Video: Ameer Vann ft. Kevin Abstract – “Rabbits”

Across the music blogosphere, rappers often get criticized for their content not possessing the same level of depth that characterized rap in the (often hyper-idealized) past. That’s not an unfair complaint: Artists should be held to high standards, particularly in a genre where the barriers to entry are astoundingly low. Being a great rapper doesn’t always mean you’ve written the most illuminating, revolutionary rhymes. In some cases, pure, skilled technical rapping is a really healthy first step on the road to becoming a great rapper (shocking concept, no?).

On the first verse of “Rabbits,” 16 year-old rapper Ameer Vann snaps. It might sound like a familiar narrative at this point–teenage rapper packs verse full of stacked-syllables and internal rhymes, impresses on the internet–but, well, just listen to that verse. And take a look at some his lyrics:

How something so vicious could be so gifted with the diction/While sipping on the medicine wrote the first drafts of oedipus/So eloquent with elegance my goons got that silk shirt etiquette/Once equipped we the deadliest nemesis since the serpent of genesis

While it isn’t the most groundbreaking sixteen bars, its a clever, technically intricate display from a promising young rapper who, once paired with the right content (as a great and oft-quoted writing teacher told me in college: “Just live.”), could be reasonably be expected to evolve into a serious force. Sometimes even our rap heroes have to take time to simply flex a little, word to Kendrick‘s “Rigamortus.”

For his part, accompanying emcee Kevin Abstract acquits himself nicely with a charismatic second verse, but his appearance doesn’t quite have the same impact as Vann’s opening salvo. This juxtaposition shows the beauty of talented young rap crews: Competition inspiring the quest for excellence.