Saturday, January 26, 2013

Top 20 Posse Cuts

Much like other important elements in hip hop, the distinguished "posse cut" has all but been pushed aside, mostly in favor of just getting a somewhat large number of artists on one song and calling it a remix or whatever. In the 80s and 90s, whether you knew ahead of time about who would be on a specific cut or found out after the fact, not only was the anticipation for said cut understandably high, but each artist brought something creative and different to the table, instead of sounding like everyone else, and in my humble opinion, that's what make the following 20 posse cuts memorable and stand out from all the rest. Instead of placing these in any kind of order, I'm going to go by the year each song was released.

1. Marley Marl (featuring Craig G, Masta Ace, Kool G Rap, and Big Daddy Kane) - The Symphony (1988)
Produced By: Marley Marl

"I don't care who's first or who's last, I know y'all betta rock this at the drop of a dime baby!" -Marley Marl

What better way to begin this list than with my personal pick for best posse cut ever. Over a thumping Marley Marl track, all four MCs deliver memorable verses with such ease. True classic indeed.

Best verse: Hands down, Big Daddy Kane. When he says "end of story", that was it right there!

2. De La Soul featuring A Tribe Called Quest, Jungle Brothers, Monie Love, and Queen Latifah - Buddy (Remix) (1989)
Produced By: Prince Paul & De La Soul

This one right here still holds up, and one key aspect is that to this day when you watch the video and listen to the song, the atmosphere is fun and everyone is having the time of their lives, and that's what it was about back then. Yes, there were social and political themes at the time, but it was well balanced with songs that put a smile on your face and made you feel good. This may be De La's best song ever, key words, may be.

Best verse: I honestly never thought about this until now. As far the best verse here, I'm not even sure, but off top I would go with either Q-Tip or Monie Love.

3. The D.O.C. featuring N.W.A. - The Grand Finale (1989)
Produced By: Dr. Dre & DJ Yella

D.O.C, Dre, Eazy, Ren, and Cube effectively close out the classic "No One Can Do It Better" album with this banger.

Best verse: Wow, it's a complete toss up between Cube and D.O.C.

4. Main Source featuring Nas, Joe Fatal, and Akinyele - Live At The BBQ (1991)
Produced By: Main Source

The song that introduced Nas to the hip hop world, and it's one hell of an introduction. Not only does Nas start things off RIGHT, Fatal, Akinyele, and Large Professor also deliver well timed and tight verses of their own.

Best verse: Do you even have to ask? Nas stole the show, no question.

5. A Tribe Called Quest featuring Leaders of the New School - Scenario (Remix) 1992
Produced By: A Tribe Called Quest

You had to know I went back and forth about whether I would include this or the original. Don't get me wrong, the original version of "Scenario" is a classic, but I've always preferred the remix. Over a NICELY sampled version of Kool & The Gang's "Soul Vibrations" (I feel this song flipped it the best), Tribe and LONS displayed their very good chemistry with other. The original version gives it a run for its money, but make no mistake about it, this remix is superior.

Best verse: Hood starts it off proper, followed up with an equally tight verse from Phife, BUT, the best verse here simply belongs to Busta Rhymes, much like the original.

6. EPMD featuring Redman and K-Solo - Headbanger (1992)
Produced By: EPMD

The Ruff Ryders may have covered this one in 1999, but it pales in comparison to its predecessor. 1992 seemed to be a good year when it came to posse cuts, and this one is no different. I also feel the underground style of this one is what makes it stand out so much, not to mention tight performances by all four MCs.

Best verse: "Hardcore" on the "Business As Usual" album introduced Redman, but it was this song that put him on the map in a major way, and it's obvious he has the best verse here.

7. Kool G Rap & DJ Polo featuring Scarface, Ice Cube, and Bushwick Bill - Two To The Head (1992)
Produced By: Sir Jinx and Kool G Rap

Man, it doesn't get any more gangsta than this. This song closes the "Live And Let Die" in a major way, and with the awesome G Rap, Cube circa 92/Predator era, Face & Bill one year after the seminal "We Can't Be Stopped", it doesn't get any better than that.

Best verse: With Face, G Rap, and Cube on the same track, circa 92, you'd be hard pressed to pick the best verse in a song. So, with that being said, taking the small suspense out, lol, I'm going with G Rap.

8. LL Cool J featuring Prodigy, Keith Murray, Fat Joe, and Foxy Brown - I Shot Ya (Remix) 1995
Produced By: The Trackmasters

We takes things to 1995, one of my personal favorite years, especially in hip hop music. After the underwhelming "14 Shots To The Dome" album in 93, LL returned with a vengeance in 95, and for this classic, he got a creatively on a roll Prodigy, a hungry Keith Murray, a then hardcore Fat Joe, and new femcee Foxy Brown, and what resulted was one of the illest posse cuts you'll ever hear.

Best verse: Oh man, it's another toss up, this time between Prodigy and LL.

9. Mobb Deep featuring Nas and Raekwon - Eye For An Eye (Your Beef Is Mines) 1995
Produced By: Mobb Deep

Speaking of Prodigy, lyrically he was at the top of his game on "The Infamous", one of my top 10 favorite albums of all time. This song is a popular example, and one word to describe it: dope. Prodigy's delivery here is SO ruggedly smooth that you almost don't want his verse to end. Havoc spits a nice verse, and from there, we get the introduction of the next phase of Nas' career (Nas Escobar), and Raekwon, in FULL Chef/OB4CL mode here. Straight fire!

Best verse: There aren't too many artists who can claim they had the best verse on a song with Nas on it, but honestly, I gotta go with Prodigy on this one.

10. Busta Rhymes featuring Jamal, Redman, Keith Murray, Rampage, and Lord Have Mercy - Flipmode Squad Meets Def Squad (1996)
Produced By: The Vibe Chemist Backspin

8:10 of hardcore rhymes over a TIGHT beat, and with these two squads, what more can you ask for.

Best verse: Initially, I always thought Busta had the best verse, but after thinking about it plus listening to often over the years, Redman wins.

11. Lord Finesse featuring Sadat X, Grand Puba, and Large Professor - Actual Facts (1996)
Produced By: Jesse West and Myke Loe

We get another awesome closer here, this time on the very good/slept on "Awakening" album from Lord Finesse. This song is likely one of the more underrated selections on this list, but either way, it still holds up today.

Best verse: Grand Puba, ill punchlines with a smooth flow, he owns this one.

12. 2Pac featuring Redman, Method Man, and Tha Dogg Pound - Got My Mind Made Up (1996)
Produced By: Dat N**** Daz

This excellent song was done at a time when the tensions between the East and West Coast were at an all time high. It's also one of the best blends, if you will, of true talent from both coasts on one track, something we really don't get anymore. 

Best verse: Method Man

13. Boot Camp Clik (Buckshot, Smif N Wessun, OGC, and Heltah Skeltah) - Headz Are Reddee Pt. 2 (1997)
Produced By: Swan and Boogie Brown

This may not be the ideal choice for a posse cut, considering that all of the MCs here are under the same roof, but it still has that "posse cut vibe" if you ask me. Take a look at the video. The chemistry is there, of course, everyone is enjoying themselves, the lyrics are on point, the beat is nice, and it was the highlight on the disappointing "For Da People" album. This song is likely the best representation ever of their crew on record.

Best verse: Probably Ruck (aka Sean Price)

14.  Lost Boyz featuring A+, Redman, and Canibus - Beasts From The East (1997)
Produced By: Bink Dawg

This joint right here is probably the second most underrated song on this list after "Actual Facts". With all due respect to Cheeks, Redman, and A+, Canibus, who was delivering classic verse after verse at this point, literally owned this song, and it was only fitting that he close it also.

Best verse: Canibus

15. Mase featuring The Lox, Black Rob, and DMX - 24 Hours To Live (1997)

Now, don't shake your head at this pick because Mase is on it. Not only is this the highlight of his "Harlem World", but this is possibly the best thing he's ever done, lyrically, and you can likely thank Lox, Rob, and DMX for lighting a fire under him, so to speak. Everyone here descriptive tells what they would do if they had 24 hours to live, and surprisingly, I don't think a topic of this type has been touched since in hip hop.

Best verse: DMX

16. LL Cool J featuring Redman, Method Man, DMX, and Canibus) - 4,3,2,1 (1997-1998)
Produced By: Erick Sermon

For starters, I still have to ask, who's bright idea was it to have MASTER P on the remix????? He contributed NOTHING. Moving on, this was likely the best posse cut in 1998, and it also indirectly started the "battle/beef" between LL and Canibus, almost giving us the first "battle within the song" (that would've been interesting had it played out that way), however, that's another discussion for another day. The star power here is awesome, as you had the well known (LL, Red, and Meth) with two MCs looking to make their mark in hip hop in a major way (DMX & Canibus). And saying that this was the best song on LL's "Phenomenon" album is an understatement.

Best verse: Good God, to this day, I have NO idea, lol, so I gotta go "push" on this one.

17. Jay-Z featuring The Lox, Sauce Money, and Beanie Sigel - Reservoir Dogs
Produced By: Erick Sermon

To quote Jay-Z from the "Hard Knock Life" album insert:

"That's what happens when you put a hot track in the studio with a bunch of n***** and lock the doors, a bunch of ill n*****. You never know what's gonna come out. Big things, the lyrics."

Hov was right, and boy were the lyrics from all involved ON POINT over a sick Shaft sampled track courtesy of Erick Sermon.

Best verse: Jay's verse ends it on a perfect note, however, I would probably give it to Sauce Money, by a hair.

18. Noreaga featuring Nature, Big Pun, Jadakiss, Styles P, and Cam'ron - Banned From TV (1998)
Produced By: Swizz Beatz

Over one of one Swizz best beats ever, this cast of MCs blazed this track with such lyrical prowess. Nature delivered his best verse ever on this song, no question.

Best verse: Pun is the pick here, with Nature being a VERY close second.

19. Fat Joe featuring Nas, Big Pun, Raekwon, and Jadakiss - John Blaze (1998)
Produced By: Ski

I did have Onyx's "The Worst" on this list, but I had to make an IMMEDIATE change once it dawned on me that I left this one out. I remember reading a comment about Fat Joe being on a song where literally his guests clearly outshined him, lol. Let's give Joe his due, he was good on this one, likely the second best posse cut of 1998.

Best verse: The late great Big Pun.

20. Pharoahe Monch featuring Redman, Method Man, Busta Rhymes, Lady Luck, and Shaabam Shadeeq - Simon Sayz (Remix) 1999
Produced By: Pharoahe Monch

We close out the list with another star studded lineup. The beat itself is a complete banger, as these MCs bless it with hardcore finesse. Great job all around.

Best verse: Initially I gave it to Meth, by a hair. That may change though, lol.

Wow, this list took some TIME to put together, and if you notice, all 20 selections were in the 80s and 90s. I know post 1999 there were a good number of posse cuts to come along, but during hip hop's glory years, the posse cut MEANT something, instead of just throwing 10 or more names on a song just for the sake of doing it. As usual with a list like this, I know I probably left some joints out, and if that's the case, feel free to respond in the Comments section below, as well as Facebook and Twitter. I look forward to any comments! Next week I'll be doing Top 20 or 26 collaborations.

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