People can argue who made the best rap video until they’re outlined in chalk. They’ve tried and failed to compile a list that throughout demonstrates a standard of excellence in the rap video. What this list compiles is even better; it refuses to settle for what the subjective “best” is. Instead it’s dedicated to determining which rap videos are the sauciest.
What does that mean? Sauce, in terms of rap is defined as being flagrant: sexually, financially, abstractly, criminally, etc. These videos rose above and beyond in their quest to go harder than the competition. Here are the sauciest rap videos of all time:
Busta Rhymes: Gimme Some More
Rarely does a hip-hop video embrace surrealist and existentialist principles. No one has ever done it with the grace and finesse Busta Rhymes and co-director Hype Williams achieved with their absurdist 1998 video Gimme Some More.
The video begins with Busta Rhymes narrating a story from his childhood in which he bumped his head and had his life changed forever by a kind stranger. After being questioned about said bump by a kind lady that he had to switch it up on us (“flip mode is the greatest!”). Busta turns into a monster and chases the lady, giving us our first of many contradictions.
With classic fish-eye lens and slow motion action Busta takes us through a haunted fun house of all the voices, characters and lessons he’s come across thus far. Sheriffs, classic gangsters, toy houses, blue monsters and western villains all play a role in a video that couldn’t stop shoving more and more inside itself. Busta has long been the most schizophrenic rapper this side of Slim Shady, and he showcases it in this thrilling, earth-shattering video.
Puff Daddy: Bad Boy For Life
This video doesn’t attempt to be an artistic masterpiece. Regardless, there’s no way to deny its place as one of the most entertaining rap videos of all time.
Puffy’s career had hit a dead end in 2001. His most popular artists, Notorious B.I.G., The Lox and Mase had all left him talentless on his own (premature death, business disagreements and the calling of Jesus Christ respectively). Always more of a businessman than rapper or musician, Puffy struggled to reinvent himself in a world that required regular new chart-topping smash hits from Puffy’s Bad Boy brand.
In 2001 The Saga Continues was released, and the moniker Puffy was no more. P. Diddy (eventually just Diddy) decided he was up for the challenge. This was epitomized by nothing more than Bad Boy for Life. The song was a giant. The video? Banana pudding.
Diddy destroys Ben Stiller, rocks out with Dave Navarro and Travis Barker and plays pick up basketball with Shaq (wait for their dance) in just a few snapshots of the marathon monster. Perfectown will never be the same again after the spraying of sauce in this epic video.
Jay-Z: I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)
Any video that opens with John Witherspoon complaining about Jay-Z’s partying habits is destined for greatness. It’s no wonder Jay-Z’s I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me) earned it’s place the rap video hall of fame.
The song is on Jay’s fifth record, 2000’s Dynasty: Roc La Familia and was a club banger. The video embraces that party atmosphere, showing a standard Jay-Z mansion affair. Featuring dozens of half-naked women, gold-plated champagne and throwback jerseys, Hova sets out to prove that the 90’s never ended.
The intricate plot shows Jay desperately trying to find a place to have some alone time with an especially saucy video vixen. Unfortunately, everywhere Jay and his lady go they’re interrupted by more models or various sidekicks’ sexual escapades (Jermaine Dupri and Beanie Sigel won’t stop having sex in all parts of Jay’s party mansion).
Just as Jay believes he’s found a vacant bedroom he gets an urgent Motorola two-way page (yay!) from a different lady friend named Kiki letting Jay know she awaits him in the bedroom (rut roh). “Which bedroom?” Jay must wonder as he leads Ms. Saucy into the room. Turns out it’s this one! In perhaps his best display of facial expression ever Jay and his queen hastily make their retreat, and instantly Memphis Bleek appears to replace him! A truly classic moment in the world of sauce.
Earl Sweatshirt: Earl
There will never be another video like 2010’s Earl Sweatshirt. Mostly because no children will ever be more saucy and diseased than Odd Future Wolf Gang, Kill Them All.
Let’s rewind for a moment. From 2008-10 a teen rap collective called OFWGKTA from LA hit the Internet hard with a barrage of mixtapes and albums from a diverse group of rappers, producers, engineers, videographers and artists all under the age of 22. Their output wasn’t confined to any one subgenre of rap, the content was at times extremely graphic, subversive and at all times refreshingly original.
Earl Sweatshirt is their best rapper. On this song, which is his version of Eminem’s “My Name Is,” Earl goes in over a violent spaced-out beat produced by his brother Tyler, “the Creator”. The video speaks for itself; just remember not to worry too much. It’s not real (or is it?).
Eminem: Guilty Conscience
When rappers make videos they often don’t have a concept in mind, other than boasting, bragging and exposing the world to how awesome they are.
In 1999 Eminem shattered rap with his The Slim Shady LP. In Eminem’s mainstream debut the rapper showed off how disturbed and depraved he was. A commercial smash hit (the angst-ridden 18 and under demographic made up the bulk of the sales), The Slim Shady LP was also an almost entirely original rap record at a time when people like Nelly owned the charts.
No single epitomized the violent takeover of rap more than Guilty Conscience. On the song Eminem has a back and forth shoulder angel vs. devil battle with Dr. Dre. They keep jumping into the lives of people in terrible situations, and Eminem attempts to convince them to rob the store, rape the girl or murder their wife. Dr. Dre is a bit more pragmatic. At the time rap videos weren’t dark, scary or conceptual. Take a peek at this subatomic hot sauce.
Jay-Z: On to the Next One
Does he worship the devil? Is he in the Illumanati? Is he the ruler of the known world? Yes.
Jay-Z has had perhaps the most storied career of any rapper. From Marcy Projects to millionaire the one thing Jay has been known for above all else is consistency. Not all of his albums are perfect 10’s, but they all bring a certain level of quality that most rappers never reach once in their careers.
The Blueprint 3 was no exception. Jay cemented his legend status one more time over bangers from Timbaland, Kanye West and Swizz Beatz (for a change of pace). Swizz Beatz produced On to the Next One, and it’s a standard Swizzy affair complete with echoing vocals, hyperactive drums and, of course, Swizz himself talking throughout.
The video, a black and white opus exposing all the worldly possessions of Jay-Z, made the life of the biggest rapper ever look pretty sinister. Evil clowns, samurai sword wielding women and flaming basketballs added to this aesthetic. Watch, and let him coach you.
Kanye West: Can’t Tell Me Nothing (Alternate)
This may be the most original video ever, in large part because the viewer never even sees Kanye West.
When Kanye came out with his third album, Graduation in 2007, people expected great things from the first single, Can’t Tell Me Nothing. The original video Kanye released was a typical rap affair, with West pacing around a smoky, colorful desert rapping to himself, as well as a long scarf wielding model.
That was nothing. Soon an alternate video came out with comedian Zack Galifinakis playing Kanye, lip-syncing along to the song while farming, hanging out with a friend and being creepy. The video totally holds up today, just as funny and saucy as when it came out!
Big L: Put It On
Big L was the greatest rapper to ever pick up a mic. No one goes as hard, rhymes more words or puts more effort into their raps. No one ever even came close to his level of hardcore. He remains unparalleled.
Unfortunately, L has shuffled off this mortal coil. He was gunned down in his beloved Harlem in 1999, presumably for something his brother had done. Big L never reached mega commercial success, but the closest he ever came was 1995’s Put It On. In the video L is seen doing a swagger marathon through his neighborhood, classic sauce.
Remember, this is his biggest commercial hit, and he still comes with lyrics like these:
And it’s a fact I keep a gat in my arm reach
I charm freaks and bomb geeks from here to Palm Beach
I’m puttin’ rappers in the wheelchair, Big L is the villain
You still fear, cause I be hangin’ in Harlem and my shit is for real here
If you battle L you picked the wrong head
I smash mics like cornbread, you can’t kill me I was born dead
Unfortunately, he was wrong.
Geto Boys: Mind Playing Tricks on Me
Paranoia is a terrible thing. No one understood this better than the Geto Boys.
In the early 90’s, the Geto Boys were hoping to distinguish themselves from all the unsuccessful rap groups that were springing up across the country. Nothing bolstered their success more than the loss of group member Bushwick Bill’s eye in a shootout with his girlfriend of the time. The Boys next record featured a picture of Bill in the hospital right after the incident.
What really set the record off more than even the missing eye was the 1991 single, Mind Playing Tricks on Me. In the video, all three Geto Boys tell a story of losing their mind, and the consequences. Groundbreaking, breathtaking and oozing sauce.
Kid Cudi: Pursuit of Happiness
Kid Cudi is basically trash. The guy can’t rap, he can’t sing, he can’t rhyme and he can’t even function. This is a man who was caught with liquid cocaine after he ripped the door of his ex-girlfriend’s apartment off the hinges (Cudi later said it wasn’t liquid coke: “No, I’m just fucking rich, and my blow comes in a jar. There was no liquid in it â€” that shit makes no sense”). Clearly, the man is a tool.
In 2009 Cudi released Man on the Moon: The End of Day, perhaps one of the most overrated records from that year. It was pretty pointless, other than one Ratatat produced track, Pursuit of Happiness. The song had towering, infectious synth and guitar lines, and Cudi’s gargantuan lyrical ineptitude: “I don’t care/ Hand on the wheel/ Driving drunk/ I’m doing my thing.” Thanks for that Cudi.
I know what you’re thinking, why would he make the list then? Just watch one of the most innovative, creative videos rap has put out this decade. Words can’t describe the Megaforce version, which is also the best name for a music video director this side of Hype Williams.
Birdman feat Clipse: What Happened to That Boy?
2002 is when Baby, surrogate father of Lil’ Wayne and head of Cash Money Records released his Birdman persona. It’s also the year we got the single What Happened to That Boy?
The song, featuring the Clipse is perhaps the most single-minded banger post-Grindin’, and featured a beat that kids were banging out on wooden desks for months to come. The lyrics, which were strictly about coke dealing and murder felt way more like evil men talking too much than bragging, lying rappers.
The video is gritty, real and scary. Birdman gets his Training Day on via pigeon flipping, and Pusha T is on his Michael Jackson: I made fiends rise from the dead like Thriller. The video kept it true to the hood and is timeless, indispensable sauce.
Notorious B.I.G.: Hypnotize
Perhaps the most famous rapper in history, the Notorious B.I.G.’s career was as storied as it was tragic. As everyone already knows, Biggie, aka Christopher Wallace was killed on March 9, 1997 in a drive-by shooting in L.A.
Before all that, there was a period when Biggie and his boy wonder Puff Daddy seemed to not only own hip-hop, but perhaps the globe as well. Earlier in 1997 Biggie released his biggest hit of all time, Hypnotize. The track was his most commercially successful, and an incredibly saucy video was a requirement.
Saucy is exactly what the fans got, in a video that Rick Ross would later base his entire persona on, Puff and Big go on a little boat cruise. Just one thing, they’re being chased by what looks like the unit that caught Pablo Escobar. Are they concerned? Not even a little. They’re rapping, dancing and enjoying the company of beautiful women. The chase extends to the street and involves backup dancers and Disneyfied lyrics when Biggie just has to get away for a moment. Overall, it’s overwhelmingly saucy and irresistible!
Cam’Ron: Oh Boy feat. Juelz Santana
The Diplomats once ran NYC. They were a beloved, local crew that while lacking in national exposure had limitless regional credibility.
The world was exposed to the greatness of Dipset in 2002, with the arrival of Oh Boy. The song was Cam’Ron featuring Juelz Santana, but the video was all Dipset all day. The video opens up with Dame Dash speaking to Cam on the phone, innocuous enough until a girl’s head pops out of Cam’Ron’s lap! Now it’s time to begin.
The song was made on the (annoying?) sample of a high-pitched voice saying “oh boy” over and over. The rappers made it work, incorporating the voice into their verses. This is a standard crew affair with overpriced sports gear, millions of sneakers, and colorfully coordinated outfits creating a collage of the Dips. It sets a standard for saucy crew love video that has yet to be topped.
Kanye West: Monster feat. Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Bon Iver and Nicki Minaj
This video is so hot it made the list before its release. Based on perhaps West’s best song off his 2010 ablum, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Monster takes itself just as gruesomely serious as the song itself.
Much of the video is unknown, but it features Rick Ross sitting at a dinner table of dead girl, preparing to eat. In another scene we see Kanye grabbing and kissing the face of what appears to be a demonic, possessed teenage girl.
The video leaked to the Internet for a few hours before it was snatched back off. Fans rabidly await the release of the full video, which undoubtedly will take its rightful place in the annals of saucy rap videos.
Bell Biv Devoe: Poison
Perhaps the ultimate cautionary tale, Bell Biv and Devoe’s Poison contains a lesson every man needs to memorize and live by: Never trust a big butt and a smile.
The seven minute epic is part R&B, part dance epic, part cautionary rap, and all awesome. Bell, Biv, and Devoe, three nerdy guys (it was 1990) showed just what they, and beautiful women were capable of.
Unlike a lot of artists, these guys can actually dance and have no problem showing off their saucy moves to the entire world. B, B and D would have been left behind by pop culture had they not scored this hit just as necessary today as it was 20 years ago. Don’t miss the basketball scene, or else you won’t know.