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 "Niggaz Done Started Something," a highlight selection from DMX's '98 debut album, It's Dark and Hell Is Hot. Led by the hit singles "Ruff Ryders Anthem," "Get At Me Dog," and "Stop Being Greedy," and "How's It Goin Down," It's Dark and Hell Is Hot was one of the most dominant rap albums of the year. However, in addition to those tracks dominating radio and the clubs, the album included numerous deep cuts that held reign in the streets. Among them is this visceral rhyme fest. Boasting a lineup that includes DMX, Ma$e, and The LOX; "Niggaz Done Started Something" closes out X's project in a way few other rap albums have. And it is remembered as one of the illest collaborations of its time.
Without further adieu, check out our ranking of the verses on "Niggaz Done Started Something."
5. Sheek Louch
Bursting onto the track without hesitation, Sheek Louch's enthralling delivery captures the listeners' attention from the first bar spat. Envisioning his spot at the top of New York, The LOX member is intent on holding an iron fist on the city's drug trade, by any means necessary. As explosive as Sheek Louch's verse is, it pales in comparison to the rest of his collaborators, giving him a last place finish on this occasion.
Standout Lyrics: "Ayo, let's get papers and pop Mo' with hoes up in skyscrapers/In condominiums, overlooking our drug capers New York City, know only way to play is gritty/I want cheddar, so we can front up in the 850/My whole committee like to puff Ls and look jiggy/Who wan' test this? My semi leave you chestless/And ain't shit that you can say to me when you be breathless."
4. Styles P
In the mind of Styles P, money is a major issue. But, what's more important is the code of conduct and being a man of respect, which The LOX member makes clear with this performance. Conveying his desire for opulence and violence, Styles P incorporates multiple metaphors in the verse, comparing his dominance behind the mic to hockey icon Wayne Gretzky's greatness on the ice. Ending his stanza with a few words of advice for those stuck in the grind, Styles P holds his own. But, it's not enough to get him in the winner's circle.
Standout Lyrics: "Sitting at the table, planning and plug the fan in/Let the sweat dry off and then grab your cannon/Think you're smartest, and retaliate the hardest/Regardless, if you're a thug or a rap artist/Respect me like Pesci/And if rap was hockey, I be Gretzky, puffing Nestle/And y'all niggas done starting something/Acting invincible like you God or something."
Jadakiss gets off a wicked lyrical first step with his opening couplet following the first hook, kicking off an intricate verse. Setting the ambiance by painting a picture of himself on an Island, Jada basks in the aura of a crime boss facilitating drug deals and living a life of luxury. Then, the acclaimed lyricist spends much of the latter half of his verse referencing his rhyme skills by comparing the potency to that of the heroin -- which caused Roemello Skuggs' father's demise in the '90s flick Sugar Hill. All in all, the performance is classic kiss and includes a number of highlights. Yet, it fails to yield him a victory.
Standout Lyrics: "My 16s be so real/You can feel 'em in your vein like Ramello's pops from Sugar Hill/J be the cause for the kiss at your wake/Cartel lips, spitting clips at your face/We started from the bottom, you'll see beg niggas' pardon/Whatever, we can do it at the Garden/Word life, this shit is real, B/I'm making niggas blow trial even if they not guilty."
Fans more familiar with his radio-friendly hits may not be privy to Ma$e's more murderous side, which listeners got a glimpse of on this stellar performance. Bragging on his arsenal, the Harlem spitter sneers at the opposition, while reeling off a string of metaphors and detailing the repercussions that come with crossing him or his team. Threatening bodily harm with everything from firearms to aluminum bats, Ma$e shows no mercy while waging war. Landing each line with precision, his stanza rivals that of any other included on the track -- sans one -- giving him runner up honors in what amounts to a split decision.
Standout Lyrics: "Yo, you know I got enough guns to wreck a nation/Any nigga wave a TEC at Mason, have a explanation/You bring your crew and 'em and I'm doing 'em/Then I'm beating 'em down with aluminum/Then I'm putting two in 'em/You can't touch me, I've been devil sent, wanted for embezzlement/A lot of other things, but that's irrelevant."
By the time DMX's debut album hit shelves, he was already considered one of the most battle-tested rappers in hip hop, as he tested his mettle against some of the top artists in the game on wax. After doing damage on other rappers' songs, DMX finally had the opportunity to play host with this selection from It's Dark and Hell Is Hot. Reserving his verse for last, DMX puts forth a rhyme spill that is as lengthy as it is gruesome with the Yonkers native and Ruff Ryder getting extremely graphic with his musings. While the amount of air-time he receives gives him an added advantage over his costars, when all of the bars are weighed equally, DMX's verse is simply undeniable and arguably the best on this classic.
Standout Lyrics: "Bloodhounds found your shit buried in the mud/Following traces of gun powder, residue and blood/A positive ID is impossible, so you know/John Doe is what they gon' be putting on that tag on your toe/Now who gon' tell your mother, her baby's under a cover/In the morgue, stiff as a log, sniffed out by the dogs/Son of a hardheaded nigga that wouldn't listen, so you got what you came for/Surgery with the chainsaw."
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