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 "It's Murda," a classic meeting of the minds from Ja Rule's debut album, Venni Vetti Vecci. In 1998, New York City rapwas at a crossroads. Looking for a new rap star to claim as its rightful king, NYC's throne was ripe for the taking with a number of artists emerging as possible heirs-in-waiting. Three of the more promising prospects in this group were JAY-Z, DMX, and the aforementioned Ja Rule; all of whom ended the year as hot commodities off of the strength of their respective bodies of work.
While DMX and JAY-Z both released high-profile rap albums that were critically and commercially successful in 1998, Ja Rule's musical contributions came via high-profile guest appearances, such as his appearance on JAY-Z's hit single "Can I Get A...." Building on that momentum, Ja Rule unleashed his debut album on June 1, 1999. The first release from Murder Inc. Records, Venni Vetti Vecci debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and eventually earned platinum status, largely off of the strength of its lead single "Holla Holla." However, one record from the album that stood out from the rest was "It's Murda," a track featuring DMX and JAY-Z, and picked up where the trio left off on their 1998 collaboration "Murdergram."
Without further adieu, check out the ranking of the verses on "It's Murda."
3. Ja Rule
Being pitted against two of rap's biggest titans as a rookie who's yet to earn their stripes can be considered an honor, but it's also a tall task to achieve. Ja Rule found himself in that exact position on this blockbuster cut from his debut album. However, he proved himself capable of not faltering under the pressure. Slotted after DMX and JAY-Z in the line-up, the Murder Inc. flagship artist is presented with the perfect opportunity to deliver a career-defining performance and place himself on equal footing with the best in New York. But, in spite of its highlights, his verse fails to eclipse that of his more established collaborators.
Standout Lyrics: "That's us, we the life, put the knife through your windpipe/'Cause most of your niggas ain't cut right/You thinking it's alright, nigga, but it ain't/I'm paralyzing clowns up and down from the waist/Give a nigga some space or I'm taking it while making you bleed/And if I gotta take, the nigga taking more than he need/It's nothing but love between me, you, and these slugs/Hit him up wrap his body up in a area rug."
Making the leap from acclaimed lyricist to legit superstar with the breakout success of his Vol 2... Hard Knock Life album, JAY-Z was in the middle of his victory lap at the time this record hit the streets. However, his newfound stature at the top of the food-chain did little to temper the potency of his bars, as he displayed with his performance, which was equal parts riveting and steely. Rhyming with the precision of a seasoned welterweight, Hov's blows are heavy and deadly, yet not enough to net him a victory over his contemporaries.
Standout Lyrics: "I dip, squat, then post-up with the toast up/I bring beef to a closure, know something?/From Coxsackie to Folsom, I'm loathsome/I scream out fuck the world then I throw something/Niggas scheming hard, but fuck it, it's the God/I leave bullets lodged, leave you leaning on your broad/The odd pump leave you fucked up in your car/Slumped, Kennedy-style with your memory out."
Dominating 1998 with a pair of chart-topping albums that catapulted him into uncharted territory, DMX became one of the most exciting figures in rap post-Tupac Shakur. In 1999, the underdog from Yonkers linked with former rival JAY-Z and then-neophyte Ja Rule for a lyrical duel that would play a big part in crystallizing the perception of who was the true King of New York. Notorious for his ability to closeout a track in dominant fashion, the Ruff Ryder's role is reversed on this outing, as he sets the tone with the opening verse. Asserting his will with every bar spat, X's ferocity is unbridled, as he separates himself from the competition with his rhymes.
Standout Lyrics: "But still against me and wanna see me in the box/Grilling me all crazy when you see me and The LOX/Leave you Red like Foxx, ain't nothing funny about that/I see you in a coma, ain't coming up out that/You hold on for too long and they ain't pulling the plug for you/I'll run up in the joint myself and drop another slug on you."
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