It’s our favorite time of the year at Complex Music. We’ve already celebrated all the best songs and albums of the year, and now it’s time to answer the question: Who had the best rap verse of 2021? Forget the beats and the hooks—this time, we’re only focusing on the bars.

Of course, there are lots of different approaches to making a great rap verse in 2021. Some artists choose to tell a story, some go for a more abstract and poetic approach, and others try to squeeze in as many intricate metaphors and cadences as possible. 

There were a lot of verses that stopped us in our tracks this year, and they came in all sizes and shapes. Some of them were radio freestyles (shout out Vince Staples), some were album cuts (shout out Mach-Hommy), and one was leaked in a chaotic way before ultimately ending up on streaming services because everyone loved it so much (shout out André 3000). 

For the purposes of this list, we decided to only include a maximum of one verse per artist, in an effort to include as many voices as we can. With that being said, it’s time to rank our favorites. These are Complex’s picks for the 40 best rap verses of the year.