15 Great Posse Cuts of The Last 30 Years

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.

The Cuts


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. 


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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” 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.


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.


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.

Biggie: I Got A Story To Tell – Review

Biggie: I Got A Story To Tell is a slightly unconventional documentary that morphs it style into an intimate retelling from various people, including Christopher “B.I.G.” Wallace through home movies. It is slightly reminiscent of Tupac Resurrection with the home movies acting as a narrative device, but it takes a different turn by adding introspective and intimate interviews with family and friends. The documentary focuses on the varying degrees of influence – sociologically and more – toward the kind of music Christopher “B.I.G.” Wallace made and how it defined him as a person as well. Biggie: I Got A Story To Tell shows clear authenticity, parallel to the myth we’ve come to know about his artistry. Through home movies and intimate interviews, we are given a bigger scope of the rapper and the music and life that influenced him to become the artist we’ve come to know him as.

This film has a story to tell and it accomplishes its goal, since it redefines the legend in an authentic light and not within some hierarchy of myths within the rap world. It destroys the duality once perceived and the character shown, and importantly how much of a kid he was and the exponential growth as an artist and adult. Unfortunately we only got to hear part of that maturity (musically) in his follow-up to Ready To Die, Life After Death, but this film gives you enough info to go listen to both albums and hear for yourself – sans the R-Kelly feature.

I Got A Story To Tell use of home videos from D-Roc, one of B.I.G.’s longest friends to create the narrative structure is immersive and builds the emotional depth needed because it is edited in a way where B.I.G. is talking to us, the viewer. The insight from the videos, B.I.G. ‘s crew, and mother shows us a different human being that we have always been adjunct to seeing, because most products involving the artist have never focused on the meaning and influence behind the music, for both B.I.G. and us as a consumer. It retreads some information that more known knowledge, but it adds more details that makes tracks like “Everyday Struggle” and “Warning” more immersive.

I Got A Story To Tell primary focus on the musical and social influences gives us many great moments and new new information. There beautiful moments where they focus on his youth, further showing the hunger for a musical aspirations deep rooted in his soul. A lot fans know he was a master at his craft, but nobody knew the roots of what influenced him to these new heights. So seeing those moments like him in Jamaica with his uncle or the recording of his first demo, which was him rapping over the instrumental to “Africa” by Toto, is beautiful.

That is the best trait to take out of Biggie: I Got A Story To Tell. It adds a little nuance to the performance of the actor in the 2009 film Notorious, and that film was just alright. But I digress. Behind the story of the man and rapper, there were a lot of anecdotes I wish the film would dive deeper into. B.I.G. always wanted to be the best and found new ways to challenge himself and some of the stories we could have received from featured artists from his albums are never heard. There are great stories behind the conception and creations of the many songs on both Ready To Die and Life After Death, however that is not the story this film wants to tell. It wants to tell a story that lays out a foundation for character in front and behind the microphone.

There are few middling hiccups that mostly come at the end. This is where the documentary feels like it is something else and tries to wrap up his life, including his death in 20 minutes. It loses it intimate approach to only remind us he had a life after this rise to New York fame.

Also, it does not seem to lean in a solid transitional direction, especially when B.I.G. explains some of the duality of death in his eyes. It doesn’t properly give us a good dual perspective that is overwrought, which I know is a bad thing to say about a memorial/death moment. But as impactful as he was as a human and hero in New York City, his music brought a newfound eye on the metro area for Hip-Hop.

I Got A Story To Tell has a lot of heart and clearly has a message/direction it wants to take, but feels rushed at the end as if there wasn’t enough story to tell. There is a lot of beautiful moment that immerses you in his life and the music, even during the times it appear a little hollow.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10.

Ready To Die – 25 Years Later

The Fugees – The Score: 25 Years Later

It has been thirteen years since the first time my thumb hit play on an iPod classic and the iconic hip-hop album The Score by The Fugees began to play. This debut by New Jersey trio Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean, and Pras Michael was unlike most hip-hop at the time. The predominant sound for hip hop at the time was heavily contrasting between jazz/G-Funk/boom bap sounds. Hip-Hop, at the time, was becoming over-reliant on the complex percussion patterns and soulful pianos, enveloped by themes of success, violence, and the grandeur scheme of life. This sub genre of hip-hop known as gangsta rap was about to overtake the radio waves and caused strife in politics because of the influential nature behind the lyricism at times groovy and charismatic delivery. It grew from the west and the east tried to distinguish by using the word mafioso in relation to the predominant mob culture in NYC. But as The Score turns 25, there was a lot to remember about the time of its release and the amalgamation of its contextual socio-political undertones and unique production that made it one of the best albums of the 90s.

In the 90s, artists like Tupac, The Notorious BIG, Big Pun, Mobb Deep, and Snoop Dogg (to name a few), were gaining momentum, while other artists were trying to make way with the sounds that made them, them. There were artists like Jurassic 5 and De La Soul, who never grew to be worldly recognized, but The Score was unlike the projects released by artists like them at the time. This was due to the focused nature of sampledelia, conscious lyricism, and rhythmic patterns. They carried their own similarities with these rappers, like anti-police, but they weren’t as threatening as rappers like Ice-T, who made a song called “Cop Killer,” under his band Body Count.

The other themes always relate to this certain heroism refugees and immigrants bring to infuse themselves energetically into the system and play by the rules. But the “white Americans” of the United States was never adamant about seeing the equality. It was like they were huge in beyond the hip-hop barrier. They speak to those with minimal voice, but all the while the topics they talked about were big social-political concerns here.

The thing is, Hip-Hop was and still is seen by the many as this “evil” music that influenced negativity in escalating crime rates. It would be used as evidence to make an example of artists who retroactively rapped about the context in their rhymes.

For example – rapper Mac Phipps, who was signed to Master P’s label – No Limit. The prosecution used his rap lyrics to portray a lifestyle to further incriminate him in a club shooting where he was performing that night.

There was and still is this misconception of the understanding behind the notion that his and the others music was representative of the life seen in front of them. They perpetuate the stories to show the aggressive discern for people never having a level of equality other communities have. They in turn create this illustrious lyrics that make them out to be these mythological speakers for the people, which they would use. They’d still represent anti-system in their own way.

“I refugee from Guantanamo Bay

Dance around the border like I’m Cassius Clay (Yes, sir)”

Ready or Not (Pras Michael)

The Score represented more than a sense of unity from the listeners, it represented themes and ideas that are simple, but made complex by the lyrics. “Family Business,” for example, tells us the importance of family. It could be best explained by the Fast & Furious movies and the stuff Vin Diesel goes the lengths for, for his family. But I digress.

The Score builds upon this (and more) and constructs bombastic tales that plays like the soundtrack to a film yet to be filmed that empowered minorities and refugees. The Fugees (Lauryn, Wyclef, and Pras) bring different elements to the album, all of which resonate with the sounds they grew up with. These sounds include, but are not limited to neo-soul, reggae/Caribbean, and old school jazz hip-hop. They made the music of their people more prevalent today with these instrumentations.

You can hear it within the instrumentation/production by the three along with co-collaborators, John Forté and Salaam Remi to name a few. The lead single, “Ready or Not,” brings in a culmination of soul and jazz undertones from subtle string instrumentation within the slow clap-like percussion (like the most of the percussion on the album). Like other rappers at the time, the sample-craze was due to finding new waves to make airwaves. Biggie’s “Juicy,” was not the kind of single that the B-Side “Warning,” off another soulful single “Big Poppa,” had. It was dark, violent, and twisted tale about life during the hustle.

“The Mask,” brings the three backgrounds together with the jazz-horn and bass undertones, hip-hop centric percussion, and a soul influenced chorus. And then there is “Zealots,” that bombasts their doo-wop sample from The Flamingos throughout the instrumental add levity to the subject matter, which is them during their own nerdgasms. All the way keeping in conjunction with the sound and style representative of the first song recorded for the album, “Fu-Gee-La.”

Having these musical connections within the instrumental would eventually reach a bigger audience because familiar sounds enact the endorphins in our brain and groove. All the while keeping the percussion simple enough that The Fugees could enunciate with bravado.

But apart from the individualized sonic influences, the sequencing of the lyricism/verses on The Score shares the center stage with the production. And not entirely because of what they rapped about, but the distinguishing flows and energy they bring. Biggie was commandeering, these three were confident and at times sincere. Their flows were the polish to the constructs of the vehicle that was The Fugees.

Lauryn Hill, amongst others, changed the individual nuances of female rappers from the aggressive violence of west coast artists like Lady of Rage to the aggressive sexual nature and violence (of course) of east coast artists like Lil Kim. She stood out as her own person delivering on-color soulful and progressive lyricism and multi-syllabic bars, which elongated certain pentameters of the flow.

Wyclef brought vibrant energy and paint (since he created picture with his words). And Pras brought a unique take to the meaning behind “the cherry on top.” As a closer, Pras Michael’s slight calm flow made the enunciation of the words crisper, allowing them to marinate, like the intricate metaphors at the end of “The Beast.” Pras raps about the differentiating levels of power and showing how police officers handle arrests or searches with a Black American, giving a different perspective from Lauryn whose angle is reflective of gender and race (mostly race).

“High class get bypassed while my ass gets harassed (Bang)

And the fuzz treat bruhs like they manhood never was”

The Beast (Lauryn Hill)

Wyclef Jean is one of the champions of the refugees he speaks of, implementing them into these connotations of success and survival like on “Fu-Gee-La,” where a scene is painted about the latter.

“What’s goin’ on? Armageddon come you know we soon done

Gun by my side just in case I gotta rump

A boy on the side of Babylon

Tryin’ to front like you’re down with Mount Zion”

Fu-Gee-La (Wyclef Jean)

But this track further expressed this championship, by correlating themselves with refugees. The huge platform this track was given gave them the voice to feel like they have a chance and people like them has many options. Though it was more than just the words and the music, it was the kind of people they represented, especially Wyclef’s background and Pras strong understanding and diction.

“It’s the way that we rock when we’re doin’ our thing

Ooh, la-la-la

It’s the natural la that the Refugees bring”

Fu-Gee-La (Lauryn Hill)

Other rappers have brought their own perspectives to similar themes, but the instrumentals were bouncy and groovy and others weaved dark tones into the complex gritty percussion and string instrumentations. These made the sound come off as more important than the context of lyrics. Many artists were able to mend the two together and create their own style, like Jay-Z’s Reasonable Doubt, but The Score was one of the best albums to implement it well.

So as we sit back and remember the 25 years of existence The Score has had in our world, lets never forget the influence their music with the multi-dimensional messages in threw in our ears and brain.