Top 5 Rap Posse Cuts
The posse cut: a rap song form sprung from the street corner/lunch table cyphers, which is becoming increasingly consigned to hip hop's golden past. Recent examples are few and far between (the best probably coming from the Odd Future camp in the form of OF Tape Vol. 2 closer 'Oldie'), but the showmanship and verse interplay of the style was once a de rigueur addition to any self-respecting rap album. The knowledge oracle Wikipedia describes the posse cut as a track that "involves successive verses by four or more rappers," which seems like as good a set of parameters to compile our list from as any. Here are five of the best, in no particular order…
'Scenario' – A Tribe Called Quest
The amped up anthem from Tribe's much-lauded second album, The Low End Theory, explodes out of the blocks with tight verses from Phife, Tip and guests Leaders of the New School. A particularly fiery contribution from a young Busta Rhymes is often cited as the making of the cackly voiced MC.
'Live at the Barbeque' – Main Source
The rowdy "ahhhs" and "hooos" that open Main Source's 'Live at the Barbeque' emphasise the 'all in together' ethos of one of rap's classic posse cuts. The deft wordplay over a rolling breakbeat from Large Professor, Fatal and Akinyele is often overlooked due to the first appearance on wax for a young Queens MC by the name of Nasir Jones. Nas' opening verse, complete with archetypal couplets like "poetry attacks, paragraphs punch hard/my brain is insane, I'm out to lunch God", preceded the release of the imperious Illmatic by almost three years.
'93 'til Infinity' – Souls of Mischief
A subsection of Oakland, California collective Hieroglyphics, Souls of Mischief have the advantage over some others in this list of comprising multiple group members, and not having to draft in any ringers to make this list (see also: Wu-Tang Clan). The title track from debut album 93 'til Infinity is one of hip hop's finest - posse cut or otherwise – and its breezy jazz feel stands in stark contrast to the hard-hitting G-Funk sounds the state was becoming known for at the time. Throwing verses backwards and forwards over a lavish sample from Billy Cobham's 'Heather', A-Plus, Opio, Phesto and Tajai extend their posse credentials with a long list of shouts to crew members as the track fades.
'Protect Ya Neck'/Protect Ya Neck' (The Jump Off) – Wu-Tang Clan
"Two tracks?? Cheat!" we hear you cry. Well that's how life works, and besides, the two cuts (from Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) and The W respectively) share both a name and a devastating approach, with the lyrical skills of every group member from unquestionably the greatest collective ever to grace the world of rap on full display. Both kicked off by Inspectah Deck's witty similes, contributions from Ghostface and the rapper's rapper Gza are, as ever, particular highlights. When it comes to posse cuts, Wu-Tang have them by the album's worth.
'Da Graveyard' – Big L
The late Big L turned heads with his 1995 debut Lifestlyez ov da Poor & Dangerous - sadly the only album to be released during his short lifetime. Despite showing an immense propensity for bad spelling, the LP is an unheralded classic, and contained the last of the posse cuts to make this list. 'Da Graveyard' pulls together rappers Microphone Nut, Party Arty, Y.U, Digging in the Crates cohort Lord Finesse, and, like 'Live at the Barbeque', it also sees an early appearance by a future rap kingpin – this time a pre-Reasonable Doubt Jay-Z. Big L steals the show over a heavyweight production from Buckwild, demonstrating the dextrous wordplay for which he became known and, subsequently, missed.
That's our five. Feel free to tell us how wrong we are in the comments below, as that's what the Internet's there for.
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