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 "Burn Hollywood Burn," one of the premier cuts from Public Enemy's third studio album, Fear of A Black Planet. Released on April 10, 1990, Fear of A Black Planet arrived when Chuck D and company were the hottest group in rap after their hit single "Fight the Power" became a rallying cry for the times the year prior. At a time where being socially conscious was becoming expected of rap's leading names, Public Enemy took the onus of placing themselves at the forefront of this movement.
While hits such as the aforementioned "Fight the Power," as well as "Welcome to the Terrordome," and "911 is a Joke" dominated the airwaves; one song from the album that captured Public Enemy in their essence was "Burn Hollywood Burn." Featuring guest appearances from fellow rap legends Ice Cube and Big Daddy Kane, "Burn Hollywood Burn" addressed the black community's longstanding issues with how it was depicted on the big screen and the lack of diversity among power figures in the industry. And with recent campaigns like #OscarsSoWhite and other initiatives to empower black people in Hollywood, this classic collaboration still resonates three decades later.
Without further adieu, check out our ranking of the verses on "Burn Hollywood Burn."
3. Ice Cube
After breaking ties with N.W.A., Ice Cube took his talents east by hunkering down with Public Enemy's production crew The Bomb Squad for the creation of his debut album, AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted. Prior to the release of that album, Cube appeared alongside two of New York's finest on this track and partook in a takedown of Hollywood, and its degrading and stereotypical portrayal of African-Americans. Sandwiched in-between his costars, Cube confirms his alliance with the P.E. camp before detailing an encounter with law enforcement, which turned deadly. Cube's verse on this track is short in length, but is captivating enough to share real estate with his greatest collaborations.
2. Chuck D
By the time Public Enemy unleashed their third album, Chuck D was regarded as one of the preeminent MCs in hip hop. As the genre's unofficial political mouthpiece, the Long Island native was looked upon to deliver the cold hard truth about matters effecting the black community in a detrimental manner. The P.E. frontman aims his ire at the big wigs in Tinseltown on this scathing affair. Leading the charge with the song's opening verse, Chuck D chastises the media for focusing on black-on-black crime and gang violence, as well as Hollywood's history with the minstrel show.
1. Big Daddy Kane
Reaching his zenith as a superstar with his sophomore LP, It's a Big Daddy Thing, this Brooklyn dynamo made sure his flat-top haircut reigned supreme heading into 1990. For his first guest appearance of the decade, the battle-tested Casanova teamed up with Chuck D and Ice Cube to speak his piece about the unflattering images of African-Americans on the big screen. With his verse being the last domino to fall, the B.D.K. delivers the grand finale by spouting off couplets that are lyrically intricate and topically expansive. In the process of setting fire to Hollywood, the Cold Chillin' franchise player burns down the booth and cause collateral damage, while walking away with the superior verse on the track.
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