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 "Hit 'Em High," a blistering collaboration from the soundtrack to the 1996 film Space Jam. Released in 1996, the soundtrack was powered by a number of hit singles from some of the biggest names in R&B. But, its premier rap selection stood out due to its sheer star power. Featuring LL Cool J, Busta Rhymes, Method Man, Coolio and B-Real; "Hit 'Em High" was a high-powered affair. Produced by Trackmasters and released as a single, "Hit 'Em High" failed to gain traction on the Billboard Hot 100. But, it's remembered by rap aficionados as one of the electric pairings of its era.
Without further adieu, check out our ranking of the verses on "Hit 'Em High."
Riding high off his breakout sophomore album, Gangsta's Paradise, Coolio's stock was at its peak when he was enlisted to appear on this monstrous selection. Given half of a verse to flex his skills, Coolio has his moments. But, it doesn't get into much of a rhythm and this causes his portion of the track to come up less awe-worthy when compared with other verses.
Standout Lyrics: "It's like inch by inch and step by step/I'm closing in on your position and destruction is my mission/Though eight is not enough, your whole squad better duck/It's like switch when I bust, now your whole crew is dust."
Cypress Hill front-man B-Real delves into an energetic rhyme spill with his opening verse, on which the Cali rep boasts about his versatility on the hardwood. Given a mere eight bars to get into the flow of the offense, B-Real's usage ranks on the lower end of the spectrum. But, the efficiency of his bars contribute to this collaboration's winning formula.
Standout Lyrics: Going straight to the hole, you ain't got no game/I'm breaking ya out the frame, coming through like a train/Looking to take over the whole world is my goal/With my unstoppable crew taking all control/You can't get none of this, we're running this/Well taker, earth shaker, 3-point gunning this."
3. Busta Rhymes
After embarking on a solo career with his 1996 debut, The Coming, Busta Rhymes added to his growing list of posse-cut appearances with his lyrical contribution to this soundtrack cut. Known for his show-stopping close-out verses, Busta Bus brings the heat by employing a dexterous flow that is simply filthy. But, it yields him a third-place finish when all is said and done.
Standout Lyrics: "Yo, God bless, pick up your chest/Here's an example of how I can stress your full court press/With finesse, I bench-press your stress whenever you test/We're speed balling on the fast break just like the pony express/I'm gon' mingle in your face and take the lid off/Just use your head and forfeit the game, you and your team/Just need to back off, get off my block, give me the ball, I said it's my rock/I'm starting a line-up by getting y'all to bring the livestock."
2. LL Cool J
Just a week prior to the release of the Space Jam soundtrack, Def Jam unleashed LL Cool J's All World: Greatest Hits compilation, a testament to the Queens native's stature as one of the greatest to ever do it. Far from content with resting on his laurels, LL savored the opportunity to go head-up with the best in the game. This occasion was no different. Riveting from beginning to end, Uncle L proved his game was still intact with this spirited performance.
Standout Lyrics: "Uh, lightning strikes and the court lights get dim/Supreme competition is about to begin/Above the rim, finessing and moves is animated/Once I get to balling, I can't be deflated/I'm rugged raw, my Monstars is getting money/When clicks get to bugging, I'm snatching up their bunnies/Uh, every step I take shakes the ground/I'll make you break your ankles, son, shakes you down."
1. Method Man
In the time between the release of his debut album, Tical, and Wu-Tang Clan's sophomore offering, Wu-Tang Forever; Method Man kept himself occupied by demolishing a succession of guest appearances. The clansman's showing alongside his contemporaries on this outing proved to be another feather under the Shaolin rep's cap, as he strings together couplets that would make your average MC go back to the drawing board. Earning extra style points for his delivery while staying topically on point, Method Man leapfrogs over his collaborators with a verse that's simply undeniable and lightyears ahead everyone else's rhymes.
Standout Lyrics: "Insane like a runaway train, I'm in your lane/Like it's only 3 seconds to score to win the game/Came to bring the ultimate pain upon the brain/Untamed, you won't like it when I change/And you are type strange megalomaniacal/Monster in the game and I got my eye on you/Deadshot aim, as free throws keep coming/Down like rain, you feeling me, I'm feeling you."
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