This week found two key hip-hop communities fighting for LOTW supremacy.
NYC (with a little boundary-stretching to include Long Island and New Jersey) was strongly represented, but New Orleans got its fair share of great lines in as well.
Read on to see which domain will claim victory!
5. “No one opposes and walks away with the winnings/Not when I got my black and white with the crimson” — MC Lyte, ‘Jordan Effect’ lyrics
While in theory, the idea of rap songs that double as shoe commercials sounds terrible, in practice it usually works out quite well. The recent series of Nike ads featuring rap legends has already given us a great Big Daddy Kane/DJ Premier collaboration, and now MC Lyte is on the microphone. Here, she somehow manages to make something that in lesser hands would read like ad copy sound clever and dope. #5 goes to New York (Flatbush, represent!)
4. “These ni**as is p*ssy, I’mma let that chopper eat ’em out/Dead body in the bushes — well, that’s a bush you don’t beat around” — Lil Wayne, ‘Stay Hood’ lyrics
Weezy has something of a return to his peak 2005-8 form here. He brings to this song the same endless stream of similes and punchlines and fearless, try-anything attitude that briefly made him, as he once put it, “The best rapper alive since the best rapper retired.” Welcome back, Wayne — we’ve missed you. #4 to N.O.
3. “I create art and rock the Carhatt sharp/I’m a car shark” — Roc Marciano, ‘Immoral Ventilation’ lyrics
Hempstead, Long Island brings us our #3 choice this week. Roc is a critic’s darling for a reason. His voice, delivery, and overall vision and aesthetic are masterful. The “I create art” is no idle boast. Also, the inversion of “card shark” — making it a brag on his automobile choice — is incredible.
2. “I’m like, yeah, that other sh*t ain’t rap, that’s fairy tales/I’m showing my flow, show, sea shells” — Curren$y, ‘Purple Haze’ lyrics
We at RG love Curren$y. His woozy voice, off-kilter flow, and below-the-surface sharp intelligence blow our minds on the regular. In this rhyme, he alludes to a famous tongue-twister while (possibly — we admit we may be reaching here) joking about doing shows in the Republic of Seychelles — yes, it’s a real place. #2 to The Big Easy
1. “Life or death, I tried to lynch myself/Thought I could keep it all a secret, I convinced myself/But really, the folk that loved me, they could tell I was loc’ing/I couldn’t see ’em cry me a river ’cause it fell in a ocean” — Joe Budden, ‘All In My Head’ lyrics The greater NYC metro area takes the cake this week. Joe Budden’s new album No Love Lost is a rumination on love, betrayal, and growth that, minus a few fish-out-of-water club songs, is on par with his usual extremely high caliber of work. The imagery around crying here — the rivers and oceans — is heartbreakingly gorgeous.