In our continued mission to prove that hip-hop doesn’t begin and end with dad rap, we’re taking a look at one of the most beloved and discussed staples of hip hop, the posse cut. For definition, UTM sees a posse cut is four or more separate rappers all spitting hard, so sorry that your favourite triple rapper track didn’t make it in, that’s not a posse, that’s three dude in a room. Anyway, here’s our list of eight awesome posse cuts that aren’t mined from the 90’s.
Kanye West, Big Sean, Pusha T & 2 Chainz – Mercy
Quick shoutout to the dancehall sample throughout the track, because ‘Mercy’ would be nothing without the weeping, moaning and gnashing of teeth.
‘Mercy’ is full of special moments, though; Big Sean‘s dismissive “swerve” became the ultimate par for about a year, Kanye blessed us with the “haaan” adlib and Pusha T came with the Rick James/Ms. Pacman combo: “I’m red leather, this cocaine, I’m Rick James, ho/I’m bill-droppin’, Ms. Pac-Man, this pill poppin’-ass ho.”
But without a doubt, the most amazing part of this track comes from 2 Chainz. You want a double-layered condiment pun? Here you go: “Okay, now catch up to my campaign/coupe the colour of mayonnaise.” Tasty. How about a refrain for every time you smoke and drink? Tity Boi has you covered: “I’m drunk and high at the same time/drinking champagne on the airplane.” Wavy.
Hot Sugar – 56K (feat. Big Baby Gandhi, Nasty Nigel, Lansky, Antwon, Chippy Nonstop, Lakutis, DVS, Kitty & Ne$$)
Hot Sugar rework of his own track, ‘56k’, is potentially the most internet track ever, as he drops Heems in favour of eight other rappers and one Chippy Nonstop, for a posse cut of millennial nostalgia and early-day internet tales.
Big Baby Gandhi brings the hypnotic rhymes; Nasty Nigel reminisces about wacky 90’s CGI cartoon’s and Lansky laments a childhood robbery of his Donkey Kong game, all setting the stage for Antwon’s chuckle-providing verse. ‘Twon looks back to the early internet, as he list out his naughty habit of having multiple internet girlfriends including “a wicked one that swore she threw hexes”
Continuing to prove that posse cuts are at their strongest when thematically linked, Lakutis dishes out shoryukens, DVS hands out internet slang wisdom (“Log off off my prodigy/That’s how you say “get off my dick” in technology”) and Kitty shouts out both Portal and her own twitter handle. Ne$$ brings the track to its close by mocking Y2K believers.
Typically for a Hot Sugar track, nobody comes away without crafting an amusing moment, and no matter y’all say, no dad rap posse cut ever contained the line “before Google Chrome, and online scriptures/I had the AOL, used to jack off to pictures.”
Jammer – Strangle Man (Feat. Wiley, Tempa T, Flowdan, Esco, Tinchy Stryder, Manga, Gully Rainjah, Syer Barz & Ears)
BIG MAN TING TEMPZ, FLOWDAN, WILEY, MANGA, Jammer etc. ‘Strangle Man’ is arguably the apex of dad grime, with a list of household MC’s longer than a home invasion centric baseball bat.
Back in 2006, the economic crash hadn’t yet happened, Slewdem were still a thing, Tempz was still Slewdem affiliated and Jammer still had bars, the world was a wonderful place. All Day Working is perhaps the apex of the 00’s grime scene and through its rawness and the sheer amount of features, standout track ‘Strangle Man’ feels like a very brief, ultra violent sidewinder session. The performances, whilst not unrehearsed are raw as fuck and wholly indicative of the energy sometimes lost in today’s world of pristinely recorded grime.
Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire – The Last Huzzah! (feat. Despot, Das Racist, Danny Brown & El-P)
Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire never really stood a chance, did he? While his verse is essentially, ‘fuck this music industry thing’, the fact that everyone else brings pure flames is the main reason he’s left with such an unspectacular finale. Props to him for bringing a spectacular selection of rappers though (Killer Mike where?)
You got Despot delivering a dependably aggressive verse. Das Racist are at their incredibly dumb yet incredibly smart best, with KOOL AD finding a place for himself in the rap world (“weirder than 50, Pac, Biggie, or Ricky Ross”) and Heems twisting their ‘joke rap’ beginnings with a well-placed Wu-Tang reference (“I’m at the Pizza Hut, I’m at the Taco Bell/The combination made my eyes bleed”) and also delivering a killer final blow in “worst rapper on this track, third coolest.” Danny Brown couldn’t be most suited to a track, as his verse is laced with weed and overflowing with destruction.
“I’ll spit another sixteen to prove to the world I fucking own it” <– exactly what El-P does as he drops objectively the best verse here, weaving the simplicity of counting to sixteen with a complex narrative of destruction, finding completely unique ways to do so (“inverted 31’s”, “7 and 7’s”), anyone would be left a complete wreck trying to follow that shit up, poor eXsquire.
A$AP Rocky – 1Train (feat. Kendrick Lamar, Joey Badass, Yelawolf, Danny Brown, Action Bronson & Big K.R.I.T.)
I’ve already written about how sick Kendrick Lamar’s verse on ‘1Train’ is, but the most amazing thing about this track is that everyone, EVERYONE, goes in. Yes, even Yelawolf, and I firmly believe a posse cut is only as good as its weakest link.
This was a time when A$AP Rocky was at the top of his game, referencing Menace II Society and beefing SpaceGhostPurrp (who has since beefed an 11 year old child). Joey Badass nodded to his rumoured signing to Roc Nation and probably never delivered a better verse in his life. Danny Brown was typically filthy yet entertaining, and still loved drugs. Action Bronson never dips below a 7/10 ever, so this shit is obviously bumping too. Big K.R.I.T. demonstrated exactly why people prefer his features over his own shit – he goes a million times harder and leaves ‘1Train’ with a mic-dropping moment.
Thinking about it, most of these artists fell off some time after this. That’s the problem with posse cuts – they usually come out when everyone is at their peak, and this many artists in the prime of their career on one track is bound to cast a shadow over all future material.
R.I.P Yelawolf 2013-2013
B-Free – My Team (feat. Reddy, Okasian, Huckleberry P, Paloalto & Keith Ape)
‘My Team’ is essentially the manifesto Korean rap/collective label Hi-Lite records, as Huckleberry P declares “H I L I T E. Fuck radio, Fuck TV”. Elsewhere, B-Free starts his infamous beef with “rap loser” San-E (whose response was Meek Mill levels of trash) and Keith Ape goes typically hard with an equally ridiculous and repeatable hook of “you know you can’t fuck with my team.” ‘My Team’ is proof that a posse cut isn’t always just about dropping understandable lyrical firebombs (hello language barrier) as much as it is about consecutive rappers spitting hard and bringing together disparate rap styles.
Mic Ty, Rocks, Nico Lindsay & Capo Lee – Why Not (Prod. Wardot)
Released at the start of 2016, the Why Not mixtape is a collaboration between a selection of soon to be household name grime MC’s. Self titled standout track ‘Why Not’ is a collection of world conquering bars from the crème de la crème of the up and coming UK grime scene. Rocks opening shelling “You say the wrong thing I’ll knock your jaw in” pretty much sums up the storming, hyping mood laid down by ‘Why Not’.
Pretty much every MC on this track has continued to boss grime this year and ‘Why Not’ is a great indicator as to just why this is.
Kanye West – So Appalled (feat. RZA, Jay-Z, CyHi the Prynce, Pusha T & Swizz Beatz)
If we’re talking My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy posse cuts, ‘Monster’ is obviously the most headline stealing choice, yet as a showcase of several rapper’s talents, it’s a poor choice. Nicki Minaj out-raps everyone, Rick Ross is barely present and Jay Z reels of his monster movie collection and laments the lack of love in his life. However, just one track post-‘Monster’ is ‘So Appalled’, the true posse cuts in both spirit and straight bars.
True, RZA is wasted as he essentially repeats Swizz Beatz hook in a more aggressive fashion, but everyone else kills it. Jay Z picks up his dignity and sends venomous anger to other artist using his names, while simultaneously delivering his most gloriously dumb wordplay since the businessman thing in “I’m so appalled, I might buy the mall/Just to show niggas how much more I have in store.” Elsewhere Kanye is at the height of his braggadocio powers and Pusha brings a compelling biographical verse.
Most posse cuts have an obvious champion of verses (see El-P on ‘The Last Huzzah!’) and for ‘So Appalled’, it’s a rapper who snuck his verse onto the track when Kanye was napping, CyHi the Prynce. Just about every line he throws down has a clever double meaning, like when he lays out the months with these lyrics; “I met this girl on Valentine’s Day, fucked her in May/She found out about April, so she chose to march.”
Kanye does everything better than everyone, and posse cuts are no exception to that rule.