This definitely goes without saying but in terms of posse cuts:
You can front all you want but all these “hood anthems” we’re being bombarded with nowadays are straight up garbage, and forgettable. Does anyone remember Webbie was on the remix to “Speedin???” Who had your favorite verse on “Don’t Touch Me (Throw Da Water On ‘Em)???” And why is that we refer ever new Khaled collabo as “I’m So Hood Part ____???” The usual suspects of the era still managed to be everywhere there was a studio, but in terms of actually making an impact, the difference is vast. In this day and age, all these dudes are concerned with is cashing a check. And you can tell because that’s all their regurgitated rhymes entail.
While the days of MC’s battling on tracks for bragging rights may be an afterthought at the moment, the legacy is not. Backtrack for a few minutes with these collaborative efforts that’ll guarantee to cause chronic neck spasms when you relive them.
Theme: Audio firewater from 5 of New York’s hottest MC’s (at the time).
Hottest Line: I hate an actor that plays a rapper/I’m Terror Squad Beta Kappa/Everybody’s favorite rapper — Big Pun
Winner: Fat Joe
See, sometimes less is more. Pun and Rae undoubtedly dazzled with their lyrical gymnastics and Nas and Jada were sly as they wanted to be, but Joe Crack rode the beat with precise precision in the 4th quarter to remind you who put the fuckin’ shit together. It’s simple mathematics.
Theme: A trick to get people to purchase Phenomenon.
Producer: Erick Sermon
Hottest Line: Canibus is the type to fight for mics/beating niggas to death/and beating dead niggas to life — Canibus
The lukewarm P verse gets props for extending the song’s radio spins. And LL was nice with his performance but it was like your opponent going to bathroom in the middle of a chess game. You cheat. But all things considered, the rookie was the MVP for this joint.
Theme: Superheros in Hip-Hop! What else?
Producer: Clue & Duro
Hottest Line: Ay yo, the President is like me/he smoke weed too/Don’t really like to fuck/he just get head too — Noreaga
Unfortunately for Cam, ’98 was the year he was oft-confused with that Ruff Ryder cat, and Clue may have let Canibus’ “astronomical, physicomicals” run a little too long. With the Latino heavyweights battling for the belt, it was Nore’s charisma that allowed him to edge Pun in the photo finish. You could almost visualize him wildin’ in the booth with every ridiculous statement that he made.
Theme: A critical beatdown of a Swizz beat, complete with Timbs, hoodies, and chains.
Producer: Swizz Beatz
Hottest Line: I’m Paniro so I hate a snake, rat or a pig/I pop shit cuz I’m the 2nd best/the 1st was BIG – Styles P.
Winner: The Lox
If a gang of spotty solo albums over the years isn’t evidence enough, “Blackout” all but proves how the crew from Yonkers works better as unit. Not that Jay and X came weak, but with Sheek’s imagination, the gangsta of Styles, and Jada just being Jada, they stood no chance. They almost bodied them as bad as they did the Made Men that year…
Theme: Explicit, horny muzik
Producer: Swizz Beatz
Hottest Line: Disrespect and watch ya body cave in/Pump the shotty gauge in/Hit the shorty while he potty training/I ain’t playin’ — Big Pun
“Banned From T.V.” is without a doubt a monumental track. But Pun’s brief excerpt, Jada and Styles tag-teaming, and Nore’s rambling didn’t necessarily dominate the excessive horns that somewhat seem to overshadow them. Quality regardless.
Theme: Dirty South base bass heavy Hip-Hop
Producer: Mo-Suave-A Productions
Hottest Line: Don’t really want it to be like that but I’ll tear this bitch up if I have to/Shut this mutha-fucka down/bend it backwards!!! — Mystikal (You’ll have to hear it).
Winner: (Tie) Mystikal and Buk
The accomplice to Twista’s “Adrenaline Rush” hit the track with an unorthodox flow that had you guessing where each verse ended and began while Mystikal just straight up ripped shit. No slight to any of the track’s other players but these two just went above and beyond the call of duty.
Theme: 187. Redrum. Homocide. Death muthafucka, death!
Producer: Dame Grease
Hottest Line: My 16’s be so real/you can feel ‘em in ya veins like Romello’s Pops from Sugar Hill — Jadakiss
Another hard-headed nigga that wouldn’t listen/so you got/what you came for/(what’s that?)/Surgery with the chainsaw!/Grrrrr…. — DMX
This track is epic for a number of reasons. Not only is it the perfect closer to a beautifully morbid debut album, it’s also the nation’s first (if only) commercial appearance of Murda Ma$e – a young Harlem resident who specializes in killing homosexuals and abusing corpses. Lyrically, Jada and Styles were unfuckwitable and X, given the extra time expected for the track’s owner, did exactly what he was supposed to do: go apeshit, bananas and all. And Sheek, hell he took one for the team, getting outta the way early so his mans could get they shine. The result: 5 MCs, 5 Cig song.
Theme: A little bit of Shaft, a whole lotta heat, no Tarantino.
Producer: Erick Sermon
Hottest Line: Shit, I lost track @ Sheek’s verse.
It would’ve took some immaculate rhyme-slaying for Jigga to bring the click home after they overloaded the bases with incredible metaphors, but a cool, calm and collectively-conceptual Carter shut the building down in under a minute. Big thangs…
Honorable Mention: Pete Rock Feat. Raekwon, Prodigy, & Ghostface Killah – Tha Game