In an era where “Vibe” is judged with increasing importance, one might think that the art of penmanship would take a backseat. After all, skeptics have been declaring hip-hop dead for years now. Yet 2018 brought upon a variety of ridiculous verses, with no shortage of bars, multisyllabic rhyme schemes, flows, and cadences. In fact, I daresay that lyricism has been flourishing, keeping both the craft and Funkmaster Flex alive in equal measure.

At this point, it seems futile to worry about the state of rap; such narratives seem to have sorted themselves out organically, as artists continue to put time, love and thought into their writing. If it wasn’t already evident, this year proved that “lyrical rap” was still alive and well, put forth by sources both stalwart and unexpected. Dispel your notions of “rappity rap” and “lyrical miracle” nonsense; the best verses arise from nuance, from structure, from context. Of course, one’s technical prowess must be exceptional, but innate skill is but one step in the formula.

Though the selection process was difficult, the following twelve verses stand out as true marks of excellence. Behold, the best verses of 2018.

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