The word "hip-hop" means lots of different things. But probably its most common usage is as a synonym for "rap music," a genre that emerged in late-'70s New York City and became, less than two decades later, the dominant form of youth entertainment culture worldwide. At its core is rap, a kind of "rhythmic talking" as the squares used to call it. Writing and reciting rhymes to a beat, making songs out of them. The form has evolved over time to encompass an extremely broad (too broad, purists will tell you) range of modes and styles. But it still remains, first and foremost, a form of expression based in words.
Not that all of the best rap verses of are intense lyrical exhibitions. There are any number of components that can contribute to a noteworthy verse. From the style to the substance, from the writing to the delivery, a lot is at play to create a lasting verse and its performance. That, that lastingness, that memorability ("quotability" is the word often used), that's probably the best barometer. Can an artist write a rhyme, and recite in a way, that everyone will always remember?
2013 has been a great year for rap music. The best verses of the 2013 provide a window into that greatness—what made it that way. Legends like Kanye West and Eminem returned to form, while titans in the making Kendrick Lamar and Drake staked their claims for the throne. There are also appearances from excitable newcomers like Chance The Rapper and savvy veterans like Killer Mike.
These verses indicate that the music is heading in a direction fans can be optimistic about—contributions from across the map by artists providing more than just the same old song for your dance. Here’s to hoping we get more displays of "rythmic talking" along these lines in 2014. For now, check out The 13 Best Rap Verses of 2013.
Written by Adam Fleischer (@adamfleischer)