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Whether you love him or hate him, you have to admit that AR-AB is just about as real as they come. He’s not the kind of music you’re going to put on if you have a female coming over or the type of rap you’d throw on in the background for a family party. He’s almost impossibly violent to the point that some of his lines are almost unpleasant to listen to. I’d go as far as to say he may be rap’s most ‘unpleasant rapper’. He’s constantly in aggressive mode and I don’t know if he can make a chill, laid-back song. He’s also been doing this for a LONG time, and he’s refused to buckle to the trends in the genre that have come and gone or to change his style for anyone. He’s refused to tone down his aggressive rhetoric even when it may have behooved him commercially. And in terms of sheer bar for bar creativity and technical mastery, he’s an absolute maestro. He may be one of the best pure ‘rhymers’ in the game, and has more punchlines that make you rewind the song again than almost anybody I can think of. Sure, that style may be somewhat out of fashion right now but he’s the king of the punchline and zigs where others zag, he doesn’t care what’s popular or what’s not. Hailing from one of the bleakest and desperately poor parts of north Philly (known as ‘the Badlands’), he perfectly encapsulates his city’s hard-working, blue collar, grimey and gritty image. AR-Ab IS Philly.

Image result for ar-ab dark lo

I first started listening to AB about 10 years ago (???!!!) back in the days when Philly was a city of up and coming battle rappers each trying to outdo the last in terms of violently creative punchlines (I wonder what some of those guys like Kaboom, Bricks, Reed Dollaz etc. are up to these days), when Meek Mill still had braids and when Lil Uzi Vert was probably still a toddler. In that time, Ab has come a long way and been through quite a journey, facing trial for murder charges, serving time in prison for drug trafficking, being shot 10 times, beefing with a whole armada of rivals, introducing us to a variety of interesting associates including Dark Lo, another dynamic artist worthy of his own article in the future, and even signing with Birdman’s Cash Money Records in perhaps one of the most surprising artist signings and unexpected combinations of all time.

As unfriendly as he usually comes across, he also has a sense of humor, at times making a reference to the trends and news going on in the wider rap world with a knowing wink to fans; like “You can’t come to your hood but I run mine, I’ve got 100 Chief Keefs on my front line.” Another thing you have to respect him for is that unlike rappers who are renting cars and jewelry for videos, I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen AB wearing anything fancier than a black Champion hoodie and Timbs. It’s the same type of ensemble that he, and his loyal fanbase he speaks to, are wearing on the block day-in, day-out. He’s not fronting or putting on a show for anybody, it’s the real him. Similarly, he’s not flying to Miami or renting a villa in the islands to make a video, for the most part, pretty much every single video I’ve seen by him (and trust me, I’ve spent way more time on this than the average person ever should) is outside in his beleaguered neighborhood, with him and his assorted band of confidantes surrounded by boarded up trap houses, old tires, overgrown vacant lots, crushed glass vials. Even in the dead of Philly’s unforgivingly cold winter, Ab is out there rocking a black hoodie. However, just because most of his videos take place in his own neighborhood, doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a flair for the dramatic; for example, see the opening forty seconds or so of ‘If they Kill Me’ for perhaps one of the most intimidating and ominous opening video scenes of all time.

I also don’t want anyone to mistake this for saying AB is a one-dimensional artist or overly reliant on violent punch lines etc. – his track ‘I Wanna Go Home’ is one of the saddest and deepest songs I’ve ever heard, and I challenge anyone to listen to that without a tear rolling down their face.

Even if he were to strike it rich with some huge hit or get rich off his Cash Money deal, I honestly don’t think Ab would leave his hood. Other people would flea at the first chance they get but I honestly think he loves the environment too much and feels truly at home amongst the broken street lights, the shoes hanging off the telephone lines, the fiends, and the constant violence. It’s a bleak atmosphere but he’s the king of it. He has affection for very little but you can tell he has a certain special affection for his block ‘Alleghany, Erie Ave, I’m the man there. Niggas gotta pay a tax if they land there. Niggas here hungry they’ll kill you for a sandwich.’

So in homage to this Philly stalwart, I’ve decided to put together a list of my top 50 AR-AB lines of all time – some of them are more my ‘favorite’ lines, others I just felt like had to be included because they’re so over the top or ridiculous, some were included for their technical brilliance or creativity, and still others for just how downright disturbing and beyond the pale they are. Let’s remember, this is a guy who rapped about ‘sending his goons through your kids window like Peter Pan’, or repurposed Wiz Khalifa’s ‘Black and Yellow’ to rap ‘I know where you live, you don’t want this 4 pound aiming at your kids.’ I guess you could say it’s more of a ’50 most memorable lines by AR-AB’ and it’s our tribute to him; let’s hope he keeps making music like this for years to come. Ab, we salute you…

Top 50 AR-AB Lines

Here is my list of the top 50 AR-Ab lines of all time so far, I may come back and expand it later on because there are so many choices/so much material to go through, and even though I feel like I’ve listened to him a lot I’m sure there are entire projects that I haven’t even heard yet.

*Note – these are in a rough order from best to 50th but not an ‘exact’ order i.e. there’s not a huge difference between say 37th and 38th on the list, it’s more an art than a science. I’ve also tried to annotate what video or mixtape etc. the line is from, after each line. One other note is that I’ve noticed quite a few of the Ab videos I remember from WAY back in the day seem to have disappeared from Youtube now or at least have become much harder to find; i.e. his actual music video for Push It (as opposed to just the audio) or ones I have vague memories of like him standing in front of a bodega somewhere on Allegheny Ave and rapping something about ‘I-95 hiding guns in my engine”, I really wish I could find those 2, let me know if any of you guys know where to find them, I guess the fact that some of them are fading into memories mean it’s a good time to write this list down. Also – this list was fun for me to make but I also want you guys to comment/let me know what your favorites are. I’d love to hear your opinions and I’m sure you’ll have plenty of good ones that I’ve missed or have never heard before. I threw up some Youtube links at tne end to some of his best freestyles that contain some of these lines. Enjoy!

  1.  “Everybody friendly when that money come quick, I’ma drown with my niggas I don’t jump ship” (untitled acapalla freestyle)
  2. “I got a fiend that’ll do it all for that butter white, he could fix a transmission with a butterknife” (freestyle on Silverback Season 3 DVD)
  3. “If I call Naskeem? Aw man, he’ll jump out a tree like Tarzan. I write my life in this composition, I’m real he fake how he competition? I call Lik Moss on the opposition, he’ll lay under your car like he about to fix it” (Dynasty freestyle)
  4. “I got three kids I gotta be strong, I ain’t seen my little brother in so long. I was there for y’all when need be, so why my brother fight a shooting with a PD?” (I Wanna Go Home)
  5. “Where your friends when you need one? Matter of fact I don’t need none. When it rain they don’t even come. But they around when they see the sun. Everybody got their hand out, then disappear when it ran out. When I was broke I built mine from the ground up, that’s what a man about.” (I Wanna Go Home)
  6. “When I was locked up I didn’t get a money order, they ain’t buy a pair of sneaks for my son and daughter. I throw rocks at the jail for my three kids, when I die, who gon make sure they live? What about when I lived on my mom’s couch? Everybody saw me broke, they didn’t help out. So why do they feel like I owe em something? Every friend that I got wants to hold something” (I Wanna Go Home)
  7. “I’m from the school of hard knocks, where drug dealers drive the Bentleys with the hard top, and I ain’t got no friends cause they all shot, or in jail for selling that hard rock” (freestyle with Vodka from ‘Another Day Another Dolla DVD)
  8. “You can’t come to your hood, well I run mine, I’ve got 100 Chief Keefs on my front line” (If They Kill Me)
  9. “I live in the jungle, I got 2 choppers, the king of the lions, I’m Mufasa” (unnamed freestyle w/Kaboom on ‘I See Dead People’ mixtape)
  10. “I’m loading up the ooh wop, listening to Tupac, I’m a dope boy so the money in the shoe box’ (Goons Gone Wild, Meek Mill w/ AR-AB)
  11. “I throw weight on the strip. I throw hard on the block. My little niggas don’t care they’ll target a cop. If I say off with his head, then it’s off with his head, you’ll hear a lot of cop sirens; officer dead.” (Push It)
  12. “Wishing on a star? I whip up the hard. 95 North  with a brick in my car” (freestyle on Silverback Season 3 DVD)
  13. “Y’all was playing ball in your gym class, I was going to war with two teks in a gym bag” (Many Men freestyle)
  14. “Allergic to broke; white people, black niggas I’m serving them both” (Push It)
  15. “When most kids were in the crib watching Bugs Bunny, I was in the trap house tying rubberbands around drug money” (unknown freestyle in car)
  16. “Preliminary beat the case like pronto, my lawyer got a defense like Rondo, machine gun by the door in the condo, I’ll turn a burglar to a John Doe, he’ll die if he try to touch my dough, I’m riding like OJ in the Bronco’ (freestyle on ‘Silverback Season 3’ DVD)
  17. “You hear the goon talk, I let the tools spark, counting loot while the coupe do the moonwalk” (Black and Yellow freestyle from Who Harder Than Me mixtape)
  18. “Nobody used to speak, I started getting paid, I shot a couple niggas, now everybody wave” (Push It freestyle)
  19. “I need all mine, get it right, or I’ma leave more shells than mischief night” (freestyle from Headshots 4 DVD)
  20. “All my niggas blow haze or they pop pills, I’m a boss I make a phone call I get a cop killed” (freestyle with Vodka)
  21. “To get rich, there’s a lot of sh*t you have to sacrifice, this popcorn will bring a dead block back to life” (Mud freestyle)
  22. “My dog got locked and I post bail, he came home and wore a wire to my coke sale, then we took the pliers to his toe nails. Upstate I got respect from the whole jail. Trading war stories in the state yard, my little cousin busy, got a graveyard.” (Biggie freestyle)
  23. “I bag dimes the size of an egg, it’ll make a crackhead rise from the dead” (from the Wire 4.5 DVD)
  24. “They say I’m up next I need two turns, you front me something? Nigga you burned. Cousin K catch bodies when he do sherm. He’ll shoot your block up then do a U-turn” (Dynasty freestyle)
  25. “Trey pound tall put his life on pause, or I let that .44 Python off, I make niggas see if there’s life on Mars. Call my bluff nigga, act goon, this AK clip look like a half moon” (freestyle from Wire 4.5 DVD)
  26. “Real rap AR let them thangs fly, I drag a nigga to the roof and make him hang-glide” (freestyle from Headshots 4 DVD)
  27. “These niggas gotta rap I don’t need to, Gucci Man caught a body, me too. Visonwear Pyrex see through, I shoot through the door before I see who” (Mud Muzik intro)
  28. “My mom died so she never seen the glory, my clip is the neverending story, It’s OBH I’m playing quarterback, I’ll make you pay a price to get your daughter back’ (Mud Muzik intro)
  29. “Been rapping for 10 years I’m about to stop trying, jail call to my wife I told her stop crying, I said I’m changing my life she said stop lying, I’ll probably stop when the crackheads stop buying” (‘Close Your Eyes’ from Protocol Vol. 1)
  30. “I’m gettin money til they kick a nigga out, or back in jail punchin niggas in the mouth. Ask about me AR been a soldier, and my team all Vikings; Minnesota. (unknown title from I See Dead People mixtape)
  31. “They caught me at the light like Big and Pac, now I can’t leave the crib without 60 shots” (unknMud freestyle)
  32. “I call my plug up and tell him bring 4, then I kidnap his kids and tell him bring more” (Mud freestyle)
  33. “F*ck a lottery, tryna hit the jackpot, I get mine out the water in a crack pot, on a back block, with a bunch of low lifes, they tryna come up, so they throw dice” (Understand, from I See Dead People)
  34. “I’ll have niggas layin’ on your crib like a satellite” (Mud freestyle)
  35. “Shootouts, I’m all for it, I got a gun that’s bigger than a small forward (unknown track name, from I See Dead People mixtape)
  36. “Lik Moss don’t gotta hear the details, he’ll climb through your window like Ezel” ( Many Men freestyle)
  37. “I have b*tches climbing walls when I go in, only real niggas still stand when the storm end” (unnamed freestyle at sneaker store)
  38. “I’ve seen a dope fiend gettin high in an alley, then he got clean and made a mill off of molly” (Blow 3 w/ Dark Lo)
  39. “I didn’t ride bikes I was playing with a pistol, selling nickels the size of teeth on a hippo” (Silverback Season 3 DVD)
  40. “You want a war? I’ll fall back and burn haze, then turn your daughter to a mermaid” (freestyle from Headshots 4 DVD)
  41. “He’ll come through your kids’ window like Peter Pan” (freestyle from Silverback Season 3)
  42. .44 compact make a big boom, it’ll life him in the air like a witch broom” (freestyle with Cassidy on Green Lantern show)
  43. “I’m building a dream, with a building of fiends, with some real good dope that be killing the fiends” (Push It)
  44. “I’m mixing dope in two blenders, My gun shoot for two minutes, they had me locked for two winters, these rappers turned to Bruce Jenner’. (Dynasty freestyle)
  45.  “Wintertime had me jugging in an old Camry, a box of baking soda feed my whole family, I got caught with a tek the high school banned me, my dog caught two bodies off one of xanny” (‘Scars’ from Protocol Vol. 2)
  46. “I done spent 3 summers, behind the wall, in the cold cell, getting no mail, facing murder 1, I got no bail. When my son was born I was in jail. When my brother got shot I was in jail. I’m in hell, I want to go right, I’m at the end of the tunnel but there’s no light.” (Understand, from I See Dead People)
  47. “Ridin’ dirty no insurance, still cruisin’, if I see an opp I hop out while it’s still moving, my man in a wheelchair and he still shooting, there’s a body on my gun and I still use it.” (Shut it Down w/ Oschino)
  48. “I get gwap – I was raised on a drug block, I’m a goon, I keep as mask in the glovebox” (We Run the Streets DVD)
  49. “I go hard, I play the car riding shotgun, my shoulder strap? A shoestring on a shotgun” (unnamed freestyle)
  50. “How you know when I got it but now when I’m hurting? ‘Cause when I went to jail you ain’t send me 30. Only the ones I call family seem to hurt me. A lot of nights I sat up and cried but nobody heard me.” (‘Scars’ from Protocol Vol. 2)