Delivery III - Punchlines
Punchlines make an audience react. They're the "OHHH!!!" moments from a crowd when rappers show off their cleverness. The term "punchline" originates from the final line of a joke but it is a general reference for any bar that is extra strong. This includes comedy, mind rhymes, wordplay, and yes, diss too:
So how is this different than what we've been doing? Our standard paradigm up until now (with the exception of mind rhymes) has been to say a sentence, andthen come up with a rhyme for it. This means that your first line typically has the more interesting content, more complex rhyming word, and more intricate flows. But with punchlines, we intentionally reverse this standard, and push the stronger line to the end. Here's an example of wordplay using this in action:
ITS EASIEST TO USE A PUNCHLINE AT THE BEGINNING OF YOUR FREESTYLE BECAUSE YOU HAVE MORE TIME TO THINK BEFOREHAND...
This technique is just a more generalized version of the technique used to think of mind rhymes because mind rhymes are indeed a type of punchline. The trick is that you have to be extremely fast on the rhymes, which is why we strongly recommend that you start off by using rhyme sets for this method.
When you start a new rhyme set, just think of the rhyming word for the last bar first. Hold it there in your memory. Pick a rhyme. Now start thinking about how you are going to use your word but while you're doing that your mouth has already started speaking. You're trusting that your subconscious brain will find a rhyme for your last word of choice by the time it reaches the end of your line, and if you've practiced enough it will. Your first line might not be the most elegant of sentences but it should work. With the extra time you've devoted to your last line, it should come out more detailed than your first generic line. Here's an example of this used in comedy:
The better you get at this technique, the better your generic phrases, and the stronger your punchlines will be. Also its important to note that you can have however many bars you want between initially picking a word dropping the punchline. More lines gives you more time to think but then your brain has to come up with more generic phrases while you're thinking.
How To Create Rap Punchlines That Hit HARD!
Being a skilled rapper isn’t just about riding the beat it’s much more than that. Rapping is simply the vehicle we use to deliver our message to our audience. However there are many literary devices rappers wield such as rhyme schemes and punchlines which make a huge impact on the listener. And moving the audience emotionally and making a strong impact and lasting impression is really the goal of any artist right? So lets take a quick look at how you can create rap punchlines to hit HARD!!
What Are Rap Punchlines?
Rap Punchlines just like any other punchlines is the culminating part of a joke, story, or thought that gives it its humorous or dramatic point of impact.
What Makes Rap Punchlines Have Heavy Impact?
There’s actually several literary devices that can make rap punchlines work really well to ensure it has the maximum impact on the listeners. Let’s explore some of these devices and then follow up with some examples of them in use.
Puns: a play on words in which a humorous effect is produced by using a word that suggests two or more meanings.
“But then again you’ll finally get your wish, cuz you’ll be all over the street like 50 Cent” – Eminem, “Nail In the Coffin” (More on this punchline below)
Metaphors: a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable.
“These cats drink champagne and toast to death and pain. Like slaves on a ship talking about who got the flyest chain” – Talib Kweli, “Africa Dream”
Irony: a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often amusing as a result.
“As far as that album you dropped, I ain’t feelin it, I wouldn’t buy your record if it had a hundred dollar bill in it” – Chino XL, “Creep”
Similes: the comparison of one thing with another thing of a different kind, used to make a description more emphatic or vivid.
“My Rap career goes back further than your fathers hairline” – Ludacris, “Coming To America”
There’s two main methods rap punchlines are delivered; Buildups and One Liners. Let’s take a brief look at both of these.
Good rap punchlines often times has a buildup. By this I mean that there are several lines before the punchline that are laying the ground work so that when the punchline hits the listener it connects with the lines before it which gives it extra weight for heavy impact. There’s no rule on how long a buildup has to be. It could range from one bar to as long as fifteen bars before the punchline hits.
Often times people recognize this as being a witty or an intelligent writer. In fact many define a genius as someone who can predict the outcome of something before it happens. With that being said I like to think of The Buildup as the lyrical genius within us at work. As we carefully craft our lyrics with the expectation of leaving our listeners in aw.
Eminem – “Nail In the Coffin”
I would never claim to be no Ray Benzino
an 83 year old fake Pachino
So how can he hold me over some balcony
without throwin his lower back out as soon as he goes to lift me
Please don’t, you’ll probably fall with me
and our as**s will both be history
But then again you’ll finally get your wish
cuz you’ll be all over the street like 50 Cent
What’s genius about these lyrics is how Eminem is setting up his punchline way ahead of time. Notice how he’s making fun of and exaggerating Benzino’s age while questioning his threat on how he could physically hold him over a balcony without throwing is lower back out. Which leads to the punchline “But then again you’ll finally get your wish cuz you’ll be all over the street like 50 cent“.
This punchline also has a double meaning. This technique is a literary device known as a Pun, Double Entendre or Figure of Speech. Which basically means the phrase has two different meanings or interpretations.
The obvious meaning is that Benzino will be splattered all over the pavement from such a huge fall. But what makes this line really hit hard is it’s alternate meaning.
The alternate meaning is that 50 cent was at the peak of his career at this time and “being all in the streets or all over the streets” is a slang term that means someone is popular.
Chino XL – “Creep”
“As far as that album you dropped, I ain’t feelin it
I wouldn’t buy your record if it had a hundred dollar bill in it“
This particular punchline from Chino XL uses a much shorter setup as he is known for rapidly delivering punchlines as frequent as every other bar. One bar for a quick buildup followed by a second bar to deliver the punchline. This punchline uses a funny literary device known as Irony because who wouldn’t buy an album for twelve bucks that had a one hundred dollar bill in it right? lol!
One liners are another common form of a punchline that is often used. One Liners don’t use a Buildup at all. However these still make a big impact on the listener and are highly effective in giving your lyrics the wow factor when executed properly. Let’s look at some examples.
Field Mob – “Where R U Going?”
“low-key like a midget locksmith”
Eminem – “313”
“You couldn’t make the fans throw up there hands if they swallowed their fingers”
Eminem – “313”
“Even if you dated a stick of dynamite, you still couldn’t go out with a bang”
Ludacris – “Coming To America”
“My Rap career goes back further than your fathers hairline”
These examples are pretty straight forward. In the Field Mob example they’re using two literary devices, Similes and Puns. Since similes are comparing one thing to another “Like a” and puns with the use of “low-key” and “midget locksmith” The Eminem examples are using puns and the Ludacris example is using a Pun as well as a Simile.
Stockpile Your Arsenal
Now that you have a deeper understanding of what rap punchlines are along with common literary devices that are used to create them it’s time to start creating some for your self don’t ya think? Don’t wait until you’re working on your next song to start formulating your punchlines that hit harder than Mike Tyson. Go ahead and start building a list of punchlines that you can pull from when you’re writing your lyrics later.
Not only will this give you some good practice but it can also improve your workflow. Nothing kills your creative vibe more while writing lyrics than getting stuck on lines for long periods of time. So go ahead and build your arsenal by putting the creative genius within you to work!
How Did I Do?
Did you find this article helpful? Have a question or comment? I’d love to hear from you so make sure you drop your 2 cents in comments section below!
February 20, 2010 Grind Time Now Presents: Sahtyre vs Real DealSahtyresaid, "truthfully this dude should be running, mood swings dissed the Crips I told him you was his cousin, so don't be surprised if some dudes bumping snoop jump out of the Cutlass and shoot you or something" "If you flip the script your getting hit so hard you'll think you let the word nigga slip, on crenshaw and sixty fifth" "your second rate, never that bad but just never great" "Your whole steeze is gay, you've got teachers aids, i ain't talking about the kids that help you keep your grades" "You've got the ears of a sheep and, it's weird when I'm speaking, it feels like you can hear what i'm thinking"
Real Dealsaid, "I'll kill you then massacre your buddies, fuck body bags for these softy fags they'll drag them out in snuggies" "I'm pissed i picked up and bought your music, cuz telling someone not to get a job is stupid, Someone tell this skinny fag in muscle shirt your muscles not included" " Fuck the Overtime I came to smash smash this man in three, I heard Sahtyre don't hurt animals what the fuck chance you think he'd stand with me."
February 26, 2010 THE JUNGLE COCKY VS HEARTLESS
Heartlesssaid, "alright my nigga yea you went on shopping spree but i don't think it counts when it's at the dollar tree"
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July 11, 2010 Grind Time Now Presents: Agony vs. Legacy
Legacysaid, "your mother wouldn't even claim you for tax return purposes"
July 12, 2010 Grind Time Now Presents: Thesaurus vs DirtBag Dan
Thesaurussaid, "You look like every dude on the scale of evolutionexcept the human"
July 18, 2010 Grind Time Now Presents: Philly Swain vs Ness Lee
Ness Leesaid, "He said we all know that when you lose you get mad enough to cock the gauge, it's pretty much a factthat I'm a get shot today"
July 25, 2010 Grind TIme Now presents: Detective Blacksmith vs J Walker
Detective Blacksmithsaid, "You're so unknown your nickname is who the fuck is that"
said, "That's why you're gonna need surgeons to play doctor after I throw J Walkerbitch ass in traffic and make him play Frogger"
July 27, 2010 Grind Time Now presents: Real Deal vs 9DM
Real Dealsaid, "I'd knock my own son the fuck out just to beatyou to the punch"
9DMsaid, "I know your a fagot cause if your team won the coin toss you'd chose to receive it"
July 30, 2010 Grind Time Now Presents: AC (Amazin Crack) vs Ivan Da Great
Ivan Da Greatsaid "If you died and got cremated i'd piss in your ashes"
July 31, 2010 UTICA BATTLE LEAGUE- MR EASTSIDE TYE VS TY DA TYRANT
MR EASTSIDE TYEsaid, "Got me shaking my fuckin head, net time i see this possum he better be faking dead"
August 01, 2010 Grind Time Now presents: Nocando vs Anecdote
Anecdotesaid, "Just because you get changed in a phone booth doesn't mean that your Clark Kent"
August 03, 2010 Grind Time Now presents: E-Dub vs Farnum
E-Dubsaid "I'll spit until I split the firing pins wait yeah the gun broke but I guarantee it'll be the last time this school boy is ever gonna see a Spring Break"
August 05, 2010 RedBull EmSee Final Round Philadelphia: Philly Swain VS Mic Stewart
Philly Swainsaid, "Uppercut make you wish your helmet had a chin strap"
July 17, 2010 KOTD- Young Stitch vs McNight
McNightsaid, "She said he blows his load in seconds and it's too premature to handle, that shit shoots out from the ball like a Pokemon before a battle"
"If i were given a gun and two bullets to take two lives with you and soldier boy in the same room I would shoot you twice"
Young Stitchsaid, "Your so deep in Mentality's ass that when he passes gas your dick vibrates"
July 23, 2010 KOTD- Chris Tipsy vs Blaze(KOTD Career Match)
Blazesaid, "You are such a fucking goof you should get sponsored by Walt Disney"
"He only see's penis's he's cock eyed"
July 08, 2010 DON'T FLOP DOUBLES R1- Sensa/Deffinition Vs Evileyz/Amos
Sensasaid, "You look like you were hypnotized to be a chicken or hen in the hypnotist then, forgot about clicking his fingers again"
July 22, 2010 DON'T FLOP DOUBLES R1- Enlish/Hines Vs Silvertongue/Mr Mackenzie
Silvertonguesaid "You two are such a pair of fagots when we murder you you'll be ask to be buried in the same coffin"
July 30, 2010 URL PRESENTS: SHOTGUN SUGE VS TAYE ROCK
TAYE ROCKsaid, "You'll catch a buck fifty not giving me a cut"
August 09, 2010 Smack/ URL PresentsO- Red vs Black HazeRounds 2&3.
O- Redsaid, "It's like i'm playing Uno when them tech's spit, wild card red shoot walk in reverse and make your set skip"
August 10, 2010 The Bee Shine: Bezz Believe Vs. Glimpseat Lounge Battles 8
Bezz Believe, "Are you a lesbian or a Mexican I'll ride on you like a drunk pedestrian"
August 08, 2010 BALTIMORE BATTLES"YUNG ED VS SMOOTH BLACK"
SMOOTH BLACKsaid, "I could fuck his bitch for 5 cents and get change back"
June 24, 2010 Velocirappers presents: Kujo vs MC Assrash
MC Assrashsaid, "I heard that you were born on the highway that's where most accidents occur"
August 11, 2010 CO-MAIN EVENT :|BLOCKCITY ROUND 2 BATTLES| - BLESS VS YOUNG JERZ R 2-3BLESSsaid, "If you sold your albumfor a nickel you couldn't make you a dime"
August 05, 2010 Rumble In The Jungle:Killa Kindo vs Skye
Skyesaid, "You had a spot like chicken pots you can't get it again"
August 25, 2010 Grind TIme Now presents: Mic Phenom vs Abel Abilities
Abel Abilitiessaid, "I'll bet if you put a turtle neck on you look like a broken condom"
"he's so full of shit I'll bet if he lays in a pile of it no one would spot him"
August 16, 2010 Grind Time Now Presents: Rival vs Morebucks
Morebuckssaid, "Nigga's don't wanna see me come up in they crib like a mother in law"
Rivalsaid, "I would tell you to jump off a building but his fat ass might bounce and live"
August 26, 2010 Grind Time Now Presents: Dirtbag Dan Vs. Ncredable
Ncredablesaid, "you only shower when it rains"
February 27, 2010 Rap Battle: Franchise vs Donnie Menace@ UNLV: AHAT.tvDonnie Menacesaid "I seen him in the clubtrying to make it rain with food stamps"
August 15, 2010 The Draft PresentsP.Stacks Vs Dspiize:
Dspiizesaid, "you're the typeof fat fuck that hopes for badluck so you could constantly munch on the chip on your shoulder"
August 22, 2010 Got Beef? Presents: Mandle vs Vampts
Mandlesaid, "if we killed everyone that hates you we'd call that genocide"
August 31, 2010 Vague Presents KING OF THE RINGJ-Quest vs Da Smoke Of NY[Full Battle] J-Questsaid, "You talking all this bull shit while I'm sipping, nigga i should throw my drink in ya face for dry snitching
September 01, 2010 WHEN ANIMALZ ATTACK: Hindu Rock. vs Yesh
Hindu Rocksaid, " I typed his name to Googleand it answered back with who the fuck is this"
September 02, 2010 UTICA BATTLE LEAGUE- MADNE$$ VS. BLAZE
MADNE$$said, "I can be the truth and a nightmare cuz a dream ain't real"
September 06, 2010 AHAT FUNNY Rap Battle: Konflict vs Genie
Konflictsaid, " I'll just put this genie back in a bottle and throw him in a recycling bin"
September 05, 2010 KOTD- Hollohan vs Pat Stay
Pat Staysaid, "Why'd you frame him like that, you've never had a problem with stealing rhymes you should have taken the rap"
September 08, 2010 Got Beef Presents: Willis vs Sporatik
Willissaid, "your family tree looks like a shape of 8 huh"
September 05, 2010 Mic Murdaraz T.V. PresentsMackk Myron vs J.C.Hosted By CalicoeMackk Myronsaid, "I made it rain on him cuz he don't take baths"
"This nigga cracked open a fortune cookie, it told him he was garbage"
September 11, 2010 Nov vs Artisan 3: AHAT Rap Battles
Artisansaid, "He's so dirty when he get out the tub the water look like soy sauce"
September 08, 2010 Mic Murdaraz T.V. PresentsIll Will vs Cash EatinHosted By CalicoeCash Eatinsaid, "this nigga pants so tight you got to peel them off"
September 10, 2010 Mic Murdaraz T.V. PresentsB Pounds vs Monster Hosted By CalicoeMonstersaid, "This nigga afraid of heights he wanna be down"
September 12, 2010 Grind Time Now Presents: Boka vs LEgacy
Bokasaid, "beating Boka is like trying to put M&M's in alphabetical order"
Legacysaid, "If you a trap boy i'll bet your house full of rat shit"
September 12, 2010 RBTV- Smash'ems vs. Amuse(Freestyle Battle)
Smash'emssaid, "Let me tell you about how I had this bitches mother crawling on her knees coming up to me like Oh Smash'ems please would you feed me your seed when i had my dick out walking backwards cuz I like to tease,
When I seen your face today I should have spitin my hand and slapped it
September 13, 2010 Grind Time Now Presents: P.C. vs M. Ciddy
P.C.said, "I clutch pounds when that cigs smokin wigs open I don't bust down"
September 12, 2010 KOTD- Mista vs CL
CLsaid, " Your just a short weird looking version of me when I'm looking in the funny mirror.
September 14, 2010 Grind TimeNow Presents: Caustic vs Roosevelt(Special co-host Paulie Malignaggi) Causticsaid "This is a PSA what happens when you cook crack with an easy bake oven" "Ghost Writers could come back to haunt you" "Just for Kix your fathers dick was kid tested and mother approved" Rooseveltsaid " I would say you've never handled a crime but I know your always down for whacking a guy"
September 19, 2010 Grind TimeNow Presents: Kaveman Brown vs LSP
Kaveman Brown said, "if you tried carry this division on your wet back it'll just slip off"
September 21, 2010 streetarena: Philly vs Montgomery( Feek -vs- Kade Codene) Feeksaid, "Last nigga thought he was Rocky n tried to box me, I put him in a vegetable state they call him broccoli"
September 27, 2010 VAGUE PresentsQUEEN OF THE RINGE-HART -vs- LADI TREEZ
LADI TREEZsaid, "keep that thing extra clip in my waist, just to back you cowards off me if you ever try to limit Myspace, I roll with goons that will eat your food without saying they grace"
September 28, 2010 Grind Time Now Presents: Swave Sevah vs Syd Vicious
Swave Sevah said, "I took him to Dairy Queen to satisfy his fetish for sweets, I ordered a Sunday he ordered the rest of the week"
Syd Vicious said, "man this nigga had the nerve to ask for 90 second second rounds, prepared 60 second bars and slowed those mother fuckers down"
September 28, 2010 THE JUNGLEDAYLYT VS BLACKHEART ADONIS
BLACKHEART ADONIS said, "me i'm on another plateau n you not so impressive n you recycle more shit than responsible tenants"
October 02, 2010 Grind Time Now Presents: Cadalack Ron vs Moodswangz
Moodswangz said, "They told you if you beat me you'd be leader of those fagots, what god is gassing up a caddy if you drove it here to crash it" "Your folks handed you a silver spoon you turned your back and cooked your smack in it" "You knew that you were fucking up bad, when your kid gave you pipe that said number one dad"
Cadalack Ron said, "You a fat lady so this battles over whenever mood sings"
October 03, 2010 No Coast Battles: Unorthodox Phrases vs. Klutch
Klutch said, "And the dude ain't prejudice against vagina's either, he gives the little girls animal crackers to help them find there beaver"
October 04, 2010 THE JUNGLESAZOO VS LUCIANO CRAKK
LUCIANO CRAKK said, "His bathroom don't even got a tub so when he takes a shower he's like TLC he don't wanna scrub"
SAZOO said, "The day he beat me is the day they make black skittles"
October 06, 2010 PIT FIGHT BATTLE LEAGUE - k the specialist vs star da sgt
star da sgt said, "I'm ill-ER than a chick that admits ya i suck dick"
October 07, 2010 Grind Time Now Presents: Real Deal & Rone vs Troy Brown & RooseveltRoosevelt said, "that battle as a whole was amazing, that was the first time i seen a bitch choke on an Asian"
Troy Brown said, "So I won't react with the force of eighty Somalians, cuz even if i removed Adams rib I couldn't take the bitch out of him"
October 08, 2010 The Bar Exam 6 / GTN Presents:Alpha MC vs Espiv
Alpha MC said, "How do you go to an all you can eat buffet and they take your plate away before you finish saying grace"
October 09, 2010 PIt Fights Battle League -GREATNESS VS TROUBLE MAN
TROUBLE MAN said, "You should try rocking A-cups and put on some eye shadow for them lines that you make up"
GREATNESS said, "The m beam will give you a red nose like a white bitch in the cold" "I would A-rod this nigga smack him wit a fuckin bat, but i'm too smooth for all that, i rather lay hands and feet on this nigga like twister mat"
October 09, 2010 Grind Time Now Presents: Malevolent Smith vs. S.H.A.D.O.W.
Malevolent Smith said,"Maybe one day yall will engage in cyber sex and, don't get burnt you should give your P.C. a virus protect scan
So you better cop a gun, because i'm stronger with the tongue, it's crazy the day I can't see shadow is the same day we no longer have a sun"
October 10, 2010 Grind Time Now presents: Dirt vs Event
Event said, "you couldn't get laid with a bottle of roofies and a flask of bourbon, your either gonna need a taser or a fucking plastic surgeon"
October 11, 2010 Grind Time Now Presents: Mr Sell vs Johnny Danger
Johnny Danger said, "I freestyle sick my songs are retarded, you could drop a album but make sure it's in the garbage"
October 11, 2010 Grind Time Now Presents: Blaze Won vs Fish Grease
Blaze Won said, "You so soft your mom probly made wear helmets during pillow fights"
October 12, 2010 Grind Time Now presents: Double/Deuce vs Maniphest Destne
Double/Deuce said, "But when this leprechaun tries to get lucky the girls don't give him no chance so for romance, he holds his lotion bottle close like they gone dance, he hop in the bed no pants, turns on the slow jams and takes control of his fate puts destiny in his own hands"
October 12, 2010 No Coast Battles: Speedy Calhoun vs. Glympse Auto
Glympse Auto said "After I body bag not even your pilates class is gonna miss you, and i'll beat drums on your coffin just to drop a beat to spit to"
October 14, 2010 Grind Time Now presents: Ivan Da great vs Kollision
Ivan Da great said "Pistol whip that'll damage your grill, at close range i won't miss you but your family will" "Son of a bitch and i'm dissing your dad, cuz your mother was the biggest father figure you had"
October 15, 2010 Grind Time Now presents: PT vs Drew Law (special guestsMath Hoffa & Philly Swain) Drew Law said, "I talked to his girl said his dick is about as big as lice, caught him jerking off couldn't even see it it looked like he was rolling dice
October 15, 2010 Grind Time Now presents: Nocando vs Dizaster (1 week preparation) Nocando said, "I take this shit easy I got my own hype man, if this wasn't accapella i'd use your nose as my Mic stand"
Dizaster said, "He said that was a fuckin freestyle, that was no mother fuckin freestyle, that was a waist of my mother fuckin time so if you think about it you technically owe me now"
October 16, 2010 KOTD - Rap Battle - Dose vs BK
Dose said, "You see if this was back in the day Germany was smashing you out you came to my house asking for help, would of hid your family under my floor boards and gassed you myself"
October 17, 2010 BrokenPen Vs. Tipz.
BrokenPen "Uppercut hot collision, shotty pump one round, shotty pump one round, and I'll keep on shooting this nigga in the air n i don't want his body to come down"
October 18, 2010 Grind Time Now presents: AC (Amazin Crack) vs T2 Good
AC (Amazin Crack) said, "You black as shit so if we turn the lights off in the club right now we all gonna see a magic trick" "I tried to find fans of yours and lets just say Sonny if i had a dollar for every person that thought you was hot i'd owe money" "this bitch got fag-a-nit-is swimming deep in his pores, even as the doctor was pulling him out as he was being born, they caught this fag sucking on his umbilical chord"
T2 Good said, "I haven't even begun to start to try take this guy apart, I mean just look at me I'm the shit and this boy ain't even a silent fart"
October 18, 2010 DON'T FLOP - Lee Scott Vs Jay Madden (Promo Battle)
Lee Scott said, "ugly fuckin prick known as Jay Madden, i'll hold a mirror up in front of him and throw his face at him"
October 20, 2010 Grind Time Now presents: Jess Jamez vs Ivan Da Great
Jess Jamez said, "You're a gay puppet, his nick name is tuck-et, don't this nigga look like he got half way through a sex change and said fuck it"
October 20, 2010 Chicago Battlegrounds & GT Midwest: Pooh vs K Reed
K Reed said, "He playing that Gangsta roll when he need to be Pooh that's it, stead a running around town barefooted trying to find a shoe that fits"
Pooh said, "You playing games until this shit get real like Jumanji"
October 23, 2010 Grind Time Now presents: B.C vs Trey Murch
Trey Murch said, "When it comes to Nike's i got me a nice pair, just because you pussy don't mean that you tight player"
October 26, 2010 REAL TALK BATTLES present: Dribbles vs Savij Tung
Savij Tung said, "See dude you know i ain't the type to fuck with like a psychotic serial murderer, shouldn't ya know he ain't the type to fuck with unless you want his Venereal's burning ya
October 21, 2010 StreetWars 6: Legacy vs Cellophane (Freestyle Battle)
Legacy said, "ill spitter, yo i'll teach you how to flow once you in the river"
October 24, 2010 Chicago Battlegrounds & GT Midwest: Santa Clauz vs Al JonesSanta Clauz said," I'll put this man in a box like a post man, I told him kick rocks he said I can't my toe's jammed"
October 27, 2010 Grind TIme Now presents: Caustic vs Rheteric
Caustic said, "real shit one time at a show Rhetoric pulled out his dick in front a crowd full o lesbians, all i could think was o great exactly what they need a rap show about the uncle that molested them"
October 25, 2010 Freestyle Battle - Hollohan vs Cripple
Hollohan said, "You don't like beaver Spider man designed your shirt when he was having a seizure"
November 04, 2010 Nerd Rap Battle (tryout): B1 vs Refractor
B1 said, " This kid is no mack I don't say that timidly, the only time you were in a woman in all of history was when this kid was visiting the statue of liberty"
November 02, 2010 Grind Time Now presents: Dirt vs AC (Amazin Crack)
AC said, "You look permanently high from massive sniffing and acid tripping, after this battle your gonna OD on mad prescriptions, cuz battling Crack was a bad decision, like fucking ya baby moms when her crabs was itching"
November 03, 2010 UTICA BATTLE LEAGUE - BADA VS MIZERY
BADA said, "You never pack guns so why you tryna front geek, only time you hear MIZERY with a shot gun is when he's running for the front seat.
November 08, 2010 AHAT Rap Battle: Grinda vs Rachit
Grinda said, "You's a whack ass rapper you ain't worth respect, I hope your baby is born with a birth defect"
October 22, 2010 Kelvingrove Battles: Kayce One vs Bar
Kayce One said"Even my indirect lines hit you directly, your so dumb you can't make mistakes correctly,"
November 02, 2010 VAGUE PresentsKING OF THE RINGPAPER VIEW vs NENO
PAPER VIEW said, "I got hyped called her up about my magic stick, seen that bitch she trash i wouldn't beat that with magic's dick"
November 06, 2010 VAGUE Presents "KING OF THE RING" AMATEUR VS YUNG FEDDI
AMATEUR, "then my dick in your chicks face, then chew six pieces of bubble gum and stick it it in ya kids braids" "Halloweens his favorite holiday cuz all he got to say is trick or treat, plus it's the only time throughout the whole year that this broke bitch got shit to eat"
November 03, 2010 VAGUE Presents "QUEEN OF THE RING" FLO VS NORMA BAYTS
FLO, "instead of looking for wins you should be looking for love stuck with a damn face only a mother could love"
November 11, 2010 KOTD - Rap Battle - Dose vs Stepeasy
Stepeasy said, "He hates his own shadow for being a darker shade than us, yo if you put your money where your mouth is Arcane's nuts would be covered in paper cuts"
November 14, 2010 Ronnie G vs P.T :Mortal combat Rd 1/Pit Fight Battle LeagueP.T said, "Your appearance is not appealing, in a list of good rappers you wouldn't make the top billion"
November 13, 2010 DON'T FLOP - Rhymeotaur Vs The Calcium Kid
The Calcium Kid said, "Your mother is so hideous that when she strips for me I'll redress her with my eyes"" Your mothers so fat that even when she masturbates she take sandwich breaks"
November 07, 2010 Grind Time Now presents: Moe Dirdee vs Aak
Moe Dirdee said, "That dead rose got a head hold the size of a whale, talking bout she don't do coke she just like the way it smell"
November 08, 2010 Chicago Battlegrounds & GT Midwest: Steve Staples vs Mac MillyMac Milly said,"Why should I throw the book at him, this man wouldn't be hard if Medusa looked at him"
November 08, 2010 Grind Time Now presents: D'Meitz vs Dreams
D'Meitz said "you lack character that's why you always playing yourself"
November 14, 2010 URL PRESENTSJUICEZILLA vs SYAH BOY
SYAH BOY said, "I don't believe a single word that you spit bout, I wouldn't buy that gangster shit you talking, with a discount"
November 02, 2010 The Jungle2Face vs Wattz
2Face said, "my whole camp packs chrome heaters, so if Watts get to amped he gon get popped like blown speakers"
Wattz said, "You gonna need cops paramedics and docs to revive him, I'll take ya ho-mies out too you don't even have to invite him"
November 04, 2010 UTICA BATTLE LEAGUE - JUICE STREETS VS JIMMY THE LOCH
JUICE STREETS said, "That's word to my mother son, I'll knock your fuckin glasses off and have your eyes looking for your other ones"
November 16, 2010 KOTD - Rap Battle - Jack Shitt vs Sketch Menace
Jack Shitt said, "The white Rupaul he could moon walk with high heel shoes on"
Sketch Menace said "You can't be the king of the dot your already the lord of the flies"
November 17, 2010 KOTD - Rap Battle - Kaliente vs Frankie Wapps
Kaliente said, "You being suicidal the only way you're beating me to death"
"So you shooting them hot rounds, holding the sot down is a lie lie lie, you so fake ya phone number starts with a five five five"
November 18, 2010 KOTD - PR2B8 FINALS - Knamelis vs Charron
Charron said, "It's a casualty, I'll get your momma pregnant use her stomach as a trampoline"
November 20, 2010 THE JUNGLEDEADMAN'S VS KID (TRY-OUT)
DEADMAN said, "I'm on the grind like when I fuck yo bitch missionary, If your looking for sympathy nigga go find a fuckin dictionary"
November 17, 2010 Streetarena: Pusher Feek -vs- Realistik (bbc battles)
Realistik said, "Shout out to major league we got major leg, whoever sleeping on me should've stayed in bed"
November 21, 2010 AHAT Rap Battles: Miles Low vs Ties
Ties said, "Ties here to drop lines to make ya fucking fame drop, cuz yo ass so skinny you can dodge rain drops"
November 16, 2010 Rap Battle TV: Lil Brat vs. Mizz Hachie (White Girl Drops N-Bomb) Lil Brat said, "I guess I'm too much of a dumb bitch to hear it, that's why i'll spit the fire and let you drool just to clear it"
November 18, 2010 Rap Battle TV: The Poet Trees vs. Jay Kastro (Rematch)
The Poet Trees said,"I heard he tried to bribe a cop with Snickers, on Halloween he got arrested for dressing his dick up like a crayon and asking every kid he saw to draw a picture" "Saying he's the most awful dude to spit it of course that would be selling yourself short like a prostituting midget"
November 18, 2010 DFI 5 - L-Deman Vs Mickey Gatch
Mickey Gatch said, "Boy I never lied you I hope you drown in river, he came to represent the scene but he's out of the picture"
November 19, 2010 DON'T FLOP - Oshea Vs Flex Digits
Flex Digits said, "In Liverpool you'll never walk alone or you'll get gang raped, it's the only city in the UK where you can catch aids from a hand shake"
November 20, 2010 Grind Time Now presents: Type-Z vs Godi
Godi said, "You wanna be whack if you had the choice but you wasn't given one, it's hard to think out side of the box when you live in one, it's hard to thin outside of the box when you live in one"
November 28, 2010 Grind Time Now / Bar Exam Presents: Vision vs Epiv.mov
Vision said, "Vision isn't moving a CD, but he's so much a bitch, after he got hit he now flinches every time he see's movies in 3d"
November 24, 2010 Cannon Jones vs Renagade
Renagade said, "I could tell he pussy by the way he hesitated, I fucked Siamese twins till them bitches separated"
November 26, 2010 Weapon X Vs Black Hitla
Black Hitla said, " I'm horrifying and spooky, you got to soup yo self up, to soup yo man up, to soup his man up to shoot me"
December 01, 2010 No Coast Battles: 2 on 2 Tournament
Sho' Biz said, "Me and you ain't the same brother, you would think he had an accident as a cold miner till he washes up and you find out he's the same color"
December 01, 2010 No Coast Battles: 2 on 2 Tournament Round 1 (part 2)
Glympse Auto said, "You ain't never busting free's, these mother fuckers are fucking nervous like Rkelly at Chucky Cheese"
Mr. Biscuit said, "Look at the big Grind Time event that your rhyming in, If tupac rose from the dead and saw you rhyming he would die again"
December 02, 2010 Rap Battle: Doms vs Kooly Bop. AHAT Rap Battle League
Doms said, "You parents use to mark your height every year round the same time, but they stop cuz every year they were just making the same line"
December 02, 2010 No Coast Battles: Nfact/XQZ vs Sonny Bamboo/Unorthodox Phrases
Unorthodox Phrases said, "Your nose is so big youll be dying in seconds of a sinus infection"
Nfact said, "Fuck you leprechaun in the hood put the mic down and grab a clover instead, your so short all my punchlines literally go over your head"
December 05, 2010 Barz & StripesTryout Rap Battle: Aries vs Caligraphy
Aries said, "You can't fuck with me mentally or physically on some lyrical shit, plus your mom likes to suck my dick with Miracle whip"
December 07, 2010 Grind Time Now presents: Nameless vs Stainless
Nameless said, "You talk lies i'm convinced, I'll make your grandmother suck my click off while she hog tied to a fence"
December 09, 2010 AHAT Barz & Stripes Rap Battle: Rich vs DJ Penn
DJ Penn said, "When it comes to raps I'll out lap you, Don't think you should run shit cuz you came here in track shoes" "Listen to the words I spit to you, you might have fucked my mom but she told me the myth about black men isn't true"
December 10, 2010 Golden State Bullies presents: Absyrd vs Kodyak
Kodyak said, "I'll hire a leprechaun just to punch you in the gut, to prove you went out just like a chump, n you can't even get on your fucking bed without a run and a jump"
December 12, 2010 AHAT Rap Battle: Rachit vs Quez
Quez said, "You so black you can leave a finger print on charcoal"
December 14, 2010 Grind Time Now presents: Mindscribe vs ChronicLz
ChronicLz said, "quit thinking your justified in the slang that you come with, just cuz your white family tree has black people hanging from it"
December 15, 2010 THE JUNGLE NEWBREED VS A.B HOGISH
A.B HOGISH said, "I'll open hands smack you till i got a swollen palm, I know you've done heard that shit before cuz that's the same shit i told his moms" "You put your nose in ,my plug I'm a socket now thats what i call a connection"
NEWBREED said "I'm above the law, From the looks of things everything you've been saying is make up and I could see that it's rubbing off"
December 16, 2010 Grind Time Now presents: Syd Vicious vs John John Da Don
Syd Vicious said, "That bitch is such a bad catch, when she throws her ass back you could hear her crabs slap" "that snatch has to be disgusting, she da only bitch you can get blue balls from actually fucking"
December 17, 2010 Grind Time Now presents: Fresh vs Screem
Screem said, "All you Garden state battlers come and get me if you want some cuz New Jersey will be my answer if my kids ever ask where does pussy come from"
December 18, 2010 Grind Time Now presents: Ivan Da Great vs PT
PT said, "You ain't best i'm attacking cuz i'm more hot, if you was muslim i'll back smack you with a pork chop"
December 31, 2010 Grind Time Now presents: Klutch vs PT
PT said, "He be clappin big ass led, Klutch got heart like a black kid with a big ass head"
January 03, 2011 Grind Time Now Presents: Knalo G vs ShoBiz
Knalo G said, "To defeat me you have to be superman's best friend, you'll need the entire Xman, and Hell Boy's left hand"
January 03, 2011 Grind Time Now presents: Bash Ave vs West V
Bash Ave said, "They tried to keep me in on the ground but i climbed, get out of my face before you permanently sign out"
January 04, 2011 Grind Time Now presents: Diligent vs RC
RC said, "It's sick how you ride dick yet when you call out the big names, theylaught ayt you and throw you the side kick" "He'll probably die from a heart attack that hits, they say the good die young and you're living proof that that's accurate"
January 11, 2011 Grind Time Now presents: AC (Amazin Crack) vs Wreck One
Wreck One I hope you prepared for me bitch, your the only dude in Albany your son don't share similarities with" " You don't blast no gats, bitch you sit in the mirror at home like do these jeans make my ass look fat"
January 13, 2011 Grind Time Now presents: Chatta Box vs Stainless
Chatta Box said, "Nigga can you find yo dick, grabbed a piece of hair thought it was it until piss started coming out that shit"
January 14, 2011 Grind Time Now presents: Real Talk vs Uno Lavoz (tryout)
Uno Lavoz said, "You So fuckin black it's like he tinted, you so fuckin fat they say it's a small world yea cuz he in it" "You're so fat if you're thirsty you'll drink up a whole lake, bullets will fill that space in your heart like a soul mate" "Your waist size nobody can not figure, you're so fuckin black that your race is ninja""You really think you hot man brother please, nigga i'll blast eight ya caps fake like your grand mothers knees"
Real Talk said, "If this lame prick is the main dish think god for the side orders, you look like you took your chick to the state fair with eight dollars and five quarters"
January 14, 2011 Grind Time Now presents: Section Q VS Kollision
Section Q said, "You might catch him in the mall with grocery bags, cuss boosting from the stores his idea of popping tags"
January 18, 2011 Grind Time Now presents: WIRD OF PLEY VS HEEM (tryout)
WIRD OF PLEY said,"You talk about the hood but you don't love that life, He a peace maker, speed skater, you run that ice"
January 19, 2011 Grind Time Now presents: New Era vs Incredible BA
Incredible BA said, "J Frost how you gonna throw him in the Grand Canyon if it's his Naval"
January 20, 2011 Grind Time Now presents: Ness Lee vs Sir Locksley ($600 Battle)
Ness Lee said, "I should rock ya, stand over you ask you are you sleeping Farashaka"
January 21, 2011 Grind Time Now presents: DeastroDollar vs Dirt
Dirt said, "need to stop with the tough talk before somebody knock him out, but his nose so long you he got to pay a toll just to watch his mouth"
January 21, 2011 Grind Time Now presents: Cl9wd vs Blackheart Adonis
Blackheart Adonis said, "the four need muzzle like vicious dogs, it's so loud it knock pictures off nigga's walls" "A parachute and you ain't got to sky dive, i got a can for cats that think they got nine lives"
January 22, 2011 Grind Time Now presents: Mister Wilson vs Distha MF Baesik
Distha MF Baesik said,"While you rhyme your corny lines I'll be brain storming rebuttals, you start talking them tails then you gone catch these knuckles"
January 26, 2011 KOTD - Rap Battle - Arcane vs Bender (Title Match)
Bender said, "When you start copping pleas i hope they frame you for armed robbery, a narcotics siege, and a car bombing spree, and lock you in a cell with Mark chopper Reed, and some Russian Mafioso's with stars on there knees and have the guards toss the keys"
Mar 10, 2011 Grind Time Now presents: Heem vs Nameless
Heem said, "I'm a full clip you a straight jab, how you gonna see me in the ring and you ain't in my weight class"
Mar 31, 2011 Grind Time Now Presents: Moe Dirdee vs Real Deal
Real Deal said, "Yeah this is ya home town, but this isn't Motown, he think he can hang fuck him give him his rope now" "Your a 1997 Eastern Michigan grad, you got a full ride cuz you had a senior citizen's pass" "Yea you got goons on patrol but it's just you only Playa, I'll put this old fuck out his misery and do him a favor"
May 6, 2011 Lake Tahoe Rap Battles Rap Battle - Guian vs. Rezahl
This fool said, "Bloody Marry infront of the mirror three times then bloody Marry popped up, then bloody Marry took one look at his face and she was like what the fuck"
50 greatest rap lines in hip hop history
All original photos courtesy of Getty Images/Illustrations by T.L. Smith
Hip hop was really ahead of its time given today's social media landscape. You don't have to go far on the Web to find someone using rap lyrics to beef up their online profile.
Rappers like Drake seemingly create verses around punchlines that are destined for Instagram captions. Think: "I live for the nights that I can't remember, with the people that I won't forget."
But rappers have been doing this via other forums for decades. Everyone from Rakim and KRS-One to Biggie and 2pac gave us quotables that could turn into tattoos or fill high school yearbooks.
In ranking the greatest hip hop lines of all time, we took into account their cleverness and level of lyricism. But also we leaned towards lyrics so iconic, they've become pop culture fixtures.
Artist: Lauryn Hill
From: Fugees' "Ready or Not" (Verse 2)
Lauryn Hill might be the most underrated rap artist of all time for the simple fact that she belongs in your top 10 and the only reason she isn't there is because she's a woman. Right from the start, she was out to prove she was as good, if not better than the boys. And that's her point on the Fugees "Ready or Not" -- letting the guys know they can be fake gangsters, while she's taking the higher the road in destroying them lyrically.
From: DJ Khaled's "I Got Keys" (Verse 2)
There really isn't much to add here. If you thought Jay-Z could never top his Beyonce-centric line "Got the hottest chick in the game wearing my chain," you were be wrong.
From: "Keep It Thoro" (Verse 1)
The opening lines to Prodigy's manifesto as a solo artist are vicious. It's so blunt and a clear sign that you're about to listen to one of the hardest tracks in rap history.
From: DJ Clue's "It's On" (Verse 3)
DMX's third verse on "It's On" is a list of warnings that begin with "Never..." And while some represent his life from the streets, none is more universal than the advice to remember your roots. There more than one meaning to the line "Someone will remind you."
From: "Guess Who's Back" (Verse 3)
Unlike most emcees that made their bones in the 1980s, Rakim was ahead of his time enough to feel at home in the late 1990s as well. "Guess Who's Back" was a comeback of sorts and the first first he lets listeners know just how long he's been the greatest lyricist in hip hop.
Artist: Pusha T
From: Kanye West's "Runaway" (Verse 2)
On the surface, Pusha T doesn't seem to be stating anything significant on a track that finds Kanye West bearing his soul. But, in truth, this is one of Pusha's greatest verses, centered on a line about the cost of confusing material gifts with love. Also of note: It's one of few verses from Pusha that doesn't feature one line about drugs.
Artist: Masta Ace
From: "Pass the Mic" (Verse 4)
On a track also featuring a great verse from KRS-One, it's Masta Ace who sums up the pride of Black America at a time when one of their own was sitting on top of the country.
From: "Flawless (Remix)" (Verse 1)
It might seem weird to feature an R&B artist on this list, but the swagger is real. Beyonce's line addressing her relationship drama is so nice, she repeats it twice.
Artist: Kool G. Rap
From: Mobb Deep's "The Realest" (Verse 1)
Kool G. Rap's verse on "The Realest" is one of the greatest guest appearances in hip hop history. As evidence by it making The Source's once highly coveted "Hip-Hop Quotable." Kool G Rap drops the kind of knowledge only old heads can, letting you know bullets don't discriminate.
Artist: LL Cool J
From: "Mama Said Knock You Out" (Verse 1)
Let's be clear - "Mama Said Knock You Out" was a comeback for LL Cool J. In the middle of a feud with Kool Moe D and coming off an album that wasn't received all that well, LL opens the title track from his 1990 album with one of the most iconic statements in rap history.
Artist: Kanye West
From: "Last Call" (Verse 2)
"Mayonnaise colored Benz, I push Miracle Whips" has an interesting history. It's stems from a freestyle 'Ye spit for Dame Dash that suggested he was much more than just a producer. But the mainstream world only heard the line on the finale track of West's debut album "College Dropout" when he recounts the story of his career. And yes, it still stands as one of the best lines West has ever dropped.
Artist: Kool Moe Dee
From: Stop the Violence Movement's "Self Destruction"
While still relevant, Stop the Violence Movement might seem a bit cheesy by today's standards. Yet, Kool Moe Dee's verse is quite poignant with a line questioning black on black violence in an eye-popping way.
Artist: Dr. Dre
From: "The Watcher" (Verse 1)
There's still some debate as to who ghost wrote Dr. Dre's verses on "The Watcher" -- Nas or Eminem (My money is on the former). But it's clear we're hearing the work of a genius right from the start. Dre paints the perfect lyrical picture of where he stands in as an elder statesman in hip hop. He almost bests it later on in "The Watcher" with "I ain't a thug. How much Tupac in you, you got?" The entire verse is fire.
From: Clipse's "Grindin'" (Verse 3)
Pusha T's opening verse on "Grindin'" is a monster, as he was certainly the better lyricist in the rap duo. But don't sleep on Malice's whose gritty lines kept the group's drug-themed raps rooted in reality.
From: A Tribe Called Quest's "Check the Rhime"
In examining the mainstream surge of hip hop in the early 1990s (specifically, MC Hammer), Q-Tip saved his most poignant line in "Check the Rhime" for the very end. Hip hop was something more than just a fad.
Artist: Nicki Minaj
From: Drake's "Up All Night" (Verse 2)
As the top female emcee in the game, Nicki Minaj had and has her fair share of haters. Thus, in answering the self-imposed question "What I look like?" on Drake's "Up All Night," she gives an easy answer that's hard to argue with.
From: Wu-Tang Clan's "C.R.E.A.M." (Verse 1)
Has their ever been a more iconic line in the history of New York rap than Raekwon's opening to Wu-Tang Clan's legendary track? Nah.
From: Dead Prez's "Hip Hop" (Verse 2)
It's hard to go against the idea of money. But Dead Prez wasn't about it, with stic.man asking the kind of question that would make even the most boujee of emcees question their decisions.
Artist: Snoop Doggy Dogg
From: Dr. Dre's "Nuthin' But a G Thang" (Verse 3)
The number of iconic lines from Snoop Dogg on Dr. Dre's classic is endless. Yet, while many focus on Snoop's incredible flow, he showed the ability to slay you with metaphors as well.
Artist: Lil' Kim
From: Puff Daddy & The Family's "All About The Benjamins" (Verse 4)
The line wouldn't mean all that much if the verse wasn't masterful. Thrown on a track with some of the best rhyme spitters of the time, Lil' Kim delivers the best verse on one of the greatest posse cuts of all time. Thus, making the assertion that she can hang with the men a fact.
Artist: The Notorious B.I.G.
From: "Juicy" (Verse 3)
There are several lines in "Juicy" that describe the journey to hip-hop glory about as well as any song in history. But "I went from negative to positive" remains a rallying cry for anyone trying to make it out of the hood.
Artist: Andre 3000
From: Outkast's "Elevators (Me & You)" (Verse 4)
With Outkast seemingly on top of the world as one of, if not the best group in hip-hop, Andre 3000 used the fourth verse on "Elevators" to remind everyone where things really stood in terms of their grind.
From: Eric B. & Rakim's "Paid in Full" (Verse 1)
You can add in the extension "'Cause ain't nothing' but sweat inside my hand." Either way, Rakim's opening to "Paid in Full" is the ultimate declaration of motivation and hard work.
From: "Boyz-n-the Hood" (Verse 1)
This is as much about delivery as anything else. Just watch the scene in "Straight Outta Compton" that recounts the making of "Boyz-n-the Hood." Yet, it's also the perfect opener to N.W.A.'s mission to paint lyrical portraits of the hood for mainstream America.
From: Main Source's "Live at the Barbeque" (Verse 1)
As far as hip hop introductions go, it doesn't get better than Nas on "Live at the Barbeque." And there isn't much to dig into from his classic line here. It's simply a young emcee stating, in as impactful away as possible, how he isn't to be messed with.
Artist: Lupe Fiasco
From: "Go to Sleep" (Verse 3)
After delivering one hell of a track, Lupe Fiasco caps "Go to Sleep" off with a thought provoking metaphor displaying just how valuable is words are. It's the ultimate example of a lyricist bragging about his skills while justifying them.
Artist: 50 Cent
From: "Patiently Waiting" (Verse 1)
Not only was 50 Cent shot nine-times, there was a certainly level of mythology to his story. Fiddy's thuggery seemed heaven sent, which he uses that to beef up the first verse on "Patiently Waiting."
From: "Born Killer" (Verse 2)
Scarface's songs could get deep and dark. And his best line ever is a blunt statement about his ability to love, or lack thereof. It lets you know where his emotions stand.
From: "Over My Dead Body" (Verse 1)
Drake's lyrics are tailor-made for the Instagram generation. But "Jealousy is just love and hate at the same time" is one of the rare ones that can be understood by any person of any age.
Artist: Freddie Foxxx
From: Gang Starr's "The Militia" (Verse 3)
Freddie Foxxx's voice is one of the most forceful in hip hop. On "The Militia" he finds some of the perfect metaphors to match it, including comparing a beef to something anyone who's ever been down on their luck can relate to.
Artist: Lauryn Hill
From: "Doo Wop (That Thing)" (Verse 1)
Lauryn Hill could spit harsh rhymes with the best of them. But there was always a sense of poetry in what she was saying. Hence, this beautiful line from one of her biggest singles.
Artist: Big Daddy Kane
From: Marley Marl's "The Symphony" (Verse 4)
On, arguably, the greatest posse cut of all time, Big Daddy Kane steals the show with a classic from old-school hip hop that still holds up today.
From: "We Gonna Make It" (Verse 3)
This one ranks atop the list of lines that seem like they should be cringe-worthy...if it weren't sadly 100 percent true.
From: "D'Evils" (Verse 1)
Jay-Z may not have been the first artist to practice mafioso rap, but he certainly perfected it. There's a reason his debut "Reasonable Doubt" is held in such high regard. It's because of lines like this that embody the Scarface mentality hip hop was obsessed with.
Artist: Talib Kweli
From: Black Star's "K.O.S. (Determination)"
Leave it to Talib Kweli to drop lyrics about life that will have you thinking for days. You could essentially pick anything from Black Star's album or Kweli's solo albums that could make this list.
Artist: The Notorious B.I.G.
From: "Things Done Changed" (Verse 3)
Biggie's line about what it takes to get out of the hood was so identifiable, both with urban and suburban audiences, that it made its way into the film "Boiler Room." It became a universal message for either having the talent or the grind to achieve success when circumstances aren't ideal.
From: Mobb Deep's "Survival of the Fittest" (Verse 1)
There are plenty of Prodigy's lines that could make this list, especially on Mobb Deep's first album. Think: "My gunshots'll make you levitate." But the opening line of "Survival of the Fittest" is as poignant as they get, setting the stage for Mobb Deep's brand of horrorcore rap.
Artist: Tupac Shakur
From: "Hail Mary" (Verse 1)
A lot of people might go to Tupac's opening on "Hit Em Up" as his most iconic line. But on "Hail Mary," there's less of an overreaching swagger. It's more a powerful warning that everyone that a man has his limits.
Artist: Kendrick Lamar
From: "Poetic Justice" (Verse 1)
It's the kind of line that can (and has) spawned think pieces. Here, Kendrick Lamar questions our youthful attraction to beauty without knowing what's behind it. The background is even more important than what you see on the surface.
Artist: Big Pun
From: "Twinz (Deep Cover 98)" (Verse 1)
As the story goes, Fat Joe had finally thought he bested his protege Big Pun on "Twinz" before hearing the "Dead in the middle of Little Italy..." part of the song. Sorry, Joe. No one was going to top that.
Artist: Kanye West
From: "All Falls Down" (Verse 1)
Kanye West isn't the greatest rapper alive. But he's a heck of a lyricist, especially when it comes to being vulnerable and capturing the human condition, and our obsession with unattainable wealth or social status.
From: "Step Into a World (Rapper's Delight)" (Verse 1)
Many rappers have claimed to be the greatest. But none did it in a more seismic way than KRS-One. As the full rhyme scheme goes: "I'm not sayin' I'm number one, uh sorry, I lied. I'm number one, two, three, four and five."
From: "The Light"
Quite simply, the most beautiful pickup line in hip hop history.
From: "Lose Yourself" (Verse 1)
Everyone can recall the "mom's spaghetti" line. But it's the opening bars of "Lose Yourself" that truly sum up that feeling when you have a mic in your hand and have to learn the true meaning of being and MC the hard way.
Artist: Big L
From: "7 Minute Freestyle" (Verse 3)
There isn't much to dig into when it comes to classic Big L lines, which could fill a list like this. He was just better at punchlines than virtually everyone who ever did it. Think about the fact that "7 Minute Freestyle" also features Jay-Z, but is considered by just about everyone to be a Big L track.
Artist: Ice Cube
From: N.W.A.'s "F*** Tha Police" (Verse 1)
Either of Ice Cube's first two lines from N.W.A.'s controversial song could rank in this spot. But this one contains one of the most contentious phrases in the history of music.
From: "N.Y. State of Mind" (Verse 1)
Some of Nas' lyrics are so poetic you think he was quoting some great philosopher. This is a prime example, as Nas uses something as simple as sleep to show the weight and finality of death. It's thought provoking.
Artist: Lil Wayne
From: "6 Foot 7 Foot" (Verse 2)
It's unforgettable line, once you get it, which many listeners don't at first. Lil Wayne uses the art of lyricism to play around with words and give you a double meaning as well as a grammatical lesson.
Artist: Chuck D
From: Public Enemy's "Fight the Power" (Verse 3)
Chuck D knew what he was doing. Public Enemy's revolutionary music needed to be a shock to the system. So why not take the most celebrated white musician in music history and use him to express just how different the black experience is?
From: Kanye West's "Diamonds From Sierra Leone (Remix)" (Verse 3)
Jay-Z hijacks Kanye West's "Diamonds From Sierra Leone (Remix)" and delivers one of his most iconic lines that seems to get more relevant as time goes on. The man who has become hip hop's first billionaire is truly a business in himself. And he told us so long ago.
Punchline rap is a skill that is easy to learn, yet hard to master. Many rappers attempt to create effective punchlines in their verses but fall short due to underwhelming delivery, poorly-written set-ups, and corny jokes.
This is very similar to stand-up comedy. Imagine you’re at a comedy club on amateur night. The comedian sets up a story that takes far too long without any internal jokes (called jab lines) and has zero charm or confidence in their tone. By the time he/she finally shovels the punchline down your throat, the only thing you can muster is a pity laugh.
On the contrary, let’s say the next performer walks on stage, and from the first sentence that comes out of his/her mouth, you know, “This is going to be GOOD.” They set up an intriguing story that has you invested throughout; sitting on the edge of your seat and anxious forthe punchline. Then, they slow their speech. The suspense is killing you. They have you in the palm of their hands. The whole room is silent in anticipation of the big twist. Then, with flawless delivery…the punchline.
WHAT! You’ve never laughed so damn hard in your life. The room has erupted into deafening howls and belly-laughs. The comedian is standing on stage, a giant smile on his/her face, heart full of pride after a successful punchline.
Comedians and Rappers Alike
That amateur comedian is equivalent to an unknown artist, except you don’t have nearly as much time to set up. We operate in a much shorter form and it has to include clever wordplay, impressive rhyming, and flow effortlessly over a beat. So…some may argue we have a harder time getting a reaction out of people.
Here at Smart Rapper, we are dedicated to teaching you everything you need to know to get a reaction out of your audience. In this article, we are going to break down the art of punchline rap to a science, ensuring not only CAN you write punchlines, but you’re EXCELLENT at it.
Before we continue, be sure to enroll in our Rap Voice Masterclass where we teach you everything you need to discover your voice rappershortcut.com/rap-voice
Also, check out our writing course https://www.smartrapper.com/how-to-write-punchlines-and-multis-course/
Now, let’s start with a basic question…
What Are Punchlines?
I’ll be honest…researching how to tell a joke so I could find these definitions made me feel like I was a robot trying to learn how to act human.
“Expected response to a joke is laughter. The joke teller hopes the audience “gets it” and is entertained (Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joke#Telling_jokes).”
No one ever has to teach us how to laugh at jokes. It’s a primal instinct. However, in order to fully examine the science behind punchline rap, we have to start with the fundamentals.
The linguistic analysis of the mechanics of a punchline makes so much sense, and we don’t even actively think about it like this. I’ll include a quote, and then I’ll explain it in layman terms.
“Humor is evoked when a trigger, contained in the punch line, causes the audience to abruptly shift its understanding of the story from the primary (or more obvious) interpretation to a secondary, opposing interpretation (Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punch_line).”
In other words, an effective punchline shifts our understanding of a story in a way that we did not expect.
Adversely, a jab line is a joke within the telling of a story. It is the humorous text throughout the premise of the story but does not always shift your understanding of the story. In fact, it often helps your interpretation in a humorous way.
Punchlines in Rap
Think of this in terms of rap.
Let’s say you have a great punchline that you want to add to the end of a bar in your verse. Adding jab lines throughout your verse keeps people’s attention and teases them for what’s to come. Let’s look at an example of this from Eminem’s track, Criminal:
The mother did drugs, hard liquor, cigarettes, and speed (set-up)
The baby came out, disfigured ligaments, indeed (premise with jab line)
It was a seed who would grow up just as crazy as she (premise with jab line)
Don’t dare make fun of that baby, ‘cause that baby was me (punchline)
I know this was a dark example, but his execution of the traditional three-part structure of a joke demonstrates my point exactly.
Puns and Double Entendres
Common elements of a rap punchline are metaphors/similes, puns, and double entendres, and using these will make your punchlines powerful and impressive. We all know what metaphors and similes are, but what is the difference between a pun and a double entendre?
What is a Pun?
Think of a pun as a word or phrase that could be interchanged with a different word or phrase, sound the same, but mean something completely different. Here’s an example from, yet again, Eminem, because he’s a master at this kind of stuff:
Holy Toledo, it’s Miss Ohio
That’s the best ass I’ve seen in a while
We should be datin’, she’s from Cleveland
But she’s a Bengal, this chick is catty
Is that a mini-skirt if it’s a maxi?
That’s the shortest thing for a dress since an addy (Cincinnati)
In this section of his verse, he references Ohio, some of its cities, and its NFL team to set up the pun in his punchline. “Since an addy” and “Cincinnati” are homophones, meaning they sound the same when spoken, similar to “bear” and “bare” except more complex. Puns often take advantage of homophones when being executed. Furthermore, his line “That’s the shortest thing for a dress (address) since an addy” is a pun in and of itself. But, because this line has two different jokes in it, does that make it a double entendre too? No.
What is a Double Entendre?
Although the two terms are often used interchangeably, a double entendre is based on the fact that some phrases have a literal and hidden meaning. Typically, when using double-entendres, one interpretation is obvious and the other is not so much. I’ll use an example from my personal life.
I was at a friend’s house, and I noticed he had his TV mounted on the wall. Every other time I went to his house, his TV was on the floor. So I exclaimed, “Oh, you mounted your TV!” And he replied, “Yeah, and then I put it on the wall.” This was a double entendre, implying that he performed a sexual act on his TV similar to how a female may “mount” her partner.
If you still don’t understand the difference between a pun and a double entendre, it’s okay. Most people don’t. I may sometimes call a pun a double entendre (or vice versa) by mistake because it sounds right at the moment. The important thing is that you know how to incorporate them into your lyrics in a way that is entertaining to your audience. At the end of this article, I will teach you exactly how to do that, so stick around.
Why Is Punchline Rap So Fun And Entertaining?
Perhaps, it is because we have a natural desire to release pent-up nervous energy. Maybe we impulsively set out to belong to the group that “gets it”. Whatever the case may be for why humans laugh, one thing is for sure: We love it.
When a rapper is known for his/her punchlines, that becomes their brand, and their fans actively listen for them. They want to hear a clever line that makes them smile, laugh, or otherwise react positively. This is a big reason why battle rap is so lucrative – people love a good punchline!
Diss Tracks and Battle Rap: Punchlines At Someone’s Expense
Diss tracks and battle rap combine the appeal of a well-executed punchline with the guilty pleasure of a roast – laughing at someone else’s pain.
When it comes to these two forms of rap, the more punchlines, the better…as long as they’re landing. The massive popularity of battle rap and the ability for diss tracks to carry someone’s entire career are not only credited to society’s hunger for gossip and drama, but our affinity toward punchline rap.
Now that you understand fundamentally what punchlines are, what they consist of, and their function in hip hop, I will finally teach you how YOU can improve your punchline game TODAY.
How To Write Punchlines
Because I don’t know how popular rappers came around to writing their punchlines, and I don’t want to misspeak on anyone’s behalf, I will create unique examples and walk you through my process.
For beginners, a good practice is to think of your punchline first, instead of writing and hope you come up with something funny. Think of it as an outline before writing an essay, except this is way more fun and you’re passionate about it. Let’s keep it simple: say you’re dissing someone and they’re known to use ghostwriters. You thought of the punchline “Those rhymes ain’t even yours, just like Deebo’s chain”
Okay, so we want to lead up to this line in a way that keeps the audience’s attention, rhymes well, and stays on topic.
Another practice for the next step is to lay out rhyming phrases with your punchline, then putting a star next to potential jab lines like so:
He’s so lame*
Her deepthroat game*
I ain’t gonna speak no names*
You get the idea. Then, because your topic is dissing this dude, the ‘deepthroat game’ line could fit if you’re talking about his girl or his mom. Because your punchline mentions that he doesn’t write his own lyrics, the “speak no names” rhyme should precede the Deebo line, so now you can start putting the puzzle pieces together.
“…I ain’t gonna speak no names (premise with jab line)
But those rhymes ain’t even yours, just like Deebo’s chain” (punchline)
I know this bar is kinda whack, but hey, I’m using it for an article. If it was good, I wouldn’t waste it on this.
Okay, let’s focus on his girl’s deepthroat game.
“I was with your ex, peeped her deepthroat game…” (set-up with jab line)
Okay, now what?
“Then I asked about you, she said, “He’s so lame.” (premise with jab line)
BOOM. We’re getting to the punchline. This is all set-up and jab lines, building up to the punchline.
“Shared your little secret, I won’t speak no names” (premise with jab line)
I changed the wording from “I ain’t gonna” to “I won’t” to fit the syllable allowance, while also continuing the storyline I’ve set up.
“But those rhymes ain’t even yours, just like Deebo’s chain!” (punchline)
So now the bars are:
“I was with your ex, peeped her deepthroat game (set-up with jab line)
Then I asked about you, she said, “He’s so lame.” (premise with jab line)
Shared your little secret, I won’t speak no names (premise with jab line)
But those rhymes ain’t even yours, just like Deebo’s chain!” (punchline)
Let’s think of another example, since most of you reading this are not currently in the midst of a heated rap beef. Let’s say you’re talking about having sex with a girl, but it’s her time of the month. You came up with the line, “Even when I’m in the paint, I give the best D” drawing the parallel between a basketball player showing good defense when under the rim and you not being phased by a little blood in the bed. That’s a great double entendre.
Now, let’s find rhyme phrases for the punchline and put stars next to the potential jab lines:
Et cetera. Okay, the one that I have the best feeling about is the ‘Red Sea’ line because it fits the topic at hand. “…parting the Red Sea” is a euphemism for what we’re describing.
“She asked me, “Do you mind parting the Red Sea?” (premise with jab line)
GREAT! Now, adding our punchline right after this line doesn’t flow very well, so we need a transitional line. This may also not be the first line in the set-up because there’s no context. This seems like the second line, and the punchline will be the fourth.
She asked me, “Do you mind parting the Red Sea? (premise with jab line)
Even when I’m in the paint, I give the best D” (punchline)
Now, we need to add context to the second line. Let’s pull from our rhyming phrases again.
“Told me that it’s gonna get messy (set-up)
Asked me, “Do you mind parting the Red Sea? (premise with jab line)
Even when I’m in the paint, I give the best D” (punchline)
We’re close! We just have to think of our response to her question before dropping our punchline. Going back to our rhyming list, “Yes, please!” would be a great response! Are we done? Let’s see:
“Told me that it’s gonna get messy (set-up)
Asked me, “Do you mind parting the Red Sea? (premise with jab line)
Do you still wanna do it?” I said, “Yes, please! (premise with jab line)
Even when I’m in the paint, I give the best D!” (punchline)
There you have it! Practice this at home, and you will become an expert at punchline rap.
Remember to enroll in our Rap Voice Masterclass where we teach you everything you need to discover your voice rappershortcut.com/rap-voice
Also, check out our writing course https://www.smartrapper.com/how-to-write-punchlines-and-multis-course/
Keep hustlin’, Gang. I’ll see you at the top.
However, stopping now meant that the three in drawing would remain. In the end, you can be patient, this is not blueness. But I was scared for my ass, because he would not enter. While I was thinking this and sucking this instrument (which did not give me any pleasure), she spoke.
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Then he slapped me in the face and said: "This is for you for treason, bitch!" Then another one: This is because you are such a whore, and immediately began kissing. Me, very passionately, with his tongue reaching far into my mouth. I moaned, listened to what was happening behind the wall. There was a clink of glasses, and then he began to cum in my mouth.