Hi! Once again, Rap Critic’s here, giving you the run down of the Best Rap songs of the last year. Let’s get started

9 Wu-Tang Clan - A Better Tomorrow

This first one on this list comes courtesy of the mighty Wu-Tang itself, from their newest album, A Better Tomorrow, not to be confused with the song of the exact same title from their 97 album “Wu-Tang Forever”, which is quite fitting, because it uses it’s sampling choice just about as liberally as hip-hop producers did back in 1997…

The world won't get no better If we just let it be

But Method Man comes in head first with no doubt the best verse of all four, flipping through different socially conscious topics almost effortlessly

My peoples tired of waiting for reparations to pay us Screaming Jesus can save us, I, I get the Bentley if I save up But that's just another trick to enslave us Push the minimum wages, put, put our fathers up in them cages Then watch out when mother struggled to raise us

Followed by a surprisingly on point verse by Masta Killa, and honestly, this song couldn’t come at a better time, along with the type of music video supporting protesters of Michael Brown’s and Eric Garner’s deaths at the hands of police officers. However, as good as the first couple of verses and the general messages of the song are, things kinda get boggled down with Cappadonna…

I'm on the back of the bus with two fine divas We in the jungle of life, but never jungle fever

… Cap, is this REALLY the time to talk about your sexual preferences?

And also, Cappadonna’s flow seems to, after all these years have that same flow where he sounds like he keeps slipping off of the rhythm of the song

I'm like Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X with the heaters imitate slipping around Ripping the chains of the remains of all of the leaders

But then Raekwon the Chef comes in, delivering a… strangely sleepily-delivered but definitely engaging verse

Wake up and realise the times That we living in the world is getting more iller than ever Thought we was chillin', striving change for the better But it was a dream like Martin Luther

Then, he brings up the most sparking line of them all

And that's the Willie Lynch tactics that separated the masses Taught us all to think backwards

Now, there’s a whole debate about the credibility of the Willie Lynch letters, which was allegedly a guideline of tactics on how to keep slaves fighting with each other to the point where they could never unify enough to rebel against the plantations they were forced to work on, but even if you don’t believe in any of that, just in life generally, there is a very real manifestation of those tactics, orchestrated or no, concerning racial and religious problems when the true problems we face ultimately boil down to issues of class, particularly in how people, regardless of their sex, or racial or religious standing can be treated unfairly by a system that purely works for those who pay the big checks to keep certain imbalances in place. So, ya know, that’s a big fuckin’ deal

8 Big K.R.I.T. "Mt. Olympus

Hey, remember that Kendrick Lamar “Control” verse from 2013? “Kendrick Control verse* And how virtually NOBODY mentioned in that verse stepped up to the plate, and anyone who did was either not mentioned at all, or they had a relatively weak couple of bars in return. Well, Big K.R.I.T. responded… and he’s REALLY pissed that we underestimated him…

Now they wanna hear a country nigga rap Five albums in, I swear a country nigga snap Thought they wanted trap, thought they wanted bass Thought they wanted molly, thought they wanted drank Fuck them niggas

Fresh out of the gate, K.R.I.T. hits you with a dope chorus, ridiculing everyone who told him to make music more like everyone else, littered with the typical rap clichés, but all of a sudden wants to hear lyrics now that Kendrick started calling people out of their names

All this attention, I don't even know what I might even do with it That Control beat is like an ugly bitch that everybody done fucked raw Maybe you hit it

And I love how he addresses the verse while at the same time making clear that he thinks it’s stupid how people overreacted to something that was essentially more about an invitation to friendly lyrical competition than the all out diss song that everyone was trying to make it into

Aww man, I'm more concerned why niggas been textin' my cell, callin' my phone Ask me about this Kendrick shit, that he ain't even really even diss me on

However, he does go off on someone that he feels some type of way about concerning rappers who jack the styles of Southern artists, and it’s quite enthralling

So I'ma take from all these Southern artists that mainstream never heard of Recycle all of they lingo and make sure I screw my words up Bravo for your swagger-jackin', I'm overwhelmed by your dedication You actually fooled these people into thinkin' that your music was innovative

Damn! And THEN, he goes in on music awards and how they have no credibility in regards to judging good Hip-Hop

Nigga please, this award ain't got shit to do with us God could physically come down and say "he the greatest My favorite, y'all should listen, he has potential To outlive the heatwave I'ma send through this motherfucker And rebuild for a whole 'nother other culture" And that wouldn't be enough

And makes it clear that he gives no fucks about your parameters for his music

So, I keep flexin', wreckin', for the people that respect it Check it, fuck a Control (Are you not entertained!)

Dope Gladiator sample. So yeah, definitely check this one out, and give his album Cadillactica a listen too

7 50 Cent Irregular Heartbeat ‬‬

Now, I was not expecting to put a 50 Cent song on this list, especially since his latest album Animal Ambition to me wasn’t that great of an offering, but I have to say, even though I’m not the biggest fan of the “hyperthug” persona that 50 Cent has, I can always appreciate it if he illustrates an actual sense of danger to it, something that can really strike fear into someone as an anthem of evil, and this more minimalist production does that, added to a menacingly cool delivery by 50

Nigga, you pussy, you scared I can hear your heartbeat Why the fuck would you come around here? I can hear your heartbeat

Come out your mouth slick I'll get you hit My niggas hungry, they hit a lick

You think my rap shit a gimmick, I ain't seen parole in a minute

It’s the type of song that gets you in your gut when you hear it the first time. Now, I’d appreciate it more if it was just him, but the guest artists Jadakiss definitely does a great job of adding to the terror

Trying to back peddle and stumble on the curve You stayin' at the ground, you mumblin' your words Literally I can see your heart pumpin' through your shirt

Scared for so long it's all up in your nerves Screw 9-1-1, you probably call up the reserves

And while Kidd Kidd doesn’t really add to the horror, skipping a more subtle delivery and opting for the more in your face gangster attitude, he still has his lines that connect

Call me Mickey Mantle when I bat you in the mouth I bring them hammers out, we ain't trying to build a house

Bang, I'm the one that came in your house for the chickens Left a nigga brains hangin' out like we chillin'

And sure, it’s more mindless thug music, but I feel like even that can be done right, and here, 50 recaptures the fear of lurking through the darker parts of Jamaica Queens once more

6 "Sweatpants" Childish Gambino

So here, Childish Gambino is essentially a gloating little brat who boasts about how better his life is than yours… and that’s not me insulting him, that’s the character he’s playing…

Watching haters wonder why Gambino got the game locked Half-Thai thickie, all she wanna do is Bangkok Still spitting that cash flow: DJ Khaled I got a penthouse on both coasts: pH balance

And although it’s not really that different from his usual brag songs, in that they still contain his materialistic, yet complex thought-out punchlines, it’s definitely a high-light in how outrageous he gets with them

Real nigga, I rep those, why though? Cause I said so Hip deep in the Pepto, I got five on her like Ben Folds

My architect know Japanese, yo' girl, she jocking these No hands like soccer teams and y'all fuck boys like Socrates

And of course, there’s my favorite part of the whole thing

Ain't nobody sicker and my Fisker, "vroom, vroom," ho Ain't nobody-- (Fiskers don't make noise when they start up...just so you know) Top of the Hold 'em totem

It’s a fun song all around, accompanied by an assuredly more interesting video than 3005, as in, I’d definitely show this to a friend to get them into Childish Gambino

I'm winning so they had to dump the Gatorade And I don't give a fuck jump about my family name

...the hell’s YOUR problem, kid?

5 Mandela — CyHi The Prynce

Okay, so the lyrics in this song are really cool, and they’re about a guy who went from being a normal everyday street hustler to someone who wanted to inspire the people to be greater

CYHI! I'm a freedom fighter, Dalai Lama from a weed supplier I'm Muhammad to the rap game, that's my last name, my first should be Elijah To compete wit me, you gone need a Priest to preach Or your sweetest niece to give a hell of a Easter speech

And yeah, it gets kinda corny in the second verse with the flows and punchlines

It was something about Mary, nigga I was Ben Stiller Now the fans fan-mail us all the way from Manchester

But I’m not gonna lie, half of the reason this is on this list is that chorus

Mandela! Nelson Nelson!(I want my troops in the field like) sing along Mandela! Nelson Nelson!(All these niggas wanna kill) Mandela! Nelson Nelson!(Y'all gone make me do 20 years like) Mandela! Nelson Nelson!(Man I'm starting to feel like)

I mean, jeez, that is epic. To anyone who thought that Bastille song was thumping, show them this and call it a day. Also, it’s just nice to have a song where the chorus is about comparing themselves to a man who sought to end the division of black and white peoples in the Motherland than, I dunno, say a frantic, temperamental fictional drug dealers who’s life was lived by being a selfish, coke-fueled asshole

“Tony Montana by Future”

…just sayin’…

‪4 Common "Kingdom" feat. Vince Staples‬‬ “Kingdom” by Common tells the all-too-well-known story of a man caught between wanting to live a life in the righteous path or the life of fast cash and immediate benefits. However, it starts backwards, from Common’s perspective, as a friend who went to his friend’s funeral Second row of the church with my hood on My homie used to rap, he was about to get put on At his funeral, listening to this church song His family yelling and screaming, I hurt for ‘em However, during the second verse, he switches over to the man in the casket, contemplating the worth of earthly possessions against a prior to unexamined quest for salvation I was hurtin', couldn't get no work You created me from dust, that's why I did dirt You said that the last shall be first Now I'm in a hearse, what's this cash really worth? My whole life I had to worry about eatin’ I ain’t have time to think about what I believe in And while I don’t dig Vince Staples verse AS much as Common’s, I appreciate it’s place in this song, as, after Common’s exploration of this lifestyle is seen through older, more experienced eyes, we shift this a journey directly through the eyes of someone younger, someone who could still be going through it Satan serenading ever since I was a toddler Tell ‘em talk is cheap, niggas living for the dollar So in God we trust, leave the praying to my momma though Another motherfucker out of control Make the best from the least on the quest for them keys To the kingdom It serves it’s purpose as a song that illustrates the internal struggles of those who are torn between good and evil in a ghetto, hood life context, and for that, it deserves it’s spot on this list

‪3 R.A. the Rugged Man "Definition of a Rap Flow"‬‬

Now, for all the great abilities for story telling that the artists so far on this list display, at the end of the day, I’m a man of lyrics, and the next guy on this list has been in the game so long with lyrical consistency, it would be a shame to not put him on this list when he puts out a dope single

Rugged Man's flow is uglier than blind dates My mental is heavy like Heavy D & Chubb Rock combined weights

Putting rappers in hibernation, they're hiding away For retirement they're racing, it's funny, like a pie in the face

He has a strange flow that I can only describe as if the big rough and tumble nameless thug from a typical action movie started rapping, so admittedly is a bit of an acquired taste, but when you get into the thick of his intricate lines, it’s a wonder to sit back and take in

Beat it, believe it, leaving you leaking, losing blood like an anemic I'm rather conceited Rappers are comedic, heated leaving you paraplegic I'm undeniable, diabolical, biological warfare Rugged that raggedy bastard His breath stink like he gargling with battery acid

The ONE thing that makes this kinda odd though, is that after all this complex, crazy lyricism, it culminates to this as the chorus

I'm feeling so groovy now Rugged Man's flow will fuck your whole head up I'm feeling so groovy now

It’s just, a little too goofy as a chorus, and feels like they were trying to just do something, anything to make this song more appealing to a more mainstream audience

My house is the Albee square mall (repeated)

Go shopping (x3) Let's all go shopping

What the hell…

‪2 Diabolic - Diabolical Sound‬‬ "The whole underworld worries me less than a single man...Diabolik" I’m pretty sure Diabolic’s Fighting words for me was one of the best albums of 2014 if you’re a person into insane verses about demolishing opponents, and Diabolic never wastes a lyric. Add that to beat production by DJ Premier and oh my Lord, you’ve got some great material, here especially. The way Premier bring the twisted sounds of the orchestra to play around Diabolic’s vocals is just heinus Yo, brace yourself for impact I'm raising Hell with Syntax Like Satan cast an ancient spell on this track

Too many rappers here get on my nerves and stay calm Put on the radio and heard the same songs all day long It's mind numbing like doctors squeezing foreceps To load my brain with Novacaine in my cerebral cortex

When a track is just this much raw perfection, there’s not much to say that will be any more impactful than just experiencing it for yourself, so check it out, and do the same for the rest of his album as well. If you love dope rhymes and fantastic beats, you won’t be disappointed in the least Now, I know what you’re thinking. Gee, Rap Critic hasn’t mentioned Lupe Fiasco yet, or Hopsin, or Tech N9ne, or Eminem, so he’s probably blindly picked one of them for his number one song, right? And you know, I’m just the type of person who would bring that up, just to make you think I was going to NOT do that, only to end up subverting your expectations once more by indeed putting either one of them up here, but instead of ending it with the typically expected rappers like Lupe, Tech N9ne, Eminem, Hopsin, Kendrick Lama—oh wait-- 1 "i" Kendrick

Yeah, Kendrick Lamar is DEFINITELY number one for this one, and let me explain why, because I haven’t heard a song in a while that has sounded this realistic about human failures and yet so inspirational about your ability to overcome them at the same time. This is one of those songs that gets inspirational music down, but not in a lame way. Although, his voice is a little weird at the beginning

I done been through a whole lot Trial, tribulation, but I know God

I almost thought this was like, a verse he recorded when he was 15 or something, but that doesn’t bother me too much after a while. And the thing is, I love this song for what a beautiful sentiment this chorus has. After all the problems he has externally and internally, he knows the world is watching him, seeing his embarrassing moments and failings, and says this: In front of a dirty double mirror, they found me

And I love myself (The world is a ghetto with big guns and picket signs) I love myself (But it can do what it want whenever it want, I don't mind) I love myself (He said I gotta get up, life is more than suicide) I love myself (One day at a time, sun gon' shine)

It’s a great chorus for anyone to sing aloud, and the thing is, it’s not the vain “I love myself” messages that we get from a lot of songs, where the love comes from material accomplishments, it’s a love that says I value my own existence, I see who I am, and I still want to be me, regardless of what anyone, including myself, tells me about the my self worth

Everybody lookin' at you crazy (Crazy) What you gon' do? (What you gon' do?) Lift up your head and keep moving (Keep moving) Or let the paranoia haunt you? (Haunt you)

I just love the idea that kids all around the country could be singing this as a popular song, in that it’s claims of loving yourself are not another song about glorifying guns and wealth and exploiting women’s sexuality, and not singing a song that says “I love myself” because of some self-centered, narcissistic world view that sees everyone else as not as important as you, but as a chorus that reinforces your true value as a human being, and stresses how your outlook and your contributions in life don’t mean anything if at the end of the day, you don’t live it for you. In facvt, my favorite part is about him wrestling with his own suicide, but believing that he will not stop doing so until he honestly believes in his worth as a human

I went to war last night With an automatic weapon, don't nobody call a medic I'ma do it till I get it right

And then, specifically, he tells people not to call for help, that outside forces can’t ultimately change him or his outlook unless he at his core wants to change his negative assessment on life. And at the end, he makes the right decision, and finds his fulfillment in living his life to be a lesson for the future

Give my story to the children and a lesson they can read And the glory to the feeling of the holy unseen Seen enough, make a motherfucker scream, "I love myself!"

It’s a perfect piece of music for the year, and for all time, and I can’t wait to hear the album that accompanies it Well, that’s my list, once again if, you agree or disagree, or have your own list, feel free to discuss in the comments below. ‘Til next time, I’m the Rap Critic, and I LOVE MYSELF…

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