Label: Young Money/Cash Money
The legacy of "Chiraq" might be its Vinylz, Boi-1da, and Allen Ritter produced beat—which like so much of this year's best music, makes the most of minimalism—because everyone from Tyga to the Knick's Iman Shumpert has rapped over it. Although the prodding beat deserves some credit, it's overshadowed the song's top notch rapping. Nicki Minaj opens the track with a verse that perfectly encapsulates her effort to rebrand as a hood diva. She talks about owning a tennis court, but she's still ordering "Four wings and some french fries/Hot sauce and ketchup." She still declares herself a "pop star, icon" but only in the context of having killers on call.
And for a show-stealing verse, she calls on Lil Herb. Like Nicki on "Monster," Herb realized his opportunity and went all out delivering one of the best bar-for-bar outings of any rapper all year. He recycles lines from his breakout song with Lil Bibby, "Kill Shit," but it sets the tone for the verse. His situation is the opposite of Nicki's, he's bemused to be in Hollywood with a blue Bentley but invigorated to "die shooting praying God forgive me." Chicago's vibrant rap scene has produced plenty of stars and songs these past few years, but none of them had both the street credibility and lyrical agility of Herb. —Insanul Ahmed