And now, for something completely different…my nominations for the 5 greatest guest flows in rap songs.
5. Jay-Z – final verse on Lupe Fiasco’s Pressure
Rumor has it that, for this track, Jay-Z walked into the studio and laid down this flow in a single take (apparently not an unusual feat for Jay). My favorite part about his verse in this song, though, is how he simultaneously combines music, art, and gunslinging into a single metaphor. Rap poetry at its finest.
4. Nas – second verse on Rick Ross’ The Usual Suspects
Nas’ timing on this track is impeccable. The start right off the end of the first chorus and the speed of his rhymes are classic Nas, and it really shines with Ross’ more conventional beats.
3. Lupe Fiasco – final verse on Kanye West’s Touch the Sky
This is the flow that originally got me into Lupe Fiasco. FnF’s cadence and phrasing is at its finest here. Extra points for managing to work ‘bottle-shaped body like Mrs. Butterworth’ into the lyrics without literally becoming Lil’ Wayne.
2. Rick Ross – outro on Kanye West’s Devil in a New Dress
Not just a great outro, but possibly my favorite rap verse of all time. The entire song is a slowed down sample from an old Smokey Robinson song, and Rick Ross lays down a verse that, while long at nearly 1:30, paints a dark ending to a very dark song from an incredibly dark album. Beautiful in a haunting way, especially when considered together with the great guitar solo.
1. Az – first verse on Nas’ Life’s a Bitch
Az isn’t a regular part of my rap playlists, but his first verse on this iconic Nas track is immortal. The amount of energy he packs into every phrase darkly contrasts with the fateful message of the lyrics.