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Top 10 Best Rap Verses in Pop Songs

VO: Adrian Sousa
Subverting genre expectations can be a recipe for success. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Best Rap Verses in Pop Songs.   For this list we're looking at the best rap verses in popular music that added another layer to an already amazing song. We're basing our picks on a mix of witty lyrics, seamless inclusion and what each rap verse adds to the song. These are guest verses so any rapping by the lead artist is disqualified. We're also excluding unreleased tracks and songs where a rap was cut but released later.
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Top 10 Best Rap Verses in Pop Songs

 
Subverting genre expectations can be a recipe for success. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Best Rap Verses in Pop Songs.
 
For this list we're looking at the best rap verses in popular music that added another layer to an already amazing song. We're basing our picks on a mix of witty lyrics, seamless inclusion and what each rap verse adds to the song. These are guest verses so any rapping by the lead artist is disqualified. We're also excluding unreleased tracks and songs where a rap was cut but released later.




#10: "Heartbreaker" (1999)
Mariah Carey feat. Jay-Z




 Even with a Grammy under his belt in 1999, Jay-Z's first number one hit was actually with Mariah Carey.  Mariah sings about a lover that she keeps falling for despite his dishonest intentions, but Jay's verse tells a different story.  Detailing Carey's demanding and jealous tendencies, Jay-Z reveals that Mariah isn't innocent either. Lending a whole other side to the story, Jay seamlessly brings more complexity to the lyrics, even if contractual obligations kept him from appearing in the video alongside Ms Mariah. Their chemistry lead the pair to collaborate again on songs like 'You Got Me' and 'Bye Bye.'
 
 


#9: "My Love" (2006)
Justin Timberlake feat. T.I.




A career collaborator, Justin Timberlake needed a rapper to make his latest dance hit feel complete. After initially reaching out unsuccessfully to Jay-Z, Timberlake quickly honed in on T.I. Justin's verses profess a more earnest attempt at love, offering a break from his typically sexual song writing. T.I. plays Timberlake's wingman on his verse, even calling him a 'stand-up guy.' T.I.'s humble lyrics even convinced Justin to call Jay-Z's absence a blessing in disguise. It's hard to argue with Timberlake considering the song became a huge hit and even won a Grammy for Best Rap Collaboration.
 
 

#8: "Bad Blood" (2015)
Taylor Swift feat. Kendrick Lamar




By the time 'To Pimp A Butterfly' was exploding in 2015, Taylor Swift was already a huge Kendrick Lamar fan. After months of publicly appreciating each other's art, Taylor allegedly reached out to Kendrick for a remix. Lamar brings the tension from Taylor's verses to a boil, giving a sense of real grit to the fight song. Kendrick even slips in a sly callback to 'Backseat Freestyle,' which Swift has called her go-to power song . Lamar also got a major role in the star-studded music video, helping it soar past a billion views on YouTube.
 
 

#7: "Groove Is In The Heart" (1990)
Deee-Lite




 Japanese DJ Towa Tei's work with A Tribe Called Quest in the eighties meant he already had famous friends when Deee-Lite hit the scene.  Already bouncing with funky contributions from legends Bootsy Collins and saxophonist Maceo Parker, “Groove Is In The Heart” got just that extra bit groovier thanks to a rap from Q-Tip, whose lines about the moving power of music fit the song perfectly.  While Q-Tip was crucial to the song's success, the track also brought mainstream attention to A Tribe Called Quest. The rappers even went on to sample Towa Tei on their 1998 track 'Find A Way.'
 



 

#6: "Lady Marmalade" (2001) 
Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mýa, Pink

 
To give a more modern take on the classic Labelle track, Lil' Kim threw down a tonne of attitude, no easy task given the vicious soul sisters she was keeping company with.  Most of the song's lyrics remain unchanged, but Lil' Kim's completely new verse empowers its badass women, while even remixing some of the song's iconic lines.  Kim's verse is also the only one to explore the song's female perspective in depth, and her appearance on the track set a long held record for the longest #1 reign on the Billboard Hot 100 for a female rapper, a record held until 2014.




#5: "Rich Girl" (2004)
Gwen Stefani feat. Eve



While Gwen Stefani was trying to stand out on her debut solo record, her featured guest gave her a run for her money.  Next to Stefani's more melodic writing, Eve manages to change her vocal rhythms every other line. Mixing in her own take on Stefani's wealthy aspirations, the two even find some delicious harmonies in the midst of the rap. Eve also cleverly rhymes Stefani's Love, Angel, Music, Baby as L.A.M.B., and references the duo's previous collaboration on 'Let Me Blow Ya Mind.' Dynamic and brilliantly self-referential, Eve's verses are arguably the most memorable on the track.
 
 
 

#4: "Dirrty" (2002)
Christina Aguilera feat. Redman


After working with producer Rockwilder on 'Lady Marmalade,' Christina Aguilera wanted to make her image a little grimier for her new record. Intentionally emulating the style of Redman's 'Let's Get Dirty,' Aguilera even recruited the Def Squad rapper himself.  Christina's vocals highlight her then-new tough girl persona, but Redman lives it. The bass fuzzes out over his verses, making his 'Sister Act' jokes sound comically aggressive. Redman also lands the ‘dirtiest’ lyrics on the track, boasting about size via a Bernie Mac reference, while his sly comparison to Ol' Dirty Bastard honored his Wu-Tang connections and reinforced the song’s theme.
 
 

#3: "American Boy" (2008)
Estelle feat. Kanye West


Writing about encounters with American men, Estelle had a powerful and upbeat anthem. American boy Kanye West was an obvious choice for the song as well, considering Estelle met him by chance in L.A..  West makes puns about his relationship with the paparazzi, while dishing out a surprising amount of accurate British references for Estelle. Kanye's incredible flow on the song is all the more impressive considering he wasn't even certain he could rap on a dance beat. Despite his worries about the disco rhythms, Kanye also managed to make rap remix with Fall Out Boy.
 

#2: "Fantasy" (1995)
Mariah Carey




As squeaky clean as Mariah Carey's music usually is, her dirtier tracks are always interesting. Building a pop song out of the Tom Tom Club's 'Genius of Love,' Mariah sings about the dreamlike state of her relationship. While Carey's own lyrics offer something more suggestive than lewd, Ol' Dirty Bastard's lines are more explicit and visual. The rugged verse makes the song all the more direct, while O.D.B professes a deeper connection as well. Featuring an artist as raw as O.D.B. was also an unprecedented move at the time for a pop star, setting Carey apart from her contemporaries.
 
 

#1: "Crazy In Love" (2003)
Beyoncé feat. Jay-Z




Early in their dating years, Jay-Z and Beyoncé were already making amazing music together. Singing about all her recent unusual antics, Beyoncé realizes she can't even pinpoint her lover's secret. Instead of offering the man's side of the story, Jay takes the song further by showing why he drives Beyoncé so crazy. Between comparisons to icons Tony Soprano and Ringo Starr, Jay-Z fits each of his alias's into the rap as well – a rap he wrote in a 10 minute spurt at 2 in the morning. Subverting expectations for a rap verse, Jay helped make the track a cross-genre hit.  
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