Posse Cuts have been a cornerstone in hip-hop as a way to build up and deliver these mini events that last forever. They are usually compiled of four or more rappers delivering verses as a cohesive squadron over these gritty instrumentals, influenced in style by the nature around them like the south’s heavy bass. But because of the rose-tinted glasses, a very few of these posse cuts aren’t as great as we like to remember. I’ve always been an avid fan of the posse cut because of the visceral imagery and technical structure that comes from the themes they evoke, with an onslaught of topical takes, like the recent remix of “Fight the Power” that was released in 2019. In many of the posse cut there are themes that extend beyond the simple flex, like Jay-Z’s “Reservoir Dogs,” and creates a statement about the socio-political climate or to give the culture more diverse representation.
With the release of new albums from a master of the posse cut, DJ Khaled, and new supergroup Mt. Westmore (Ice Cube, Too Short, Snoop Dogg, & E-40) on April 30th, I have compiled a random collection of 15 Great Posse Cuts of the last 30 years.
MARS (DREAM TEAM) – CORMEGA FT. AZ, REDMAN, & STYLE P
Cormega has been an unsung hero of the 2000s for New York hip-hop, as he has dwelled within the second tier of artists delivering consistent quality and gaining a reputation amongst many hip-hop artists; some are heavy weights and others are not, but what this is track is, is another reaffirmation that these artists together are a dream team. And having any of them perform is like a shift in direction toward mars. With the production evoking an essence of golden age 90s hip-hop with soul boom-bap style, brings out their visceral imagery with their flows and lyrics.
IT G MA (REMIX) – Keith Ape Ft. Waka Flocka Flame, Dumbfoundead, Father, & ASAP FERG
This unconventional trip of a track boosts the testosterone to the nines as the music’s bass and synths bellow through your eardrums. “It G Ma,” captures the essence of the original by building up the quintessential flex from Keith Ape and the featured artist. Each individual artist brings provocatively unique flair to the track that dilutes and warps the mind to an unworldly sonic plain.
LATINO PT. 2 – Joell Ortiz Ft. Emilio Rojas, Chris Rivers, & Bodega Bamz
“Latino Pt. 2” features a new generation of Latino rappers, including Big Pun’s son Chris Rivers. Over a samba-salsa-like hip-hop production, the artists reflect on what it means to be Latino in this world. From the social manipulation and fiscal struggles, they demonstrate a consistent anger to fight the perceived Latino/Hispanics stereotypes. As they start the comparison to their life and the world around them (impoverished neighborhoods), they lay out all the grievances with dynamic flows and rhythmic deliveries.
EASTERN CONFERENCE ALL STARS – SKYZOO FT. BENNY THE BUTCHER, WESTSIDE GUNN, CONWAY THE MACHINE, & eLZhi
Pete Rock produces a nuanced piano-centric track that flourishes with the underground flair of Skyzoo and the featured artists. They bring forth lyricism focusing on building up their stature and talent by weaving together the many metaphors with the rhyme schemes. Though the title may come off as too subjective, depending on how you perceive the “members,” on the popular status, but within the hip-hop community they are in the upper echelon.
FANTASTIC FOUR PT. 2 – DJ CLUE FT. THE LOX, CAM’RON, NATURE, & FABOLOUS
You can’t walk through the tri-state metro area without knowing the powerhouse in-studio DJs for the Hip-Hop radio stations, and the secondary – wider ranged channel – Power 105 has the answer to match wits with Hot97. DJ Clue is one of those DJs and his prominence in the area is bigger than his albums, which delivered a range of phenomenal bangers. One of them, “Fantastic Four Pt. 2,” brings out the best of New York Hip-Hop and DJs, with Clue immaculate production and hype-man adlibs makes it a quintessential part of the culture in the 90s/00s. It features two members of The Lox (Sheek Louch & Styles P), Nature, Cam’ron, and an up-and-coming Fabolous giving us unique flexes all exhuming the attitude brought about from “So Fresh, So Clean,” by Outkast.
BLACKOUT – DMX FT. THE LOX & JAY-Z
The 90s in New York was a beast we have yet to experience again, but within the culture many artists rose to prominence with these dark and aggressive overtones that have us hearing a stance on their artistry. “Blackout” brings out that energy and more as The Lox, DMX, and Jay-Z comes full force with that demeanor and more on this symphonic and gritty percussion and strings.
1 TRAIN – ASAP ROCKY, JOEY BADASS, KENDRICK LAMAR, YELAWOLF, DANNY BROWN, ACTION BRONSON, & BIG K.R.I.T.
It was one of the most anticipated tracks on ASAP Rocky’s debut, Long.Live.ASAP. And this illustrious posse cut, that compiled some of the best up-and-coming rappers through the United States, delivered on the hype from the paper. The production evokes sounds of the ominous New York streets, using ghostly strings and snares to give their verses an oomph, as they deliver a fragrance filled to the nines with confidence and contrasting emotions carrying over from the past and present, most of which are incurred from doubt. This posse cut could also be known as leaders of the new school, when they were new in the early 2010s.
PINATA – FREDDIE GIBBS, G-WIZ, DOMO GENESIS, MEECHY DARKO, CASEY VEGGIES, SULAIMAN & MAC MILLER
Piñata is a prototypical posse cut with themes pertaining to flexing as hard as you can; even though other tracks have different concepts, the notion of bringing your all isn’t gone. Madlib’s production has this ominous – atmospheric string overlay on the track to bring out each rapper’s unique flow. Freddie Gibbs gathers a great collection of artists for this, with highlights from everyone and especially Mac Miller whose flow is as uncanny as we’ve heard from at the point. His goofy-straight demeanor takes a backseat for this drug infused verse where he matches wits with the rest of the rappers, as he was the weakest lyricist of the lot. But everyone delivers with finesse and the track opens doors for some to discover many great rappers on both coasts, the west coast and east.
DUSTED N’ DISGUSTED – E-40 FT. SPICE-1, MAC MALL, & 2PAC
E-40, his Bay Area brethren, and 2Pac come forth to deliver this unique track that oozes Bay Area G-Funk. Though not much different from more prominent artists in the area, the bubbly funk textures makes E-40, and Spice 1’s speak-rapping as uniquely profound as Rex Harrison’s perpetually eloquent speak-singing. 2Pac’s verse transitions smoothly with the G-Funk flair on the percussion and everyone’s verse oozing perfectly balanced and infectious rhythmic structures.
NOTORIOUS THUGS – THE NOTORIOUS B.I.G. FT. BONE THUGS N HARMONY
The story behind the conception of the song always intrigues me a little more than the song itself. However, after watching the recent documentary on Netflix, I’ve been more intrigued about that demo where he rapped over “Toto” by Africa. But I digress. “Notorious Thugs,” came about from BIG’s awe and fascination with the speed and rhythm of featured artist Bone Thugs N Harmony, amongst others. And his attempt to match wits with them left them in initial distraught at the studio, specifically Bizzy Bone who opens his verse by referencing what he was doing as he was trying to rewrite the verse. BIG has been a part of many posse cuts, like the infamous “Flava In Your Ear,” and “All About The Benjamins,” but this lead effort trumps those in production and delivery.
BITCH PLEASE 2 – EMINEM, DR. DRE, SNOOP DOGG & XZIBIT
Eminem is not one to mince words with a posse on his tracks, and most times his posse cuts have hit the fan with a bunch shit. But there are the very rare ones that have Eminem bringing a solid squad on a track that has nothing to do with any meandering subtexts, like relationships. But Eminem has always shown tenacity for greatness when he isn’t curating. Though, a part of me believes that he didn’t fully curate it, “Bitch Please 2,” does what others don’t demonstrate – togetherness. The three rappers show that they have his back, by spitting verbiage that indicates one shouldn’t fuck with them.
POPPIN TAGS – JAY-Z FT. BIG BOI, TWISTA, & KILLER MIKE
What makes this pop out over some of the other Jay-Z lead posse cuts?
The production has a smooth blend of jazz flute, speedy hi-hats, and spaced snares that beautifully boasts each rappers’ respective flows. It is a solid representation on how to make a proper money-centric braggadocio hip-hop; from the way each rapper delivers their lines to the cadence in their verses, it makes it a whirly-fun experience to listen to.
JOHN BLAZE – FAT JOE FT. NAS, BIG PUN, JADAKISS, RAEKWON
“John Blaze” is the essence of 90s New York when it comes to posse cuts. Using unique production styles equivalent to the sonic percussion reminiscent of the DJ scratches from summer block parties and distorted-stagnant horns bring it to life, as Fat Joe and featured rappers flex their hustle to the nines, with masterful flows and lyricism.
SWAGGA LIKE US – T.I. & JAY-Z FT. KANYE WEST & LIL WAYNE
Nothing has matched the swagoo of these four rappers giving us a perplexing idea of what swag is and exponentially raising the bar, like Kanye raps “swag on 100, 1000, trillion.” It could be why I haven’t mastered dances like the dougie or cat daddy, and I constantly live in anguish about how much cooler I’d be if I did, but I digress. The production high octane is boosted by the audaciously vibrant sample from MIA’s “Paper Plane.” And this track has an extra padded boost from the live performance they did at the Grammys. Unfortunately that video is hard to find.
NOT TONIGHT (LADIES NIGHT REMIX) – LIL KIM FT. MISSY ELLIOT, DA BRAT, LEFT EYE, & ANGIE MARTINEZ
There aren’t many times a posse cut is dominated by a plethora of female rappers, but when you come across one there is rarely a disappointment to be had. “Not Tonight (Ladies Night Remix)” takes it up a notch by giving fuck-boys the finger and flexing their collective empowerment over a male dominated genre. Everyone delivers at top notch levels. It’s also one of the few appearances of New York radio legend and Radio Hall of Famer, Angie Martinez on a power-track that went further than her albums, in terms of popularity. So if you were ever curious, but not as ambitious this is the go to for a verse from Angie Martinez.
“Not Tonight (Ladies Night Remix)” is one of the more successful – single posse cuts, hitting number 6 in the Hot 100 Charts, and the lush and accessible production helped. It takes cues from that New York – boom bap percussion, with an overlay of a smooth soul-like chorus and space-laser sounding electronic sounds as the icing on the cake.