In hip hop, fans and critics often marvel at and put a premium on the supreme soloists or groups who can craft classic songs and bodies of work while remaining the central figure. However, the most electric moments in the culture occur when multiple emcees collaborate on a track with the sole purpose of asserting themselves as the most lyrically gifted by delivering an epic rhyme spill that outclasses the others. Throughout the years, the songs -- which are generally referred to as "posse-cuts" -- have become some of the most memorable in the genre's history, as rap's most legendary stars team up on wax and bringing the most rabid of rap fans' fantasies to reality.
In celebration of these historic songs and what they mean to the culture, REVOLT Presents: Tale of the Tape, our series in which we break down the greatest posse-cuts of all-time and rank the verses from worst to first.
In our latest installment of the series, we'll be revisiting "Champions," a song that was featured on the crime drama Paid In Full's 2002 soundtrack. Presented by Roc-A-Fella CEO Damon Dash, the soundtrack included two discs, the latter of which was Dream Team, a compilation hosted by DJ Clue. It was comprised of new material from the label's artists and affiliates. Released in November 2002, Dame Dash Presents: Dream Team included appearances from JAY-Z, State Property, The Diplomats, Memphis Bleek and more. However, one song from the project that got the streets abuzz was "Champions," the opening selection that paired newcomers and potential recruits with the label's biggest stars. Boasting a lineup that included Kanye West, Young Chris, Beanie Sigel, Cam'ron, and Twista, "Champions" came at a time when The R.O.C. was seemingly unstoppable. It's one of the unsung posse-cuts of its era.
Without further adieu, check out our ranking of the verses on "Champions" below.
5. Beanie Sigel
The most tenured member of The R.O.C. to appear on this song, Beanie Sigel's verse is the shortest, as his air-time amounts to a mere six bars. In spite of those strict confines, The Broad Street Bully brings a raw energy to the track that's impossible to ignore. But, it fails to best his collaborators' in terms of replay value.
Standout Lyrics: "WHAT?! Don't make me chop a fella, have to call the cop for fellas/Order helicopter fellas... NIG-GA! I'm a Roc-A-Fella/What nigga for Roc-A-Fella shit I will rock a fella, Dame!/No we the illest niggas; realest, I will kill these niggas!!"
4. Young Chris
The more ambitious half of Roc-A-Fella phenoms Young Gunz, Young Chris emerged as a standout member of The R.O.C. due in large part to show-stealing appearances on the State Property soundtrack in 2002. One of Young Chris' more high-profile guest spots that year came via his placement on this record with the rapper holding his own against a stacked lineup. The second artist to lay a verse on the track, Chris gets off a few lines in what is the chorus of the song. He delivers an enthralling performance that may not crack the top 3, but is memorable, nonetheless.
Standout Lyrics: "It's the Roc-a-Fella label baby, fuck them other labels baby/And we been ducking shots from all them haters lately/We getting paper baby, them others trying to keep up/We on top, so I guess we they saviors - NOPE!/We labelled as the Roc-A-Fellas, Jacob, watch's colors/Everywhere hell yea, test us and the gauges BLOW!"
3. Kanye West
Prior to 2002, Kanye West was mostly known for his excellence as a producer. But, that would be the year he would announce himself as a rap star in waiting. As West was recovering from his near-fatal car accident in October of that year, he earned one of his first bonafide credits as a rapper when Dash tapped him to hop on this posse-cut. Reeling off a solid introductory verse, West shows flashes of the charisma and lyricism that would power his eventual rise to the top of the game.
Standout Lyrics: "Not to worry, though – we are the cham-p-ions/Spend a lot of time in Hampt-i-ons, do a lot of beats you can't be on/Damn all these fans can't be wrong, damn B.I.G. you can't be gone/Make those beats thugs want to rock, make a nigga feel just like 'Pac/Make it street but it just might pop, make it straight to the mountain top/Had the Chi' on lock, when they finally heard I signed with Roc."
Dash's quest to make Roc-A-Fella Records the biggest stable of rap talent on the planet resulted in the extension of the label's host of affiliates -- many of whom would ink deals with the house that he, Hov, Biggs built. Among the more coveted prospects targeted by Dash and company was Twista, who was known for his rapid-fire delivery and lyrical chops. But, he had yet to break through as a star. Presented as the newest member of The R.O.C., Twista proved why he was so respected by turning in a vicious collection of bars and anchoring the track with the grand finale. While Twista ultimately never signed with Roc-A-Fella, his inclusion on this record brings to mind the possibilities that could've occurred had he done so.
Standout Lyrics: "Everybody's swarming, oh my god/It's the newest power forward of the squad/A legacy like Jordan with the mob/That be known for breaking motherfuckers hard/Put Roc-A-Fella on my pinky ring/Fuck a battle, nigga -- I'mma get them thangs/Rollin with them Lords and them folks up out the Chi/Twista gone make em spit the game"
After a failed deal with Epic Records at the outset of his career, Harlem rapper Cam'ron was in need of a fresh start. That new beginning came when childhood friend and Roc-A-Fella Records co-founder Dash helped extricate him from his deal and made him the most high-profile free agent signee in Roc-A-Fella's history. Achieving platinum status with his Roc-A-Fella debut Come Home with Me, the brash Diplomat was considered the second biggest star on the label next to JAY-Z. So, when Dash enlisted his Dream Team posse-cut, there was no way Cam wouldn't bless the track. Turning in a monstrous string of couplets and namedropping NBA dream teams of the past, Killa Cam gets busy, ousting the competition in effortless fashion.
Standout Lyrics: "This is just fate, how I would sit on a crate/Listen to tapes, every day a frisk was at stake/Jakes' cuffs, wrists getting raped; my mission was straight -- to/Visit them states near them great Michigan lakes/And fuck a bathroom, I pissed on the gate/Flipped the bird at em, flip a bird, switch up my plates."
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