From the Beastie Boys to Busta Rhymes, Missy to Eminem, here are the top 10 nineties hip hop music videos
- Becky Buckle
- 12 April 2022
Strong lyrics, a fish-eye lens, and Hype Williams were the ultimate formula for hip hop video success in the 1990s.
Despite a steady rise throughout the 80s on both East and West coasts of the US — hip hop truly hit the stratosphere during the nineties as both a sound and cultural movement, catapulting scratchin’ vinyl and swift production into the mainstream. Its domination of the charts grew alongside the swelling popularity of music videos and, of course, MTV — a hotbed for the over-the-top, iconic rap music videos that would come to be. Through hours of tireless research, we've compiled a list of 10 of the best. A selection of fabled videos from the likes of Missy, Busta Rhymes and of course, Wu-Tang Clan.
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Check out the list, in no particular order, below.
Big Pun feat. Joe ‘Still Not A Player’
This track — a remix of Joe’s ‘Don’t Wanna Be a Player’ including a sample of Brenda Russell's 'A Little Bit of Love’ — didn’t receive due recognition until its music video was released. Arriving on a helicopter is always the best way to start a music vid – it’s not crucial as no music is playing and no narrative is provided, but Big Pun does look pretty cool. After this random intro, we cut to see Big Pun and Joe outside two neighbouring clubs named after them. Big Pun enters a disco styled club while Joe is sat surrounded by dancing women. The more R&B styled track, led by Joe’s smooth vocals, is also noted in the video as it doesn’t follow the typical hardcore scene but rather shots of Latin dancing and glittering dancefloors. Overall, it’s one of the ‘cheerier’ hip hop videos out there.
Busta Rhymes ‘Gimme Some More’
Co-directed by Hype Williams and Busta himself, this video includes the classic nineties fisheye lens shots that defined the era. This distorted look isn’t even necessary as the video is already extremely surreal. Starting in a similar style to the Looney Tunes cartoons, graphics and trumpets introduce the track, alluding to this very caricature styled video. The music begins and we are looking into a child-like drawing of a garden where a young Busta is standing as the lyrics explain “playing in the front yard of the crib”. After the child bumps his head a mother-like figure comes to check on him. Next thing you know both characters' eyes are swirling, and young Busta turns into what can only be described as small blue monster. It’s really hard to tell if this is a fun cartoon or a nightmare. A personal favourite out of the many characters Busta plays in this video is when he is dressed as Yosemite Sam with foam guns but there are plenty of other great costumes.
Fugees ‘Ready Or Not’
It’s an absolute banger that I think everyone is born knowing, however, the music video is something else. There are many theories of what ‘Ready Or Not’ is about, from the death of a burglar to the Fugees asking other rappers if they were ‘ready’ for their influence on the hip hop scene. You’d think that the song’s narrative would become clear once you’d watched the music video, however, as soon as you see the opening scene of helicopters flying over the sea as a man on a jet ski avoids explosions, the mystery only deepens. And duly, we are transported deep into the ocean where Lauryn Hill sings the famous chorus in a submarine of all places. Scenes of dusty war and motorcycle chases pop up throughout the video, making it unlike any other hip hop video of the time.
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Missy Elliott ‘The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)’
The main reason this makes it onto the list is the look. Blown up in some sort of inflatable bin bag, Missy Elliott dances into the fish-eye lens with sunglasses that seem to wrap up around her head. This outrageous look makes it one of the most renown music videos of all time. Directed by the legendary Hype Williams, the video even includes cameos from Lil’ Kim, Total, SWV, Puff Daddy, and more. As I’m sure you won’t be surprised, it went on to get nominated for four awards such as Best Rap Video and Breakthrough Video at the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards. The unprecedented and unique style of the music video saw Elliott go on to recreate similar styled videos with ‘Get Your Freak On’ in 2001 and ‘Work it’ in 2002.
Eminem ‘My Name Is’
Towards the end of the nineties, music videos were everywhere and had become a huge part of the music industry. One of these breakthrough videos is the classic ‘My Name Is’ by Eminem. Showing a couple watching ‘The Slim Shady Show’ on TV, we are navigated to a range of different characters played by Eminem himself. Flicking through the channels of this nineties TV we see Eminem as a presenter, mad scientist, ventriloquist dummy and even in a straitjacket with Dr. Dre as his therapist. Some of the more controversial shots of the video include Eminem dressed as the then-president Bill Clinton, as well as dressing in a another shot as Marilyn Manson. It’s a high-budget music video that will forever be entertaining to watch.
Dr. Dre feat. Snoop Dogg ‘Nuthin’ But A G Thang’
Apart from already being a classic hip hop tune, this music video is exactly how you’d imagine every rap video of the nineties should be. Showing raw imagery of Compton and some brilliant acting from Dre, we feel as if we are walking through his and Snoop Dogg’s lives. Cruising lowriders and house parties, gives the audience a real insight into what Compton was really all about rather than the stereotype of crime and violence. You are really welcomed into the life of a ‘G’.
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Beastie Boys ‘Intergalactic’
It was a tough choice between ‘Intergalactic’ and ‘Sabotage’ but the chaotic visuals of ‘Intergalactic’ won. Outer space scientists crashing into Tokyo controlling a giant robot through the city had definitely not been done before in the music video world. The satirical video is not as hardcore as other hip hop videos, but they are just ‘boys’ after all. Running around the streets of Tokyo in construction suits, the boys cause havoc with unscripted scenes through Shibuya and Shinjuku train station leaving civilians noticeably confused by the strange flash mob. Next thing you know, the giant robot that is destroying Tokyo is fighting a magical wizard-like octopus. Yes, it’s a bizarre video but you can’t argue that it’s not ridiculously funny to watch.
Wu-Tang Clan feat. Cappadonna ‘Triumph’
Including every member of Wu-Tang, this is a pretty special track. End of the world-like news reports begin this video as killer bees are reported to be attacking New York City, ahead of flashing images of badly edited bees swarming around people and Ol' Dirty Bastard on the roof of a skyscraper surrounded by helicopters. Mad explosions of fire and images of the Clan begin to montage on the screen. A favourite scene is when a swarm of bees lower to the ground, releasing the members riding motorcycles. It really seems like whoever edited this was told they could do whatever they wanted.
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2Pac feat. Dr. Dre ‘California Love’
This Mad Max-inspired music video and another Hype Williams masterpiece marks 2Pac’s comeback after being released from prison. There were two videos released for this one track but the post-apocalyptic view of Oakland in this version is more impressive. Filmed on the exact set of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, this video gives off Burning Man style festivities with people dressed in scrapped mental dance within the Thunderdome. Driving through the dessert on make-shift jeeps and motorbikes, an eye-patched Dr. Dre and 2Pac rap the famous track. To end the music video, we find out that this Mad Max world is all just 2Pac’s dream.
The Pharcyde ‘Drop’
We find The Pharcyde sat on a pavement and watch them arise and begin to walk down the street. Something isn’t right, however. Why are they walking so strangely? Well, what makes this seemingly simple music video so special is that it was filmed entirely backwards. Playing around with falling to the ground the member look as if they are defeating gravity. Following the boys, we are then taken to the street where it becomes a lot clearer as bikes are cycled backwards and bystanders walk the wrong way. The reverse of a painting they all create is one of the more iconic scenes within the video which is very satisfying to watch. It defines the creativity that flourished in the era.
Becky Buckle is Mixmag's Digital Intern, follow her on Twitter
What was the best music video of the 1990s? ›
- Supergrass - Pumping On Your Stereo. ...
- Beastie Boys - Sabotage. ...
- R.E.M. - Everybody Hurts. ...
- Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit. ...
- Weezer - Buddy Holly. ...
- The Verve - Bittersweet Symphony. ...
- Blink-182 - What's My Age Again? ...
- Guns N'Roses - November Rain.
On Nov. 3, 1990, rap cemented its finally unignorable mainstream influence with its first-ever No. 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100: Vanilla Ice's "Ice Ice Baby." Here are 15 more of the most…What is the #1 hip hop song of all time? ›
|1.||"I Used to Love H.E.R."||Resurrection|
|2.||"Rapper's Delight"||Sugarhill Gang|
|3.||"The Message"||The Message|
|4.||"Dear Mama"||Me Against the World|
Michael Jackson "Thriller" (1983)
Often cited as the greatest music video of all time, Michael Jackson's "Thriller" is nothing short of pure entertainment.
1) Michael Jackson – Thriller
It's one of the most famous music videos ever, one that's been covered, remixed, and parodied everywhere from American high schools to Filipino prisons. You don't even have to sing the song for people to recognize it; just do the left-and-right zombie dance with your arms.
- Juicy - 2005 RemasterThe Notorious B.I.G.
- RegulateWarren G, Nate Dogg.
- N.Y. State of MindNas.
- Thuggish Ruggish BoneBone Thugs-N-Harmony.
- Mass AppealGang Starr.
- Bring The PainMethod Man.
- Big Poppa - 2005 RemasterThe Notorious B.I.G.
- This D.J. Warren G, O.G.L.B.
- 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' by Nirvana. All the cool kids will tell you that they were into Nirvana back in '89 when they released Bleach on Sub Pop. ...
- 2. ' Nuthin' But a “G” Thang' by Dr. ...
- 3. ' Juicy' by The Notorious BIG. ...
- 4. ' Da Funk' by Daft Punk. ...
- 5. ' Common People' by Pulp. ...
- 6. ' ...
- 7. ' ...
- 8. '
Mariah Carey had the highest number of top hits at the Billboard Hot 100 chart during the 1990s (14 songs).What song has been #1 on charts the longest? ›
"Old Town Road" holds the record for the longest stretch at No. 1 with 19 weeks. It also became the fastest song in history to be certified diamond.Who had the first #1 rap single? ›
The inaugural number-one single on Hot Rap Singles was "Self Destruction" by the Stop the Violence Movement. From its 1989 inception until 2001, the chart was based solely on each single's weekly sales.
What is the single greatest song ever made? ›
Aretha Franklin's 'Respect' named Greatest Song of All Time by Rolling Stone.What is the craziest music video? ›
- Electric Six - Danger! ...
- The Cure - Never Enough. ...
- Björk - Army of Me. ...
- The Avalanches - Frontier Psychiatrist. ...
- Talking Heads - Road To Nowhere. ...
- Devo - Whip It. ...
- R.E.M. - It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine) ...
- Peter Gabriel - Big Time.
Montell Jordan had a long-running number one with "This Is How We Do It".What was the #1 R&B song in 1996? ›
Toni Braxton (pictured in 2009) spent two non-consecutive weeks at number one with "You're Makin' Me High" / "Let It Flow".What was the #1 rap song in 2000? ›
|Single||Artist||Reached number one|
|"It's OK"||Slimm Calhoun featuring André 3000||November 4, 2000|
|"Souljas"||Master P||November 18, 2000|
|"Baby If You're Ready"||Doggy's Angels featuring LaToiya||November 25, 2000|
|"Oh No"||Mos Def and Pharoahe Monch featuring Nate Dogg||January 20, 2001|
- 1 Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana. This song is so much more than a song. ...
- 2 November Rain - Guns N' Roses. ...
- 3 East of the Sun - a-ha. ...
- 4 Enter Sandman - Metallica. ...
- 5 Wonderwall - Oasis. ...
- 6 Basket Case - Green Day. ...
- 7 Under the Bridge - Red Hot Chili Peppers. ...
- 8 California Love - 2Pac.
- Hold On - Wilson Phillips.
- It Must Have Been Love - Roxette.
- Nothing Compares 2 U - Sinéad O'Connor.
- Poison - Bell Biv Devoe.
- Vogue - Madonna.
- Vision of Love - Mariah Carey.
- Another Day In Paradise - Phil Collins.
- Hold On - En Vogue.
1990s - Oasis: Wonderwall.Who had 8 number ones in 90s? ›
Take That and the Spice Girls share the distinction of having achieved the most number-one hits in the 1990s, with eight each.Who sold most albums in the 90s? ›
- 1 Celine Dion. With over 200 million album sales to her name, Celine Dion got her breakthrough in the 90s as her albums Falling into You and Let's Talk About Love are among the best-selling albums of all time.
- 2 Mariah Carey. ...
- 3 Garth Brooks. ...
- 4 Whitney Houston. ...
- 5 Nirvana. ...
- 6 Michael Jackson. ...
- 7 Metallica. ...
- 8 Backstreet Boys. ...
Who was the biggest band of the 90s? ›
- Guns N'Roses.
- Red Hot Chili Peppers.
- Foo Fighters.
- Green Day.
- The Smashing Pumpkins.
With 40 top 10 hits in the Hot 100 over her career, Swift surpassed Madonna as the woman with the most top 10s in the chart's history. (Madonna has 38 top 10 singles.) Swift is only surpassed by Drake, who counts 59 top 10 hits.Who has the most number 1 on Billboard? ›
The Beatles, unsurprisingly, lead the way with a record 20 No. 1s, all earned between 1964 and 1970. The Fab Four also scored 34 top 10s (second only to Madonna's 38), hitting No.What is the longest #1 album on Billboard? ›
|54||West Side Story†||Various artists|
|South Pacific‡||Various artists|
1989: Queens duo MC Serch and Pete Nice debut as 3rd Bass, the first white rap act for whom whiteness is not at least in part an uproarious crossover gimmick.Who was the first true rapper? ›
One of the first rappers at the beginning of the hip hop period, at the end of the 1970s, was also hip hop's first DJ, DJ Kool Herc. Herc, a Jamaican immigrant, started delivering simple raps at his parties, which some claim were inspired by the Jamaican tradition of toasting.Who invented rap? ›
The major pioneers of rapping were Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Kurtis Blow, and the Cold Crush Brothers, whose Grandmaster Caz is controversially considered by some to be the true author of some of the strongest lyrics in “Rapper's Delight.” These early MCs and deejays constituted rap's old school.Which song is very famous in the world? ›
|Rank||Song||Streams (In Millions)|
|1||"Shape of You"||2,500|
The following list contains the top 100 songs with the most streams on the audio streaming platform Spotify. As of November 2022, only two songs have reached 3 billion streams - Ed Sheeran's "Shape of You" and The Weeknd's "Blinding Lights", and a total of 23 songs have reached 2 billion streams.What is the most recognized song in the world? ›
- Michael Jackson – Billie Jean: 2.97 seconds.
- Culture Club – Karma Chameleon: 2.99 seconds.
- Britney Spears – Baby One More Time: 2.99 seconds.
- Elvis Presley – Devil in Disguise: 3.01 seconds.
- Boney M – Rivers of Babylon: 3.03 seconds.
- Elton John – Candle in the Wind: 3.04 seconds.
What is considered the best song of the 90s? ›
1. 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' by Nirvana.What was the best year for music in 1990s? ›
1996 Music: The Best Musical Year of the '90s | Billboard – Billboard.What was the most played song in 1990? ›
- Hold On. Wilson Phillips.
- It Must Have Been Love. (from Pretty Woman) Roxette.
- Nothing Compares 2 U. Sinead O'Connor.
- Poison. Bell Biv Devoe.
- Vogue. Madonna.
- Vision of Love. Mariah Carey.
- Another Day in Paradise. Phil Collins.
- Hold On. En Vogue.
The most popular style of music in the '90s was hip-hop, closely followed by rap and contemporary R&B. Hip-hop redefined the Billboard charts in the early '90s and continued to dominate for two decades.Why 90's is the best decade? ›
In a nutshell, the 90's were perfectly sandwiched between a time when toys could literally kill you, and later when the internet took over our brains. It was the last decade when people had to rely somewhat on their analog skills to survive, but could also find a decent arcade nearby.What songs topped the charts in the 90s? ›
- BABY GOT BACK by Sir Mix-a-Lot.
- END OF THE ROAD by Boyz II Men.
- JUST ANOTHER DAY by Jon Secada.
- BABY-BABY-BABY by TLC.
- SAVE THE BEST FOR LAST by Vanessa Williams.
- TEARS IN HEAVEN by Eric Clapton.
- UNDER THE BRIDGE by Red Hot Chili Peppers.
- MY LOVIN' (YOU'RE NEVER GONNA GET IT) by En Vogue.
"Old Town Road" holds the record for the longest stretch at No. 1 with 19 weeks. It also became the fastest song in history to be certified diamond.