On "Peter Piper," Run-D.M.C. rapped about Jam Master Jay being "the big bad wolf in your neighborhood/Not bad meaning bad, but bad meaning good." Well, this list is about rap lyrics that are so, so bad, they're good: bad meaning bad, but bad also meaning good.
With Future's "Karate Chop" blanketing the airwaves, we were inspired by a distinctly "bad"—but entertaining—verse from Casino, from the rapper's Freebandz crew.
Imagine a rap universe where the regular rules of quality lyricism don't apply. All that matters is that you want to hear the verse again. Maybe it's embarrassing for the artist, maybe it isn't; the important thing is that it breaks the rules of what makes a verse "good." It tries not to rhyme. There's a weird sense of rhythm. The lyrics are uniquely empty. But they still get stuck in your head.
This is a world where the most important value isn't skill, or technique, or wit. Instead, we seek what is distinctive, singular, and memorable. This isn't a list of the worst verses; it's a list of the best verses that, by typical standards, are really, really bad: The Best Terrible Rap Verses.
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20. Lil Uno on The Pack's "In My Car" (2007)
"Best" Line: "I sag, not to show my ass/But kiss it girl, yeah lick it off."
Album: Based Boys
The Ringo Starr of Bay Area rap group The Pack, Lil Uno dropped a verse to close out "In My Car" without rhyming a single line. Impressive from the standpoint of anti-rap, it also manages to avoid saying anything clever, and is occasionally incomprehensible: what is she licking off his ass, his pants? And when does he drop the top on his whip? Theory: his verse was originally twice as long, but the beat was running out, so he just chopped out every other line. —David Drake
19. Casino on Future's "Karate Chop" (2013)
18. Mystikal on 504 Boyz' "Wobble Wobble" (2010)
"Best" Line: "Back yo ass, WOOOOOH!!! THE FUCK UP."
Album: Back Seat Beats
What the hell happened here? Mystikal always pushed the envelope rhythmically, losing the beat for a moment before landing on the "one" at exactly the right time. He always incorporated screams, hoots and hollers, like a millennial James Brown. But he was also rapping his ass off, typically, breaking against the limitations of rapper orthodoxy but still spitting bars. On "Wobble Wobble," he must have forgotten his notebook, because he spazzes out like Seinfeld's Kramer on an abbreviated verse that makes his microphone to peak out. It almost sounds like it was constructed ex post facto by Master P using snippets from older Mystikal adlibs. —David Drake
17. Noreaga on Capone-N-Noreaga's "Bang, Bang" (2000)
"Best" Line: "I aim you, so you should just let us be/Or find yourself shot up, in the hospit-ee."
Album: The Reunion
N.O.R.E.'s "Super Thug" verse is probably the canon choice here (you can't run a lap AROUND the English Channel, bro!) but folks have been sleeping on the God's knowledge jewels since before P.A.P.I. (nee Victor Santiago, Jr.) became N.O.R.E. and was still Noreaga of C-N-N (got that?). Noreaga's forceful thuggishness had no time to waste, so if "hospital" didn't rhyme with "let us be," you just bulldozed the original word until it did. If a square peg doesn't fit in a round hole, make it fit anyway through pure force of will. —David Drake
16. Crunchy Black on Three 6 Mafia's "Ridin' Spinners" (2003)
"Best" Line: "She got hot, like in a kitchen."
Album: Da Unbreakables
Crunchy Black's role in Three 6 Mafia is best summed up by his four-bar contribution to the Three 6 Rap City freestyle: basically, a quote from his "Where Da Cheese At" verse spit over a loop of T.I.'s "24s," interrupted almost immediately so Big Tigger could spit is own (blander) bars. That brief appearance speaks only to how undervalued he truly was in the Hypnotized camp. The rapper was put in the cleanup position on "Ridin' Spinners," no doubt because every other artist was afraid to follow the champ. OK, so Lil Flip actually stole the show, but Crunchy's bars are delivered with brute, intimidating force, not exactly dexterous, but definitely an unusual brand of unforgettable. "It's CB baby, I'm just in it to win it." Crunchy Black's realness is missed. —David Drake
15. Soulja Boy on "Play Ball" (2009)
14. Will Smith's last verse on "Candy" (1997)
"Best" Line: "Be my Peppermint Paddy with a Hundred wishes/And I'll be your Hershey daddy with a hundred kisses"
Album: Big Willie Style
"Do you wanna bounce?" We can't bounce to Will Smith on "Candy," a song with an incredibly obvious Cameo sample of the same name. At least not until the final verse. The track is pop rap boiler plate at first, until the end, when the Fresh Prince goes metaphorical, insulting his girl's exes by, um, using the names of very popular candy, at which point the verse becomes one of the most important landmarks in rap history.
Case in point: "I talked to Mary Jane and she said/Your ex-boyfriends Mike and Ike are both Lemonheads." And one more: "Now you know he doesn't love you like that/He tryin' to get a Reeses piece of the Kit-Kat." Sexual innuendo involving chocolate bars, referring to his house as a "Jolly Ranch" and calling his homies "Babe Ruth" and "Charleston Chew." Now that's wordplay. —Lauren Nostro
13. Cappadonna on Ghostface's "Wu Banga 101" (2000)
"Best" Line: "Give two of these to Flex, tell him it's real rap like Ghost/Had to beat niggas with toast."
Album: Supreme Clientele
Obviously, hitting dudes with "the toast" doesn't mean hitting them with toasted bread, but the way Cappadonna delivers every line on "Wu Banga 101"—especially in contrast to GZA's lyrical precision—you'll question whether he's spitting slang or really assaulting people with breakfast food. If there's an art to making words land at the wrong time, pausing unnecessarily, and generally rapping like your internal metronome is broken, Cappa is Picasso. Ghost and Raekwon might say oblique shit that has an implied, rather than literal, meaning, but there's a deftness to their art that makes it considerably more run-of-the-mill; that's how rappers are supposed to sound. Cappa, on the other hand, knows exactly when to end a line with "...or whatever," to clumsily start his lines late, and generally sound like he's rapping over a different song entirely. —David Drake
12. Witchdoctor on "Mamacita" (1997)
"Best" Line: "Tryin to get you so wet, never been to Spain/Never been a lame, horny, ever since I been a tiny."
Putting Witchdoctor between an André 3000 verse and a Big Boi verse is just trouble for the Dungeon Family rapper. It becomes so uncomfortable listening to Witchdoctor rhyme "motor" and "sofa" in the first two lines that you'll want to press pause—but don't. Keep going, until you hear him switch his flow, and soon we enter a world where nothing will make sense. It isn't until he rhymes "I got your favorite Stouffer's/Lasagna/That's how much I want ya/Fuck flowers," that you realize the true brilliance of "Mamacita."
The verse continues: he impregnates a girl overseas, her Spanish makes him mannish, because she is bilingual. It all comes to an impressive close when we hear: "Tryin to get you so wet/Never been to Spain/Never been a lame, horny, ever since I been a tiny." It's hard to make sense of it, but his girl is obviously Spanish, he wants to make her wet, he wasn't trying to be corny on that rhyme, and yet he's been horny since he was a "tiny" aka CHILD. Decoded, it's even worse. —Lauren Nostro
11. Magoo on Timbo and Magoo's "Up Jumps Da Boogie" (1997)
10. Sparks on Jay-Z's "As One" (2002)
"Best" Line: "I'm the brbrbbbr...mean green out the money machine."
Album: The Blueprint 2: The Gift and The Curse
Earth Wind & Fire's "Fantasy" is a show-stopping beatjack, and the State Property clique was one of hip-hop's fiercest lineups, but damn if Omillio Sparks didn't try to snag the spotlight. What really makes it stand out is the gulf between how epic he perceives his verse to be, and the perfunctory reality: "I'm not DONE!" he shouts every other bar, figuratively grabbing the listener by the throat to draw attention to a series of off-beat mumbles that include a rhyme of "one" with "one" and the laziest approximation of a money machine sound effect ever set to music. It doesn't help that he's followed up by Beanie, Freeway and Jay-Z, all of whom obliterate the track. But on the other hand, whose verse do you remember at the end of the day? Brbrbbbr. —David Drake
9. RBX on Dr. Dre's "High Powered" (1992)
8. Melachi the Nutcracker on Group Home's "Up Against the Wall" (1995)
Best Line: "Yo it's a wonderful world, a world of wonder/I thunder and thunder, I won't go under."
Album: Livin' Proof
DJ Premier's Magoo, Melachi the Nutcracker is perhaps the most consistent anti-rapper in rap history. His catalog as a member of the Group Home is a tribute to the art of unusual pauses, Cat in the Hat rhyme schemes, and abrupt, random shifts in subject matter. Most confusingly, the absurdity of his approach serves the song's overarching vibe not at all: most of Group Home's songs were dark and serious tracks, which made lyrics like "Encourage your kids to keep up the good work/Assist your child to not be a jerk" funny, but in an abstract way. How hard can you really laugh about stiff rhyme schemes on a song called "A Tear for the Ghetto"?
His standout masterpiece, though, was his verse on "Up Against the Wall," a song about feeling trapped. It includes an unusually large number of filler lines, all with basic rhyme schemes ("Whatever you want, whatever you like/bite on my style, I like that" "Yeah, you know what I'm saying?" "Phat as can be on the M-I-C/In the place to be, if you can see"). Is it meta-commentary on the subject matter? Are we trapped, figuratively, in Melachi's rhyme book, lost in a search for meaning or purpose? Perhaps. —David Drake
7. Baby on the Big Tymers' "Snake" (2009)
6. The guy who raps on Rebecca Black's "Friday" (2011)
5. Scott Storch on "Built Like This" (2007)
4. Tim Dog on "Dogs Gonna Getcha" (1991)
"Best" Line: "Don't cry ya little bitch/Be a man!"
Album: Penicillin On Wax
There is a case to be made that Tim Dog is almost too good of a rapper for this list. Unlike many other artists mentioned herein, the simplicity of his verses served the purpose of each of his songs pitch-perfectly. If you want to hear a true street rap superhero (who "even whooped Superman's ass"), being able to one-up the competition through pure brute force, Tim is your man.
But "Dogs Gonna Getcha," from the late rapper's underground classic Penicillin On Wax, qualifies perfectly. It's a victory of raw visceral force uber alles. Lyricism? None. Technique, skill or versatility? Who cares. This song is better than the tracks of lyrical miracles, because it understands that what makes a great MC is transmitting a feeling of invincibility, not some abstract yearning for "quality" or "skill." —David Drake
3. Gudda Gudda on Young Money's "Bedrock" (2009)
"Best" Line: "And I got her ... grocery bag."
Album: We Are Young Money
Gudda Gudda ... more like Gouda Gouda! Because he's so cheesy...am I right?! "Bed Rock" is a very important Young Money posse cut; it was the group's most successful single, certified three times platinum. It was great—especially for Gudda Gudda, whose ultimate line "And I got her, nigga/Grocery bag," is one of the world's most awkward (and confusing) punchlines. The pause makes you anxious for the drop—and then it flops, fantastically.
It just makes no sense. It's not just that line, though. It's the context; placed between Wayne's leading verse, Lloyd's infectious chorus and Nicki's hot opening line ("OK I get it, let me think/I guess it's my turn/Maybe it's time to put this pussy on ya sideburns"), Gudda Gudda stands apart. "I'm that Red Bull/Now let's fly away" is an obvious reference to a marketing campaign, and "I like the way you walking when you walking my way" leaves us with one of rap's great rhetorical questions: If I'm not walking your way, do you still like my walk? —Lauren Nostro
2. Kanye West on Katy Perry's "E.T." (2012)
"Best" Line: "Tell me what's next/Alien sex?/I'ma disrobe you/Then I'ma probe you."
Album: Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection
Kanye West occasionally rides a dangerous line between corny and funny. On Katy Perry's "E.T.," the rapper fell headlong into eyeroll territory, and, like an astronaut in orbit, swung so far the other way that it became his best verse since "All Falls Down." Possibly the first rap song since "Rapture" to rhyme "Mars" and "cars," Ye's sci-fi schtick isn't even conceptually consistent; his pockets are green like Shrek, which is fantasy. He also rhymes "astronaut" and "ass-a-lot" and talks "probing" and alien sex, the kind of jokes a grade school bully might find too lowbrow. One for the Greatest Hits, no doubt. —David Drake