “that flashy shit won’t prevail. Read full article. Using a melodic, stop and start flow, Royce pens a palpable image of his drunk brother Greg stumbling in while he and his other brother Kid Vishis are playing Connect Four and watching Bloodsport. How could we leave out Young M.A’s blistering L.A. Leakers freestyle, 21 Savage’s ASMR bars, or Retch’s filthy rhymes on “Throwin’ Sets Down”? 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