From the archives of Talib Kweli’s Tumblr, a list of vital verses that put Shakespeare in the shithouse.

This is important stuff. I’ve often thought that RA the Rugged Man’s ‘Uncommon Valor’ Vietnam verse is the slickest thing I’ve heard in hip-hop, just a torrential flow of dark imagery and American blood (and it made Talib’s list!). But AZ’s opening verse in ‘Life’s a Bitch’ and Mos Def on ‘Thieves in the Night’ have also looped steadily in the background of my own adventures in writing and life.

I was 17 years old, slinging dishes at Rocky River Brewing Co., and Sammy would put Nas on the stereo while we closed. Anything off Illmatic reminds me of keeping late hours in the kitchen, drifting in between work and school, feeling my way through a whole galaxy of new music (Chris, the prep guy, throwing Sepultura CDs my way and Matt laying some ’97 Phish on my head and Bill introducing me to the Rhymesayers world).

For my money, these days, a personal favorite is Aesop’s second verse on Daylight. I’ve listened to it enough that it’s taken on an identity unique to me, a mirror-pattern sketched across my memories.

Of course, Talib himself is no joke MC—and don’t forget it. “My middle name in the middle of equality.” It’s astonishing. And check this 2002 Kanye-produced cut with Black Thought and Pharaohe Monch.

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