The 25 Best Eight-Bar Verses in Rap History

18. Talib Kweli on "Definition" (1998)

"You think you the shit, somebody in the wings'll force you to quit/
It could be your crew or click, or some random kid you smoked buddha with/
Consider me the entity within the industry without a history/
Of spittin' the epitome, of stupidity, livin' my life/
Expressin' my liberty, it gotta be done properly/
My name is in the middle of e-kweli-ty/
People follow me and other cats they hear him flow/
And assume I'm the real one with lyrics like I'm cyrano"


There's nothing quite like hearing a technically-superior MC berate his inept peers on wax, for essentially no good reason. That was the case on "Definition," where Brooklyn upstart Talib Kweli's lyrical exercise left hot air MCs gasping for breathe. The "alternative" and "conscious" tags may stick today, but Kweli sounded fiery over this BDP sample flipped by Hi-Tek. Peep the vocal tide as he hits each syllable: "Consider me the entity within the industry without a history/Of spitting the epitome of stupidity." This record set a precedent for what their album was going to epitomize, and Kweli's verse here was a compelling illustration. —Edwin Ortiz

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