11 Classic Posse Cuts
For this installment of Tube Diggers, I decided to focus on an element of hip hop that is often overlooked in the highly competitive world of rap music. Collaborations have long been a part of the game, but more often than not, this just translates to the same few rappers doing verses on each other’s songs. Some of the finest tracks are produced when a number of artists from different backgrounds jump on a beat and craft a good old-fashioned posse cut. The sheer number of verses generally forces a rapper to bring his A-game in order not to be lost in a sea of words and rhyme styles.
There are quite a few appearances for Method Man and Redman on this list, which is probably a reflection both of my own preferences as well as the intriguing nature of the duo. Sometimes it can be difficult to sit through 7 minutes of straight rapping, however, the tracks on this list leave me wanting more bars. Unity is important, in life and in rap, so here are eleven classic tracks that I feel best epitomize the posse cut.
Big Daddy Kane, Scoob, Sauce Money, Shyheim, Jay-Z, & Ol’ Dirty Bastard – “Show and Prove”
I love almost every element of this song. The video depicts a cypher taking place in a random project park with the rappers appearing from out of the gathered crowd in time for their verses. All of the emcees hold their own in the song, but special notice has to go out to Shyheim who was the youngest Wu-Tang affiliate and around 14 at the time of the video. Sauce Money is an old Jay-Z affiliate who, in addition to his excellent verse on the song, would later go on to co-write the Grammy-winning B.I.G tribute song “I’ll Be Missing You”. Also notable on the track is a young Jay-Z, rapping with a hunger that’s long been absent.
Fat Joe, Nas, Big Pun, Jadakiss, & Raekwon – “John Blaze”
The best verse here probably goes to Big Pun, who at one point snarls, “I reign subliminal inside your visual/Try to supply your physical with my spiritual side of this lyrical.” Although there are no real weak verses on this track, Fat Joe probably has the worst rhymes – but that’s more of a testament to the other rappers. Nas and Raekwon finesse the beat as they’re known to, but the real hero of the song is Jadakiss for threatening to beat someone with soap in a sock.
Scarface, Bushwick Bill, Ice Cube, Kool G Rap – “Two to the Head”
This song not only brings together artists from the East and West but also the South, with Scarface’s strong opening verse. Every member on this track rips it, but Kool G’s conclusion takes the cake. For a song so narrow in focus (the elimination of one’s enemies), each rapper manages to do so with exciting originality. Best played loudly, preferably in a residential neighborhood.
2Pac, Daz Dillinger, Kurupt, Method Man, Redman – “Got My Mind Made Up”
Made at the height of East Coast x West Coast beef, this song blends some of the finest from both coasts. Method and Red slide onto the track in their traditional fashion, but the production (also handled by Daz) sports a strong left-coast leaning thanks to its heavy synths and snares. The best verse has to go to 2Pac, who effortlessly flows on the beat, but Method Man’s is a close second.
Chubb Rock, OC, Masta Ace, Jeru the Damaja – “Return of the Crooklyn Dodgers”
This song was commissioned for Spike Lee’s 1995 movie “Clockers”, as indicated by the music video containing scenes from the film. Produced by DJ Premier, the track is a smooth celebration of Brooklyn. Best verse is a tie between Jeru the Damaja and Chubb Rock: Chubb Rock almost entirely because of his cadenceand Jeru due to his incredibly holistic perspective of Brooklyn.
Biggie Smalls, Craig Mack, Rampage, LL Cool J, Busta Rhymes – “Flava in Ya Ear (Remix)”
One of the most iconic rap tracks of all time: Biggie unquestionably steals the show on this and I’ve probably had his verse memorized since the eighth grade. Notable features include the former Puff Daddy’s reference to the Warriors in the intro, as well as Rampage’s claim that he’s going to live long in the rap game despite easily being the most obscure person on the remix.
Master P, Fiend, Silk the Shocker, Mia X, Mystikal – “Make ‘Em Say Ugh”
Admittedly, this is one of the most completely ridiculous songs that has ever been recorded. All of the artists were signed to No Limit Records, but the sum of these manic experiences hits with the full force of a platinum tank. Either Mia X or Mystical take the cake but the entire song is so manic that it is almost impossible to say.
Erick Sermon, B-Real, Redman, MC Eiht, Sen Dog – “Throw Your Hands in the Air”
An incredibly funky beat and eclectic group of musicians come together for a solid tune about the art of the kick-back. As to be expected, there are more than a fair share of weed rhymes. Best verse, completely out of left field, goes easily to Erick Sermon.
The Notorious B.I.G., Coolio, Redman, Ill All Scratch, Big Mike, Busta Rhymes, Buckshot – “Tha Points”
This is another cut commissioned for a movie soundtrack, this time for the 1995 movie Panther, which traced the rise and fall of the Black Panther Party. Quick verses are the only things that save this song from a ten-minute runtime: there’s supposed to be a longer version of this as well, but I’m more than content with this one. Best verse goes easily to The Notorious One: “I want that presidential Rollie/So I crush MCs to guacamole/Making Robin scream, ‘Holy moly!’” Unreal.
Pharoahe Monch featuring Redman, Lady Luck, Method Man, Shaabam Shadeeq, Busta Rhymes – “Simon Says (Remix)”
The beat was already incredible, and the addition of more rappers only makes this track even more of a musical force. All the verses are nice, but the true winner here is Pharoahe Monch for not only rapping on this track but also producing such a knocker.
Lauryn Hill, Nas, Pharoahe Monch, Prince Po, Rass Kass, Shyeim, Dread Scott, Saafir – “Wake Up Show Anthem”
This is one version of the Wake Up Show theme song compiled from separate freestyles about the radio show. Very interesting to listen to semi-promotional raps about Sway. Everyone on this track is incredibly smooth and the Lauryn Hill hook is perfect. So groovy. Best verse easily goes to Nas Escobar, but Ras Kass is a strong contender for second place.