Who is rap’s best lyricist?

Who is rap's best lyricist?

Out of rappers still releasing relevant music the best three lyricists are obviously Pusha T, Kendrick Lamar, and Meek Mill. What makes an artist a good lyricist is how they are able to have multiple rhyme schemes in one verse and how they thread poetic devices in and out of their bars as if steadily sewing a piece of clothing. There has become such an appreciation for elaborate lyrics simply because of how few rappers offer anything other than the usual mumbling over a good trap beat.

Meek Mill is deserving of the title of top 3 lyricist because of his off-the-top way of rapping. Coming from Philly, Meek grew up battle rapping and freestyling. It has become a part of his daily life, like eating and sleeping. His records all come from a freestyle that he then perfects in the studio. Even though he freestyles, he still includes poetic devices and intelligent references. Here is an example of how insanely good he is at complex lyrics while freestyling off the top of his head:

“All this cash money, got me stuntin’ like I’m baby.
Posted up with Nicki, that’s when it get tricky
                                                                                                                        N*ggas in their feelings, that’s when it get drizzy”

Here is the link to the full freestyle https://youtu.be/R5c-yv_FGd0

Not only does he have multiple rhyme schemes, but he also makes a reference to how Drake got in his feelings when Meek Mill started dating his ex-girlfriend, Nicki Minaj. Throughout the whole bar there is another interesting thing he incorporates. He starts off by saying, “All this cash money”, which at first refers to his wealth, but it also brings up the record label Cash Money.  He then says he’s “stuntin’ like I’m baby”, a reference to Birdman’s nickname. He owns Cash Money. Next he brings up Nicki Minaj and Drake, Cash Money’s two biggest artists. So throughout the bar, he brings up Cash Money as a collective and goes down their chain of command. Precisely writing rhymes like he was threading a needle all while mid freestyle. Meek Mill is often overlooked as a lyricist, but easily holds his own as a contender for the rank of top 3.

Pusha T’s entire fan base has been earned through his hard-hitting intricate lyrics about selling cocaine. He understands his fans look to him for lyricism and he never disappoints. Every time King Push comes out with a new verse you have to go search the lyrics and get them properly explained on Genius. His lyrics have to be decoded, because with almost every bar he alludes to something unexpected. Pusha T writes verses as if they were critically acclaimed horror scripts.

“The final trilogy of Jaws,
The grills like, interior gauze
It feels like, still white.
Matchin’ Missoni looks African on me.”

In two sentences he goes from a James Bond reference, to talking about grills and high fashion brand Missoni being influenced by African culture. You can’t anticipate what he’ll say next, and that is something he prides himself on. It’s a style picked up from listening to B.I.G. as a kid. “As a kid listening to B.I.G. I used to always say, ‘Why in the world would B.I.G. say this right there?’ What the hell would make him say, out of nowhere.” Pusha T is an all time great when it comes to the quality of lyrics, and it’s not surprising, since he learned from one of New York’s best, Biggie.

Already asserting himself as a top 5 rapper, dead or alive Kendrick Lamar has to be included in this list. There has never been someone as focused on and passionate about his lyrics. Pop artists like Drake or Taylor Swift write songs ( if they even write for themselves ), whereas Kendrick flows into existence through poetic masterpiece. In a recent interview with GQ, Kendrick talked about his creative process. Even when he had a really good sounding beat and pages upon pages of lyrics, he didn’t finish the song.  Rather, he waited until he had a proper subject to speak on. With such influential lyrics about such passionate subjects, Kendrick’s songs never disappoint. TDE label mate Isaiah Rashad had Lamar featured on his new album “the Sun’s Tirade”. The “alright” rapper really brought a lot to the table with his verse this time.

“I told Zay I’m the best rapper since twenty-five
Been like that for a while now, I’m twenty-nine
Any n**ga that disagree is a f**kin’ liar
Pardon me, see my alter ego was Gemini
Him and I been around ever since Reagan was criticized.”

Mixing two tones of voice, 3 rhyme schemes, and personal references both recent and from his childhood in the Ronald Reagan era, Kendrick Lamar is the playoffs LeBron of the music industry. Surprisingly, this is only an average verse for the “I” rapper. In one of his much older projects “Section.80”, his lyrical content is even better. They are filled with double entendres, metaphors, and similes, all through the eyes of a young man, who is reflecting upon his childhood in Compton during the Ronald Reagan era. One song that really stands apart from the others in this album is “Rigamortus”.

And I go visit the nearest creek and I get busy on many MC,
Really ballistic
anybody can see any assistance
Everybody deceased I’m persistence
Recognized I be really too vicious the permanent beast
And the demolition breaking up the streets, better partition ,
Better dot your T.

Kendrick Lamar has no competition when it comes to rhyme schemes. These 7 bars have 6 different rhyme schemes with many multi-syllable rhymes, and a couple double entendres. When Kendrick gets going on a track it really shows why he so often refers to himself as a beast. It wouldn’t surprise me if someone said Kendrick Lamar is raps greatest lyricist, because he really has proven himself at this junction in raps evolution. He is top 5, dead or alive.

Lyricism has always been such a huge factor in rap, and at a time where it is losing popularity these three rappers are so important to the culture. Meek Mill, Pusha T, and Kendrick Lamar are bringing back meaningful elaborate lyrics and we should all be grateful for it!