Organizing every single acclaimed up-and-coming rapper for one posse cut is a challenging proposition, but A$AP Rocky appears to have very nearly done that with “1 Train,” the free-for-all jam from the rapper’s recently leaked LongLiveA$AP. Rocky himself leads a cast that also features Kendrick Lamar, Joey Bada$$, Big K.R.I.T., Yelawolf, Danny Brown and Action Bronson, falling just two members short of a potential Wu-Tang Clan tribute act.
Being in the presence of such company is bound to get the competitive juices flowing in each of these guys, so the obvious question to follow is: Who owned it best? Let’s rank it, from worst to best.
8. Kendrick Lamar. Kendrick never really excels as a guest rapper, and his intense, triplet-heavy delivery gets monotonous and exhausting by verse’s end. It might’ve been brilliant in the context of a larger K Dot song, but it doesn’t work so well on a posse cut.
7. Yelawolf. Starts (“When you mention my name amongst other rappers / Or for that matter / Any fuckin’ rapper…”) and ends (“Ain’t never been a rapper this cold / Since 2pac was froze / And thawed out for spa date at a Coachella show”) strong, not much of note going on in between.
6. Danny Brown. His voice is always a joy to hear, but Brown’s references to stanky genitals (“Bitch wet she smell like penguin”) and ecstasy popping (“That molly got me nauseous / On shit, no Auschwitz”) have both been done better in previous Brown productions.
5. A$AP Rocky. Not a dis to A$AP, as his verse kicks things off nicely and gets in some nice references to both Chef Boyardee and O-Dog from Menace II Society. We just like everyone else better from here on.
4. Big K.R.I.T. K.R.I.T. is up last and arguably tries the hardest, switching up the speed and meter of his flow several different times within the same verse, and getting in the cut’s obligatory LeBron James namedrop (“Fuck them haters and fuck them hos / A championship win the aftermath, ask LeBron”). “Most rappers hope the world ends so they won’t have to drop another album” might end up the song’s most quoted lyric, too.
3. Hit-Boy. Not actually a rapper on this one, but as producer of the song’s ice-cold, string-heavy beat, certainly one of the most important contributors. It’s not a particularly showy beat, but it’s one of those grooves you could listen to being rhymed over for a half-hour without even noticing more than a couple minutes passing. DJ Premier and the RZA would be proud.
2. Action Bronson. “A hefty smoker so you know I got the Blake with me”? “Drinking Henny like I’m Kenny Lofton”? “You see us scrambling, selling Susan Sarandon”? You’re just baiting RapGenius now, aren’t you, Bronson? Cool by us.
1. Joey Bada$$. Joey managed to steal the headlines on this one with his “Just got back to the block, for a 6 o’clock with Jigga / And I’m thinkin’ ’bout signing to the Roc / But my niggas on the block still assigned to the rocks” stanza. Whether or not he jumps to a major, Bada$$ sounds the hungriest of the crew on “1 Train,” and we’re betting it’s only a matter of time till the 17-year-old is hosting his own posse cuts.