Ad libs (libs!) are half exclamation points emphasizing each bar, and half branding. The best ones add a unique style without being annoying (bad!) and will have you yelling them loudly in your car. Here are 10 artists that are pushing ad lib culture to the next level.
10. Lil’ Yachty
Lil’ Yachty has one of the most distinct singing voice I’ve ever heard. Even when it’s slathered with auto tune you know immediately when lil’ boat is on a track. I still don’t understand why he’s “Lil Yachty” when yachts are just large boats. Or why he says “lil boat” when he’s a small yacht. But every time I hear him say “lil boat”, it fills me with joy.
9. Rick Ross
Ross isn’t famous for his ad libs but his trademark “HUH” makes the list because of how weirdly aggressive it is. It’s also the sound Rick makes if somebody reaches for his Wingstop Lemon Pepper wings.
8. Pusha T
I was introduced to Pusha-T’s “YEUGH” on “Mama I’m so Sorry”, the first track off “Hell Hath No Fury”. If you don’t know that album you cannot claim to be a fan of hip hop.
It fits because it’s the sound we all make after being absolutely disgusted at how filthy his bars are.
7. Lil Uzi Vert
“Yuh, Wait, huh?”
Lil Uzi’s ad libs always sound like you just woke him up from a nap and he’s trying to figure out where he is. He uses them as a crutch on most songs, most notably bad and boujee, but you can’t deny how unique and recognizable they are. Uzi is 99% swag, 1% lyrics.
6. Chance the Rapper
“Ahh! Ahh! Ahh!”, “na-na-na-ne-ne-ne-na”
Acid Rap is one of my favorite mixtape releases ever, but it took me a while to warm up to the constant fucking NA NA NANA NAN NAs that are threaded through every second of every song. Chance comes off as an annoying little kid at first, but once you catch the ultra positive vibes he puts out, you can’t help but NANANANA with him.
5. Schoolboy Q
“YAWK YAWK YAWK” “UNH?”
When you hear “YAWK YAWK YAWK” you know you’re either getting robbed or a Schoolboy Q song is on. His ad libs are loud and unapologetic, just like Groovy Q.
4. Young Jeezy
“Ha-ha!” “Yeeeeeeeeah!” “That’s right!” “Daaayuuum!”
The Godfather of the modern ad lib, Young Jeezy is the inspiration to this new crop of young artists. Listen to Thug Motivation 101 and you’ll hear what every new rapper sounds like these days minus the auto tune.
3. Famous Dex
“DEXTER!” “Ah What?” “I do!”
Famous Dex is on the cusp of being really famous and I couldn’t be happier. He’s one of my favorite personalities in music, mostly due to his ad libs. And what he lacks in lyrical dexterity (sorry) he more than makes up for with Charisma. His ad libs are over the top and goofy as hell. I can’t get enough.
Literally everything they say
The Migos have pushed the ad lib culture forward like nobody else since they started. No matter what Quavo, Offset, or the other one says, it has to be immediately emphasized in the simplest terms (Simple!).
Migos have taken ad libs to the extreme, and in the process created a style that’s been copied by everybody from 2 Chainz to Katy Perry. Their transitions and timing are smoother than a fresh jar of skippy, and it’s mesmerizing to listen to .
1. Travis Scott
“YEAH!”, “al-RIGHT”, “STRAIGHT UP”, “IT’S LIT”
La Flame is the undisputed king of ad libs. His auto tuned shouting in the background almost eclipses the bars in his songs. Who hasn’t screamed out “YAH!”, or “It’s LIT!” in a high pitched voice during “Pick up the Phone”? The combination of originality, non-annoyingness, and the immediate desire to imitate them make him the #1 spot on this list.
If you haven’t yet, give “Modern Slavery” from Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho a listen. Unfortunately, the rest of the album is boring as shit, but the first track shows what it could have been, with Quavo and Scott, the Michael Jordan and Scotty Pippen of ad libs, passing the baton back and forth with surgical precision.