Target: Pusha-T, Kanye West
Producer: Jahaan Sweet and Boi-1da
Best Line: "I could never have a Virgil in my circle nd hold him back 'cause he makes me nervous"
In retrospect, this song is a tragedy—a triumphant walk into a bear trap that exclaims "yuugh!" when it snaps. That factors into its ranking (impact is as much of a factor on this list as savagery) but it can't, in any fair system, prohibit the song from making the cut overall. In a vacuum, "Duppy" is still damn good.
It doesn't ring off like "Back to Back," but it's not designed to. As the product of a near-decade's worth of simmering disdain and subliminals, this is a dispute with real stakes and a rich history. These are jilted protégé bars that Drake's been waiting to get off at Kanye. It's also a stripe he's been dying to earn against Pusha. All of this is far too important to slot into a club-ready song.
Dismissing Push as nothing more than a wind-up toy solider and saving his most scathing bars for Ye is a nice touch (and one that makes more sense retrospectively). But he also smartly goes the Eminem-route by getting ahead of any perceived shots others might throw in his face, owning up to the infamous eBay mic and weaving it into the song's larger theme: a faded great, jealous and lashing out.
"Duppy" is patois for ghost, but there's nothing demonic about the way Drake approaches the track as he plays the part of the righteously aggrieved white knight: "Y'all are the spitting image of whatever jealousy breeds." Peep the way he flips the Jay-Z interpolation Pusha used as a shot into an affirmation: "My hooks did it, my lyrics did it, my spirit did it." Robb Stark had a similarly rousing speech about taking down The Lannisters right before he marched to his own demise. —Frazier Tharpe