In hip-hop, fans and critics often marvel at and put a premium on the supreme soloists or groups who can craft classic songs and bodies of work while remaining the central figure. However, the most electric moments in the culture occur when multiple emcees collaborate on a track, with the sole purpose of asserting themselves as the most lyrically gifted by delivering an epic rhyme spill that outclasses the others. Throughout the years, the songs—generally referred to as "posse cuts"—have become some of the most memorable in the genre's history, with rap's most legendary stars teaming up on wax and bringing the most rabid of rap fans' fantasies to reality.
In celebration of these historic songs and what they mean to the culture, REVOLT TV presents 'Tale of the Tape,' a series that breaks down the greatest posse cuts of all time, and rank the verses from least impressive to most beloved.
In the latest installment of the series, we'll be revisiting "Forever," a blockbuster single released in promotion of the soundtrack to the LeBron James documentary, More Than a Game. Produced by Boi-1da, "Forever" included an all-star lineup with veterans Eminem, Kanye West and Lil Wayne contributing verses, as well as prized rap rookie and crossover sensation Drake. Debuting and peaking at No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 upon its release, "Forever" paired four different artists representing four different eras in hip-hop on one song, making it one of the most significant singles and posse cuts of its time.
Without further adieu, check out our ranking of the verses on "Forever."
4 | Lil Wayne
In 2009, Lil Wayne was still considered by many as the best rapper alive as the overwhelming success of his sixth solo studio album, Tha Carter III, and his historic mixtape run positioned him as the most prolific and dominant artist in rap. So in late summer of that year, when Weezy appeared on "Forever," it was not a far fetched idea that he would be the odds-makers' favorite to lay down the best verse on the track. However, in reality, the opposite would occur, as Wayne would be outshone by his cast of co-stars, a performance he would make up for with his acclaimed mixtape No Ceilings just months later.
Standout Lyrics: "Okay, hello, it's the Martian, Space Jam Jordans/I want this shit forever, wake up and smell the garden/Fresher than the harvest, step up to the target/If I had one guess, then I guess I'm just New Orleans/And I will never stop like I'm runnin' from the cops/Hop up in my car and told my chauffeur, 'To the top!'/Life is such a fuckin' roller coaster, then it drops/But what should I scream for? This is my theme park"
3 | Drake
Being touted as the next big thing in rap has its fair share of perks, but also comes with an immense amount of pressure to prove your ability to spar and co-exist with those already at the top of the food chain, a task Drake was faced with on "Forever." Leading off the track, Drake stepped up to the plate like a seasoned vet, setting the bar high with a verse rife with quotables and clever wordplay that birthed a trend amongst his peers in the wake of the song's release. With that said, Drizzy's performance, although memorable, is just a notch below that of a few of his superiors, resulting in the OVO megastar walking away with the bronze.
Standout Lyrics: "Last name Ever—first name Greatest/Like a sprained ankle, boy, I ain't nothin' to play with/Started off local, but thanks to all the haters/I know G4 pilots on a first name basis/In your city, faded off the brown—Nino/She insist she got more class—we know/Swimmin' in the money, come and find me—Nemo/If I was at the club, you know I balled—chemo"
2 | Eminem
Long regarded as one of the most feared and formidable spitters in rap, in 2009, Eminem was coming off a hiatus spurred by turmoil in his personal life, an experience that was documented in part on his sixth studio album, Relapse, in May that year. Although the content of the album caused it to receive mixed reviews, it was in no part an indictment on his ability to rap circles around the competition or his reputation as an otherworldly lyricist, making his appearance on "Forever" one of the main events of the year and leaving rap fans intrigued by the rare appearance of the Shady one alongside his peers. Rapping last, Eminem anchors the track in epic fashion, attacking the Boi-1da-produced beat with his signature tenacity, leaving nary a bar to waste. Employing a double-time flow, the Rap God puts on a clinic of emceeing on "Forever," a reminder of his status of one of the greats of all time. But even the G.O.A.T.S. get outclassed every now and then, this instance being one of them, as Eminem ultimately walks away with second place honors.
Standout Lyrics: "There they go—packin' stadiums as Shady spits his flow/Nuts they go—Macadamian—they go so ballistic, whoa / He can make them look like bozos/He's wonderin' if he should spit this slow—fuck no!/Go for broke, his cup just runneth over—oh, no/He ain't had him a buzz like this since the last time that he overdosed/They been waitin' patiently for Pinocchio to poke his nose"
1 | Kanye West
Initially making his name in rap off the strength of his hit-making ability as a producer, Kanye West's transition into becoming a full-fledged rapper was one of the biggest stories in music during the aughts. Although albums like The College Dropout, Late Registration and Graduation established Kanye as a generational talent and showcased his ability to craft coherent and cohesive albums, in regards to his rank as a pure emcee, it was questioned whether his lyrical aptitude stacked up with that of the greatest rappers. That debate would be settled over the years, with Yeezy giving a number of the most respected wordsmiths a run for their money on various occasions. Known for stealing the spotlight with his guest spots, Kanye's competitive nature shown through with his verse on "Forever," as the Chi-Town native comes through with a stanza that outclasses that of his collaborators and serves as the most electric portion of the song. From dropping catchy pop references, to touching on the pressures of fame, Kanye runs the gamut from braggadocios to introspective, resulting in a verse that proves to be slightly superior from the rest and worthy of top billing.
Standout Lyrics: "Now it's super bad chicks givin' me McLovin/You would think I ran the world, like Michelle's husband/You would think these niggas know me, when they really doesn't/Like they was down with the old me – no, you fuckin' wasn't/Um, you're such a fuckin' loser/He ain't even go to class: Bueller/Trade the Grammy plaques just to have my granny back/Remember she had that bad hip like a fanny pack?"
Revisit "Forever" below.
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