Every generation needs its poets and here's the 23 musical scribes who define 2010.

Meanwhile, you can vote for the best lyricists ever here.

Words: Emily Mackay, Matt Wilkinson, Barry Nicolson, Mark Beaumont, Laura Snapes, Dan Martin, Sam Wolfson, Martin Robinson, Jaimie Hodgson


Forty years young, he may be mates with Obama but behind Jay-Z’s celebrity are some of the best verses in hip-hop history

Whatever Jay-Z does he does it better than everyone else. Bragging about his sexual exploits? ‘Girls Girls Girls’ confirms Jigga’s playa status with some of the funniest lines in hip-hop.Confirming his place at the top of the pile?

Listen to ‘Ride Or Die’ to hear him making cracks about ghostwriting for his clueless competition. Even when Jay turns in with the obligatory emotional track about his dad, he manages to avoid the schmaltz, making ‘Moment Of Clarity’ sound like he grew up on the set of The Godfather. Last year’s ‘The Blueprint 3’ edged him further ahead of the pack, in turn making “the Yankie hat more famous than
a Yankie can”.

Key lyric: “I got this French chick that love to French kiss/She thinks she’s Bo Derek/Wear her hair in a twist/Ma cherie amore, tu es belle/Merci, you fine as fuck but you givin’ me hell”
(‘Girls Girls Girls’, from ‘The Blueprint’, 2001)


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