A well-executed video can elevate a simple song to a visually captivating experience, captivating viewers and leaving them eager for more.
These are some of the best hip-hop music videos of all time.
10. Mo Money Mo Problems
The song, featured on Notorious B.I.G’s second and final album Life After Death, is called ‘Mo Money Mo Problems’. It includes collaborations with Puff Daddy and Ma$e and prominently samples Diana Ross’s 1980 track ‘I’m Coming Out.
The song talks about online casinos and casinos in general and how money and success can lead to problems. At the time of its release, the song topped the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks and is considered one of the biggest songs in hip-hop history.
It’s a classic hip-hop song that is still relevant today and certainly deserves to be on any hip-hop Playlist.
9. This is America
Childish Gambino’s music video for this song was released to widespread acclaim and quickly became a viral sensation. It remains one of the most iconic and widely discussed music videos to date.
It uses a lot of symbolism to signify different opinions on important issues to stir up meaningful discourse. The artist is seen in many violent scenarios dealing with police brutality and racism while dancing awkwardly to show the state of American society.
The video took everyone by surprise with its unexpected and controversial nature, but it is undeniably one of the standout music videos of the 2010s.
8. Not Tonight (Ladies Night Remix)
This event elevated the concept of a girls’ night out to extraordinary heights. It was a production with ample resources, showcasing awe-inspiring settings and captivating lyrics that appealed to the audience. The lineup included some of the most prominent female artists of the 1990s like Lil Kim, Missy Elliot, Left Eye, Angie Martinez, and Da Brat. Additionally, notable figures in the Nineties entertainment scene like Xcape, Mary J. Blige, Queen Latifah, actress Maia Campbell, and Blaque made appearances in the music video.
The girls in the music video engage in various activities, creating a lively atmosphere that mirrors an actual party. The song itself is centered around celebrating women and their many achievements in an industry known for its competitiveness. It’s definitely a video worth watching.
7. Get Your Freak On
Missy Elliot gained acclaim for her captivating music videos that pushed boundaries. She was praised for her innovative, futuristic sound and meticulous attention to detail in her visual storytelling. This particular song is no exception, leaving a lasting impact on listeners.
The film features exciting cameos from popular artists such as Eve, Ludacris, LL Cool J, and Busta Rhymes, making it a delightful watch.
6. Ready or Not
Ready or Not is a song from the Fugees second album The Score. It draws inspiration from Irish singer Enya and the Delfonics. Lauryn Hill still loves to perform this song whenever she goes on tour.
Released in 1996, this song is renowned for being the first hip-hop video to exceed a million-dollar budget. The production required three full days of shooting, with its standout feature being the captivating Y2K style. Comprising Wyclef Jean, Lauryn Hill, and Pras Michel, The Fugees were revolutionary advocates fighting for justice.
They sang while navigating through motorbikes and military helicopters, creating an atmosphere reminiscent of an adventure film.
This song quickly became a hit in the United Kingdom and reached the top of the charts. It also achieved success internationally, reaching the top 10 in 15 different countries. Rolling Stone magazine recognizes it as one of the influential songs that shaped Rock music.
Jay-Z is known for his business acumen, creative mind, and thinking outside the box when it comes to his concepts for music videos and this was no exception. The song Moonlight is a reimagination of Friends featuring an all-black cast. It featured Issa Rae, Tiffany Haddish, Tessa Thompson, Lakeith Stanfield, Lil Rel Howery, and Jerrod Carmichael playing different members of the famous Friends cast.
It plays with the view that Friends was a white version of a black sitcom Living Single that premiered in 1993 about a group of six friends living together in a Brooklyn townhouse. Moonlight is still regarded as one of Jay-Z’s most visually appealing music videos.
“Alright” is a music video released in 2015 featuring Kendrick Lamar and directed by Colin Tilley and the Little Homies. The video has a distinct visual style, shot entirely in black and white, and includes powerful imagery and symbolic elements.
In this music video, Lamar channels his frustration regarding the mistreatment of Black Americans and police brutality. Despite the inclusion of intense scenes, the overall tone resonates with hope and positivity, signifying a glimpse of light amidst adversity.
3. Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down
Puff Daddy and Ma$e collaborated to create an iconic song that showcased their talent. The music video accompanying the song was groundbreaking and pushed creative boundaries during the 90s. This single marked Diddy’s debut as a performer, and he went all out in creating a unique and memorable video experience.
With his luxurious Rolls Royce gliding through the desert and a dance in an ethereal room reminiscent of an illuminated Gravitron, Diddy captivated audiences. This song dominated the charts for an impressive 25 weeks upon its release in 1997, marking a remarkable start to Diddy’s career as a performer.
2. Drop It Like It’s Hot
In 2004, Snoop Dogg and Pharrell Williams collaborated on a song called “Drop It Like It’s Hot,” with music video direction by veteran director Paul Hunter. The song quickly climbed the charts and reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100, where it remained for three weeks. Billboard even recognized it as the most popular hip-hop song of the entire 2000s decade.
The video was filmed using black and white visuals, featuring conversations with Pharrell and Snoop about how the public perceives them and their lifestyles.
1. The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)
Missy Elliott’s creative genius in both her songs and music videos set her apart, establishing her as a star and one of the groundbreaking women shaping the future of the music industry.
Missy’s music video for The Rain showcased her signature cartoon-like visuals and avant-garde fashion choices. She proudly featured her friends as video vixens, demonstrating her acceptance and celebration of individuality.
The song was a rebellious statement aimed at the music industry, emphasizing that embracing one’s true self will always be fashionable, regardless of the time period.