Complex has a history of compiling audacious lists— from “The Best Rapper Alive, Every Year
Since 1979” to “The 50 Best Album-Openers in Rap History.” As the calendar turns yet another
page, the website has returned to its time-honored tradition of commemorating the artistry of the
past year. This includes identifying the Top 20 Verses of 2017.
To be sure, this is a commendable list which identifies many of the genre’s current
heavyweights. Black Thought’s widely-applauded Funk Flex Freestyle is deservedly granted the
Top Spot. Kendrick Lamar’s chilling street tale on “Duckworth,” and Future’s most successful
single to date, “Mask Off,” are among the obvious candidates that make the cut.
Complex has also achieved a solid balance of veterans and newcomers, as well as
mainstream and underground titans. With the likes of Jay-Z, Kevin Abstract, Loaded Lux and J.
Cole recognized, there is something on this list for rap fans of all tastes and generations.
As any such list would do, Complex’s latest invites debate. Some of the year’s most
acclaimed records are denied mention, including Migos’ Culture, Tyler the Creator’s Flower
Boy, and even Vince Staples’ Big Fish Theory— which featured powerful lyricism and imagery
on tracks like “Crabs in a Bucket” and “Big Fish.” Since a healthy number of live freestyles
made the cut, perhaps room could have also been made for Eminem’s well-received rampage
against Donald Trump at the BET Awards this past October.
Although Kendrick Lamar is mentioned twice on this list, he arguably could have been
featured even more. Certainly, “Humble” and “Loyalty” will be remembered as some of the
defining hip-hop singles of 2017, and his guest verse on Rapsody’s “Power” reignited the fierce
chemistry which the two of them had originally displayed on 2015’s “Complexion.”
Although the individual features of “The Top 20 Verses of 2017” can be debated,
Complex still deserves to be saluted for an impressive summary of what made 2017 such a
memorable year for hip-hop music.