Top 15 Underrated Rap Verses of the Decade
As the decade comes to a close and we are reaching 2020, I am excited for new music. Upcoming albums from Kendrick, Playboi Carti, Isaiah Rashad and Lil Uzi Vert have me eager to listen. I cannot wait for what 2020 has in store. But now is the time to reflect. This decade has provided us with many great albums, mixtapes and singles. As the decade and year conclude, many will look at music at a macro level by ranking albums or mixtapes. Some will go smaller and rank EPs. Some will even go smaller and rank songs. But as I have seen many lists and scrolled through countless rankings, I have never seen best verses. Throughout my listening experience, there have been countless verses that have flown under the radar and should've been rapped across the globe. So, I created a list of the best rap verses of this decade that many may have missed.
Before I go into the verses, I have to lay down my two ground rules for making this list. The first rule is that the verse has to be available to me on Spotify. I decided that if I were to include streaming services like Soundcloud or Datpiff, there would be simply too many to choose. There are an array of verses throughout the underground that I would've needed years of research to finish, so I decided that one platform would be enough. The second rule is that there can only be one verse per artist- I didn't want you guys to be flooded with one artist having three verses without acknowledgement to other great rap verses. With that being said, Enjoy:
15) Playboi Carti: "Had 2" 2nd Verse (2017)
I Had 2 put this on the list somewhere… (god I hate myself). As I was checking Spotify statistics, I was astonished to see that this is one of Carti’s least played songs. This confounded me because this is one of Carti’s best tracks, in my opinion. A glossy piano synth and sharp bass boost conceive a Soundcloud Carti-esque beat with a fuse of a neoteric baby voice. Mixing these aspects with satire and creative ad libs drive this song to its excellence. As the first verse is solid, it is in no comparison to the second. Once the chorus of the song exits, Carti comes in on fire. He constantly switches up the flow and you can hear him sing, flex about his wealth, and just be himself. As this verse is good, if it were longer, it would probably be higher on this list but because of that, stays at a humble 15 spot.
14) Larry League: Randy’s Verse on "30" (2016)
If you have been reading my articles for a while you have probably heard of these guys before. But it is very likely that you have never heard of these white boys from ATL. Randy Provolone comes out of the depths of hell to provide one of the most slept on verses the decade with the second track on the sophomore album 3200. The song starts off with one of the most simplistic yet preposterous bass boosts of all time and Randy simply slays the beast. The intense-one liners like the opener “I just smoked a zip and made my dad call the cops” or “And if you want to go you goin’ see this nine dance” are just a few of the robust lyrics that Randy provides in the track. The mix of a crazy beat and absurd lyrics make 14 a fitting spot for the Larry’s.
13) JPEGMAFIA: "Papi I Missed You" Verse (2019)
The quote “I don’t spit raps, bitch I spit rhetoric” is a line in this song that is the epitome of this verse. The unique wordplay and diverse references make this one of JPEG's best verses of all time and yet it is strangely underappreciated. On the album All My Heroes are Cornballs it is the third least popular song. This track closes out the album with one of the most ludacris verses I have ever heard with lines like, “target practice on an Aryan” or, “redneck tears, what a beverage”. His instrumentals are kooky and ingenious. His lyricism is deranged and damn near psychotic. His vocals are emotional and distinct. This track is one of Peggy’s most powerful pieces and should be listened to around the globe.
12) Rich Brian: "Introvert" 1st Verse (2018)
As many may know him for his internet personality or his comedic interviews, the man has BARZ. Yeah, I put a Z in there for a reason. On Rich Brian’s debut album Amen, the song "Introvert" shows Brian’s emotional side and is delightfully uncharacteristic to Rich Brian’s style. The first verse of this track is rich with pathos and discusses things Brian wishes he would have done, but didn't due to his anxiety. Regrets, loneliness, and depression are all present in this deep song and it provides a compelling angle that not many rappers are willing to take. As the verse progresses, he talks about how he is going to “tell myself run, ain't no lookin' back” and not let anything hold him back from reaching his goal of stardom. The transformation of Rich Brian just throughout the song deserves the number 12 spot on this list.
11) Saba: "Westside Bound 3" 1st Verse (2016)
This list wouldn't be complete if we didn’t feature this Chi-Town genius! In this song, Saba’s first verse is rapid fire. Saba is characteristically known for his deep lyrics and provoking wordplay but in "Westside Bound 3", he just goes in. He talks about the struggle of losing friends to the streets and how he had to separate himself from these people to make it onto the path he wanted. Wordplay like “He went on to high school but dropped out a junior, I went on to college, he we went on a shooter, He went on to juvie, I went out on tour, ayy” exemplifies the intellect that Saba provides in every song.
10) Isaiah Rashad: "R.I.P. Kevin Miller" 1st Verse (2014)
Isaiah has been slept on as a whole and there are many verses I could’ve chosen to be on this list, but this one stands out. If you do know Isaiah, you probably heard some of The Sun’s Tirade, but this verse is actually on his debut project Cilvia Demo. Isaiah’s enunciated wordplay and marvelous verbiage are put into play in the verse. After an extreme amount of build-up from the simplistic chorus, the Top Dawg Entertainment prodigy calmly but firmly tackles the instrumental. Bar after bar is impactful and noteworthy. The lack of common knowledge of this song makes it a felicitous choice for the number 10 spot.
9) Mac Miller: "Break the Law" 1st Verse (2015)
There are an array of verses that many Mac Miller fans have never heard since he has countless mixtapes and EPs that he dropped over the last decade, I decided to only use studio albums. Throughout the five studio albums he created, there is not a harder and more underrated verse than the opening of “Break the Law”. It starts off with him waking up from one of the many crazy nights that he's had and brings a constant flow of creative lines and comedic references. If you have not heard any of GO:OD AM, do not expect it to be like Swimming or The Divine Feminine. This is just some classic bar-for-bar Mac Miller. Rest in Peace.
8) Travis Scott: "Impossible" 1st Verse (2016)
I remember a specific time in my life in 2015 where I played this verse over and over again for about a month straight. This verse comes off Travis’s best album (yeah, I said it) Rodeo and it is interestingly one of Travis’s least played songs. The instrumental is futuristic and bizzare. Travis’s supernatural start of the track really leaves listeners wondering when the drums will kick in. But once those crisp drums come upon you, you can realize the excellence of the song. The build up that Travis creates in this song is quite possibly his most intense ever. It was hard for me to find an underrated Travis song because of how acclaimed he is, but “Impossible” takes the cake.
7) Denzel Curry: His or Joey Bada$$'s verses on "Zenith" (2016)
I really couldn’t decide. I just couldn’t. All I know is that for some reason, no one knows about this song. It is one of Denzel’s least played songs yet it contains two of the best lyrical masterminds in the game- Denzel himself and Joey Bada$$. The song has an eerie and anxious beat that gives these two geniuses so many different directions to go. So many unforgettable lines like when Denzel says, “Two rules in my house: No shoes no fuck n*****” (which he should honestly put on his doormat or something), or when Joey says, “Used to hate all of my teachers, now they in my bleachers, Cheering on my every move, now that I'm eating”. These lines are comedic yet hard, which makes the verses iconic and very enjoyable. These two verses need more attention and are simply slept on throughout the history of rap.
6) Lil Uzi Vert: "Super Saiyan" Verse 1 (2015)
Yes, I would've picked a verse from Lil Uzi Vs. The World, but then it wouldn't be underrated now would it? Before all the nostalgia of summer ‘16 and“Money Longer” getting yelled from the mountain tops across America, there was one of the hardest Uzi verses of all time. There was “Super Saiyan”. Uzi unleashed his inner Goku and absolutely obliterated one of the most ferocious piano chords of all time. Everytime I hear this, I want to run through a fucking wall like the Kool-Aid guy. The verse is vulgar, funny, and possesses so much clout. The sheer momentum that Uzi creates to build to the chorus is unbelievable and the consistency is just perfect. This makes it land at the number six spot.
5) Earl Sweatshirt: Earl’s Verse in "Uncle Al" (2013)
"Huh?" "What?" "What album is this track on?" These are the many questions I get when I show my peers this song. Many breeze past this song listening to Doris because of its length. The song lasts a diminutive 53 seconds. But, if you give it the proper listen, you will simply be blown away. There is obviously only one verse in this song but it is jam-packed. Every listen I give, I hear a new line that is torrid. So much obscure verbiage and snippets of what cultivates Earl to be who he is today are compacted into this alluring track. Lines like “Salmon skin Band-Aid help with recovery, Diction buttery” or “I hit the Jake, threw the rifle, And tell her open that mouth for deposit, leave the bank broke” have many multi level connotations that further prove Earl is one of the greatest lyricists of all time.
4) Tyler the Creator: "48" 2nd Verse (2013)
From one Odd Future member to the next, I have to put one of the deepest songs on this list. In “48”, Tyler raps from the perspective of a drug dealer and explains how the guilt is eating him up. Although the first verse introduces the theme of the song, what really makes the second verse stand out is the dismal emotion that Tyler displays. His voice sounds as if he is damn near about to cry after he ponders the people he feels he has killed by selling them drugs while also expressing his need for the drug money to feed his family. Tyler's unique approach is one that other artists wouldn't even consider, and it really creates a powerful message about the war on drugs in America today.
3) Noname: "Kale" Verse (2017)
While reading this, it is quite possible that you have never listened to the Chicago-bred song “Kale” by Joseph Chilliams, but it contains not only the perfect description of Noname’s intellect, but one of the greatest expressessions of the horrors of African American discrimmination. Noname tackles the issues of record labels making millions of dollars by exploiting African American artists and exposes the irony of these labels making profit off the very culture they created. Noname expresses this detriment perfectly by saying “Fuck these label executives, How they gon' tell me my excellence?”. Many labels have such influence over artists' careers that artists shy away from expressing grievances. Noname’s verse is not only one of the most powerful of the decade, but quite possibly the century. There are too many words to fathom that I could use to describe it but you need to simply just listen to recognize the greatness.
2) A$AP Rocky: "Angels" 1st Verse (2013)
This verse might not be important to many, but it holds dearly to me. This verse is what truly got me to love rap music. It is the true embodiment of New York culture and unveils the meaning of A$AP Mob. The meaning of “Always Strive And Prosper” is stitched through lyrics like “They call me young drug dealer, they call me young thug n****, 24 karats my slugs glitter, 24 years old worth a couple million”. The true meaning of “A$AP” is genuinely doing what you want to do with no regard for what people think. This verse displays that perfectly and further highlights the message of the rap group that has had one of the biggest impacts on rap music, fashion, and the culture of America.
1) Kendrick Lamar: "Wat’s Wrong?" Verse (2016)
How could I not pick the GOAT for the most underrated verse of all time? Since this is Isaiah Rashad’s most popular song, this verse is seldom discussed in the context of Kendrick’s best verse. The verse comes smack dab in the middle after an Isaiah intro. With momentum stacking up, Kendrick comes out the gate with great force. This verse discusses political irony, African American culture, materialism, the duality of man, family values, you name it! There are so many deeper levels and soliloquies buried into this one verse that you could listen to it a million times and the true meaning could still elude you. Lines like “Any n**** that disagree is a fuckin' liar, Pardon me, see my alter ego was Gemini” or “And I believe in Kool-Aid and God's son, Do you believe that Black man is our sun?” just show the sheer dominance that is possessed in this verse. The wordplay, mixed with the instrumental, mixed with the emotion present in Lamar’s vocals, mixed with the switch up of flows, is simply astonishing and needs to be talked about for history. This is the most underrated rap verse of all time by the greatest rapper of all time.