22. Curren$y "Elevator Musik" (2009) (1st Verse)
Producer: Monsta Beatz
Album: This Ain't No Mixtape
Label: Amalgam Digital
As a statement of purpose, it's hard to say that Curren$y's "Elevator Musik" has been surpassed by any other rapper on this list. He pretty much nailed everything about his music's appeal in a quick 16. Not only did the song's title seem like a self-aware joke about his brand of extremely relaxed rap songs, but his opening bars summarized where he'd come from, where he was, and where he was going with the effortlessness that was his stock and trade.
Opening with his Jordans scuffing the floor in something like a callback to another famous opening line, he enters the living room of his penthouse apartment directly from the elevator. Thus "elevator music"—it's lifestyle rap, of relaxation and comfort that might be hard-earned. "Penthouse I own, I got it on my own/When I'm gone engrave that phrase on my tombstone." But it's that effort that lets him toss references to his struggle off in a single phrase, "They know how far I've come."
Now he's earned the right to the luxuriant life, "Mixtape after mixtape, all was solid." Because if he tried to release work that was better than the tortoise's slow-and-steady pace, it would detonate the effortless illusion. "If I said I'ma do it, consider it done." It's one of his most resonant verses because Curren$y can envision an endgame. What's all the hard work for? Idleness, earned. Of course "Elevator Musik" would be the soundtrack. —David Drake