The ten best rap videos of all time
6. Beastie Boys - "Sabotage" Spike Jonze directed this action-packed, over-the-top '70s action spoof. The best thing about this video is that, although it clearly aims to indulge in every silly costume, camera zoom, dramatic image and action sequence, it never loses its straight face, which makes it even funnier. There seems to be some sort of story, and I have no idea what it is, but it doesn't matter, because "Sabotage" doesn't need continuity to be quite possibly the most hilarious rap video of all time.
5. NWA - "Straight Outta Compton" From the moment you see those flaming shoes at the beginning pacing menacingly toward the camera, you know "Straight Outta Compton" is going to be a badass video. This video set the standard for rap videos throughout the '90s and helped bring rap music into the mainstream thanks to airplay on Yo! MTV Raps's inaugural year. The video takes you on a trip around Compton using an aesthetic not unlike the 1979 film The Warriors. Indeed, "Straight Outta Compton" presented NWA as street warriors at war with the police, and the video is presented with such unyielding energy that it becomes impossible not to get caught up in the spirit.
4. Kanye West - "All Of The Lights" I don't care that Hype Williams "ripped off" the intro to Gaspar Noé's 2009 art flick, Enter the Void (FYI: Noé himself "ripped off" Jean Luc Godard's intro to Une Femme est Une Femme more than forty years earlier), "All Of The Lights" is one of the most invigorating music videos in recent memory. Williams's instinctive use of font design, color, size and animation to convey tone is remarkable, and his quick cuts do a lot to get the heart rate up. The long shots of a fiery-headed Rihanna don't hurt, either.
3. Tyler, the Creator - "IFHY" Tyler's a decent rapper, but he makes the hell out of his videos. Between "Yonkers," "Sam is Dead" and "IFHY," Tyler (known as Wolf Haley in his director's chair), has directed some striking, emotionally-charged videos. Tyler uses a surreal aesthetic to create stories that fall just short of nightmarish into the unsettling category. "IFHY" takes advantage of brilliant makeup and set construction to tell a story that's more nuanced and heartbreaking than the song it accompanies.
2. Missy Elliott - "Get Ur Freak On" For "Get Ur Freak On," director David Meyers created a grimy underworld where the laws of rationality don't apply. It's hard to decipher exactly what the "meaning" of this video is (there probably isn't one), but it's a stylistic masterpiece. In particular, special effects, which are so frequently flaunted for mere ostentation, are used in original and purposeful ways. Who can forget Missy's head zig-zagging off her shoulders to shout, "Is that yo chick?" at you, or her hocking a loogie into some poor, unsuspecting fellow's mouth?
1. The Pharcyde - "Drop" The Pharcyde captures its irrepressible weirdness in the drop video by telling a forward moving story by filming backward. It's filmed well enough that it's not immediately identifiable as being in reverse. The group members even took the time to learn their lyrics in reverse so they would appear to be speaking normally. The extremely long shots make it all the more impressive. It's videos like that this that show you don't need a big budget to make an excellent video. You just need creativity, and the Pharcyde had a seemingly endless supply of that.
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