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WHEN RAPPERS UNITED IN SONG: CLASSIC POSSE CUTS: 1988 - 1994

Posted by Billyjam, March 23, 2009 07:05pm | Post a Comment

"Posse cuts": the phenomenon whereby large collectives of rappers linked by crew, region, or, most often, by a common cause, all would get together to record a massive joint effort. Posse cuts were most popular circa '88 to '94-- coincidentally the same years as hip-hop's much lauded golden age.

These multiple emcee, pass-the-mic styled hip-hop songs date back to hip-hop's formative years (many of them freestyle sessions in the 1970's Boogie Down that were not even recorded and some that were, such as Afrika Bambaataa & the Soul Sonic Force's "Zulu Nation Throwdown" in 1980). It wasn't until the later 1980's that the posse cut came into its own. Below are the videos of seven of some of the best posse cuts from this six-year span -- all timeless, classic hip-hop recordings that I personally never tire of.

1988's Marley Marl-produced "The Symphony" by The Juice Crew not only put the posse cut format firmly on the rap map but it also remains one of the best singles in hip-hop history, period. On it, each contributor of the Queensbridge extended hip-hop family flows like water: Masta Ace, Craig G, Kool G Rap, and Big Daddy Kane -- all over a dope Marley Marl (known as "Dusty Marl" in the video below) track that samples Otis Redding. Note that this video is not the full album version as found on the 1988 Cold Chillin Marley Marl album In Control Volume 1.

The 1989 posse cut "Self Destruction" by the star studded Stop The Violence Movement was an even grander and more ambitious project in terms of the number of talented emcees that would bless the mic for this heartfelt anti-violence anthem that came about following a fatal fight that broke out during a Public Enemy/Boogie Down Productions concert. The tragedy inspired KRS-One to form the Stop the Violence Movement. After doing so, he co-produced a track with fellow BDP member D-Nice, enlisted some of the East Coast's best and recorded the single "Self Destruction" on Jive with all proceeds going to the National Urban League. The stellar lineup included KRS-One, Ms Melodie, D Nice, Chuck D, Flavor Flav, Kool Moe Dee, MC Lyte, Stetsasonic's Daddy O, Delite, Fruitkwan, Wise, Doug E Fresh, Just Ice, and Heavy D.

A year later and on the opposite coast The West Coast All Stars formed to record the powerful anti-gang track "We're All In The Same Gang," which was released by Warner Bros as a single and on an album of the same name. Note that the album was not that  memorable a release. (It was mainly this one strong track and a lot of filler.) Released at a time when the crack epidemic was at its ugliest and gangs on the West Coast, especially in LA, were destroying lives en masse, the song struck a nerve with the rap listening public. Contributors included King Tee, Body & Soul, Def Jef, Michel'le, Tone-Loc, Young MC, Above The Law, Ice-T,  Dr. Dre, Eazy E, MC Ren, Digital Underground, and MC Hammer.

The incredible Professor X addressed the crack epidemic head-on with the posse cut "Close the Crackhouse." Released in 1993 on Polygram and overseen by the late, great Professor X of X Clan fame, the track features fellow X-Clanner Brother J, Wise Intelligent, YZ, Chuck D, Big Daddy Kane, Money B, Shock G, Sister Souljah, Freedom Williams, College Boyz & Two Kings In A Cipher. Unfortunately, the video copy below cuts off before the end.

Also addressing the crack epidemic among other social ills including AIDS and sexism, "Heal Yourself" was the posse cut recorded by the talented H.E.A.L. project (Human Education Against Lies), who released this single and an album in 1991. The song "Heal Yourself" featured an all star rap cast that included a higher ratio of female artists than usual. The lineup included the four females Queen Latifah, Harmony, MC Lyte, & Ms. Melodie, as well as KRS-One, Kid Capri, Big Daddy Kane, Freddie Foxxx, LL Cool J, and Run DMC.

The no-cursing theme of the Heavy D-overseen "Don't Curse" posse cut may not have seemed as socially grand as some of the others here, but it was equally as entertaining. In addition to Heavy D, it features Kool G Rap, Grand Puba, C.L. Smooth, Big Daddy Kane, Pete Rock, and Q-Tip. Released as a single, it was also found on Heavy D's third album, 1991's Peaceful Journey.

The seventh and final posse cut video below is the Master P-orchestrated West Coast Bad Boyz anti-violence 1994 single/album group cut "Peace 2 Da Streets" featuring Herm Lewis, Silk the Shocker, King George, BIg Ed, Ray Luv, Dangerous Dame, Lil' Ric, JT tha Bigga Figga, Mac Spoon, Rappin 4-Tay, The Delinquents, The Perk, Toby T, Perk, Erase E, and Keylo.


"The Symphony" The Juice Crew: Marley Marl, Masta Ace, Craig G, Kool G Rap,
& Big Daddy Kane (1988, Cold Chillin)

 
"Self Destruction" Stop The Violence Movement feat. KRS-One, Chuck D, Flavor Flav,
Kool Moe Dee, MC Lyte, Stetsasonic's Daddy O, Delite, Fruitkwan, Wise, Ms Melodie,
D Nice, Doug E Fresh, Just Ice, & Heavy D (1989, Jive)

"We're All In The Same Gang" The West Coast All Stars feat. King Tee, Body & Soul, Def Jef, Michel'le, Tone-Loc, Above The Law, Ice-T, Dr. Dre, MC Ren, Young MC, Digital Underground, MC Hammer, & Eazy-E (1990, Warner Bros)

"Heal Yourself" H.E.A.L. feat. Harmony, Kid Capri, Big Daddy Kane, Freddie Foxxx, LL Cool J,
MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, KRS-One, Ms. Melodie, Run DMC/Jam Master Jay (1991, Elektra)

 

"Don't Curse" Heavy D featuring Kool G Rap, Grand Puba, C.L. Smooth, Big Daddy Kane, Pete Rock, Q-Tip (1991, MCA)

"Close the Crackhouse" Professor X feat. Brother J, Wise Intelligent, YZ, Chuck D, Big Daddy Kane, Money B, Shock G, Sister Souljah, Freedom Williams, College Boyz & Two Kings In A Cipher (1993, Polygram)

 
"Peace 2 Da Streets" Master P & West Coast Bad Boys feat. Herm Lewis, Silk the Shocker, King George, BIg Ed, Ray Luv, Dangerous Dame, Lil' Ric, JT tha Bigga Figga, Mac Spoon, Rappin 4-Tay, The Delinquents, The Perk, Toby T, Perk, Erase E, Keylo (No Limit 1994)