Five Classic Rap Verses by Rappers Not in Anybody’s Top Five
R.A. The Rugged Man on “Uncommon Valor: A Vietnam Story” with Jedi Mind Tricks: One of the most powerful verses ever put to wax. The underrated-but-somewhat-self-sabotaging-what-if-coulda-shoulda-woulda-been Long Island rapper of Scottish/German/Sicilian heritage with a Vietnam veteran father by Agent Orange documents the ‘military conflict’ through his staff sergeant father’s eyes with a nimble flow worthy of Big Pun, and a level of detail that’s denser than a South East Asia jungle.
Cee-Lo Goodie on “Git Up, Git Up” with Outkast: The best verse on the debut album from one of the greatest rap groups of all-time does not come from either one of its two principal members, Andre “Big Boi” Patton or Andre “Three Stacks/3000” Benjamin. It comes from the guy now more commonly known as “The Voice” guy…or the “Forget You” guy…. or the Gnarls Barkley “Crazy” guy but before any and all of that, Cee-Lo was a Dirty South hip-hop pioneer and integral member of Atlanta’s Dungeon Family. This verse, a one-man-show with multiple characters about a man struggling against forces internal and external on the slow road towards maturation, is a testament to that fact. By extension it’s also one of the best verses ever spit in the history of rap. Do I make myself clear?
Cappadonna on “Winter Warz” with Ghostface Killah, U-God, Masta Killah and Raekwon of Wu-Tang Clan: It’s tough to call this particular selection a great demonstration of lyricism. It doesn’t have a narrative like the first two examples. But then you realize it’s a freestyle, perhaps not in the strictest sense because there is probably a line in or two in it that were premediated before it’s recording (similar to Snoop on ‘Tha Shiznit’ on his debut) but what you have here is a one-take marathon demonstration of passionate rappity-rap rapping that takes the baton from four members of the nine original members of Wu-Tang Clan in the midst of their recording apex (the RZA-helmed production between 1993’s Enter The 36 Chambers and 1997’s Forever). Cap runs the anchor leg in this relay, crosses the finish line in record time then somehow has enough energy left to start running stadium stair exercises afterward.
Big Noyd aka Rapper Noyd on “Give Up the Goods (Just Step)” with Mobb Deep: Nepotism does have its rewards. Noyd was a younger member of the extended Mobb Deep family/collective growing up in the famed (through rap lore) Queensbridge projects who displays the hunger that earned him respect in the streets on the microphone right here in his unofficially official entrance into the world outside that territory with this memorable verse here off the Mobb’s classic unofficial official debut The Infamous. This was a favor that ended up doing a favor for all of us here as Noyd manages to outshine even his more accomplished brethren on this particular track.
Bun B on “Murder” by UGK: This one is somewhat debatable in the sense that there may be an outside chance someone (most likely that someone would come from Texas) would have Bun B in their Top Five. However, if you were gonna hear any Texas MC typically nominated for Top Five rappers then it’s likely going to be Scarface. And deservedly so, Scarface has had a greater, more varied and legendary career than Bun B has. I would argue that outside of this particular classic album, UGK’s 1996 album Ridin’ Dirty, Bun’s late-great producer/MC/partner-in-UGK Pimp C might be a better rapper whose elongated Southern drawl/timbre of the voice throws some Northeast people off the scent. But on this song, as well as this album? Bun B is doing nothing but the title of this title of this song on every microphone he clutches and track he gets on. Have a muggfugging seat and a smile.