The announcement of XXL's 2013 Freshmen list this week (thankfully not actually all men this time) set the hip-hop blogosphere alight. Were inclusions there solely to start controversy? How can you call an artist who has been grinding for years a “freshman”? On our end, we were happy that all but one of the chosen few has verified Rap Genius accounts — Trinidad Jame$, feel free to call us anytime. All that drama aside, the LOTW brought us its usual mixture of the sublime and the ridiculous — from political analysis by the ever-astute Talib Kweli to Borscht Belt-style one liners from Lil Wayne. Below, the lines of the week:
5. “After crack, it's Oxy next, but thank God the yay was yay/Off the yee like it's the Bay; rock a chain, I'm Kunta K” — Schoolboy Q, 'Yay Yay' lyrics
Q, newly minted as a XXL Freshman, hit us with a powerful bit of autobiography with “Yay Yay.” His stories of dealing Oxy (and occasionally the 'yay' of the song's title), and of the impact it had on his neighborhood and family, were affecting and memorable. But this line, with its dual meanings of “yay,” its Bay Area slang for pills, and a Roots reference all in a few seconds, is an absolute highlight.
4. “Grab the owl out the tree and ask that bitch, who but me?” — Lil Wayne, 'Lay It Down' lyrics
This line is Wayne as only he can deliver — howlingly bad, but somehow still amusing. It succeeds mostly because of the realization of the amount of sheer nerve Weezy must have to even vocalize such a grade-school-level pun in the first place.
3. “Pussy plus dick could only equal a fuck/And Nore plus Pharrell could only equal a 'What! What! What! What!'” — NORE, 'The Problem (Lawwwddd)' lyrics
Yes, I know — NORE again. But this line literally made us laugh out loud with its combination of juvenile humor and the rapper's famous “What! What!” catchphrase.
2. “I'm Rick Rubin in '85 with the beard thick/Thick bitch, type Peruvian, slanted eyes that squench” — Kendrick Lamar, 'Watts R.I.O.T.' lyrics
Kendrick Lamar continues to amaze us this week. This time, his reference to early Def Jam-era Rick Rubin combines with his coinage of “squench” — which we imagine to be somewhere between squinting and clenching — to move this rhyme onto our list.
1. “The trust is gone, from the neo-cons to Barack Obam'/America eats its young, from Casey Anthony to the Octomom/Fixing to mix it up like martial locks in the octagon/I spit the fire 'til it burn down Babylon” — Talib Kweli, 'Learn Truth' lyrics
Politics, Funkadelic, reality and tabloid television, MMA, reggae chants. Leave it to Talib to combine such seemingly disparate subject matter into a classic couplet about contemporary America.