5 16's That Caught Our Eye: Top 5 Verses of Grateful
Grateful had all the momentum in the world going into June, 23 release date. It had the greatest marketer in Hip Hop history pushing the album to the moon and baby Asahd capturing the attention of the music world and executive producing the album. Perhaps most importantly, it had 4 singles (Shining, I’m The One, To The Max & Wild Thoughts) which featured some of the biggest stars in the world of music today. With all this momentum, you can be forgiven for thinking that Grateful would fire on all cylinders and be an Album of the Year contender.
Did it fire on all cylinders? That’s another debate which I will leave for you to decide. With a total of 23 songs, I’ve selected 5 verses which captured my eye.
Before you scrutinise my selections, I’d just like to make it clear that my picks aren’t solely based on the lyricism of the verses but also on how much I enjoyed listening to the verses. Here are my top 5 verses from the album Grateful:
5. Chance The Rapper on ‘I’m The One’
I can’t help but chuckle at the ‘we don’t got no label’ line. It appears that just like his attitude towards record labels, Chance prefers no commitment when it comes to romance. In all seriousness though, I really enjoyed this verse from Chance the Rapper. He’s one of a few rappers who can jump on any beat on any song and still provide a high-quality verse. It would have been easy for Chance to have given us a dumbed down verse on a single which was heavily supported by an all-star cast. However, he gives us a verse with lyricism which fits around the theme of the song and you can easily see how much fun he’s having here.
4. Nas ‘It’s Secured’
Getting a new Nas verse is a rarity these days. It's understandable. He's 43 years old at a point of 'legends' status and has given so much to the rap game for over 20 years. His legacy is unquestionable and we still wait to see if 'Nas album done'.
Here, Nas makes his second consecutive appearance on a DJ Khaled album as he features alongside Travis Scott on It's Secured. From personal preference, it doesn't top Nas Album Done from Major Key (largely due to the unnecessary Travis Scott hook) but Nas still delivers as expected of the legend.
Nas does what Nas does best; he mixes lyricism and storytelling. Evidence of this is here:
'Life ill, cause most of my niggas in jail
For them it was hustle or death, I reshuffled my deck
I gave myself a good hand'
If that went over your head, a good hand in card games more often than not leads to wins. He shows us he changed his fortunes for himself through some cheeky lyricism.
This is consistent throughout both of his verses on the song and is the formula which has made Nas one of the greatest to ever do it. However, we still waiting on that Nas album…
3. Pusha T ‘Good Man’
Good Man is one of the best songs on Grateful and features two of the most underappreciated rappers in the game in Pusha T and Jadakiss. I could have given either one of their verses because they are both of the highest quality. Push just edges it because he delivers two fire verses with effortless bravado which delve into a theme you can commonly relate to Push: drug dealing. His bars and his flow provide that ice cold 90's feel which he so often gives off. The beat is perfect for his emotive story-telling style and contributes to the iciness of the song as a whole.
I was looking forward to hearing Pusha T’s contribution to Grateful when I saw him on the tracklist. Pusha T is a rapper who I hold in high regard because of his sheer consistency. Every solo project he's ever produced has been of the highest level. My Name is My Name was arguably the album of the year in 2013. King Push - Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude was so good that one can only be excited for when King Push finally drops (it's slated for a 2017 release). Verses like this only add to the anticipation.
2. Big Sean ‘On Everything’
Sean Don has been bodying everything lately. What he provides us with here is the best verse on Grateful. It’s aggressive, it’s unforgiving, it’s unapologetic. It’s a side to Big Sean which we need to see more of. We’ve been getting it in abundance over the past year with releases such as No More Interviews and Bounce Back, while on his album I Decided, he goes toe to toe with Eminem on No Favors and duly delivers. I put Big Sean at the top of Tier 2 and feel he can get into Tier 1 with more verses like this on a consistent basis across his projects.
Many people are suggesting that Sean is responding to the alleged subliminal shots from Kendrick Lamar on The Heart Part 4 and HUMBLE. One would suggest there is some form of response when you decipher some of his bars:
‘And I realized all I ever needed was in me, nigga
S on my chest boy so shots can't even pinch me, nigga
No substitute for me, but they gon' still tempt me nigga
God is in me, that's the only one who can end me nigga’
S on my chest suggests that Big Sean is referring to himself as Superman (whose body deflects bullets). Therefore, any shots from rappers (namely Kendrick Lamar in this instance) can’t take him out. He later goes on to say ‘Roc-A-Fella chain, but you can still get Ethered’ which references ‘Ether’, the diss track which Nas aimed at Jay Z (the head of Roc-A-Fella). Big Sean shows he won’t hesitate to do the same and is willing to take it there. Additionally, this beat is easily my favourite on the album.
1. Belly ‘Interlude’
To keep it short and sweet, the moment I heard this interlude I knew straight away that this would be my favourite song on the album.
Belly comes with straight heat here in the most soulful and ear-warming way possible. He mixes his views on life with his own life experiences and it comes across effortless. He’s the narrator of his own story and we get enough of an insight into Belly’s life to know this story. It’s a soulful verse and it’s short and sweet. It’s just what the album needs.
He also provides a few noteworthy quotes that we can take away and think about. He tells us ‘money, hoes, that’s something that you can’t chase’. For someone of his status, this message can mean something much different to the average Joe, but it’s a principle we can all take. He shows he’s aware of his own status by stating ‘if you ungrateful then you ain’t great’. It's towards the latter part of the album understandably and it's extremely fitting with the term Grateful. An impressive showing by the heavily slept on Belly.
What were your top 5 favourite verses on Grateful?