Musically accessible, but no less intriguing than "Ether." Mature, nuanced, and rife with unexpected metaphors. This will probably go down as the greatest challenge ever posed in a head-butting contest.
29. Nas - "Ether"
Nas' esoteric yet wittily ferocious response to Jay-Z's "Takeover" helped cinch his victory in the battle for New York supremacy. It's undoubtedly one of the greatest diss songs in the history of hip-hop.
Classic Rhymefest humor ("I'm Saddam, except I got weapons") sprinkled with Classic Rhymefest musings ("They sold MySpace for $500 million/They sold YouTube for $1.6 billion/And you're in the project fighting over a building"). Theme music for any revolution.
Too many songs on Fishscale either veered too far left of Wu mantra or stuck too close to home. "Shakey Dog" worked because it found that sweet spot in the middle.
Few newbies ever get an opportunity to split a single with a big enchilada. When Kanye used the chart-topping "Touch the Sky" as an vehicle to ferry Lupe Fiasco to the big scene, Lupe seized the opportunity and gave one of the most memorable guest performances of the decade.
Unlike many of the tracks on 2000's The Marshall Mathers LP, there are no targets. No punching bags, either. Just Eminem defending his sheer existence as an unapologetic, foul-mouthed, lyrically-equipped artist who can't stand boy bands.
50 struck gold with this Dr. Dre concoction from his debut album, Get Rich or Die Tryin'. "In da Club" sat atop every chart in every country and scored a few Grammy nods for Fif. The song that had college kids chanting "Go shawty, it's your birthday" regardless of what day or month it was.
Aasim is not a household name, but he should be. His flow on "Hip-Hop 101" is crispier than vanilla wafers. His rhymes are sharper than a Samurai ginsu. The beat, courtesy of the late great Roc Raida, will have you reaching for Bengay from too much head bobbing. One of the greatest rap songs of all time.
While everyone else was preoccupied with the next big bassline, Andre 3000 kept it simple. The ingredient for this runaway smash? One mindless phrase repeated over and over and over and over until it becomes irresistible.