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Hip-Hop’s Most Slept-On Verses

The phrase “slept-on” has been remixed so many times in hip-hop to mean so many different things. A hard-working rapper with no success is “slept-on,” a song that didn’t chart is “slept-on,” and an album that didn’t go platinum is “slept-on.” Here at The BoomBox, we’re using it to describe verses/songs by emcees from all walks of life, that were under-appreciated in the grand scheme of hip-hop. We had some of hip-hop’s prominent voices give us 10 of their favorite slept-on verses, in no particular order. You’ll be surprised by the outcome after the jump.

‘Can I Live?’ Jay-Z

When people talk ‘Reasonable Doubt’ they usual point to songs like ‘Can’t Knock the Hustle,’ ‘Brooklyn’s Finest‘ or ‘D’Evils.’ While the latter is unquestionably the lyrical zenith, the first verse on ‘Can I Live?’ is the spirit of the entire album condensed into 32 bars. It isn’t just another hustler’s tale, it is an emotional reflection full of both regret and triumph; written in code. Anyone who has ever called Jay-Z one-dimensional should be slapped with this verse. - Jeff Ryce, Managing Editor, HipHopDX.com

Read ‘Can I Live?’ Lyrics

‘Decisions, Decisions,’ Cee Lo (Goodie Mob)

The Cee Lo verse is full of internal rhymes and breaks down the rise and fall of a rap artist in a way that takes other people whole songs to do. No one really took into account how good an MC Cee Lo was at the time because the group was just so colorful, and they were overshadowed by Outkast and still had the Southern stigma … It was hard at that time to sit back and realize that Cee Lo could spit, especially since a lot of his strength was in his voice and delivery, which was very new to many of us back then. - kris ex, Journalist/Author

‘Mind on My Money,’ Nicki Minaj

Nicki says “tell Michelle I got my eye on Barack Obama,” which is not only boss, but leads into pop aspirations (Madonna/Hanna Montana), into the Dalai Lama, into worldwide money-getting, into “sayanora” and “nam-myoho-renge-kyo” because she’s meditating on her money, which is just f—in’ insane. Her singing the last half of the verse and never quite taking her mind off the money fits the song. Every other bar is like “money” – and not just the trappings of wealth or slang for shortcuts but “money.”- kris ex, Journalist/Author

Read ‘Mind on My Money’ Lyrics

‘The Next Movement,’ Black Thought (The Roots)

It’s one of the few songs that reminds me of why I love Hip-Hop. People get so caught in talking about The Roots because they’re a band or because of their legendary live shows. They rarely talk about their songs or how lyrical Tariq is. I think ‘The Next Movement’ truly was The Roots’ best shot to crossover and it didn’t happen. People may argue that ‘You Got Me‘ was more crossover, but it was so subversive. - Rashaun Hall, Editor, MSN’s Groove

Read ‘The Next Movement’ Lyrics

‘Remember Me,’ Eminem

That first verse sums up just about everything I love about Eminem lyrically. He’s clever with the punchlines and the thinly veiled references to Columbine were controversial, but contextual if you remember Em was bullied. And last but not least Eminem displayed a clinic in lyricism that basically put him in the Hall of Fame on the MMLP. – Chuck Creekmur, CEO & Co-Founder, AllHipHop.com

Read ‘Remember Me’ Lyrics

‘Apollo Kids,’ Ghostface Killah

Ghostface gets flack for this non-sequitur style of rap being too confusing for the uninitiated. If you’re worried about trying to figure out the intricacies of, “Yo, check these up top murderous snowy in the bezzle as the cloud merges/F.B.I. try and want word with this/kid who pulled out bust a shot up in the Beacon/Catch me in the corner not speakin’,” instead of enjoying the ride, your loss. - Alvin Blanco, Journalist/Author and BoomBox contributor

Read ‘Apollo Kids’ Lyrics

‘God Lives Through,’ Q-Tip

Q-Tip has had plenty of other verses in his catalog that were considered more popular or considered more profound, but on ‘God Lives Through’ (off A Tribe Called Quest’s classic Midnight Marauders) Q-Tip’s flow just sounds particularly effortless. ‘God Lives Through’ closes out an all around magnificent album with such a playful verse that just really relays Q-Tip’s status as a superior MC in Hip-Hop. - Alvin Blanco, Journalist/Author and BoomBox contributor

Read ‘God Lives Through’ Lyrics

‘Double Trouble,’ Mos Def and Black Thought

a href=”http://theboombox.com/tag/BlackThought”>Black Thoughtisn’t on many cameos outside of the Roots camp because all of the other MCs are just scared of him, plus Mos Def is just one of the illest of all time. On ‘Double Trouble’ off ‘Things Fall Apart’ these two go back and forth for a version of lyrical call and response. The first verse is just sick. - Alvin Blanco, Journalist/Author and BoomBox contributor

Read ‘Double Trouble’ Lyrics

‘B.I.B.L.E. (Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth),’ Killah Priest

Though the track was included on GZA‘s classic Liquid Swords album, ‘B.I.B.L.E. (Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth)’ was all about Killah Priest. With raw, searing emotion, the cut stings with spiritual lyrics about absorbing wisdom and religious influence, asking rhetorical, thought-provoking questions in rhythmic rhyme. One of the most slept-on gems in Wu-Tang discography. - Steven Horowitz, Editor, YRB Magazine and BoomBox contributor

Read ‘B.I.B.L.E.’ Lyrics

‘Satisfied’ (From ‘All of the Above’),’ J-Live

I remember arguing with my colleagues at The Source to get this J-Live song a Hip-Hop Quotable for that month. Of all the statements made by artists after 9/11, both on and off record, this was the most honest to me. There was a lot of microwave patriotism being served up and while he acknowledged the tragedy of the events, he knew that deep down nothing would change between the people and the police. Ask Sean Bell’s widow or Oscar Grant¹s family. - Jerry Barrow, Senior Editor, The Urban Daily

Author’s Pick — ‘Da Mystery of Chessboxin,’ Masta Killa

Years back when Wu-Tang were together in the studio recording ’36 Chambers,’ they would throw on a beat and whoever spit the hardest was featured on the track. Masta Killa always seemed like one of the sideline emcees who never got to spit until his verse on ‘Da Mystery Of Chessboxin.” While everyone was so mesmerized by Meth‘s mini-hook and ODB‘s wailing, Masta Killa was the clean-up verse that really proved what a sharp emcee he was.

Read ‘Da Mystery of Chessboxin” Lyrics

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