Who Had The Best Rap Verse of 2014?

Redundancy on the Internet is just something we’ve become accustomed to. By the time the latest scandal has been blogged here, someone else is bloggin’ it over there. The same goes for Year End Lists. Sure, there are a few exceptions like 2014’s Repeat Worthy Songs and 99 Moments That Almost Broke The Internet, (plug) but in all seriousness, we decided to spare you on having to click through another familiar-sounding list and narrowed it down to just one when it comes to Rap Verse of the Year.

Initially the very idea of having to award a single set of rhymes was daunting and intimidating. Despite what A$AP Yams said about 2014 being the “worst year in rap,” VIBE enjoyed more than a few releases this year. When narrowing it down to just one specific rap verse we wanted something that not only grabbed a mass audience but carried a meaty message.

We admittedly spent hours doing the Shmoney Dance and mouthing the criminal-minded rhymes of Bobby Shmurda, but verse of the year? Nah. And, of course, many nights found us reciting Drake’s “0 to 100” lyrics during the final hour of deadlines for inspiration. It’s catchy hook lightens the lyrical weight of the record but open your ears and listen to Aubrey’s bars. “I been Steph Curry with the shot/ Been cookin’ with the sauce, chef, curry, with the pot boy/ 360 with the wrist, boy.” It’s swagger rap, sure, but the line about his absentee dad (a repetitive subject) gives it some more weight. If you want to talk about sheer lyrical performance then Eminem deserves those props for the flames he set ablaze during the Shady Cypher.

So, what takes the cake as having the most impacting hip-hop couplets of 2014? Argument after argument brought VIBE to crown Jay Electronica as the victor for his penmanship on the “We Made It (Freestyle).” Before you start attacking us from every possible social media channel on your Smartphone—hear us out

From the rip, he breaks free from the proverbial shackles and smacks his critics in the face.”The devil, the haters, the bloggers/The papers, the labels, they labeled me/But they can’t relate to our struggle, my nigga/We came up from slavery/Apologies go out to all of my fans cause they waited so patiently.”

Jay goes onto inject his lines with the same pain and affliction being felt by downtrodden communities across the country. “Obamacare won’t heal all that anguish,” he raps at one point. We also have to point out the fact that Jay Electronica chose to lay such honest rhymes over a beat he knew would be spun in the clubs.

The man spits bars like: “The greatest story ever told, niggas in the field/From Solomon to Sambo to Django, it’s fact/I’m the Farrakhan of rap and I get it from the wheel” over a beat that rocked clubs all summer long. Instead of just celebrating the good life as most rappers would, Roc Nation’s mystery man brought his militant values to the track.

And, we can’t forget that hip-hop’s elder statesman and global ambassador, Jay Z, was the one to release this flawless display of poetic justice. In fact, Hov’s bars tiptoed along Electronica’s numero uno position but he just didn’t deliver the same this go around. His jab at Drake might have been his most questionable of all time: “Sorry Mrs. Drizzy for so much art talk/Silly me rappin’ ‘bout shit that I really bought.” We think Hov’s best verse of the last 365 was planted on Jeezy’s “Seen It All.” Shawn Corey puts himself back on the block delivering introspection and regret. It’s gritty Jay before the wall full of polished Basquiats. (“I got ‘em five grand a pop, had a plug in Saint Thomas on a trillion watts” — Jay Z)

Convincing the average rap fan to replay songs that skip out on the chanted hooks and auto-tuned melody is a feat accomplished by few rappers today. With hip-hop attention spans at an all time low, it’s a miracle that acts like Run The Jewels are able to flourish (See:RT2 for further proof). We should be thankful to the rap gawds for that. Jay Electronica carries that same lyrical torch, and though he may take longer than most to release music — when the man rhymes hip-hop stops the party and pays attention.