The Best Rap Verses Of 2024 (So Far) (2024)

The Best Rap Verses Of 2024 (So Far) (1)

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We try to stick to one guiding principle when making our best rap verses of the year lists: one verse per rapper. This year was different. The year 2024 featured the greatest rap battle of all time—a perfectly fine reason to break our unofficial rule. Kendrick Lamar vs. Drake dominated the first half of the year because both rappers showed up, delivering some of the sharpest raps of their respective careers.

So—spoiler alert—of course they will both be on our best rap verses of 2024 list multiple times. But even as if their battle was the highlight, there was a ton of great rapping across the board, featuring a vast selection of styles.

From Drake to Kendrick Lamar to Chief Keef to Tierra Whack, here are the best rap verses of 2024 so far.

20. Sauce Walka, “1 AM in Houston (Freestyle)”

Verse: 1

Sauce Walka is good for tearing through a remix. And on his freestyle over Drake’s “8am in Charlotte,” it would have been easy for him to take the Conductor Williams beat and only fill it with bluster. Instead, he describes the plight that people from his community in Houston face. Sauce is rapping about some real sh*t in his opening verse as he illustrates how police violence has stripped a generation of their freedom. The freestyle shows just how sharp his pen really is. He spits, “Police shootin' at the lease (athletes) while the cameras recordin/ Highlights at his funeral that nigg* could have been Jordan/ How many accept the evil or just simply ignore it/ Tell my swiper don't swipe but he had to explore it.” —Jordan Rose

19. Babyfxce E, “County Time”

Immersive storytelling is one thing, but a play-by-play from a close friend is what Babyfxce E achieves on “County Time.” Detailing how he went to jail for a day, the fast-flowed Detroit rapper blacks out in the best way possible, expertly showcasing his narrative sharpness while sliding over a patented Detroit bounce. The song is like a modern day version of Big L’s “The Enemy,” with Babyfxce detailing his interaction with an officer. “‘Oh, you Babyfxce E’ / Oh, you be on SayCheese / You the one that stay P, you the one that take keys / You the one that ride around with choppers that be eight feet / You the one that turn up the block and take the whole street,” Babyfxce spits. —Jon Barlas

18. Star Bandz, “Yea Yea”

In 2024, some of the most innovative rapping is coming from younger emcees who are less interested in sophisticated wordplay and more fascinated in reimagining what the pocket sounds like. It can be mindf*ck listening to it; and there are some fans who will listen to what Star Bandz is doing on “Yea Yea” and think this sh*t sounds… off. Well they are wrong. Like a rap version of a pilates class, Star Bandz, who is only 16, is hitting pocket muscles rappers don’t hit, using mostly simple but witty word play to get her point across. “Lord knows I sin a lot, still go to church to send a prayer (To send a prayer) I hardly come outside, I'm like a villain in my lair If I catch her broad day, I'm like Buffy, I'm a slayer,” she raps. —Dimas Sanfiorenzo

17. Doja Cat, “HEADHIGH”

Verse: 2

On the second verse of “HeadHigh,” Doja Cat turns her perceptual lens inward, analyzing the way public scrutiny has altered her own peace of mind. Using a liquid flow and sharp bursts of cultural analysis, Doja examines the world and herself with deft symbolism and rare lucidity: “Lost faith in humanity, also lost some common sense/Also lost the motivation to begin to find the sh*t.” Using sly humor and tidy rhyme schemes, Doja shifts between being vindictive and empathetic. —Peter A. Berry

16. Eminem, “Houdini”

Often, what determines a great verse is beat selection. This is one of the reasons why Eminem’s commercial singles often get overlooked when it comes to lyrical dexterity. Em gets hit with a tax when his production gets too goofy. But even on the commercial singles there’s usually real technique at play. Check his latest song, “Houdini,” which is essentially a parody of an Eminem single from the 2000s. The last verse features Em sounding light on his feet. There’s some clever dad jokes here, yes, but the verse is great in the way he slides across a somewhat off kilter beat.—Dimas Sanfiorenzo

15. Cam'ron, ‘It is What it is’ “Whoa!” Freestyle

Cam’s still got it. Just when you thought he had fully transitioned to his second career as one of the most entertaining sports media personalities on the planet, he dropped a freestyle from the set of his It Is What It Is show with Mase. Rapping over Black Rob’s iconic “Whoa!” beat, Cam—rocking a Luka Dončić jersey—takes the time to strike back at Adidas and Anthony Edwards. It’s a very good verse that reminds us Cam is still an extremely sharp emcee when he wants to be. As a great man once said, sometimes you gotta pop out and show ‘em. —Eric Skelton

14. JID, “30 Freestyle”

The English language is confusing and filled with a lot of unnecessary grammatical rules, but JID uses that to his advantage to find endless creative ways to break and bend them to his will. “30 Freestyle” is a maelstrom of metaphors and similes seasoned with extended tail rhymes that continue to prove why he’s one of the best rappers out right now. “Drop a tape before the album, most of you lost taste/ But I'm sniffin' like a hound for a scent of the lost greats/ Trying to figure out if I'm really him or a fraud, fake/ He gon' find a way either in the game or God's gates,” he raps, switching from speaking in first and third person while simultaneously asserting his dominance in the game. JID knows how to feed his fans, and his verse on “30 Freestyle” is the perfect platter of wordplay that fits their taste. —Jordan Rose

13. Chief Keef, “Bow Bow Bow (F My Baby Mama)”

The last few years have consisted of Chief Keef living in a sonic space he created — with his influence being acknowledged by everyone from Playboi Carti to Billie Eilish. “Bow Bow Bow (F My Baby Mama),” his collabo with Sexyy Red, features one of the best Chief Keef verses we’ve heard in years. His voice permeates with clarity, aggression, vulnerability and humor over Tay Keith’s paranoia-inducing production as he addresses issues regarding his ex spouse. —Kia Turner

12. Drake, “Push Ups”

Verse: 1

Regardless of the outcome, there’s no denying that Drake turned up the heat with “Push Ups.” The song packs a punch with a barrage of tenacious, slick-tongued bars aimed at, well, everyone. “What's a prince to a king? He a son, nigg* / Get more love in the city that you from, nigg* / Metro, shut your ho ass up and make some drums, nigg*,” Drake tears off, returning fire on back-handed disses sent from Metro Boomin, Future, The Weeknd, and Lamar. While its “leaked” release raised initial questions of the legitimacy of the track, the final version of “Push Ups” is potent. “How you big steppin’ with a size seven men’s on?” still rings off. Even if Drake fell short to Kendrick, “Push Ups” was a big warning shot for more bars tucked in the vault. —Jon Barlas

11. Mach-Hommy, “SONJE”

Verse: 2

When Mach-Hommy is at his best he spits with the wisdom of someone who has lived five lifetimes already, and on the second verse of “SONJE” the mysteriously masked-up rap philosopher, floats across elegant topsy-turvy keys and glistening synths with sharp lyrics that remind us of the everyday hustle that underpins his otherworldly intellect. With a loving reference to Big Pun’s famous line about packing-a-mack-in-the-back-of-the-Ac, and another hyper-confident bar about how his rap peers are “shook, daddy, about the vocals”, the underground innovator is rapping like the rent is due. He pronounces the words “I ain’t no local yokel” with a delicious spite, like an irritated Lord upset that an underling would ever dare doubt how cultured he is. There's real comfort to his vocal delivery and general aura, which might be a byproduct of having a loyal fan base prepared to spend thousands of dollars on his vinyl. This is Mach-Hommy at the very top of his game: someone who has been “through hell and back,” yet no longer has to “piss for crackers” due to his status as one of American rap’s most dazzling contemporary lyricists. —Thomas Hobbs

10. Megan Thee Stallion, “Hiss”

Verse: 1

With her back so obviously against the wall, Megan Thee Stallion is pissed-off at all the encircling rap peers using her name for clout, pushing them away with an avalanche of a first verse on “Hiss” that proves she’s just as good at resilient battle raps as she is penning X-rated bangers. There seems to be one overwhelming target for her frustrations, with Nicki Minaj receiving blunt lyrical missiles that touch on everything from her husband’s checkered history as a registered sex offender (“These hoes don't be mad at Megan, these hoes mad at Megan's Law”) to Megan’s feeling that the Pink Friday rapper’s bark is much louder than her bite (“Every chance you get / bet your weak ass won't address me”). This verse famously sent Nicki into a social media spiral, resulting in a diss track that was pretty obviously inferior to “Hiss,” which ended up topping the Billboard 100 and setting the tone for a 2024 where everyone from Katt Williams to Kendrick Lamar felt it was finally time to twist the knife into their outspoken enemies. —Thomas Hobbs

9. Kendrick Lamar, “Meet the Grahams”

Verse: 4

It’s hard to get more unnervingly personal than Pusha-T’s “Story of Adidon,” but Kendrick Lamar got it done with “Meet The Grahams.” Creeping over sinister Alchemist production, Kendrick uses verse number four to serve up a deep Drake psychoanalysis, painting a merciless portrait of a desperate, immoral sex addict with nothing to teach his son Adonis but the art of self-destruction. Here, Kendrick outlines all the underlying reasons for all the f*ckery he explains in the first three verses, tying them all together like a doctoral candidate’s thesis. Combined with wildly fluctuating vocal inflections, it’s a perfect lyric and performance symbiosis that affects epic petty and maximum condescension, with the final bars playing out like a ritual to exorcise the demons of lames. If “Story of Adidon” was an undressing, then “Meet The Grahams” verse four is an X-ray. —Peter A. Berry

8. Rapsody, “Look What You've Done”

Verse: 2

“2011 Bron—I’m feelin’ the greatest without a ring,” Rapsody spits on “Look What You’ve Done,” which perfectly encapsulates her commentary on how her male listenership can’t praise her without simultaneously projecting their expectations onto her. Rapsody is an artist known for smashing the mold that was made for her, and in the second verse of this track, she breaks down the hypocrisy of fans slandering other woman rappers in an effort to praise her. “Support what you like, you ain’t gotta show love using hate my nigg*,” she raps, delivering a pointed message that’s not only applicable to her, but to any hip-hop fan who uses their support for an artist as a crutch to tear another one down. —Jordan Rose

7. J. Cole, “Trae the Truth in Ibiza”

Verse: 2

J. Cole’s best verses often sound like journal entries. And he closes “Trae the Truth in Ibiza” with an honest reflection on his career and where his mental state is as he embarks on what might be his swan song with The Fall Off. The last verse of the track finds Cole embracing the fact that he’s changed over the years and that he’s working to deliver his revelations through the music. “I would just sit on this music and hold it /Waiting for some perfect moment/ Wondering why it ain't came/ Meanwhile the world done changed/ Suddenly songs I was loving last year don't feel the same/ Somebody feel my pain,” Cole raps, successfully encapsulating the plight that being a perfectionist brings to an artist. In “Trae the Truth in Ibiza,” Cole sounds like he’s ready to express “the good, the bad, the ugly” for his fans again. —Jordan Rose

6. Kendrick Lamar, “Not Like Us”

Verse: 3

In beef, truth isn’t as important as crafting a narrative that’s equal parts plausible and compelling. Through three solo Drake diss songs, Kendrick had pretty much won those departments, but “Not Like Us” was the icy coup de gras. For the third verse, Kendrick distills the cultural appropriation argument, except, unlike others who’ve made the claim, he presents a whole list of people the 6ix God has taken from. “You called Future when you didn't see the club/Lil Baby helped you get your lingo up/21 gave you false street cred/Thug made you feel like you a slime in your head.” He punctuates it with indelible rallying cry for anyone who’s ever called Drake a culture vulture: “You run to Atlanta when you need a few dollars/No, you not a colleague, you a f*ckin' colonizer.” In a song that’s destined to live as an anti-appropriation anthem, Kendrick, at least for the moment, successfully crystallized the idea of Drake as one of them.Peter A. Berry

5. Freddie Gibbs, “Back To Me”

For the last few years Freddie Gibbs has been trending for just about everything other than rap music, with mounting petty beefs and relationship dramas threatening to overshadow a rapping ability fabled producer Madlib once compared to a free-flowing saxophone solo by the legendary jazz musician Charlie Parker. However, on “Back To Me,” the upbeat, bass-heavy highlight from Ye and Ty Dolla $ign’s VULTURES, Gibbs seems determined to remind the world of his greatness and re-center his narrative. “Just turned a bad bitch to my ex/X like I was Elon” he barks in a precise husky vocal, the rapid breath control immaculate like 1996 2Pac and particularly impressive given his flow only intensifies as the verse progresses. Gibbs is acutely aware that a compelling guest verse on an even a middling Kanye West project is still capable of leaving an indelible mark on pop culture, and he doesn’t waste his big moment. —Thomas Hobbs

4. Tierra Whack, “Banded Up”

In March, Tierra Whack released her official debut album World Wide Whack. The album features some of the most introspective music of her career, with the rapper detailing her various fights with depression. There’s not a lot of moments of bravado on the album. This is why her appearance on Chief Keef’s Almighty So 2 is so impactful. Tierra makes her case for best rapper alive, coming through like a Tasmanian Devil over Sosa’s demented church bells. She raps: “These rappers are food and that's why I be cookin'/You can't pull no strings and I just keep it pushin'/B-I-G, but I was not born in Brooklyn/I treat 'em like cushion, I denied instruction I beat the beat up like it deserve a whoopin'.” Let’s get an entire album of these, please. —Dimas Sanfiorenzo

3. Drake, “Family Matters”

Verse: 2

Before his beef with Kendrick Lamar reached its epic climax, Drake used his Instagram story to preview the coming action. He used a clip from The Equalizer 2. In it, Denzel Washington’s character, Robert McCall, stares down his enemies with a deadly promise: “I'm gonna kill each and every one of you. And the only disappointment in it for me is that I only get to do it once.” Listening to “Family Matters” verse two, you can’t help but notice a similar bloodlust. Watch the action scenes, you’ll see a similarity in technique, too. Like McCall, Drake manages to defend himself from enemy attacks while simultaneously delivering kill shots. He dismantles his opponents and their arguments as soon as he introduces them. He skewers ASAP Rocky for being a pretty boy who’s arguably more known for modeling now than music. He treats Metro Boomin like a little brother who’s mad you won’t let him play your PS5. He nods at the inherent absurdity of The Weeknd’s falsetto gunplay. He calls Rick Ross a cop, and he manages to tie that into his micro movie dissing everyone else. The insults are brutal, and he threads them all with a mean beat switch and his catchiest flow since “Headlines.” Icy and meticulous, it’s the deadly artistry of an assassin at the peak of his craft.—Peter A. Berry

2. Kendrick Lamar, “Like That”

There’s tons of analysis already on where “Like That” stands in the war between Drake and Kendrick. Yet Kendrick’s tenacity, directed shots, and iconic ad libs and one-liners (“Prince outlived Mike Jack”) have become part of our pop culture lingo. With one verse, Kendrick single-handedly annihilated any false idea of a “Big 3.” It’s a monumental verse, one that includes almost a decade of history. Kendrick and Drake have managed to live in each other’s musical universe without having to interact or acknowledge one another. With the first unintentional brick being thrown by J Cole—via his acknowledgment of Kendrick as part of the big three on “First Person Shooter”—Kendrick broke the mounting 15 year tension. “First Person Shooter” might have accidentally started the battle but Kendrick’s now rap history inducted verse on “Like That” completely declared war. —Kia Turner

1. Kendrick Lamar, “Euphoria”

Verse: 1

Behind Kendrick Lamar’s calm exterior is a rap maniac with a petty hatred for Drake and a pension to take out his frustrations with bars, and “Euphoria” is the perfect outlet for that expression. While “Not Like Us” deserves the credit for being the song that put the nail in Drake’s coffin, the extended first verse of “Euphoria” is what really marks the beginning of the end for The Boy. Kendrick utilizes several flow and voice switches to really get the point across that he does not like the Toronto rapper. He foreshadows how he was going to attack Drake with pedophile allegations, while also doubling down on being anti “Big 3.” Dot was able to harness his hatred for Drake in the simplest, yet most effective way possible—by just listing it all out there. That first verse from “Euphoria” features the most pointed, funny, and memorable rapping of the year so far. —Jordan Rose

The Best Rap Verses Of 2024 (So Far) (2024)
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