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The Punchline

Punchline: The part(line) of a rhyme(mostly used in freestyle battles), that personally attacks the opponent. This line is a necessity to ensure your win and to please the crowd. A punchline should cause sting to a crowd or a reader.

The old saying “it’s not what you said, but how you said it” may hold true for some, however in today’s lyrically driven rap game, unless you say something incredible, nobody’s listening! Over the last 5 or 6 years the prevalence in puns, double-meanings and word-play has sky-rocketed. Harsh, gang-related story telling has virtually become a thing of the past, only to make way for the most recent relevance establisher: Strong Lyrics.

Now, not to allow for any confusion, punchlines have been used in hip-hop for decades. Big-L, Notorious B.I.G and Big Pun were some of the forefathers of this battle-rap style of lyrical delivery. That being said, a new surge of  necessity has blanketed Hip-hop, demanding those who grace the microphone to be wittier and brighter than ever. The majority of artists know that fans expect a certain ability to conjure up these lines, and the ones moving up are becoming increasingly equipped to do so.

Many rappers enjoying chart-topping songs and mainstream recognition can accredit a good majority of their success to their writing skills. Take Lil’ Wayne for example. In 1999, when his debut album Tha Block is Hot dropped, ‘advanced lyrical ability’ was far from anyone’s description of his talents. However as the demand for more potent lyrics become stronger, so did he. Around 2005, he started steering his lyrical path away from his usual “hood-story” routine and towards lifestyle inspired rhyming filled with an abundance of punchlines. This kept fans listening and further anticipating his material. As a result, he is now selling millions of albums and enjoying the brightest hue of the music industry’s limelight.

I have always been a fan of well thought out punchlines and as a tribute to those who have truly inspired me over the years, I have put together a small list of some of the best punchlines of all time. Please feel free to give your opinion on my selection, offer up some of yours, or even come up with something yourself!

J.Cole – A Star Is Born

“The flow cold as the shoulder of a gold diggin’ hoe, when a broke nigga approaches”

CyHi Da Prynce – Hear Me Out

“Ran through like 8 grand in a day’s span, I blew cheese, ’cause I hate ranch”

Cam’ron – Soap Opera

“Lookin’ back on school, arts & crafts, fucked half the staff, beat up half the class. I was like Dr. Dre though, I had to laugh, Nigga wit a attitude, meet me  after math”

Kanye West – Last Call

“Killin’ y’all niggas on that lyrical shit, mayonaise colored Benz I push miracle whips”

Lil’ Wayne – 6 Foot 7 Foot

“Paper chaser, tell that paper, look, I’m right behind ya, bitch real g’s move in silence like Lasagna”

Fred The Godson – What You Gonna Do

“Any rapper plan to spar, know I’m bar none, I handle bars like a R-1″

Jay-Z – Venus vs. Mars

“Me, I’m from the apple, which means I’m a mack, she’s a PC, she lives in my lap”

Drake – Ignant Shit

“With a canvas, I’m the Group of 7, a migraine, take two Exedrin, I’m the one, twice over, I’m the new eleven”

Esoteric – Essays On Essoterrorism

“So dope, Columbians are pumpin’ me, so dope that when I fly, my man has to smuggle me”

Nas – Nasty

“I’m so high, I never land, like Mike Jackson’s crib”

Lupe Fiasco – Touch The Sky

“Lupe cool as the un-thawed, but I still feel possessed as a gun-charge, come as correct as a porn star”

*One of my personal best lines:

“It’s nice, you’re nice, and you rhyme too, but I got a much sicker flow, like I got Swine Flu. I’m Kevin Bacon, puttin’ you on blast, but I don’t got a foot loose, ’cause it’s stuck up your ass”


  • Anonymous

    My Current Fav: “Talkin ’bout baby money? I got your baby money
    Kidnap your bitch, get that ‘how much you love your lady’ money”

    • Chris Elliott

      My current fav: You got baby money, keep it real with niggas, niggas ain’t got my lady money.

      I like it because it’s accurate.

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