12. Gucci Mane "Wonderful" (2009)
"Naw I ain't lyrical," Gucci once demurred, "but my bracelet is crazy but my necklace is hysterical." Despite his protestations to the contrary (and plenty of songs in the catalog that would never qualify), Gucci was a lyrical rapper. He just did his best to hide it behind a heavily accented Southern drawl. He didn't so much articulate as smear his words, but once you keyed into what he was actually saying, it became readily apparent that there was a density, intelligence and adventurousness that left most other MCs in the dust.
He would never say he had "red diamonds" on his watch—instead, the red bezel looked like a sliced tomato. He wouldn't kill you; he'd leave you "stiff just like a mannequin." "Wonderful" was a particular highlight because everything seemed to pass by in a seamless blur, an uninterrupted stream of imagery and musicality, each syllable flowing from the one before it in a wave of clever boasts: "Half your budget spent on luggage, spent your mortgage on a portrait/Purple bud look like an orchid, can't afford it? Watch me me torch it."
His deep sense of irony appropriated words that weren't typically a part of the hip-hop lexicon. He wasn't dope, he was extraordinary, affecting a mocking irreverence. At this point, he had no peers: "Where's my equal? I don't see him, never met him, never meet him/If I meet him, I'ma greet him, beat him, eat him up and leave him." —David Drake
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