7. Styles P (“Last Day”)
Styles offers something for the gangsters and the spoken-word set alike (“The flow like water, get deep and you drown”). Gun claps and finger snaps!
6. Bizzy Bone (“Notorious Thugs”)
All these years later, we still don’t know what the fuck he’s saying, but it sounds fire.
5. Puff Daddy (“Long Kiss Goodnight”)
All these years later, we know exactly what the fuck he’s saying (and who he’s talking about), and it sounds fire. Not a verse per se, but this is a top-two, screaming Puff rant—and it’s not #2.
4. Mase (“Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems”)
“Now, who’s hot, who not?” The answer to the most rhetorical question of 1997 is obvious by the end of this excellent rap verse (and karaoke favorite) by the same ol’ pimp: Mason Betha.
3. Lil Kim (“Another”)
The original queen bee one-ups her mentor’s chutzpah and ranchiness with an extended verse that made ladies rejoice and fellas give props. The closing stanza on this breakup anthem was “Irreplaceable” before Beyoncé, yet much more explicit: “When I sucked your dick, it’s like smokin’ a roach,” Kim scoffs. The sickest of burns.
2. Jadakiss (“Last Day”)
This verse was an aggressive FYI that J-to-the-Muah was the lyrical leader of The L-O-X. His “forbidden” flow here is tucked deep in pocket, with internal rhymes about how he’ll run up in your house, put the gun up in your mouth, take the money out the couch — you know, things of that nature.
1. Jay-Z (“I Love the Dough”)
After Biggie stole the show on Jay-Z’s Reasonable Doubt in ’96, Hov repaid the favor over a funky Angela Winbush sample. He’s just a tad bit sharper and wittier than his host on this one, with contorted wordplay and mafioso humblebrags. “Play Monopoly with real cash,” Jay boasts. The sickest of flexes.
Read more: Jay-Z’s Collaboration Albums, Ranked