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Blackstreet frontman Teddy Riley is known for creating the "new jack swing" era of the early '90s, but when he and his group members released 'No Diggity' in 1996, they took things to a whole new level. The Grammy-winning single was made sweeter with the addition of Queen Pen, whose raspy yet feminine flow made her a standout competitor next to hip-hop veteran Dr. Dre's bars, while the Hype Williams-directed video was a quintessential sign of the times.
Love him or hate him but when it comes to Kanye West, the music speaks for itself. Banding together hip-hop's all-star MCs -- Jay-Z, Rick Ross and Nicki Minaj -- West unleashed his lyrical fury on this self-produced track originally released as a G.O.O.D. Friday weekly offering. The eye-catching music video complete with necrophilia, ghouls, goblins and a very sexy Minaj-on-Minaj lap dance, will go down as the perfect visual interpretation to a 'Monster' hit.
In 1994, Craig Mack amped up the "flava" in the form of a hip-hop smorgasbord for his 'Flava in Ya Ear (Remix).' The song was not only full of heavy weights like LL Cool J and Busta Rhymes but featured the only collaboration between Craig and his labelmate Biggie. Despite being new to the game, the late MC spit his flow like a seasoned pro, while the black-and-white video showed the beginning stages of Sean "Diddy" Combs' Bad Boy empire.
'Paid In Full' will forever be counted as a hip-hop classic and the video for the thought-provoking track is as groundbreaking as Rakim's flow. Back when music videos lacked special effects, they had to use different ways to express their message and this clip gets the job done. Rakim would later be revered as one of the "godfather's of hip-hop," due in part to his iconic delivery, later borrowed by the likes of Lil Wayne.
In the late '90s, Big Pun and company brought a Latin flavor to hip-hop that had gone largely unnoticed by the culture. When the Noreaga-assisted 'You Came Up,' dropped in 1998, Pun showed that his rhymes weren't limited to lines like "don't wanna be a player." The gritty raps on the Trackmasters-produced track samples Ramon Morris' 'Don't Ask Me.' The video, set in New York City, finds Pun and Nore playing spies complete with the Terror Squad in tow.
When it came to showing 'California Love,' Tupac spared no expense, especially in the visual area. The music video for the 1995 single, off his multi-platinum selling 'All Eyez On Me' album, found the Death Row bad boy teaming with labelmate Dr. Dre, to bring to life the 'Mad Max'-themed futuristic journey through California, circa 2095. Helmed by director Hype Williams, the video elevated the standard in hip-hop, and featured celebrities Chris Tucker George Clinton and Roger Troutman.
Even though she rarely talks about her personal life, the chemistry between Beyonce and Hov in her 'Crazy In Love' track was undeniable. Bey released the first single off her debut album of the same name back in 2003, and after listening to Jay's flow, it's no wonder why he named her the "hottest chick in the game." Equally scorching was the music video, in which Beyonce, her short shorts and red heels gave other R&B chicks a run for their money.
Mya turned heads when the teen seductively burst onto the music scene in 1998, but by the time she released the Trackmasters-produced 'Best of Me (Remix)' in 2000, she showed that she was all grown up. The most memorable part of the music video? Mya transforming a basketball jersey into a sexy mini dress, while a pre-Beyonce Jigga Man prodded her to "have an affair, act like an adult for once."
As a singer-songwriter, Georgia native Sleepy Brown's has always been unique. Maybe it's his southern upbringing and musical credits for the likes of Goodie Mobb and TLC, but when he stepped out from behind the pen for 2004's 'I Canít Wait,' he clearly belonged in his own lane. Assisted by OutKast on the single, which peaked at No. 18 on the Billboard charts, and in the video, the visuals featured a bevy of scantily clad beauties and was dedicated to "the lover in you."
As the newest member of Dr. Dre's Aftermath imprint at the time, singer Truth Hurts knew she had to do something big for her first single. This 2002 debut added a South Asian influence with the Hindi music sample, and while a $500 million lawsuit against Dre's label would later ensue, the costly production holds its own in the originality sector. Adding the legendary Rakim to the song only made it that much more electric, and the video's dance choreography is hotter than hot.
Ladies love Cool J, especially when he's showing them love back. For the first single off his 'Mr. Smith' album, the Queens MC took it to Philly, adding Boyz II Men to the bill. Even when he has a crush, LL's delivery is still cool, calm and collective as ever. In this video, the Queens rap star seductively jumps between fantasy and reality all in pursuit of his crush, in one of the many visuals credited with showcasing Hype Williams' signature style.
There's nothing like a couple of dueling divas going up against each other to claim victory over a man. After years of being pitted against one another in the media, R&B singers Monica and Brandy turned a rumored rivalry into a hit single with 'The Boy Is Mine.' Staying true to the song's concept, the two songstresses set out to politely battle each other for the affection of a then unknown Mekhi Phifer in the Joseph Khan-directed clip.
When Kanye West speaks his mind, it's either going to be prolific, controversial or a little bit of both. On his 2005 self-produced single 'Gold Digger,' Mr. West put a certain kind of woman on the blast -- those more interested in getting their bills paid then finding true love. Perhaps the most genius part of the song is Jamie Foxx mimicking the vocals of the late Ray Charles' sample for 'I Got A Woman,' while the colorful video, directed by Hype Williams, is a perfect fit.
Hip-hop music has been known to march to the beat of its own drum and when it comes to dropping love songs, the same rules apply. Method Man tapped Mary J. Blige for his 1995 single 'I'll Be There for You/You're All I Need,' a gritty yet touching description of his love for a ride-or-die chick. Meth and Mary's take on the Marvin Gaye and Tammy Terrell classic used New York City projects as the backdrop in the video for what would later be characterized as their "thug-love."
In 1996, Nas gave fans a peek into what life would be like if he ruled the world, and he brought the sweet vocals of Miss Lauryn Hill along for the ride. After gaining notoriety for his classic debut 'Illmatic,' the then chipped-tooth MC rolled through the Las Vegas strip in the music video for 'If I Ruled The World,' where he exhibited his talent for lyrical word play and political undertones.
The legendary Roots crew captured a quintessential hip-hop love story using Philly as its backdrop in 1999. The band also called on the likes of Erykah Badu for the chorus and introduced fellow Philly rapper Eve to show both sides of the love coin. The single, co-written by a then unknown Jill Scott, who was later removed in place of Badu, went on to win the hip-hop collective a Grammy in 2000, for Best Rap Performance by A Duo or group.
"Regulators! Mount up!" Who can forget this 1994 account of getting jacked in the inner city? For his debut single, Warren G and his cousin Nate Dogg gave the rest of the hip-hop world a taste of a crazy night in Long Beach, Calif. The song appeared on the soundtrack for 'Above the Rim,' and its accompanying clip also featured scenes from the basketball film, catapulting the then unknown duo's career to star status.
Chris Brown waved at his haters with the single 'Look at Me Now,' off his 'F.A.M.E.' album. Produced by Diplo and Afrojack, Breezy gets extra points for testing out his rap skills and holding his own next to vets Lil Wayne and Busta Rhymes, whose ultra speedy flow is nothing short of perfection. Equally appealing is the music video, shot in a Los Angeles parking garage covered in graffiti and marries Brown's knack for both dance and art.
Long before their beef would make its way into hip-hop history, Game and 50 Cent used to be friends... sort of. Back in 2005, 50 introduced Game as the newest member of G-Unit and appeared on the Compton rapper's debut single and video for 'Hate It or Love It.' Shot against a green screen, the music video showed the duo's East and West Coast upbringing. Commercially, the song topped Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop charts and propelled Game's album, 'The Documentary,' to multi-platinum status.
Pimpin' ain't easy in the world of the Underground Kings, and their 2007 single, 'International Players Anthem' showed how hard it is to hang up the player's hat and settle down. With the help of OutKast, UGK's Pimp C and Bun B brought Willie Hutch's 1973 track, 'I Choose You,' into the new millennium. The video plays like a who's-who of Southern hip-hop, featuring Andre 3000's fictional wedding, of which his friend unsuccessfully try to talk him out of going through with.
Eminem cashed in on his "recovery" with the release of this Grammy-nominated single. Tackling the trials and tribulations of a destructive relationship, Em and Rihanna pit anger and vulnerability against each other, making for the perfect musical and visual cocktail. The fiery video touched on the issue of domestic violence and despite personally relating to the subject matter, Rih Rih's chemistry with Em was as electric as the Bajan beauty's bright red hair.
As a duo, Mobb Deep were doing pretty good for themselves but adding Lil' Kim to the remix of their 1999 'Quiet Storm' single really gave the masses something to talk about. For the music video, the Queens MCs called on the best in the business, Hype Williams, to bring this second creation to life. Meanwhile, Kimmy Blanco held nothing back, going toe-to-toe with her male counterparts, putting "100 percent" in every line she dropped. They don't call her the Queen B for nothin'.
In the early years of hip-hop, the Queens rap trio known as Run-DMC ruled the rap charts but once they released 'Walk This Way,' they opened the door for a type of collaboration largely unseen in the genre. Putting their own spin on the single originally released by the rock group Aerosmith, Rev Run, DMC and Jam Master Jay paved the way for a new breed of collaborations -- the video blurred the lines between rock 'n' roll and hip-hop.
In the self-esteem department, DJ Khaled doesn't need much help. He's known for shouting out, "We the best," so it only makes sense that he picked some of the best rappers in the game for 'I'm On One.' Rick Ross, Drake and Lil Wayne all showed out for the single, released off Khaled's fifth LP, 'We the Best Forever.' The music video, which was shot in Drizzy's Miami home, also features Birdman, Ace Hood and Make Maine.
Before Cash Money made New Orleans famous, Master P and his crew put the southern city on the map as an untapped hip-hop source. His No Limit Records imprint paved the way for MCs coming out of the 504, and made waves on the music charts with 'Make 'Em Say Uhh,' in 1998. Featuring his younger brother Silkk the Shocker and other members on the No Limit roster including Mia X and Mystikal, the visuals showcased a basketball game going on in all its rowdiness.