#Best_COMMON_2011_410x350

XXL Presents... Common's 50 Greatest Verses

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Common goes in. Though he's become more of an actor and brand ambassador in the past few years, the Chicago MC's one of the more lyrically-inclined spitters in hip-hop history. His recent LP, The Dreamer, The Believer—released three years after the underwhelming Universal Mind Control—is a reminder that Com is a beast with words. That point was driven home on the Chi-Town rapper/actor's recent Drake diss—a scathing 16-bar verse that finds Com going for the jugular. The "Stay Schemin" verse certainly isn't the first or the last time he goes off. XXL looks back at Common's 50 Greatest Verses.—XXL Staff

50. “The Food” [Verse One] Be (2005)

50. “The Food” [Verse One] Be (2005)

X-Ray: The first leak off Be—the track was premiered on the highly popular, Chappelle's Show—"The Food" sent the message that Common was back.
Best Lines: "Shorties get the game but no instructions to assemblin'/Eyes bright, it seems like the fight is dim in them"

49. “Watermelon” [Verse One], Resurrection (1994)

49. “Watermelon” [Verse One], Resurrection (1994)

X-Ray: One of many lyrical exercises on Resurrection.
Best Lines:"This track was a broad/I'd be bonin the shit out of it/Bang, bang, bang then see what I can get out of her/Probably some scratch clothes and some J's"

48. “Aquarius” [Verse Two], Electric Circus (2002)

48. “Aquarius” [Verse Two], Electric Circus (2002)

X-Ray: Elecrtic Circus may be considered a dude, but, here Com shows that experimental backdrops and crochet pants haven't impaired his rhyme skills.
Best Lines: "They say im slept on, now im bucking in dreams/And rhyme with the mind of a hustler scheme"

47. “Nuthin’ to Do” [Verse One] Resurrection (1994)

47. “Nuthin’ to Do” [Verse One] Resurrection (1994)

X-Ray: Com reminisces on doing hoodrat stuff with his friends on the South Side.
Best Lines: "8-7 stepped in the jam, next the police come/Fights there would be one, numbers I'd get at least one/We'd come to the get-together with whoever/You wouldn't know how deep we was, we all didn't sit together/Eat up all your vittles, drink your brew"

46. “Start the Show” [Verse Two], Finding Forever (2007)

46. “Start the Show” [Verse Two], Finding Forever (2007)

X-Ray: Lonnie anchors Finding Forever's opener by spitting condescening flows at corny MCs.
Best Lines: "With twelve monkeys on stage it's hard to see who's the gorilla/You was better as a drug dealer"

45. “Dooinit” [Verse Two], Like Water for Chocolate (2000)

45. “Dooinit” [Verse Two], Like Water for Chocolate (2000)

X-Ray: Vintage Common, here. Ear-grabbing-rewind-worthy punchlines to go.
Best Lines: "In this new rap Generation I "X" cats like a Muslim/He fell off cause I pushed him/Let his Bently and his weak crew be his cushion/I catch him on the streets, in front of the bodyguards and rush him"

44. “Sweet” [Verse One], The Dreamer, The Believer (2011)

44. “Sweet” [Verse One], The Dreamer/The Believer (2011)

X-Ray: After well over a decade of serving as a poster boy for conscious rap, Com brings it back to the '90s with his rawest verse in years.
Best Lines: "Post up on the wall that Mike used to live off/Hip-hop Master Cleansin', I’mma get my shit off"

43. “8 Minutes to Sunrise” [Verse Three], Wild Wild West Soundtrack (1999)

43. “8 Minutes to Sunrise” [Verse Three], Wild Wild West Soundtrack (1999)

X-Ray: Com is conflicted between facing his jumpoff's boyfriend and challenging him and his crew in this Western-like story. Will he stay and fight, or flea? The third verse reveals it all.
Best Lines: "Went to the phone quick, called her (what happened?) Her line was busy/Situation number nine, got my mind dizzy/Wondered if this plan was designed to get me/I've been drinkin too strong to be thinkin too long"

42. “The People” [Verse One], Finding Forever (2007)

42. “The People” [Verse One], Finding Forever (2007)

X-Ray: Another day, another Common rhyme bigging up folks in the struggle.
Best Lines: "Scuffle for notes, the rougher I wrote, times were harder/Went from rocky starter to a voice of a martyr/Why white folks focus on dogs and yoga/While people on the low end tryin to ball and get over"

41. “The Corner” [Verse One], Be (2005)

41. “The Corner” [Verse One], Be (2005)

X-Ray: Counted out for being too spacey with Electric Circus, Com reminds that he's still grounded on the first single of his classic comeback LP, Be.
Best Lines: "They shoot the wrong way, cause they ain’t knowin' they goals/The streets ain’t safe cause they ain’t knowing the code"

40. Blue Sky [Verse One], The Dreamer, The Believer (2011)

40. Blue Sky [Verse One], The Dreamer/The Believer (2011)

X-Ray: Com gives praise to the most high for seeing him through trials and tribulations on the way to success. A preacher that once was a fiend indeed.
Best Lines: "Daylight beams, night life schemes/ This is my inception, I’m writing my dreams"

39.“The Game,” Finding Forever (2007)

39. “The Game,” Finding Forever (2007)

X-Ray: Com takes it back to the basics on this Primo-esque Kanye-produced banger.
Best Lines: "Stay in your lane, Brokeback ain't the way of the game/My brainstorm is like I stay in the rain/My favorite was Kane, now I'm dope with weight in the game/You was hot but can't stay in the flame"

38. “The Book of Life” [Verse Two], Resurrection (1994)

38. “The Book of Life” [Verse Two], Resurrection (1994)

X-Ray: Only 22 at the time, Com clearly struggled to get his life together and meet his potential.
Best Lines: "But I'm a couch bum what makes it bad I had incentive But I disintegrated/To a state that's stagnated/ I procrastinated/I can't recall a day without bein' intoxicated"

37. On Pharoahe Monch’s “The Truth,” Internal Affairs (1999)

37. On Pharoahe Monch’s “The Truth,” Internal Affairs (1999)

X-Ray:Mr. Lynn offers a fresh take one of hip-hop's over-discussed topics.
Best Lines: "constantly I seek it/Wonderin why I gotta drink a six pack to speak it/Took a picture of the truth and tried to develop it/Had proof, it was only recognized by the intelligent/Took the negative and positive, cuz niggas got to live"

36. On Kanye West’s “My Way Home,” Late Registration (2005)

36. On Kanye West’s “My Way Home,” Late Registration (2005)

X-Ray: The C-O-Double-M-O spits yet another verse for his people in the struggle.
Best Lines: "Heights fightin for hits to heighten they hell/Don't he know he could only get as high as he fell?/Show money becomes bail, relationships become jail/Children are unheld"

35. “Invocation,” One Day It’ll All Make Sense (1997)

35. “Invocation,” One Day It’ll All Make Sense (1997)

X-Ray: The Chi-Town MCs goes long on the opener to his third album. Is that a Puffy jab?
Best Lines: "Rappers I monitor like a chaperone, you large and haven't grown/Poetically perform fly-bys, another rapper gone/The stage becomes a catacomb, I rap like a mummy/Not for the money, I could have sampled Diana Ross a long time/ ago/My mind of flow is like motor key 20"

34. On Hi-Tek’s “The Sun God” [Verse Two] Hi-Teknology (2001)

34. On Hi-Tek’s “The Sun God” [Verse Two] Hi-Teknology (2001)

X-Ray: Stream of consciousness rhyming at its finest.
Best Lines: "Everywhere is broken glass/Nephews smokin squares, nieces smokin grass/Try not to say shoot around my daughter she already know to blast/Catchin the future, don't know who threw the past"

33. On Pete Rock’s “Verbal Murder 2,” Soul Survivor (1998)

33. On Pete Rock’s “Verbal Murder,” Soul Survivor (1998)

X-Ray: Com arguably drops the hardest verse, pun intended, on a song with Big Pun and N.O.R.E.
Best Lines: "He was an industry type/influenced by magazines and snipes/Rocked Adidas but he had no stripes/I could tell in high school that he had no fights/Hold dick better than he hold mics"

32. On Hi-Tek’s “Tekzilla,” Unreleased (2001)

32. On Hi-Tek’s “Tekzilla,” Unreleased (2001)

X-Ray: Com delivers a cinematic verse, narrating that starts with him being followed and ends with him pistol whipping his would-be assailant.
Best Lines: "Unplanned I disarm this trick nigga Pistol-whipped his ass, his lady's I was palmin' it/Hollered 87 reign dominant/Needed a fight that night/Me and my woman had a argument"

31. On Hi-Tek’s “Music for Life,” Hi-Teknology 2 (2006)

31. On Hi-Tek’s “Music for Life,” Hi-Teknology 2 (2006)

X-Ray: Com explains why music is his lifeline.
Best Lines: "So vital to a youngster, comin' up amongst street hustlers/The big be the toucher's, since such a special place/Givin' the ghetto a taste of what freedom is like/ I reached a point in my life where I was needin' the mic"

30. “Southside [Verse Three], Finding Forever (2007)

30. “Southside [Verse Three], Finding Forever (2007)

X-Ray: Com and 'Ye take turns spitting that raw ish, but Lonnie takes it up a notch on the third verse.
Best Lines: "Uh, the un-American idol, tower like the Eiffel/Lean wit it, rock wit it, Black like the Disciples/Know when to use a bible, and when to use a rifle/You rap like you should be on the back of a motorcycle"

29. "Stay Schemin (Remix) (2012)

29. "Stay Schemin (Remix) (2012)

X-Ray:Only days after Drake took shots at Com on Rick Ross's "Stay Scheming," the Chi-Town veteran fired back with a scathing response. "Son of a bitch, I imagine what your father is," he rhymes. Ouch! The verse sent the internets into a frenzy and Com, Drake and Canada Dry became worldwide trending topics.
Best Lines: "Can’t say my name but rap about a nigga’s wife/You so black and white, trying to live a nigga’s life/I’m taking too long with this amateur guy/You ain’t wet nobody, nigga, you Canada dry"

28. “Like They Used to Say" [Verse One] Soundbombing, Vol. 2 (1999)

28. “Like They Used to Say, Soundbombing, Vol. 2 (1999)

X-Ray: More memorable Common one-liners on the B-side to his Soundbombing soundtrack.
Best Lines: "Mic testin in the rain, I brainstorm/ You feelin me out nigga? We got the same form/I drop heavy in spots you scared to put your weight/There's only so much ice you can skate on"

27. “A Song for Assata” [Verse One], Like Water for Chocolate (2000)

27. “A Song for Assata” [Verse One], Like Water for Chocolate (2000)

X-Ray: The Chicago MC tells the story behind the imprisonment of former Black Panther Assata Shakur.
Best Lines: "Her mind raced till things got still/ Opened her eyes, realized she's next to her best friend who got killed/She got chills, they told her: that's where she would be next/ Hurt mixed wit anger-survival was a reflex"

26. “Soul By Pound (Remix)” [Verse One] Can I Borrow a Dollar? (1992)

26. “Soul By Pound (Remix),” Can I Borrow a Dollar? (1992)

X-Ray: An unpolished Com shows flashes of greatness in arguably his best verse on his debut LP.
Best Lines: "I'm as bad, bad as Leroy Brown, Brown/I'm a pro p-pro, but not a noun n-noun/If you got beef, beef, you get ground, ground/Cut up in soul, soul, by the pound for pound"

25. “Faithful” [Verse Two], Be (2005)

25. “Faithful” [Verse One], Be (2005)

X-Ray: A man of God throughout his career, Com puts a spin on things by pondering on the almighty's gender. What if God was a her? On the second verse, however, Com explores the repercussions of adultery.
Best Lines: "I used to take 'em out to eat but they wasn't really eatin'/Mighta got a little head but I wasn't really cheatin'"/It's hard when your lady don't believe what you say/And what you did in the past you gotta live with today"

24. On Kanye West’s “Get ‘Em High,” The College Dropout (2004)

24. On Kanye West’s “Get ‘Em High,” The College Dropout (2004)

X-Ray: Com gives a teaser of what his fans can expect now that he's aligned with Kanye West.
Best Lines: "Chimped up, with a pimp cup, illiterate nigga/Read the infra-red across your head/I'm bread king like Simba/Bolder than Denver, I ain't a Madd Rapper/ Just an emcee with a temper"

23. “I Used to Love H.E.R.” [Verse Two], Resurrection (1994)

23. “I Used to Love H.E.R.” [Verse Two], Resurrection (1994)

X-Ray: Com traces hip-hop's evolution from its afrocentric stage to the the emergence of gangsta rap. "I wasn't salty she was with them boys in the hood," he raps. Ice Cube took offense despite the disclaimer.
Best Lines: "She didn't have a body but she started gettin thick quick/Did a couple of videos and became afrocentric/Out goes the weave, in goes the braids beads/ medallions/She was on that tip about, stopping the violence"

22. On De La Soul’s “Days of Our Lives,” The Grind Date (2004)

22. On De La Soul’s “Days of Our Lives,” The Grind Date (2004)

X-Ray:Penned two years before his rejuvenated music career and his ascension in Hollywood took place, Com speaks on the edge of obscurity and the verge of stardom simultaneously.
Best Lines: "Responsibility of my man's felony fell on me/Celebrity status, make 'em think I got celery/Hell and I do sometimes, still the sunshine ain't even all day/(Yeah) The life of a baller, ain't even all play/I stack 'em, so the chips fall where they must/I ain't far from a Benz, or dude on the bus"

21. On The Beatnuts’s “Slam Pit,” A Musical Massacre (1999)

21. On The Beatnuts’s “Slam Pit,” A Musical Massacre (1999)

X-Ray: Com delivers a solid battle verse on the Beatnuts's album cut.
Best Lines: "my flow is a Road Less Travelled/ You rock but been through less gravel/ My mystique suggest battle, and what have you/ Rip a nigga from New York to west coast, Chicago/ Don't give a fuck where he from/He'll get beat like a drum"

20. “Real People” [Verse Two], Be (2005)

20. “Real People” [Verse Two], Be (2005)

X-Ray: Yet another look at the Black experience from Common's lense.
Best Lines: "I wonder is the spirits of Bob Marley and Haile Selassie/Watch me as the cops be tryna and pop and lock me/They cocky, plus they mentality is Nazi/ The way they treat blacks I wanna snap like paparazzi"

19. “Raw (How You Like It)” [Verse Two], The Dreamer/The Believer (2011)

19. “Raw (How You Like It)” [Verse Two], The Dreamer/The Believer (2011)

X-Ray: Com reminds rap fans that he wasn't always a sex symbol with a penchant for girl-friendly songs—even ending this verse by cracking a hater upside the head with a bottle.
Best Lines: "Aware of a chest cause I stay abreast/She was extra cold, I'm here to de-congest/This nigga next to us was slopped and made a mess/Knocking over bar stools, I hoped that he carpooled"

18. On Jadakiss’s “Why (Remix)” (2004)

18. On Jadakiss’s “Why (Remix)” (2002)

X-Ray: Common addresses talk that he's changed post Erykah Badu and his daring fashion sense on the remix to Jadakisss's star-studded remix. He even plays Nastradamus when he suggests to elect then-Senator Barack Obama as the leader of the free world four years before he became president.
Best Lines: "Why do they say I changed for a girl/Why you worried bout my clothes if my flow gonna change the world/Why you wait till you 30 then try to be hard/ Why I gotta have religion if I believe in God"

17. “Summer Madness,” [Verse Two] The Pursuit of Dopeness EP (2011)

17. “Summer Madness,” The Pursuit of Dopeness EP (2011)

X-Ray: Com reunites with No I.D. after 14 years and picks up right where they left off. Spitting over a sample of Kool & the Gang's "Summer Madness," Com details an unfortunate homocide-filled summer in the Chi.
Best Lines: "Shorties bear arms cause don't nobody reach out/Young frames leak out/Aunties freak out/ The front porch is sorta like the beach house/Niggas running bases with their cleats out"

16. “I Used to Love H.E.R.” [Verse One], Resurrection (1994)

16. “I Used to Love H.E.R.” [Verse One], Resurrection (1994)

X-Ray: Com lays the foundation to his personified concept.
Best Lines: She was old school, when I was just a shorty/Never knew throughout my life she would be there for me On the regular/not a church girl she was secular/Not about the money, no studs was mic checkin her"

15. “Communism,” Resurrection (1994)

15. “Communism,” Resurrection (1994)

X-Ray: Using his moniker as a base, Common alliterates for a lengthy verse. Com definitely on came off on this No I.D. composition.
Best Lines:"Now Com could get the penny, but I want my own company/And Com is on a mission not to work for commission/It's a common market and it's so much competition/ But to me, competition is none"

14. “1-9-9-9,” Soundbombing, Vol. 2 (1999)

14. “1-9-9-9,” Soundbombing, Vol. 2 (1999)

X-Ray: Com skillfully handles Hi-Tek's soulful instrumental as he transition out of his working relationship with longtime producer, No I.D.
Best Lines: "Holdin liquor in despair, gang signs in the air/I shine in spaces where time is just a glare/ Hold the mic like a memory/Niggas say I'm nice wit metaphors at ease with similes"

13. Chi-City” [Verse One], Be (2005)

13. Chi-City” [Verse One], Be (2005)

X-Ray: Com crams in punchline after punchline into this mean 16. Hustlers, get your baking soda indeed.
Best Lines: "I rap with the passion of Christ, nigga cross me/Took it out of space and niggas thought they lost me/I'm back like a chiroprac' with b-boy survival rap/ It ain't ninety-fo' Joe, we can't go back"

12.“The Bitch in Yoo” [Verse Two], Relativity Urban Assault (1996)

12.“The Bitch in Yoo” [Verse Two]

X-Ray: Com gets even gullier on the second verse of his attack on Cube and co.
Best Lines: "Guess you knew your shit was done plus the one got you cable/Hoo Bangin', you ain't banging shit but the table/And the Circle MAAD, ain't got no choice but to fight/ Ain't none of y'all motherfuckers got a chance on the mic"

11. On De La Soul’s “The Bizness,” Stakes Is High (1996)

11. On De La Soul’s “The Bizness,” Stakes Is High (1996)

X-Ray: Com puts on a clinic hard enough to strike fear in the heart of sucker MCs. No one's safe, not even Olympic diver Greg Louganis who gets hit with one of the most gratuitously brutal lines yet.
Best Lines: "Not a hater of the players, I'm more like a coach, or an owner/I Used To Love H.E.R., but now I bone her (ahuh-hah!)/At one point in rhyme I thought I lost my erection/ But then I got it back with the Resurrection, blessings"

10. “High Expectations” [Verse One], Soul in the Hole Soundtrack (1997)

10. “High Expectations” [Verse One], Soul in the Hole Soundtrack (1997)

X-Ray: Speaking from the perspective of an aspiring baller, Com speaks on hoop dreams and uses bball references to document the inner city struggle.
Best Lines: "Intrigued by two-letter cars, SE's and GS'ses/On the court niggas I leave like messages/Plagued by this ball-player exorcist/It's sort of foul how the world be reffin us/Kenny is our Moses in this five-on-five Exodus/For the game of life, full courts ain't preppin us"

9. On Black Star’s “Respiration,” Mos Def and Talib Kweli Are Black Star (1998)

9. On Black Star’s “Respiration” Mos Def and Talib Kweli Are Black Star (1998)

X-Ray:Com runs through a gamut of emotions as he paints a vivid picture of life in Chicago's Southside—touching on grief, religion, love, hate and ignorance all in one verse.
Best Lines: "Sat by the window with a clutched dome listenin to shorties cuss long/Young girls with weak minds, but they butt strong/Tried to call, or at least beep the Lord, but didn't have a touch-tone/It's a dog-eat-dog world, you gotta mush on"

8. On The Roots “Act Too (The Love of My Life),” Things Fall Apart (1999)

8. On The Roots “Act Too (The Love of My Life)”

X-Ray:Com updates his fans on the state of his relationship with hip-hop on The Roots's revamp of his 1994 classic, "I Used to Love H.E.R."
Best Lines: "Gettin' ate in sections where I wouldn't eat H.E.R/An under the counter love, so silently I treat H.E.R/Her Daddy'll beat H.E.R., eyes all Puff-ed/In the mix on tape, niggas had her in the buff/When we touch, it was more than just a fuck"

7. “A Dream” [Verse One], Freedom Writers Soundtrack (2007)

7. “A Dream” [Verse One], Freedom Writers Soundtrack (2007)

X-Ray: Common breathes new life into Dr. Martin Luther King's dream on this inspirational verse. Though speaking from the perspective of an embattled youth, the message is clear: keep the faith.
Best Lines: "Born on the black list, told I'm below average/A life with no cabbage/That's no money if you from where I'm from/Funny, I just want some of your sun/Dark clouds seem to follow me/Alcohol that my pops swallowed bottled me, no apology"

6. “The 6th Sense” [Verse Two], Like Water for Chocolate (2000)

6. “The 6th Sense” [Verse Two] Like Water for Chocolate (2000)

X-Ray: Com drops a potent verse on this first-time collaboration with DJ Premier.
Best Lines: If revolution had a movie I'd be theme music/My music, you either fight, fuck, or dream to it/ My life is one big rhyme, I try to scheme through it/Through my shell, never knew what the divine would bring to it"

5. “Resurrection ’95” [Verse First] Resurrection 12-Single (1995)

5. “Resurrection ’95,” Resurrection 12-Single (1995)

X-Ray: Com goes off on this revamped version of Resurrection's second single. Flexing a nimble flow, he shows off his skills and even calls out some names.
Best Lines: Got more verses than a Kramer, go off like a pager/Skills uglier than Craig Mack in your ear I'm the flavor/My old bird said some of my songs sound like noise/ Don't watch the Bulls as much, they got too many white boys"

4. “The Bitch In Yoo” [Verse One], Relativity Urban Assault (1996)

4. “The Bitch In Yoo” [Verse One], Relativity Urban Assault

X-Ray: After being dissed on Westside Connection's "Slaughterhouse," Com struck back at Ice Cube, Mack 10 and WC on the vicious Pete Rock-produced, "The Bitch in Yoo." The first verse sets the tone as Com uses Cube's album titles against him and closes by recycling the line that pissed Cube off in the first place.
Best Lines: Natural Born Killa, nigga you natural born God/Look, read, rich, got the nerve to say you rob/Hyprocrite, I'm filling out your Death Certificate/Slanging bean pies and St Ide's in the same sentence"

3. “Retrospect for Life” [Verse One] , One Day It’ll Make Sense (1997)

3. “Retrospect for Life” [Verse One] , One Day It’ll Make Sense (1997)

X-Ray: Lonnie opens up about an ex girlfriend's abortion on this introspective record. The MC shows regret, remorse and growth and maturity all in the same verse.
Best Lines: Nerve I got to talk about them niggas with a gun/Must have really thought I was God to take the life of my son/I could have sacrificed goin' out/To think my homeys who did it I used to joke about"

2. "I Used to Love H. E. R." [Verse Three], Resurrection (1994)

2. "I Used to Love H. E. R." [Verse Three], Resurrection (1994)

X-Ray: After alluding to a love story for two verses, Com reveals the plot of his conceptual record: hip-hop. Suddenly, the track turns from a coming of age love story into a commentary about the state of rap in 1994.
Best Lines: Stressing how hardcore and real she is/She was really the realest, before she got into showbiz/ I did her, not just to say that I did it/But I'm committed, but so many niggas hit it/That she's just not the same letting all these groupies do her/I see niggas slamming her, and taking her to the sewer/But I'mma take her back hoping that the shit stop/ Cause who I'm talking bout y'all is hip-hop"

1. “Hungry,” One Day It’ll All Make Sense (1997)

1. Hungry

X-Ray: Com goes off like he's auditioning for a record deal on this No I.D.-produced gem. For nearly two minutes, the Chi-Town lyricist drops punchline after punchlines (shit is so bangin' niggas think it's gang-related).
Best Lines: I walk the night in rhymin armor, bomb a nigga like a winter coat/Have him on Death Row searchin for an Interscope/Yet I sparkle like Irene Cara/Symbolize dope, like sirens do terror"