The ten best rap lyrics of 2013

The ten best rap lyrics of 2013
Eric Gruneisen

Oh, what a year it's been for rap. Kanye reached new levels of originality, and kinda went off the deep end at the same time, Kendrick put every other relevant rapper on call, and Eminem came storming back. Although this past year was one that focused, in general, on the sonic qualities of rap more than lyric detail, it wasn't hard to find ten great examples of poeticism alive in music. Here are the ten best rap lyrics of 2013.

See also: The fifty best rap lyrics of all time

10. Killer Mike - "Sea Legs"

"Your idols all of my rivals/I rival all of your idols/I stand on towers like Eiffel/I rifle down all your idols"

An audacious, in-your-face attitude is the reason we love Run the Jewels, and this line is the perfect example. Employing a killer understanding of internal rhyme and sound, Killer Mike establishes himself as the assassin of your favorite musicians. There's nothing too deep happening here, but the image and his delivery is so radically awesome that it definitely merits a spot on the top ten.

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9. Chance the Rapper - "Smoke Again"

"Lean all on a square/That's a fuckin' rhombus"

Chance wins the award for the fun line of the year. It's not deep, it's not poetic, but it's just so damn clever. Besides the fact that trigonometry is one of the least-cited disciplines in all of rap, Chance captured a cultural phenomenon -- dipping cigarettes (squares) in promethazine and codeine (lean) -- and rebranded it in a bizarrely original way.

8. Jay Electronica - "Control"

"You could check my name on the books/I Earth, Wind, and Fire'd the verse, then rained on the hook"

Jay loves to see himself through a biblical lens, so when he refers to "the books," it's quite likely that it is the holy books that he is referring to, especially when you consider the following line, as well. As a transcendental, mystical figure, he describes his lyricism in terms of the four classical elements: earth, wind, fire and water. Of course, he's also making a pun that compares his musicality to the soul great Earth, Wind & Fire (featuring Denver's own Phillip Bailey) and describes his hook game as he would a torrential downpour.

7. Lupe Fiasco - "Animal Pharm"

"Chop down the trees/We need the axe handles"

Lupe points out the circular logic that not only undercuts our inclination for rationality, but also informs our common sense. Within the context of the song, the line alludes to American foreign policy with regard to war. Lupe is implying that it seems like we go to war to place ourselves in a better position to win wars. This sentiment actually seems totally logical within the context of our imperialistic history, but when you think about it, American wars have always been sold to the citizens as precursors for peace, but when each step is made with the next war in mind, how can any war be the last?


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