Music

The 10 Best Posse Cuts of 2010 (So Far)

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Posse cuts are like friendlier versions of the WWE’s Royal Rumble — a platform designed to showcase all of the stars in the game, both up-and-coming and certified. Think back to the Main Source’s 1991 “Live At The Barbecue,” featuring Akinyele, Joe Fatal, and the debut of a rapper named Nas, or Big Pun’s “Banned From TV” remix, featuring the murderer’s row of N.O.R.E., Nature, Cam’ron, Jadakiss, and Styles P. More recently, there’s been 2008’s “Swagger Like Us”–T.I., Kanye West, Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, and M.I.A.–or last year’s “Forever,” featuring Drake, Kanye West, Eminem, and Lil Wayne.

This year in particular, the posse cut seems to be in vogue. Kanye West has been the most visible artist to use the posse cut approach recently, stacking the majority of his G.O.O.D. Friday freebies with numerous MCs and singers. West also recently announced “All Of The Lights”, the third single from his upcoming album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, will feature 11 artists (including Elton John!). But it’s not just West calling all MCs to the booth. For whatever reason, great rappers have been teaming up a lot lately, and the result has been a hip-hop fan’s wet dream. Every week, there’s either some new remix or original song with numerous MCs trying to lay down the verse fans will talk about long after the song is playing. Here are ten of 2010’s best posse cuts so far, complete with a verdict on who won each one:

Song: “Fat Raps (Remix)” (produced by Chuck Inglish)
Lead Artist: Chip Tha Ripper/Big Sean
Artists In Order of Appearance: Chuck Inglish (of the Cool Kids), Dom Kennedy, Big Sean, Boldy James, Asher Roth, and Chip Tha Ripper

If rap had an all-rookie team, most of these guys would be on the list. The original “Fat Raps” was led by Chip Tha Ripper and featured Big Sean and Curren$y. The remix landed on Big Sean’s Finally Famous Vol 3: BIG mixtape, with the same beat as the original and a bunch of rappers who were either on a XXL Freshman cover or might be sometime in the near future. Best Verse: Big Sean

Song: “Get Big (Remix)” (produced by Nitti)
Lead Artist: Dorrough
Artists in Order of Appearance: Dorrough, Diddy, Yo Gotti, Bun B, Diamond, Shawty Lo, Wiz Khalifa, and Maino

Say what you want about Dallas-based rapper Dorrough, but it’s obvious he has the ear for beats everyone else wishes they had. His previous hit, “Ice Cream Paint Job,” was everywhere below the Mason Dixon line last summer, and had its own huge remix. This year he repeated the feat, getting seven MCs to appear on this remix of his current album’s title track. Best Verse: Bun B

Song: “Mechanics (Remix)” (produced by Swizz Beatz)
Lead Artist: Reek Da Villain
Artists in Order of Appearance: DJ Khaled, Busta Rhymes, Swizz Beatz, Vado, Cam’ron, Method Man, and Nelly

A member of Busta Rhymes’ Flipmode Squad, Reek calls in a lineup dominated by New York MCs, including Method Man–fitting, since the beat is a sample of Jerry Butler’s “I’m Your Mechanical Man”, the same song Meth used for his song “Bring The Pain.” DJ Khaled is also a welcome presence with his introductions for every MC, including the highlight: “NELLY AKA 35 MILLION SOLD!!!!” Best Verse: Method Man

Song: “Beamer, Benz, or Bentley (Remix)” (produced by Prime)
Lead Artist: Lloyd Banks
Artists In Order Of Appearance: Lloyd Banks, Ludacris, The-Dream, Jadakiss, and Yo Gotti

Unfortunately Juelz Santana, featured on the original, couldn’t get a call back for the official remix. Instead we’re stuck with an odd verse from The-Dream in the middle of some very strong verses from Luda, Jada, and Yo Gotti. Oh well. The original, meaty beat is kept (mostly) intact and the rest of the MCs sound like they are more than ready to go in and brag about some variation of whatever they’re riding. Best Verse: Jadakiss Song: “All I Do Is Win (Remix)” (produced by DJ Nasty and LVM)
Lead Artist: DJ Khaled
Artists In Order of Appearance: T-Pain, DJ Khaled, Rick Ross, Busta Rhymes, Diddy, Nicki Minaj, Fabolous, Jadakiss, Fat Joe, and Swizz Beatz

All DJ Khaled does is make huge rap anthems featuring a bunch of rappers we love to listen to, and the remix to “All I Do Is Win” is his crowning achievement. (Though his decision to make his rapping debut on the otherwise immaculate track is deplorable in pretty much every way.) T-Pain’s operatic hook, which is the best part of the original, is kept intact to keep the track from being too bogged down in rappers bragging about all they do. Not that there isn’t plenty of that. Best Verse: Busta Rhymes

Song: “I’m Beaming (Remix)” (produced by The Neptunes)
Lead Artist: Lupe Fiasco
Artists In Order of Appearance: Asher Roth, Charles Hamilton, Lupe Fiasco, The Cool Kids, Blu, Diggy, B.o.B., and Dosage

The collection of artists known as the All City Chess Club comes together for the remix of one of Lupe’s more underrated cuts to come out in the last year. With the exception of All City Chess Club members J. Cole and Wale, the whole team is here, spitting over a spaced out Neptunes beat. Together they sound like a Revenge of The Nerds-esque collective who care more about being the nicest MCs than about being the richest. If there was a rap version of “It’s Academic” these guys would kill it. Best Verse: Diggy Simmons

Song: “Remember The Titans” (produced by J. Cardim)
Lead Artist: Joe Budden
Artists In Order Of Appearance: Fabolous, Joe Budden, Lloyd Banks, and Royce Da 5’9

The origins of this collaboration started the way most great collaborations start these days–on Twitter. Once Joe already secured Royce and Lloyd to lend their talents to the song, he summoned Fabolous to join the party by issuing a challenge. Fabolous happily accepted and the result is the grimiest, most Tri-State centric posse cut of the year. This is the kind of song DJ Clue used to be famous for featuring on his mixtapes, back when you could only find them on street vendor blankets and mom and pop stores. Best Verse: Royce Da 5’9

Song: “Start It Up” (produced by Cardiak)
Lead Artist: Lloyd Banks
Artists In Order of Appearance: Swizz Beatz, Lloyd Banks, Ryan Leslie, Kanye West, and Fabolous

The difficult thing about posse cuts is they tend to drag, and thus even the strongest ones aren’t too club friendly. “Start It Up” is something entirely different, one of those songs where every verse probably has its own fan club. But as is the case with most of his guest appearances this year, Kanye leaves everything on the table. And the beat is a blast, mixing Southern marching-band stylings with electric pop. Best Verse: Kanye West

Song: “Monster” (produced by Kanye West)
Lead Artist: Kanye West
Artists In Order of Appearance: Rick Ross, Kanye West, Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, Jay-Z, Nicki Minaj, and Charlie Wilson

This is a posse cut on 10. With four MCs and two singers, it’s the rap equivalent of a big band. Whereas more posse cuts rely on a large number of rappers to make a catchy beat into an epic event, “Monster” comes dressed to the nines with that beautiful mess of a beat, strong verses from three of the four rappers (Rick Ross’s pithy six bars are forgotten by the time Kanye begins his), and the mash-up of vocals at the end where Justin Vernon’s chorus melds seamlessly into the ad-libs by Charlie Wilson. Only in Kanye West’s head does the guy from Bon Iver singing with the guy from The Gap Band make sense–and sound good. Best Verse: Nicki Minaj

Song “Deuces (Remix) (produced by Kevin McCall
Lead Artist: Chris Brown
Artists In Order of Appearance: Drake, T.I., Kanye West, Fabolous, and Andre 3000

Who says men don’t know how to get in touch with their feelings? The “Deuces (Remix)” is like a male version of Waiting To Exhale put to a beat; it’s nothing but feelings. Drake is confused, T.I. is angry, Kanye is bitter, Fabolous is fed up, and Andre 3000 is remorseful. All five take their moment to wax poetic about a woman who has either done them wrong or is doing them wrong. Chris Brown doesn’t even get a word in until the end when he rehashes the song’s original chorus, as it should be. No need to ruin what is probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hear five of the game’s best rappers pour their hearts out about the women who broke them. Best Verse: Drake

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