Rap Genius Lines of the Week From Rick Ross, Jean Grae
5. “My teacher told me that I was a piece of s—/ Seen her the other day, driving a piece of s—,” — Rick Ross, ‘Holy Ghost’
The revenge-on-teachers rap subgenre has quite a distinguished history. Our favorite is Freeway’s ‘Hear the Song,’ where he calls out an old teacher by name on a record that ended up selling over half a million copies — good luck with those future students, Ms. Lee! For Ross, calling someone out on driving a cheap car is the ultimate insult. He loves expensive rides so much that he named his record label after the now sadly defunct Maybach, and called a Diddy-assisted song on the ‘Rich Forever’ mixtape, ‘Bugatti Boys,’ after another seven-figure car.
4. “Back when, if a n—- reached it was for the weapon/ Nowadays, n—-s reaching just to sell they record,” — Drake, ‘Stay Schemin”
While Drake’s performance overall on this song was on the side of acceptable, these lines contain the only real points scored in his war against Common. Their feud began seemingly out of nowhere, with Common dropping lines clearly aimed at Drake on a song that just happened to be from a soon-to-be-released album. Here, Drizzy calls Common out for starting the feud as a PR stunt to sell records.
3. “Don’t play dumb, I’m the one that acknowledged it/ Son of a bitch, I imagine what your father is,” — Common, ‘Stay Schemin’ (Drake Diss)‘
While other lines on this pretty-great-but-too-short response track got more attention — in particular the song-closing Canada Dry joke — to those who know anything about Drake, this line stands out as particularly devastating. The star raps a lot about his beloved mother and his often-absent father. He has admitted in song that to say he’s like his father is the one thing he can’t stand to hear. So for Common to get at both those sacred cows in 10 words is a feat of — sadly unacknowledged, for the most part — genius.
2. “I know, you’re lazy/ It’s easier to pick a partner less crazy/ Much less work, less purpose, less of A to Z/ ‘Cause I’m an alpha, bet it’s hard to stay with me,” — Jean Grae, ‘U&Me&EveryoneWeKnow’
This single from your favorite rapper’s favorite Twitter user’s upcoming album, ‘Cake or Death,’ does something extremely rare in rap, but something that the genre turns out to be great for. It paints a mature, grown-up picture of a person coming to terms with the end of a relationship, with all the regrets, anger, self-blaming, resignation and hope that implies. In all of that, Jean still finds time for some amazing wordplay. See, for example, the string of rap world puns at the beginning of the song, and here, where the “A to Z” formulation leads naturally to punning on her “alpha” personality, as the words “alpha, bet” take on a second meaning as “alphabet.”
1. “Slaughterhouse is hot as hell, y’all on that same ol’/ But I’m like SAMO, before you knew him as Jean-Michel,” — Crooked I, ‘L.A. Leakers Freestyle’
Jean-Michel Basquiat has recently become hip-hop’s favorite artist, with name-drops by Jay-Z, Kanye, Rick Ross and more. He even, despite being long-dead, has his own sneaker line, courtesy of producer Swizz Beatz. Crooked takes it back to the beginning and reminds us that, before art stardom, Basquiat was part of the influential graffiti collective called SAMO, who garnered attention in the 1980s for writing mysterious, poetic phrases all over New York City.
Groaner of the Week
“Pop a chicken in that grease and make one into two/ All these rides in my yard, my s— a carni-voo,” — Rick Ross, ‘King of Diamonds’
Ross is both our big winner and our big loser this week, as the Bawse finds a new way to make us cringe, pronouncing “carnival” as “car-ni-voo” in order to fit the rhyme scheme. It’s worth hearing once — and only once — just for the involuntary scream of agony you will inevitably let out.