The ten best hip-hop lyrics of 2012
2. "Chum" - Earl Sweatshirt
"Trying to make it from the bottom. His sins
feeling as hard as Vince Carter's knee cartilage is."
Besides the impeccable sound of the second line, replete with assonance, consonance and internal half-rhyme, the desperate but pitch-black funny Vince Carter metaphor is so powerful. Earl speaks about trying to climb out of something dark, but the figurative weight of his sins is keeping him down like Vince Carter's old knees (Vince Carter could once fly like even Air Jordan couldn't). Earl takes something very abstract and makes it very real and visceral.
1. "Poetic Justice" - Kendrick Lamar
"If I told you that a flower bloomed in a dark room, would you trust it?"
This single line basically encapsulates the concept of a good kid in a mad city, and it cuts into one of the most essential moral questions in human existence: Can good come from evil? The best part about the line, as is true of the best poetry, is that it doesn't answer the question it asks. For Kendrick's immediate purposes, he's the flower and the city is the dark room. The question is: Can you trust him?