Posted on February 08 2017
What separates an excellent verse from the scene stealers we've selected below? There is generally something special, a twang, or a spark that the below features provided that have cemented them both in history & our playlists. Every week we will drop 5 of the most eye-popping guest spots that will make your ears bleed & then beg for more.
And with that let's begin with part one of this weekly series.
International Players Anthem - Outkast
Arguably two of hip-hop’s greatest duo's collide on this gem after Pimp C's infamous release from prison in 2008. The opening verse (thank you Andre), is a clever soliloquy of love where Andre dazzles us with more metaphors & similes than we could fit into a Lil Wayne x Cassidy song. Big Boi is right in the thick of it with his trademark quick-fire raps that make Migos sound more unrefined than the crude oil that superpowers bicker over. The kindly hosts, UGK do not fail to deliver either, with fire verses that result in a Southern, nay, hip-hop classic record for your collections.
Memorable Line: Don't do it! Reconsider, read some liter/ature on the subject. You sure? Fuck it/You know we got your back like chiroprac-tic
Get 'em High - Talib Kweli
We can't front, it's hard to give this to Talib Kweli, as his collaborators - Common & Kanye West also deliver near scene stealing verses on Get 'em High. But when you hear Talib reel off 'you twisted my arm, I'll assist with the charm', you can't help but hand the gold (or black) star to Mr. Kweli.
The menacing instrumental is the only track on The College Dropout to contain no samples. You could even call it his first foray into what we now know as Yeezus. It instead features gaping, intermittent silence’s which is the perfect platform for these (once) underground rap-stars to trade creative, gob-smacking verses as they attempt to out-do one another over this Kanye produced classic.
Memorable Line: Well okay, you twisted my arm, I'll assist with the charm/Ayo, ain't you meet that chick at that conference with your moms?
This Can’t Be Life - Scarface
A heartbreaking verse for a heartbreaking story, this feature verse hears Scarface lament over the recent news of a friends child passing away. It's a verse filled to the brim in anguish, pain & you can hear it in every syllable that Scarface utters. This is a classic early Kanye production, a chopped-up sample with orchestral elements providing a lush undertone that contrasts against the gruff strain of the southern legends voice.
In later interviews, Scarface reveals that he actually heard the news as he was getting into the booth to rap his verse. He then promptly walked out & rewrote his verse. So the pain you hear on record, his hurt - it's all fresh. The man’s soul is bruised but he finds no shame in displaying his pain. And it's precisely why Scarface demands & receives the respect of his compatriots; the authenticity of his words is there to the bone & we feel & believe it.
Memorable Lines: Now as I walk into the studio, to do this with Jig/I got a phone call from one of my nigs. Said my homeboy Reek, he just lost one of his kids/And when I heard that I just broke into tears
The Recipe - Dr. Dre
Who else agrees that this is one of the greatest song titles ever? There's not a title more appropriate for this classic. Dr. Dre shows love to Kendrick on this track & although we didn't get his super-star production team, Mr. Porter nails exactly what the west-coast wanted - their summer anthem. The soul-bounce will transport you into a (probably) blue Chevy, as you cruise through down-town L.A. with Kendrick Lamar & the good doctor, as they hoot, holler & give praise to their wonderful state.
Dr. Dre enlists the writing of Kendrick for this one, and boy does he do it justice. There’s a natural charm to how Dre takes on the faster paced flow, while still allowing for his crisp, deep vocals to sound as clear as the first day he stepped into the booth. The jump-off line, ‘I shall proceed, that's me, mothafuck your opinion, Huh, how many ways am I killing 'em? Shit, right around a billion’, is an instantly quotable allusion to his Beats Music fortune & a fuck you to your opinion. Which is fair, he's creatively hit the mark, time after time, over 3 decades; and that's no mean feat by anyone's standards. What’s most refreshing is that Dr. Dre released many tracks leading up to Detox, but he never sounded more fresh, invigorated & game-day ready than on ‘The Recipe’.
Memorable Lines: Roll it up, baby, come and lift that dress then roll it up for me when I'm stressed
That's Not Me - JME
Skepta's little brother, the ever-eccentric JME spazzed out on the family-only lead single of Konnichiwa, 'That's Not Me' released in 2014. It's a wild, humorous & aggressive verse from JME whose simplistic bars carry a charm that you simply can't find on, say, a Canibus or Jay-Z album cut. Just try 'People ask what music I make/Turn the volume up cuz, that's what' - it's straightforward, punchy & reflects exactly what grime culture is all about. It's especially entertaining to hear the brotherly contrast between the energetic, lively JME & the deeper, more eloquent Skepta, riffing on the grimiest track off Konnichiwa.
Memorable Lines: When I'm on the mic in a rave I got the whole crowd bubbling like a crack pot/See me and Skepta in a video, with a nostalgic backdrop/There'll never be a day when I don't make music/Cause silent? Nah that's not me
And there you have it, there’s the first part of our weekly series, and what a start it was. I hope your speakers survived the onslaught. Stay tuned next week for part two. Do you believe we missed out on something? Post your top feature tracks in the comments section & share your thoughts below.