Posted on January 22 2018
It's part two of our breakdown of the greatest hip-hop guest verse in hip-hop! If you missed Part 1, click here to read it. To bump the full playlist of the songs featured in the full series, you can stream it on Spotify here.
During our research, we learned that picking out the greatest features verses from the rich history of hip-hop is no simple task. So we decided to simplify it for us all by adding a few rules.
The rules are as follows:
- The verse must be longer than 16 bars
- Only pick the BEST feature verse from each artist
- Tracks must be made after 1980
And with that let's begin with part one of this weekly series.
Angel - Common
An ode to the sticky green, ‘Angel’ is a heavenly mix of some cultural politeness with a hit of Cali’s finest. Add a twist of Common’s pedigree wordplay as he rides multisyllabic rhyme patterns & you got yourself a winner. The soulful sample, a call-back to Gil Scott-Heron’s ‘Angel Dust’, complements his Soulquarian ways that we are well used to, and even though it might be a bread & butter verse for the Southside champ - it stands out to us at the Inverse Culture Team.
Memorable Lines: Pipes that Indians used to light, we called it Chief, right?
Touch the Sky - Lupe Fiasco
Lupe got a big look from a budding Chi-town legend & he squeezed every bit of opportunity out of it. He found himself on the lead single of Kanye West's well-received sophomore album, Late Registration. And boy, did Lupe Fiasco deliver. He caught the ear of many wordsmiths on the infectious Curtis Mayfield sample with his tricky alliteration, just try 'Bottle-shaped body like Mrs. Butterworth' on for size.
By dialing back his notoriously complex raps (just try to dissect Failure) while retaining his natural charm, wit & dexterity, Lupe Fiasco created accessible music without compromising his artistic integrity - until LASERS came along.
Memorable Lines: Peachfuzz buzz, but beard on the verge
Monster - Nicki Minaj
Monster, where do we start with Monster? Is it the early game co-sign on a featured-decked track from Kanye West? Or was it that she murdered over twenty collective years of hip-hop experience in one fell blow? We don’t know where to begin, but as Kanye West so humbly puts it, Nicki had ‘the best verse on the best hip-hop album of all time’ & many would be hard-pressed to disagree.
This six-minute behemoth track has Nicki on her thumping, hard flow; & she delivers the career-altering verse that every single person who hears Monster will rap along to with the ease of a veteran rapper. See, that’s the charm of a technically skilled guest verse - it will never be forgotten. As a student of the game, Nicki understood that she may get the younger, popular vote with YMCMB but she needs the industry heads to pay note too. Countless artists got their start by killing a guest verse, just ask Nas, Canibus, Jay-Z & AZ and Ms. Minaj is another added to that list.
It was also an introduction to her personalities - an important fact to note is Kanye’s assistance with helping Nicki separate out her persona’s more effectively on wax.
Memorable Lines: You could be the king, or watch the queen conquer.
Ultralight Beam - Chance the Rapper
Chance's verse on the opening track of TLOP was career defining. Sure, we knew Chancellor from the 5th was out for greatness, but when we actually heard his crooned out raps at Kanye's MSG album party, there was a communal shiver down all of our spines. Experiencing greatness is always special, even if you don't realise it now - you won’t ever forget it. It's an undefinable trait, but you know it when you see it, and Chance's 'Ultralight Beam' verse was his formal introduction to the world outside of the rap game.
The song, a sweet reprise to God, love & belief - just a few of Chance’s favorite things - is backed by a gorgeous gospel choir, heavenly keys & a build-up which would make EDM fans proud. It doesn't matter if you believe in God or not, this song will make you believe in a greater other.
Memorable Lines: You can feel the lyrics, the spirit coming in braille/Tubman of the underground, come and follow the trail/I made Sunday Candy, I'm never going to hell/I met Kanye West, I'm never going to fail
PIMP - Snoop Dogg
Snoop Dogg's verse on PIMP is the culmination of his diverse record label history - from his time at Deathrow, to his southern stint with Master P on No Limit Records; Snoop learned & mastered his craft. His voice was always silky smooth, but you know when a verse opens with "Yeah bitch, I got my Now and Later gators on, I'm bout to show you how my pimp hand is way strong", you know you in for a treat, and not the doggy kind.
Memorable Lines: see above.
And there we have it, there are five more killer guest verses dropped after. Do you believe we missed out on something? Let us know, we are here to learn as much as we are to edu-ma-cate.