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For Hip Hop Heads: The 10 Greatest Guest Verses of All Time

By Michael Harriot

A few days ago crooner and unforgivable procrastinator Frank Ocean released his follow-up album to his much-lauded debut–Channel Orange, (which was released some time during the Eisenhower administration. Although I refuse to listen to the album (because I’m petty. If you made me wait that long for a steak smothered in butter, served by a buck-naked Beyoncé with a glass of grape Kool-Aid and an advance copy of the entirety of the next season of Game of Thrones  I’d say “you took too long. I don’t want it no more.” Again, I’m petty.) the internet has been ablaze with amazement of Andre 3000’s guest verse interlude.

Even though he no longer records music as a member of “Outkast,” Dre will occasionally bless us with a guest verse in the most unexpected of places, like Rich Boy’s “Throw Some D’s” remix or an Erykah Badu mixtape. Because Three Stacks might be one of the greatest featured artists ever, it got the staff at NegusWhoRead thinking: What is the greatest guest verse of all time?

To find out, we gathered a group of hip hop heads at the NegusWhoRead headquarters and set upon our mission. There were no particular parameters or criteria, just dopeness. After countless arguments, three fistfights,and an incident of calling another panelists mother “out her name” we came up with this list of the top ten guest verses of all time:

10. Kendrick Lamar on Big Sean’s “Control” 

Sometimes, you don’t want to fight. Drake, J. Cole and the lot weren’t even looking for a donnybrook when Kendrick called the entire new school of hip hop out like he was in an old school Karate movie standing in front of their dojo, inviting them to a fight. Nah, bruh, they don’t want to test your kung fu.

Best lyric: What is competition? I’m tryna raise the bar high
Who tryna jump and get it? You’re better off trying to skydive
Out the exit window of five G5’s with five grand
With your granddad as the pilot, he drunk as fuck, tryna land
With a hand full of arthritis and popping prosthetic leg
Bumpin’ Pac in the cockpit so the shit that pops in his head
Is an option of violence, someone heard the stewardess said
That your parachute is a latex condom hooked to a dread

9. Eminem on Jay-Z’s “Renegade”

If I was Jay-Z, and Eminem dropped this verse in the studio, I would’ve said, “man… ummm… I think we lost the tape, or it got messed up or something.” Em so far outshone Jay-Z with this verse it was like Usain Bolt at the finish line quoting Birdman: “Is you finished, or is you done?”

Best Lyric: Now, who’s the king of these rude, ludicrous, lucrative lyrics?
Who could inherit the title, put the youth in hysterics
Usin’ his music to steer it, sharin’ his views and his merits
But there’s a huge interference
They’re saying you shouldn’t hear it
Maybe it’s hatred I spew, maybe it’s food for the spirit
Maybe it’s beautiful music I made for you to just cherish

 

8. Nkiki Minaj on Kanye West’s “Monster”

 

Nikki Minaj is not on this list as the token woman. Nikki Minaj’s schizophrenic flow was perfect for this remix, and she murdered it.

Best Lyric: And I’m all up all up all up in the bank with the funny face
And if I’m fake I aint notice cause my money aint
So let me get this straight wait I’m the rookie
But my features and my shows ten times your pay
50k for a verse no album out
Yeah my money’s so tall that my barbie’s gotta climb it
Hotter than a middle eastern climate
Find it Tony Matterhorn, dutty wine it
Wile it, Nicki on them titties when I sign it
How these niggas so one-track minded

7. Ol Dirty Bastard on Mariah Carey’s “Fantasy”

The only non-hip hop song on this list. Dirt Dog took the purified sound of Mariah and made this a grimy classic with one verse.

Best Lyric: Me and Mariah
Go back like babies with pacifiers

6. Black Thought on  Pharoah Monch’s “Rapid Eye Movement” 

Seriously, if this song wasn’t so obscure, I’d have it number one. I believe it is the greatest guest verse lyricism of all time. Black Thought spits so hard on this one I actually teared up.

Best Lyric: And I got an ugly heart, although I’m totally handsome
And I take the love of your life and hold her for ransom
And my tactical cam that never stood for any national anthems
What’s hood? I am the actual answer
And I’ll prove it
Black attire, rapid fire, rapid eye movement
I’m from a species that is higher, I am not human
Extraterrestrial alien, a monster killer of conscience
chillin’ in a barrel of lobsters
Ex-Slave sadomasochist
that gave the master my ass to kiss
A dyin’ breed, I’m the last of this
Black is as miraculous as Jesus of Nazareth
When I vocalize the crowd rise like Lazarus
It’s the Rhode Scholar,
my coat collar piss off PETA
Your hoes holla, “he’s on top of the bars, mira!”
Mr. Globe Trotter in my Adidas
Pure cheetah,
hoppin’ out of this exotic European 4 seater
Hollerin’ cheeba cheeba like I’m Parkside
Killin’ is the dark side
Villain, I’m God, and Godzilla

5. Notorious BIG on Jay-Z’s “Brooklyn’s Finest”

These aren’t really verses. This feels like two ninjas practicing, but instead of using their wooden swords, they are using  razor sharp Hittori Hanzo (Google that).

Best lyric: Fuck fist fights and lame scuffles
Pillow case to your face, make the shell muffle
Shoot your daughter in the calf muscle
Fuck a tussle, nickel-plated
Sprinkle coke on the floor, make it drug related
Most hate it..

4. Andre 3000 on UGK’s International Players Anthem

In the opinion of this writer, Andre 3000 is the greatest guest verse writer of all time. Here he proves why. He changes a pimp song into a romantic ballad with one verse.

Best lyric: I hate to see y’all frown but I’d rather see her smiling
Wetness all around me, true, but I’m no island
Peninsula maybe, makes no sense I know, crazy
Give up all this pussy cat thats in my lap no lookin back
Spaceships don’t come equipped with rearview mirrors
They dip as quick as they can
The atmosphere is now ripped
I’m so like a Pip, Im Gladys Knight (Glad it’s night…)

 

3. Nas on Main Source’s “Live at the Barbecue”

What is so beautifully important about Live at the Barbecue is that at 17 years old, Nas said he wanted this verse to be his entire existence in hip hop, and it was. While it may be the most heralded guest verse in history, it is still timeless even though it is 25 years old.

Best Lyric: 
Verbal assassin, my architect pleases
When I was twelve, I went to hell for snuffin Jesus
Nasty Nas is a rebel to America
Police murderer, I’m causin hysteria
My troops roll up with a strange force
I was trapped in a cage and let out by the Main Source
Swimmin in women like a lifeguard
Put on a bulletproof nigga I strike hard
Kidnap the President’s wife without a plan
And hangin niggaz like the Ku Klux Klan
I melt mics till the sound waves over
Before steppin to me you’d rather step to Jehovah

 

2. Snoop Doggy Dog on Dre’s “Nuttin but a G Thang”

Maybe the most important Guest verse ever. Snoop’s appearance changed the balance of hip hop, ushered in a new style of music and signaled to the world that a new star was here.

Best lyric: Give me the microphone first so I can bust like a bubble
Compton and Long Beach together: now you know you in trouble
Ain’t nothing but a G thang, baby
Two loc’ed out niggas so we’re crazy
Death Row is the label that pays me
Unfadeable, so please don’t try to fade this

1. Busta Rhymes on A Tribe Called Quest’s “Scenario”

There is no debate. This verse took a song from a dope collaboration to an ultimate classic. No one has ever constructed a verse for a song like this. It both changes the entire tenor of the song, but perfectly fits in. During the debate about this list, someone admitted they had never heard this song.

They no longer work here.

Best Lyrics: Uh! Pardon me, uh! As I come back
As I did it yo I heard you beg your pardon
When I travel through the town I roll with the squadron
RRRRRROAW RRRRRRROAW like a dungeon dragon
Change your little drawers cause your pants are sagging
Try to step to this, I will twist you in a turban
And have you smelling ripe like some old stale urine

Honorable mentions

Mos Def on The Root’s Double Trouble

Andre 3000 on Rick Ross’ “Sixteen”

Cee-Lo on Outkast’s “Get Up Get Out”

UGK on Jay-Z’s “Big Pimpin”

Korrupt on Snoop Doggy Dogg’s “It Ain’t No Fun”

 

 

 

About the author

Michael Harriot is a renowned spoken word poet, the host of The Black One podcast and the editor-in-chief of NegusWhoRead. He is perpetually just getting warmed up because he has no chill. He is on Instagram and twitter as @michaelharriot

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