Shyne (AP Photo)
This week in hip-hop saw the long-awaited return of a few major figures.  Slaughterhouse, backed by their new patron Eminem, released a superb mixtape in advance of an album that hopefully their boss’ tin ear for production won’t ruin.  Shyne, last seen hanging around Belize and converting to Judiasm, returned to relevance in true hip-hop fashion, by dissing his former boss, Diddy.  And Brother Ali released both a new single and a killer freestyle in anticipation of his first record in three years.  Below, the lines of the week.
5.  “I could go on/A-Squad, I’m down for life like I put Shawty Lo on” — Jon Connor, ‘Straight Up’ lyrics
Jon Connor is quickly becoming one of our new favorite rappers.  His energetic delivery, great choice of beats, and clever wordplay all mark him as an artist to watch.  Here, he nods to Shawty Lo’s first group D4L, of “Laffy Taffy” fame.
4.  “I need to know how my co-d/Conned witness to sacrifice me/Just so could get away free/This does not comply with the streets” – Shyne, ‘You’re Welcome’ lyrics
There is nothing that the rap world loves more than artists sniping at each other.  Thus, it makes perfect sense that Shyne would try to get back in the public eye by dissing his former mentor, Diddy, who somehow emerged unscathed after the two went on trial for a December 1999 shooting incident.  Shyne reasonably enough seems to have a chip on his shoulder about the ten years in jail he served, and makes abundantly clear in this song what he thinks was responsible for the differing outcomes in court.
3.  “Pump Makaveli in the car/Until my girl get in — her pain in the a** want DeBarge” — Redman, ‘Bridging the Gap Freestyle’ lyrics
Reggie Noble has always been one of hip-hop’s most original figures.  Funny, hyper-energetic, and goofy, Redman fills a gap left by the existence of far too many self-serious tough talkers.  Here, he gets in a little joke (at his own expense) about what music plays in his ride.
2.  “P, I like ice and I like minks/Might f**k you up, Mike Tyson verse Mike Spinks” — Sean Price, ‘Champions 2’ lyrics
Sean P has been a regular on our list lately, but we took the risk of overexposure in order to bring you this line.  Price alludes to Mike Tyson’s famous boxing match where he destroyed his opponent in a still-hard-to-fathom 91 seconds.
1.  “I walked around with gats and carried a little shank/’Cause the world treat me bad and I couldn’t afford a shrink” — Brother Ali, ‘4th King’ lyrics
We at RG, unlike a lot of people, had a soft spot for Rick Ross’ song “3 Kings”, over which Ali freestyles here.  But the Minneapolis rhymer shows no mercy, absolutely destroying the beat by his pal Jake One.  This line pulls off the trick of being both funny and serious, with its nod to the sad state of mental health care in the U.S.