The ten best rap videos run the gamut from funny to serious and message-laden. Due to the decline in popularity of videos in general over the past decade or so, many of the rap videos on the following list have been mined from the famed Golden Era of hip hop. However, there are a few contemporaries mixed in that prove hip hop can still tell a story both orally and visually.
- “Parents Just Don’t Understand” DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince. The production value may be low, but the sheer hilarity and craziness makes up for what the budget lacked. A rap video with more heart than skill, the sight of Will Smith and Jazzy Jeff being chased by Smith’s killjoy mother is etched into the brain of an entire generation.
- “Baby Got Back” Sir Mix-A-Lot. See it once, never forget it. That’s how memorable the video is for Mix-A-Lot’s breakout hit. Has any other rap video contained more booty shaking and close-ups of ladies behinds?
- “Tha Crossroads” Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. Who can forget the feeling packed into every line of this seminal hip hop tune or watching that emotion spill out in the video? And while in any other context it might be scary, when the eyes of the newly deceased turn black, it’s much more tragic than horrific.
- “The Real Slim Shady” Eminem. When it comes to his rap videos, Slim often packs the first single from each new album with a crazy, over-the-top video full of parody and caricature. He did it with “My Name Is…” and he did it for the first single on his “The Marshall Mathers LP” with “The Real Slim Shady.” It’s arguably the best of his spoof videos, featuring several celebrity cameos and leading off for what is often heralded as Eminem’s best album.
- “Stand Up” Ludacris. When it comes to the mainstream, Ludacris has managed a few knock-it-out-of-the-park hit singles. None is better, catchier, or has more staying power than “Stand Up," however, along with its video counterpart. When you see the midget hanging from Ludacris’ necklace, you’ll laugh out loud and then press rewind.
- “The Choice is Yours” Black Sheep. When it comes to watching a rap video that best captures the essence of early 90’s East Coast hip hop, this classic tune from Black Sheep is one of the best. Featuring gritty NY locales and behind an infectious beat, the video is one for the ages.
- “Humpty Dance” Digital Underground. Another over-the-top rap video by one of hip hop’s pioneering groups. The song itself is a party and the video amplifies that theme by one-thousand. Enjoyable to watch again and again.
- “Turn This Mutha Out” MC Hammer. What, no “U Can’t Touch This”? While Hammer’s hallmark tune produced a worthy contender, it simply doesn’t have the vibe or high energy as “Turn This Mutha Out.” And for a man who brought dancing and choreography in hip hop to a whole new level, that’s saying something.
- “I’ll Bee Dat” Redman. Reggie Noble’s a funny dude and he lets that humor shine in his lyrics. Perhaps no other rap video better represents that side of Redman than “I’ll Bee Dat” off his “Doc’s da Name 2000” album. While Red gripes about the expectations placed upon him, the video portrays many of these in hilarious, far-fetched ways.
- “Scenario” A Tribe Called Quest. Hip hop is first and foremost a culture, which is why much of R&B, Soul, Funk, etc., are nowadays labeled “hip hop.” This underscores to a community vibe that has permeated the genre since its inception. The song and rap video that portrays this community at its best? The legendary “Scenario” by A Tribe Called Quest with guests Leaders of the New School. Not stopping there, however, the video also features several cameos by the likes of Spike Lee, De La Soul, Brand Nubians, Redman, and others.
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