The first words. Whether it's a movie, or a book, or a speech, they have to immediately grab you, draw you in, they're a crucial moment of litmus testing that's either all uphill or downhill thereafter. But with rap songs, they have to do more: They need to cut through the noise, not just of a beat that might overpower it, or a reputation that might precede it, but quite simply, everything that's already come before it. They need to entrance listeners, hypnotize them, begin the first incantations of an unbreakable, two-to-four minute hipnosis. And they also have to make you love whatever it is they're about to do, before they even do it.

Kurt Vonnegut once wrote that "charm [is] a scheme for making strangers like and trust a person immediately, no matter what the charmer had in mind.” Rappers know this better than anyone: Charm, whether it's by a Tyson-style opening shot that'll break ribs, unshakably violent imagery, or an unforgettable boast, is key to getting listeners to follow them in. And to some degree, all of these lines are (no matter what the content)—if anything—charmers.

These are The 100 Best Opening Lines in Rap History, Part 1. 

Written by Kathy Iandoli, David Drake, and Foster Kamer. 

[Watch tomorrow for Part 2, 50 - 1.]

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