A countdown of the best hip hop music videos of all time, including classics from 2Pac, Outkast, and Missy Elliott.
“Rapper’s Delight” by The Sugarhill Gang
The Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” was released in 1979 and is widely considered to be the first hip hop song. The music video features the group performing the song in a New York City subway station.
“The Breaks” by Kurtis Blow
“The Breaks” by Kurtis Blow is often cited as one of the best hip hop music videos of all time. The video features Blow performing the song in a variety of locations, including a subway station, a park, and a club. The video is notable for its use of stop-motion animation, which gives it a unique look and feel.
“Walk This Way” by Run-D.M.C. feat. Aerosmith
Released in 1986, “Walk This Way” was a landmark moment in both hip hop and pop music. It was one of the first mainstream hip hop tracks to feature a guest artist, in this case the legendary rock band Aerosmith. The song’s music video was also groundbreaking, blending animation with live action to create a visually arresting clip that helped introduce hip hop to a wider audience.
“Fight the Power” by Public Enemy
“Fight the Power” is a song by American hip hop group Public Enemy, released as the lead single from their third album Fear of a Black Planet on May 20, 1990. The song features production by The Bomb Squad and is built around a Black Panther sample. “Fight the Power” peaked at number 1 on the Hot Rap Songs chart and number 20 on the Billboard Hot 100, making it Public Enemy’s only top 40 entry on the latter chart. In 1998, it was ranked number 88 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Songs of Hip Hop. Iconic for its hard-hitting social commentary about police brutality and racial inequality in America, “Fight the Power” has been widely cited as one of the most influential and innovative songs in hip hop history.
In 2010, Pitchfork Media placed it at number 13 on their Top 200 Tracks of the 90s list. In 2007, “Fight the Power” was ranked number 324 on Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. In 2005, the song was ranked number 421 in Blender’s 500 Songs to Hear Before You Die. In 2009, Rhapsody ranked it #2 on their Hip-Hop’s Bestseller List. Complex named “Fight the Power” one of top 25 songs that changed hip-hop forever in 2012.”
The music video for “Fight the Power” was directed by Spike Lee and features footage from his film Do the Right Thing intercut with footage ofPublic Enemy performing live. It opens with a quotation from Thurgood Marshall: “The Black man has no power in America.” The video then cuts to a scene from Do The Right Thing where Radio Raheem dies after being put in a chokehold by police officers. Next, it intercuts shots of people holding signs that read “STOP RACISM”, “NO JUSTICE NO PEACE”, and BLACK LIVES MATTER with footage from newsreels depicting various racially motivated violence against African Americans throughout history. Finally, it ends with footage of police brutality at an Uhuru rally which is ultimately dispersed by riot police using tear gas.”
“Can’t Touch This” by MC Hammer
Can’t Touch This is a song co-written and performed by MC Hammer from his 1990 album Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em. The track is considered to be Hammer’s signature song and is his most successful single. It peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming his second and final single to do so. Besides appearing in Hammer’s own video, the song has been parodied by several other artists.
“U Can’t Touch This” by MC Hammer
“U Can’t Touch This” by MC Hammer is undoubtedly one of the best hip hop music videos of all time. The video features Hammer dancing and rapping in front of a number of iconic landmarks in San Francisco, including the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. The video is energetic and fun, and it perfectly captures the spirit of Hammer’s music.
“Gin and Juice” by Snoop Dogg
“Gin and Juice” is a classic hip hop song by Snoop Dogg, released in 1993. The song was a huge hit, reaching #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and the accompanying music video was also very popular. The video features Snoop Dogg and his friends chilling out and having a good time, and it’s considered one of the best hip hop music videos of all time.
“Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang” by Dr. Dre feat. Snoop Dogg
“Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang” is a 1992 song by American rapper Dr. Dre, featuring fellow American rapper Snoop Dogg. The song, released on Dre’s debut solo album The Chronic, is credited as the first G-funk record. “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang” peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and became certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
“California Love” by 2Pac feat. Roger Troutman
Directed by Gregory Dark, “California Love” was one of the first hip hop music videos to feature extensive CGI effects. The video begins with a close-up of 2Pac’s face as he lip-syncs the opening lines of the song. As the camera pulls back, we see that 2Pac is in a virtual reality world where he is the only human inhabitant. He is surrounded by floating geometric shapes and dancing robots.
The video then cuts to footage of 2Pac and Roger Troutman performing in front of a live audience. We see them playing their instruments and rapping into microphones, with colorful lights flashing all around them. The audience members are shown dancing and singing along to the music.
At the end of the video, we see 2Pac in his virtual world again, surrounded by the dancing robots. The camera zooms in on his face as he smiles and nods his head to the beat of the music.
“In da Club” by 50 Cent
“In da Club” is a song by American rapper 50 Cent from his debut studio album Get Rich or Die Tryin’ (2003). The song was written by 50 Cent, Dr. Dre, Mike Elizondo, and Hafiz Windus, and produced by Dr. Dre with co-production credit from Elizondo. “In da Club” peaked at number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and charted in several other countries. The music video won Best Rap Video and Best New Artist at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards.
“Crazy in Love” by Beyoncé feat. Jay-Z
“Crazy in Love” by Beyoncé feat. Jay-Z is one of the best hip hop music videos of all time. The music video features Beyoncé and Jay-Z lip syncing and rapping to the song while they are driving in a convertible. The music video was directed by Jake Nava and was released in 2003.
“Black and Yellow” by Wiz Khalifa
Wiz Khalifa’s “Black and Yellow” was released in September of 2010, and quickly became an anthem for the Pittsburgh Steelers. The song charted at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, and the accompanying music video has amassed over 600 million views on YouTube.
The video features Wiz Khalifa driving around his hometown of Pittsburgh, interspersed with footage of the city’s skyline and sports teams. The video also contains cameos from a number of Pittsburgh-based rappers, including Mac Miller, Chevy Woods, and Juicy J.
“All Me” by Drake feat. 2 Chainz & Big Sean
Directed by X, this 2013 music video for Drake’s “All Me” features cameos from Lil Wayne, 2 Chainz, and Big Sean. The video is set in a lavish mansion, and the four rappers are shown living it up and enjoying the fruits of their success. Despite the opulent setting, the video still manages to feel down-to-earth and relatable, thanks to X’s clever direction.
“Anaconda” by Nicki Minaj
“Anaconda” is a song by American rapper and singer Nicki Minaj, from her third studio album, The Pinkprint (2014). It was released on August 4, 2014 by Young Money Entertainment, Cash Money Records, and Republic Records as the second single from the album. The song was produced by Polow da Don, AnonXmous, and Da Internz. The song heavily samples “Baby Got Back” (1992) by Sir Mix-a-Lot.
Upon its release, “Anaconda” peaked at number two on the US Billboard Hot 100, becoming Minaj’s highest-charting single in the United States to date. It went on to spend eight weeks in the top ten of the Hot 100 chart. In October 2014, the song was certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), denoting sales of over two million copies in the United States. To date, “Anaconda” has sold over three million copies worldwide.
The accompanying music video for “Anaconda” was directed by Darris Hurley and features cameos from fellow rappers Lil Wayne, Drake and Meek Mill. It broke the 24-hour streaming record on Vevo by accumulating 19.6 million views in its first day of release, as well as breaking the Vevo Record for most views in a single day and most views for a music video by a female artist in 24 hours.
“Hotline Bling” by Drake
Released in October 2015, “Hotline Bling” instantly became a viral sensation, thanks in large part to its iconic music video. The video features Drake dancing in a variety of colorful settings, including a dimly lit room and an empty parking lot. The simple, yet effective, video perfectly complements the catchy song and has cemented “Hotline Bling” as one of the best hip hop music videos of all time.
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