Hip hop music emerged at a time when MTV was a at the peak of its time and television has never been more ubiquitous. Hip hop has transcended its status as a mere musical genre and its aesthetic has dominated (and arguably, still dominates) the mainstream vibe with its own sense of style. Let us go back in time and take a trip into memory lane for ten of the best hip hop music videos of all time.
10. “One More Chance” by The Notorious B.I.G
Biggie achieved musical heights with his single “One More Chance” which elevated him from street to MTV cred. The “One More Chance” music video, however, is historical in hip hop since it featured one of the most defining traits of hip hop music videos: the girls (remember the video’s all-star cast featuring Faith Evans Aaliyah, Mary J. Blige a lot of other hotties?), the party, the attitude, and of course, that classic Biggie hook. Biggie has set a new standard, and it was a standard that is not that easy to top off.
9. “California Love” by 2Pac
Let’s jump from the east side to the other side of the coast. “California Love,” perhaps 2Pac’s biggest hit, has one hell of a video that captured the imagination of those who saw it, for real. 2Pac imagines California as the stage of a post-apocalyptic civil war, with the gangstas ruling the streets straight from Charles Darwin’s survival-of-the-fittest textbook. Anyone playing “California Love” in their stereos is bound to a trip in 2Pac’s chaotic vision of the city, and hell, you know that you are the one ruling the streets.
8. “Nuthin’ but a G Thang” by Dr. Dre feat. Snoop Dogg
Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg may have single-handedly put gangsta rap in the mainstream scene with the video of the single “Nuthin’ but a G Thang.” Straight from the landmark album The Chronic, the video is an embodiment of gangsta rap and the OG lifestyle. With its own share of attitude and of course, the iconic Snoop Dog slur, “Nuthin’ but a G Thang” is an icon in hip hop history, or, if the prefer, the mustard in your gangsta burger.
7. “Fight the Power” by Public Enemy
Let us try to make this list as varied as possible, so let’s put infuse some black power element. “Fight the Power” by Public Enemy is an excellent contrast to the increasingly dominant gansta rap trend especially in MTV. The riot feaures Flavor Flav and Chuck D hitting the streets with their rap-chants reminiscent of Dr. King’s civil rights demonstration. But Public Enemy is no swashbuckling slogan-shouting stunt– they delivered their message with incredible rhymes that anyone watching the video is bound to have his mind opened up to the real deal.
6. “Slam” by Onyx
Hip hop used to be huge, and we mean, that huge. If you are younger than 21 years old, you may have only heard how monumental hip hop was in its heyday, but if you want a taste of that time, watch the video of “Slam” by Onyx. Nothing really special about the video, except that you will see thousands of fans bubbling in a giant arena, pushing and pulling in an enormous mosh pit and Onyx’s three emcees guiding the crowd like pastors possessed by the Holy Ghost of hip hop. The energy and volume of this video is staggrring by its own right, and because of this the video deserves a place in our list.
5. “Madvillan” by All Caps
You may not have watched this video because it is not as hot as the other videos in our list, but the video of “Madvillain” by All Caps is a proof of hip hop being art. A gangster story narrated in animated comic book style, it is both a visual delight and a dose of nostalgia feels, especially if you have been reading comic books before. And of course, the beats and the rhymes are dope.
4. “Drop” by Pharycide
Now here’s where the masterpieces lie. Pharycide’s “Drop” is a classic in the field of music-making and also of music videos. “Drop” features the Pharycide members performing their single backwards, which was then replayed backwards, thereby creating an inexplicable visual effect which compliment the odd, freakish nature of the song. The video shows Pharycide going into great lengths just to prove their joke– they even hired a linguist to help them recite their lyrics backwards. Sick!
3. “Crossroadz” by Bone Thugz and Harmony
You’re walking down the street with booming earphones wrapped around your head. Everything seems so normal and dark until suddenly, “Crossroadz” plays and life becomes so filled with drama. Hey, that is not probably not the best description of it but “Crossroadz”’s video is so melodramatic and poignantly done that anyone who isn’t touched by watching this probably is stone-hearted. Or probably too stoned.
2. “Hail Mary: by Makaveli
2Pac’s early days are marked by different levels of awesomeness, and perhaps only a few may argue that this is the best 2Pac video, ever. “Hail Mary”’s storyline features a jail inmate set-up for the murder, which goes on for quite some time, until Makaveli emerges from his grave to avenge his death. The video is dark and scary, perhaps the darkest of 2Pac’s videos, and for anyone accustomed to the feel good hip hop vibe, this video is made to scare and scar you for life.
1. “Triumph” by The Wu-Tang Clan
Remember when killer bees from South America were causing public mass hysteria? Also remember when huge anacondas, giant piranhas, and sentient cockroaches was everybody’s nightmare? That was also the time when the Wu-Tang made waves with “Triumph,” perhaps one of the most elaborate and beautiful (!) hip hop music videos of all time. New York City is being swarmed by killer bees and the Wu- Tang Clan are introduced one by one, in different bad-ass scenarios. The chaos and confusion of bee-infested New York City became the stage for Wu-tang’s arrival, and everyone who saw the video never unsaw it for the rest of their lives.
What do you think of our list? Share your thoughts and let’s hear them!