This week saw the Grammys snub both Nas and Frank Ocean, in one of the biggest miscarriages of awards-season justice since RIAA declared Jethro Tull more metal than Metallica. Nas continues his reign as the Susan Lucci of rap, and Frank shows that you can make a universally praised, innovative, and stunning album and still lose the big awards to some dudes whose biggest contribution to music is their use of vests without suit jackets. But hip-hop, as ever, trucked on. Below, our lines of the week.
5. “Fishscale all over my motherf**king apartment/D**n, I got dope all over my garment” — Gucci Mane, ‘Big Guwap’ lyrics
This lyric is notable first for its delivery — the offbeat, barely-there rhythm is impossible to capture on paper. Also, the use of the word “garment” is a stroke of genius. Who says “garment” anymore? And why is it singular here? Did the coke only spill on his shirt and miss everything else? Gucci proves as puzzling and inscrutable as ever.
4. “I’m from where ‘ratchet’ means a hammer or a gun/Not h*es in front of camera on VH1” — The Kid Daytona, ‘Wrong Side’ lyrics
This cut, from J. Period’s mixtape to support Adam Mansbach’s new novel Rage Is Back, continues the tape’s strong showing. Early cuts from Black Thought and Common were stellar, and this new arrival is no less so. Daytona sets his sights on the recent trend in “ratchet” behavior, and hits square on the mark.
3. “Mixtape Zeus, the big Jesús/Twenty-four hours of sex and sour, then my flow’s on a six-day cruise” — Lloyd Banks, ‘Follow the Leader’ lyrics
For anyone who remembers Banks’ series of incredible Money in the Bank tapes, his “mixtape Zeus” claim here is hardly exaggerated. The creativity of the boast, though, is what floored us. Comparing himself to the greatest of all Greek gods moved Banks into our top three without breaking a sweat.
2. “These emcees had brains, don’t dare test it/Been nice since 2 Chainz was bare-chested/Way back — Emmitt still had Troy and Dallas with him/Before Pusha T lived good, still had malice in him” — Joe Budden, ‘Funkmaster Flex Freestyle’ lyrics
We know, we know — Joe Budden topped the list last week. But the final line of this segment was far too stellar to go unrecognized. The puns on Pusha’s signing to GOOD Music and launching to solo stardom, sans his brother and group-mate Malice, are incredibly layered and clever.
1. “A G for life until the casket closes/If I ain’t ready, kick my casket open/Y’all heard what I said, I’m back from the dead/They killed me last night, but I’m here this morning” — Z-Ro, ‘I’m Alive’ lyrics
Houston icon Z-Ro just left his long-time home, Rap-A-Lot Records. If the transition phased him at all, it doesn’t show at all on this jaw-dropping track. This line manages to sound tough, surprising, and funny simultaneously, a feat that puts The King of the Ghetto in our number one slot this week.