A whole wack of 2010’s best verses dropped in the last quarter of this year, many from Kanye West’s star studded and high-stakes G.O.O.D Fridays free music series campaign, and others simply because the period from August to November is music’s most wonderful time of year. Each year, a dump truck of new material sorta floods the music world during this time, overwhelming our ears with incredibleness just before it’s time for critics to make their lists and check them twice. It’s easy (or easier) for us all to get blinded in the year-end flurry and forget about all the really great stuff that happened in the first part of the year. Some critics take notes throughout the year to keep track of the stuff they really liked, and others, less organized (like us), spend hours upon hours digging just before the deadline to make sure nothing is missed, hear the stuff they may not have had a chance to, then decide how it all washes out.
Jay Electronica’s “Exhibit C” needed no re-calling because it stood out for us since the very beginning of 2010, although in the end, this track misses the 2010 cut off by weeks. (Unfortunately, since the year-end lists for ’09 would have already been submitted by the time of its release, that lyrical gem is forever caught in a critic-less pothole). Other honorable mentions for 2010 include Tyler, The Creator’s verse from “Sandwitches”, a crash-digest of what shot OFWGKTA into the fringes of superstardom this year, including their juvenile fixation with rape, skateboarding, and violence. And Yelawolf’s performances on both his breakout “You Aint No DJ” (Big Boi) and break-in “Hometown Hero Remix” (with Big K.R.I.T), are perfectly pointed examples of why Gadsden, Alabama now has a big fat pin on the rap map.
Naturally, a couple of our selections cross over with our winners for The Best Lyricists of 2010. Yet whereas that list focused more on overall lyrical performance throughout the year, The Come Up Show Favorite Verses of 2010 is a celebration of particularly outstanding musical moments that shine a little brighter than the others.
Jay-Z – “So Appalled”
[audio:https://thecomeupshow.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/07-So-Appalled-feat.-JAY-Z-Pusha-T-Prynce-Cy-Hi-Swizz-Beatz-The-RZA.mp3|titles=07 So Appalled (feat. JAY-Z, Pusha T, Prynce Cy Hi, Swizz Beatz & The RZA)]
“So Appalled” from Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy [2010, Def Jam/ Roc A Fella]
I remember I was heading to Toronto on a Friday evening this past summer, and like always, I was in a rush. Until I heard Jay-Z’s verse on “So Appalled.” For a lack of better words, I was appalled. Remember, this is JAY-Z, a man who has proved himself countless times; an emcee you don’t think could catch you off guard and make you say WOW since he’s done it so many times already. These are usually victories for underdogs. But then I started to listen to what Jigga was saying: “Dark knight feeling, die or be a hero/Or live long enough to see yourself become a villain/I went from the favourite to the most hated/ Or would you rather be underpaid or over-rated?”
I sympathized a little bit with Hov, because as fans, we supported him, and we got excited as he went from rags to riches. But in the end, did we ever think he could achieve the success he has now? It also put into perspective what it must be like having so much pressure on you as a celebrity. Between beating out Elvis Presley for the most number 1 albums and authoring a best seller book in 2010, I didn’t think Jay-Z felt like a villain, but he assures us this is the life he chose and would rather be in this position than go back to Marcy. Who wouldn’t?
This verse won me over instantly. I threw it on constant replay with my head shaking in amazement, not believing what I’m hearing. As the game announcer would say in Mortal Kombat after a smooth kill: FLAWLESS VICTORY. –Chedo
Big Sean – “Looking For Trouble”
[audio:https://thecomeupshow.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Looking-For-Trouble-f.-Pusha-T-CyHi-Da-Prynce-Big-Sean-J.-Cole.mp3|titles=Looking For Trouble f. Pusha T, CyHi Da Prynce, Big Sean & J. Cole]
Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck. I’m (kinda) sorry, but that’s seriously what I said when I first heard this. It was the weekend of my birthday, a bunch of friends were over, I was drunk, a 4-door Mercedes Benz C-Series randomly smashed into my cement front porch, and Ye dropped this G.O.O.D. Friday track off, right in the midst of everything.
So deep down, I probably said Fuuuuuuck for a bunch of reasons, but I have a feeling it’s mostly because of everything “Looking For Trouble” was meant to be and everything it was. Thanks to Kanye’s elusive tweeting in the weeks before, there was speculation whether Cole would make an appearance on the G.O.O.D Friday series. And then, wham, here it was. Cole’s verse is dope, but Big Sean’s easily trumps anyone else’s. After CyHi finishes up his bit, Sean tears into the track and practically busts out of your speaker with his insane flow, wordplay, punchlines, content and individuality. It’s one of those verses I run back almost every time to hear it again. I also have yet not to mutter “god damn” within even just the first 3 or 4 bars. Please, listen for yourself to hear what Big Sean brings to earn verse of the year. –J.R.
Big K.R.I.T. – “Children Of The World”
[audio:https://thecomeupshow.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Children-of-the-World1.mp3|titles=Children of the World]
“Children of the World” from K.R.I.T. Wuz Here [2010, Direct Connect]
I was going to open this paragraph with one of my favorite lines from this song, but in all honesty, if I spill that line, you might either wait to hear it or pass by the song completely. “Children of the World” was the first track I would show people in those “hey check this dude out he’s dope” moments; or if you were ever asking me for new music this year, I probably passed this your way because there are several stand-out things about this three minute and twelve second verse.
There’s absolutely no lyrical hook on the track, except for a recurring Angela Bofill sample that sings “Children of the World”, serving as both the anchor for K.R.I.T’s banging instrumental and the structural basis of the song. The lyrics and lyrical content of the song are heavy. K.R.I.T. touches on some reasons why he dropped out of school, who he looked up to, and asks “what good is fast food when you over qualified?” when it comes to finding a job. For real, I chose this verse not only for its lyrical content but for the way K.R.I.T. flows over his own beat, his play with words, and the individuality that he puts into his music. You should be able to tell, especially with the acapella rhyming at the end, that K.R.I.T. knows what the hell he’s doing and will definitely be a King Remembered In Time. –J.R.
“Monster” from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy [2010, Def Jam/Roc A Fella]
When Kanye flew Nicki Minaj down to Hawaii to have her record a verse for “Monster”, Minaj had already beat Lil Kim’s Billboard record as the top selling female emcee, and she hadn’t even released a solo album yet. But with Pink Friday on the near horizon and a whole lot of hearts to win over before it hit the shelves, Kanye’s invitation to spit a verse alongside himself, Jay-Z, and Rick Ross (each well-seasoned and highly respected hip-hop artists) presented Nicki with a do-or-die opportunity to prove she could hold her own.
One listen through “Monster” is all you need to confirm that she did far more than just measure up. Replete with slurps, tremelos, throat growls, helium voices, and near-neurotic vocalizations, Nicki’s performance is a circus act, yes, (she’s “all up all up all up in the bank with the funny face”) but it is also the most outstanding and elaborate verse of the year. And the best part of it all, was that not everyone heard it coming. But once everyone did hear it, Nicki’s performance was met with unanimous critical acclaim not only for the kick-ass verse it was, but also because Nicki had straight out-performed her male counterparts and wasn’t in the least bashful about it: “wait let me get this straight/wait I’m the rookie/but my features and my shows ten times your pay? 50k for a verse no album out!” she nearly screams from her throat a top Ye’s gritty drum loop. The irony surrounding “Monster” and the verse of Minaj’s career didn’t congeal until a month later when Pink Friday was released and this kind of victory hinted to be as rare as the verse responsible for it. –K-Lis
Shad – “Rose Garden”
[audio:https://thecomeupshow.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/02-Rose-Garden.mp3|titles=02 Rose Garden]
“Rose Garden” from TSOL [2010, Black Box]
After a scratched instrumental intro and a sample from a lady in a dress, the first verse on TSOL opens with this compact exegesis: “When Abraham went to slash Issac/In a sense he baptized him/Rabbi said don’t trust in cash prizes/The same thing that floats your boat can capsize it/Tell the snakes they can take a hike like gas prices”. You may be thinking: “OK, Yaa, I get it”, or, maybe ” Umm, what’s he sayiin?.” Or maybe you just think it sounds cool. Or all three! And that’s the point. Those four short lines which take up the first 19 seconds of the track, are actually a straight up complex and highly stylistic miniature essay. Let me digress, decode, and explain.
Thanks to Sunday school, I know the story of “Abraham slashing Issac” is a reference to the fable where God told Abraham to cap his own son in a test to see if Abraham was a faithful Jew. Don’t worry, an angel rushed down just before the big dummy Ab chopped his boy’s head off, which is how we know Shad’s talking about the guy upstairs when offers this interpretation on the story: “In a sense he baptized him”. The “baptizing” Shad’s talking about, is Ab’s valuable lesson learned: don’t do things that seem wrong, dude, no matter who tells you to do it. From there, Shad offers a mantra, “don’t trust in cash prizes”, which has a thousand interpretive applications for whatever in life seems too good to be true, whether it be regarding the music industry, life, business, religion love, pyramid schemes, whatever. Have faith, yes, but use your own critical judgement says Shad. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
Then Shad goes on: “The same thing that floats your boat can capsize it.” Noah’s ark should surface to mind right about now, to continue the biblical reference, index (God’s) consequence, and remind that blind temptation and blind action are bitches that will have your ass (I’m guessing had Abraham popped his son, he would have been a ruined man) and over-indulgence can be detrimental. Yes, dear yule-tides, eating too many cookies may float your boat, but they will capsize your waistline. Then, here comes Shad’s eloquent conclusion and transition into his next point: “Tell the snakes they can take a hike like gas prices”, which indexes yet another famous fable with a lesson or two on temptation while simultaneously distracting you for a second to think one of these things or others: green energy all the way!/oil sands in Alberta/where does oil come from?/shit, I’m running low on fuel.
But that’s just my own interpretation. Who needs school? Just buy TSOL and let your brain chew on this verse of the year. –K-Lis