10 Favorite Posse Cuts in Rap History: The 50th Anniversary of Hip-Hop

50th anniversary of hip-hop posse cuts

In the vibrant tapestry of musical genres, few have ignited cultural revolutions and reshaped the sonic landscape like hip-hop. As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of this genre that birthed a global movement, we embark on a rhythmic journey through time, paying homage to the dynamic evolution of hip-hop’s collaborative spirit. At the heart of this celebration lies the captivating phenomenon known as the posse cut—a testament to unity, diversity, and lyrical artistry.

A posse cut is a testament to the camaraderie that forms the foundation of hip-hop culture. It’s a musical masterpiece born from the collaboration of multiple rap artists, each contributing their distinctive voice, style, and perspective to create a banger. This term, deeply ingrained in rap’s lexicon, encapsulates the essence of togetherness, capturing the magic that occurs when a collective of talented emcees converge on a single track.

Throughout the decades, posse cuts have emerged as milestones in hip-hop history, serving as benchmarks for the genre’s evolution and growth. From the gritty streets to mainstream prominence, these tracks are the sonic landmarks that chart the progress of hip-hop’s global journey, showcasing how it has transcended boundaries and defied norms.

I don’t pretend to be a hip-hop historian but have been a fan long enough to celebrate my 15 favorite posse cuts of all-time. From the pioneering days of hip-hop’s inception to its contemporary zenith, these tracks represent the dynamic spectrum of the genre—from social commentary to storytelling, from fiery delivery to thought-provoking introspection.

Each posse cut is a testament to the enduring spirit of hip-hop. These tracks encapsulate not just the music, but the culture, history, and lived experiences of a global community that finds its voice through the rhythm of the beat and the power of the word.

Find a playlist of all 15 of my favorite posse cuts of all-time at the bottom of this post.

“1TRAIN” BY A$AP Rocky, Kendrick Lamar, Joey Bada$$, Yelawolf, Danny Brown, Action Bronson, and Big K.R.I.T.

Born from A$AP Rocky’s debut album Long. Live. A$AP, the track’s inception is a testament to the genre’s unity. The combination of Kendrick Lamar, Joey Bada$$, Yelawolf, Danny Brown, Action Bronson, Big K.R.I.T., and A$AP Rocky evokes a magnetic blend over the nostalgic boom-bap beats and modern flair of Hitboy’s production, which also utilizes a sample from the 2003 song “Senen” by Syrian artist Assala Nasri for additional gravitas. This song was used in both Eastbound & Down and Entourage back in HBO’s heyday.

“I wanted to make a posse cut that felt like an original ’90s underground track, and I didn’t have to tell anyone what to do,” A$AP told MTV News in 2013 of putting the song together. “The beat is self-explanatory — when you hear it, it just makes you wanna flow on some backpacker sh–.”

When talking about how he went about choosing who to feature, A$AP added: “I took it upon myself to feature all the people who I respect as artists of my generation — Danny Brown, K.R.I.T, Yelawolf, Joey Bada$$, Action Bronson, Kendrick — I feel like they fit the criteria of the underground feel. I could’ve easily went and got Puff Daddy or Rick Ross, but I felt like this one needed the young feeling to it,” he said. “And everybody came and ripped it in their own way. Nobody sounded alike, everybody took it back to the essence and they bodied it, executed it.”

Favorite bar: Though A$AP’s favorite verse on the song comes from BIG K.R.I.T., Danny Brown has my favorite verse and favorite bar: “Antsy ’cause I’m high like Michael Jackson, penny loafers / Moonwalkin’ on the sun, barefoot, with shades on”. Danny Brown has the most fun on the track in general.

Bitch Please II” by Eminem, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Xzibit, and Nate Dogg

This was a seminal track of my early teens. From Eminem’s landmark sophomore full-length record The Marshall Mathers LP, everyone went off on this one. Oddly, this is one of only two times that Eminem and Snoop Dogg ever linked up on a studio track, with the other being “From the D 2 the LBC” from Eminem’s second greatest hits album released in 2022. They also performed together at the Super Bowl halftime show that February.

This is one of those instances where the sequel is significantly better than the original, like Terminator and Paddington. The original was Snoop Dogg, Xzibit, and Nate Dogg, and this one has all three originators along with Em and Dre.

Nate Dogg’s hook is one of my absolute favorite of his, and that is saying something. This track went a long ways towards establishing Eminem as in with the crowd, as his debut album didn’t have the features of album two. Getting all these heavy hitters on one track together was a home run.

Favorite bar: Xzibit hits a couple home runs in his verse. It’s between “Gotta love it ’cause I expose the facade / Your little lungs is too small to hotbox with God” or “It’s like ashes to ashes and dust to dust / I might leave in a bodybag, but never in cuffs”.

“We Do This” by Too $hort, 2Pac, MC Breed, and Father Dom

Just a year before 2Pac’s tragic passing, he hopped on a track by Bay Area now legend Too $hort along with MC Breed and Father Dom called “We Do This” from $hort’s ninth record Cocktails, which dropped in 1995. $hort actually saw Tupac a couple of hours before the drive-by, bumping into him in Las Vegas on the night of the Mike Tyson-Frank Bruno rematch. They had plans to meet up later at a club for an open-mic night of legends and Tupac never made it.

It’s a shame we were robbed of potentially a couple more collabs between these two as Tupac had so much love for the Bay Area. The classic Oakland sound of producer Ant Banks was a perfect match for Tupac, who closed the song with my favorite bars: “The city of Oaktown laced me with my first case / When them punk police tried to break me / Didn’t think the shit was cute, so I got a lawsuit / Made them punk police buy my Coupe / This is how we do this”.

“24 Hrs. to Live” by Mase, The LOX (Sheek Louch, Styles P, Jadakiss), Black Rob, DMX, and Puff Daddy

No this isn’t about the classic episode of Hey Arnold! This song from Mase’s debut album Harlem World wound up charting despite never being released as a single. A highlight of the epic Verzuz battle between The LOX and Dipset was seeing LOX perform this song as a shot against Cam’ron who was a big rival of Mase.

What made this song standout amongst the rest of the posse cuts is it had a unique idea to it. Each rapper’s verse on the track is about what they would do if they only had 24 hours to live.

Favorite bar: DMX embodies everything you need to know about the man with his opening bars on the track: “Twenty-four left until my death / So I’m gon’ waste a lot of lives but I’ll cherish every breath”

“Monster” by Kanye West, JAY-Z, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj, and Bon Iver

Never in a million years did I think you’d get Kanye, Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj, and … Bon Iver? … on the same track. The drum-heavy production is a perfect backdrop for the heavy bars from all these rap juggernauts.

Rick Ross wasn’t even supposed to be on this track, arriving in Hawaii where Kanye was working on his own stuff in order to work with Kanye on a Rick Ross track for his upcoming album. Ross walked into the studio while Kanye was working on “Monster” and was so impressed he recorded a verse for it. Ross arrived as Jay-Z and Nicki were recording their verses, and was so blown away he referred to it in a 2010 MTV interview as “a moment in history”, saying he knew then Nicki “was one of the greatest”. Nicki was excited to work on the song mostly to meet Jay-Z, who was an inspiration to her. She told Rap Up, “Never in a billion years would’ve thought that I would’ve not only been on a song with one of them but both them”

Kanye is such a visionary producer that he had reached out to indie folk songwriter Bon Iver with the intent to try and sample his song “Woods” and then after a 40-minute conversation, invited him to Hawaii to work together.

Favorite bars: Nicki really went off on this track and proved she could hang with icons. “So let me get this straight, wait, I’m the rookie? / But my features and my shows ten times your pay? / 50K for a verse, no album out / Yeah, my money’s so tall that my Barbies got to climb it”

“Flava in Ya Ear (Remix)” by Craig Mack, Busta Rhymes, LL Cool J, Rampage, The Notorious B.I.G.

The original version of this track happened to be the first-ever single from Sean Combs’ Bad Boy Records, and Craig Mack and B.I.G. were the first two signees of the label. The East Coast bump bap is heavy on this one. The odd thing about this posse cut is that the original rapper is completely overshadowed by everyone else on this track. This holds up as one of B.I.G.’s best verses ever. Busta closes the song with the second-best verse.

Favorite bars: A young Biggie Smalls drops the fiercest verse on this track before his own debut record even dropped. “N****s is mad I get more butt than ash trays / Fuck a fair one, I get mine the fast way / Ski mask way, n****, ransom notes / Far from handsome, but damn a n**** tote / More guns than roses, foes is shaking in their boots / Invisible bully like The Gooch / Disappear, vamoose, you’re wack to me / Take them rhymes back to the factory.”

“Scenario” by A Tribe Called Quest ft. members of Leaders of the New School (including Busta Rhymes)

Regarded by many as the best posse cut of all-time, this is also one of the best hip-hop songs of all-time, period. It’s also one of the best album closers of all-time, as it closed things out on ATCQ’s iconic Low End Theory record which took the group from a good hip-hop group to an all-timer. Busta Rhymes spreads his wings on this one and shows potential as a future star on his own. This song really took off in part thanks to a mesmerizing Arsenio Hall Show performance in 1992. Phife Dawg kicks this song off with an incredible verse and Busta’s unconventional wordplay and bombastic delivery closes this song in a chef’s kiss.

Favorite bars: Busta made his star turn with this one. “Rawr! Rawr! Like a dungeon dragon / Change your little drawers, ’cause your pants are saggin’ / Try to step to this, I will twist you in a turban / And have you smellin’ rank like some old, stale urine”.

“John Blaze” by Fat Joe, Nas, Big Pun, Jadakiss, Raekwon

Four of NY’s finest gathered and joined Fat Joe on this track from his third album Cartagena. Joe detailed how the song came together in a 2011 interview with Complex:

That was a classic collaboration. It was around the time when everyone was getting together. Nore came after that with ‘Banned From TV’, and his shit was crazy too. I just wanted to get the nicest n****s in the game.

Also, Pun was behind that. Pun was like, ‘We gotta get Nas and me on the same track.’ Like I said, he wanted to get his favorite rappers on a song and go crazy. [Laughs.] So we had Jadakiss, Nas, and you know I always got Rae. We all got together.

To me, Pun had the most legendary verse. ‘Even if I stuttered, I would still sh-sh-shit on you.’ That shit was crazy! Everybody was in the studio. Nas was there. I think Busta Rhymes was there, just hanging out. It was fun.

Complex, 2011

Ski Beatz brought the production to the table after the verses had been recorded. He incorporated live violins and a killer and memorable beat. Beatz said his favorite verse was Big Pun. “He could just spit. Every line was a banger. Every line was crazy, it just held my attention.”

Favorite bars: Gotta agree with Joe on this one.

“Oldie” by Odd Future (Tyler. The Creator, Hodgy, Left Brain, Mike G, Domo Genesis, Frank Ocean, Jasper Dolphin, Earl Sweatshirt, Taco

Clocking in at over 11 minutes, you somehow don’t experience fatigue listening to this one. There’s a great retrospective on this track from The Ringer you can check out here. This song closed out their final collab as Odd Future called The OF Tape Vol. 2, released in 2012. It featured Earl Sweatshirt’s first verse in two years. It features one of the first rap verses ever recorded by Frank Ocean. More than being a great posse cut, it’s a historical artifact.

Favorite bars: Earl’s return was the tops as he referenced his whole situation: “And me? I just spent a year Ferrisin’ / And lost a little sanity to show you what hysterics is / Spit ’til the lips meet the bottom of a barrel, so that sterile piss / Flow remind these n****s where embarrassed is”.

The Militia” by Gang Starr, Big Shug, Freddie Foxxx

Released as the third single from 1998’s iconic Moment of Truth, this track brought together Boston and New York as Boston’s Gang Starr and Big Shug teamed up with Wesbury’s Foxx on a classic DJ Premier sample of Robert Cobert Orchestra’s “Dark Shadows Theme”. Though maybe not technically a posse cut with only 3 different artists, I’m including it because Premier considers it one.

Foxxx only needed one shot at the verse according to a Premier interview with Wax Poetics in 2018:

“The plan was to always have a posse cut. We’ve always been a Freddie Foxxx fans. Before we even worked with each other we always had a lot of respect for him. We used to see him with the Paid in Full posse. He was like, “Yo man, we need to get in the studio one day!” and we just all clicked and had so much fun. He came in the studio with a mink cap, mink gloves, and mink coat. And he had two glocks on his hips. And he was like, “When I spit my verse, I need to take these guns out!” And he did. He did the verse in one take with two guns clenched in his hands. I was sitting to his left and remember thinking hopefully them shits don’t go off while I’m recording this verse! So I moved seats. He left the building after one take because he had another meeting to go to.”

Favorite bars: I’m still amazed Freddie Foxx dropped his verse in one take, but these is my favorite bars from it: “I turn you fake n***as on and off, like I’m the clapper / I rob so many n***as, they should call me Jack the Rapper / I’ll the illest n***a doing this, dead or alive / Gloria Gaynor on you motherfuckers, I Will Survive”. What’s funny is the Jack The Rapper line isn’t referencing the English killer, but instead a hip-hop conference called Jack The Rapper that in Freddie’s eyes waaaay overcharged, hence he’s robbing you like Jack The Rapper.