There are few things more enjoyable as a rap fan than listening to a group of elite emcees jump on the same track and try to out-rap one another. At its core, hip-hop is a blood sport and a posse cut gives rappers a chance to prove they can hang with the best, and emerge unscathed.
Posse cuts are also a chance to show solidarity and a strength in numbers approach can be inspiring to observe, setting down a powerful marker that celebrates the idea of unity. Perhaps posse cuts aren’t as relevant anymore, especially in an era where rappers email verses and keep tighter circles, but we wish they were.
We’ve taken a look at 25 of the best ever rap posse cuts. The rules are simple: a track has to feature a minimum of four emcees and every artist featured must be rapping their asses off. If your favorite posse track didn’t make the cut, let us know in the comments section below.
Marley Marl ft. Masta Ace, Big Daddy Kane, Craig G and Kool G Rap – “The Symphony” (1988)
This track’s smooth melodic piano line, which is a sample of Otis Redding’s gentle “Hard to Handle,” will make you smile like it’s Christmas morning, as legendary DJ Marley Marl brings together four of New York City’s most exciting rappers. Kool G Rap’s charismatic multi-syllabic flow is particularly riveting, but it’s a mischievous Big Daddy Kane, who spits the immortal line: “Put a quarter in your ass ’cause you played yourself,” that will make your jaw drop. At this point in the 1980s, Kane was operating from another planet.
Best verse: Big Daddy Kane
Main Source ft. Nas, Joe Fatal & Akinyele – “Live at the BBQ” (1991)
With its minimalist beat, built around a stirring jazz percussion, this track is all about giving its featured rappers space to express themselves. The problem is that a teenage Nas’ bold opening verse is so visceral (he proudly exclaims: “When I was 12, I went to hell for snuffin Jesus”) that no one really remembers what follows. This was the posse cut that made people first shake with excitement over a kid from Queensbridge.
Best verse: Nas
A Tribe Called Quest ft. Leaders of the New School – “Scenario” (1991)
One of the edgier tracks from the Tribe’s magnum opus The Low End Theory, this urgent posse cut opened up the mosh pits before Sheck Wes even existed. No one had really heard anything quite like Busta Rhymes’ star-making verse before, with his hyper-animated flow, referencing dungeon dragons and enemies smelling like “stale urine,” birthing the sillier alter egos of rappers like Tech N9ne, Eminem and Nicki Minaj. But as iconic as Busta sounds, Phife Dawg edges it, purely for having the gall to spit something as obnoxious as, “Bust a nut inside your eye to show you were I come from” way back in 1991.
Best verse: Phife Dawg
Kool G Rap & DJ Polo ft. Scarface, Ice Cube and Bushwick Bill – “Two to the Head” (1992)
Uniting three coasts, Kool G Rap and DJ Polo should be given credit for promoting unity at a time where US rap was still very tribal. Essentially an ode to murdering one’s enemies, with more than a sprinkling of horrorcore thrown in, this is the kind of hard-hitting track that’ll make you feel invincible in the gym. There isn’t a weak link here, but no bar hits harder than Scarface’s wicked proclamation – “You can’t kill me, because I’m already dead.”
Best verse: Scarface
Craig Mack ft. Notorious B.I.G., LL Cool J, Diddy, Busta Rhymes & Rampage – “Flava In Ya Ear (Remix)” (1994)
Although this was meant to be a showcase for the considerable talent of Puffy’s Bad Boy label and its many associates, this Craig Mack remix ended up being all about Biggie. Sometimes a posse cut is about one artist going above and beyond in a bid to murder everybody else on the track, and this was one of those occasions. As soon as Big started his verse with the bars: “Niggaz is mad, I get more butt than ashtrays,” you just knew he was going to be a star.
Best verse: The Notorious B.I.G.
Big L ft. JAY-Z, Lord Finesse, Grand Daddy IU, Microphone Nut & Party Arty – “Da Graveyard” (1995)
One of the rawest posse cuts ever created, “Da Graveyard”’s dusty drums and sinister synths, which sound like encircling police sirens, give off the impression you’re listening to a group of emcees dressed in all-black hoodies, risking everything to trade bars at night in one of Harlem’s more dangerous neighborhoods. Everyone brings the heat, even if it’s obvious a young Jay-Z still hasn’t quite found his voice, but no one matches the intensity of Big L’s opening verse, which includes one of the best ever punch lines about selling cocaine (“Cause Big L be fuckin’ with more keys than a janitor”).
Best verse: Big L
LL Cool J ft. Fat Joe, Foxy Brown, Keith Murray & Prodigy – “I Shot Ya (Remix)” (1995)
So grimy it sounds like the music is being broadcast live from the gutter, this LL Cool J remix and its chilling keys represents everything great about 1990s East Coast rap. Fat Joe sounds particularly hyped, but Prodigy of Mobb Deep is the reason you’ll keep pressing that replay button. One of the most sampled verses of all time, P’s rugged vocals, which sound they belong to a seasoned war veteran who has seen too much, pierce through the beat. It’s also one of the first rap verses to explicitly reference the Illuminati.
Best verse: Prodigy
Raekwon ft. Method Man, Cappadonna & Ghostface – “Ice Cream”
Maybe you’ll want to kill me for leaving off “Triumph,” but this Wu-Tang hood anthem has a coarser edge, the haunting keys giving us a more authentic slice of the Park Hill projects. As intoxicating as Method Man’s hook is, this track is all about Ghostface, who spits a verse so hot that his Jheri curl is literally dripping with sweat. This one pockets everything that’s great about the Wu-Tang Clan.
Best verse: Ghostface Killah
2Pac ft. C-Bo, B-Legit, D-Shot, E-40 & Richie Rich – “Ain’t Hard 2 Find” (1996)
Having moved to Marin City, California when he was just 17, the Bay Area became Tupac Shakur’s spiritual home. Pac fell in love with the way the Bay gave more eccentric emcees a platform to thrive, and this underrated gem from All Eyez On Me, with its deep bass and tongue-twisting, outlandish bars, celebrates everything that makes the Bay so great. Every emcee featured is from the Bay and they all bounce off one another effortlessly. Pac, who is at his most thuggish and paranoid, uses his verse to address rumors that he may have died. But it’s the goofy way E-40 spells out his hometown of Vallejo that will make you nod your head the hardest.
Best verse: E-40
Lil Kim ft. Angie Martinez, Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopez, Da Brat & Missy Elliott – “Not Tonight (Ladies Night Remix)” (1996)
The media loves to problematically pit female emcees against one another and this means there’s a real shortage of rap posse cuts comprised solely of women. So thank god for this playful remix from the Nothing to Lose soundtrack, which sees a Hardcore-era Lil Kim going bar-for-bar with her peers. It’s a feel good show of solidarity and frees up Left Eye to go harder than she might usually on a TCL track, as she flips the male gaze on its head by urging her enemies to “suck my dick.”
Best verse: Left Eye
Ma$e ft. DMX, Diddy, Styles P, Sheek Louch, Jadakiss & Black Rob – “24 Hours To Live” (1997)
Easily the most creative concept ever attached to a rap posse cut, this one starts out with Diddy asking how you would spend your final day on planet Earth. A hilariously relatable Jadakiss spends it eating some fried chicken, while a more considered Ma$e kidnaps a bunch of white kids and forces them to see what it’s like growing up in the ghetto. But its DMX’s final hours that hit the hardest, with X spitting intensely about settling old scores and blowing up buildings in Wall Street; honestly, what a way to go!
Best verse: DMX
The Notorious B.I.G. ft. Bone Thugs N Harmony – “Notorious Thugs” (1997)
The way Biggie mimics the rapid fire flow of Bone Thugs is proof the late Brooklyn rapper could do just about anything. But Bizzy Bone’s intricate verse hits slightly dizzier heights, with the rapper’s strict diet of “Hennessey, coffee, weed and nicotine” inspiring him to absolutely body the beat. Everybody sounds iconic here and Big should be given enormous credit for mastering a complex double time flow and stepping outside of his comfort zone. However, this was the moment Bizzie really consolidated his position as an elite rapper. It’s Bone and Biggie, Biggie. It’s Bone and Biggie, Biggie.
Best verse: Bizzie Bone
Fat Joe ft. Big Pun, Jadakiss, Nas & Raekwon – “John Blaze” (1998)
This highlight from Fat Joe’s 1998 album Don Cartagena saw the Bronx native paired with four of New York City’s best lyricists. Everyone brings their A-game, trading street raps that have the kind of gangster cinematic sheen that a Mean Streets-era Scorsese would be proud of. Yet it’s Big Pun who leaves the biggest impression, with his endlessly quotable verse (at one point, he jokes: “Even if I stutter, I will still sh-sh-shit on you”) making it abundantly clear he has no intentions of being outclassed. When Pun says: “Killers bet it all on Pun / ’cause one verse dead ’em all” you don’t doubt it.
Best verse: Big Pun
Sway & King Tech ft. Eminem, RZA, Xzibit, KRS-One, Tech N9ne, Chino XL, Kool G Rap, Jay Felony & DJ Revolution – “The Anthem” (1999)
Featuring a who’s who of elite underground lyricists, this was an introduction to the off-the-wall exuberance of Eminem. But not even Em in his prime can match the sheer brutalism of Chino XL, with his controversial references to the murder of JonBenét Ramsey and Will Smith being “wack.” Chino said what other rappers were afraid to say, and hearing his verse twenty years later still feels liberating.
Best verse: Chino XL
M.O.P ft. Busta Rhymes, Remy Ma & Teflon – “Ante Up (Remix)” (2000)
Still capable of inciting riots, this banger is like a shot of serotonin straight to the brain. But it’s Remy Martin who made the Ante Up Remix special, the female emcee, who was a prodigy of Big Pun, shares the Latino rapper’s penchant for upstaging everybody around her.
Best verse: Remy Ma
Ludacris ft. I-20, Chingy & 2 Chainz – “We Got” (2003)
It’s easy to forget that Ludacris used to run mainstream rap, and this chaotic anthem, fuelled by a sample of someone coughing fresh after doing a bong hit, was designed as a showcase for the artists (including a young 2 Chainz) then signed to Luda’s Disturbing tha Peace label. Utter the name Chingy and people will cringe at the memory of the southern rapper’s soft as pillow hits from the noughties, but this song’s aggressive hi-hats inspire him to spit a surprisingly phenomenal verse that turns Nick Cannon into a punch line about firing a machine gun. This one’s a southern classic.
Best verse: Chingy
Immortal Technique ft. Tonedeff, C-Rayz Walz, Poison Pen, Pumpkinhead, Lou Cipher & Diabolic – “Peruvian Cocaine” (2003)
With its niche Scarface sample, this clever posse cut tracks the journey of cocaine from poppy fields to being chopped up by an American Express card. Everybody shines here, but Tonedeff’s verse, which links the CIA with cocaine distribution, is particularly thrilling. The fact this one never got a music video set in a South American jungle feels like a hate crime.
Best verse: Tonedeff
Young Buck ft. T.I., The Game & Ludacris – “Stomp (Remix)” (2004)
It’s rare that two rappers will diss one another on the same posse track, but that’s exactly what happened on this noughties banger from G Unit’s Young Buck. T.I. saw himself as the new king of the south, so felt it was his obligation to go after the dominance of Ludacris. “Real niggas see the difference between you and this / me getting beat down? That’s ludicrious!” Tip taunts. But Luda has the last laugh, brilliantly clapping back with the scorching: “Cause you only worth a couple 100 grand / and I’m worth millions!” Ouch.
Best verse: Ludacris
Baby J ft. Ty, Klashnekoff & Yogi – “Let It Got (Remix)” (2005)
Simply put, this is the best ever UK rap posse cut, and I’ll fight anyone who disagrees. With its beautiful sample of Randy Crawford’s melancholic “Unwounded”, this introspective track sees four potent underground rappers paint a picture of their hoods that is both mournful and hopeful. Klashenkoff’s perfect verse reflects on being taught the street code by his brother — it’s a real shame the gifted Hackney rapper didn’t achieve the commercial success his considerable talented merited.
Best verse: Klashnekoff
Busta Rhymes ft. Eminem, Rah Diggah, Mary J. Blige, Papoose & DMX – “Touch It (Remix)” (2006)
Relatively unknown mixtape rapper Papoose managed to upstage some of the biggest artists in the world, simply by placing New York city in the palm of his hand. Sure, mainstream success didn’t necessarily arrive as a result of his star-making turn, but this is the very definition of making the most out of your moment, with Papoose rising to the occasion and then some.
Best verse: Papoose
Boot Camp Clik – “Here We Come” (2006)
This thumping 9th Wonder beat inspires the likes of Buckshot, Rock and Steele, who are among New York City’s most underrated rappers, to hit a gear of rapping not many others can match. But the late Sean Price, the kind of rapper who will make you laugh hysterically right before knocking you out, is the most endearing despite a brief appearance. The vision of him robbing you and then using your money to shoot dice with his boys is just perfect.
Best verse: Sean Price
Kanye West ft. JAY-Z, Bon Iver, Rick Ross & Nicki Minaj – “Monster” (2010)
The most addictive moment of Ye’s masterpiece My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, this track goes so hard because every emcee is having so much fan indulging in silly theatrics. Ross jokes about his weight, Ye puts that “pussy in a sarcophagus”, and Jay raps bizarrely about the Loch Ness Monster. Yet Nicki upstages all of them with a surreal verse that goes from one extreme to the other. It’s just a shame she never quite lived up to it in the resulting years.
Best verse: Nicki Minaj
Odd Future – “Oldie” (2012)
When this came out in 2012, it had a punk sensibility, with the song’s distorted bass and focus on reckless bars feeling like a bold tonic to mainstream rap. Earl Sweatshirt, Frank Ocean and Tyler the Creator, who hilariously says he’s “Flyer than an ostrich moshing in a tar pit”, each spit sparky verses that radiate mischief, and looking back now, it’s no surprise each ended up as a superstar.
Best verse: Tyler the Creator
A$AP Rocky ft. Kendrick Lamar, Joey Bada$, Danny Brown, Action Bronson, Yelawolf & Big K.R.I.T – “1 Train” (2013)
This feels like the spiritual successor to Big L’s “Da Graveyard”, with the song containing a similarly raw atmosphere. However, the lit string arrangement means this track has slightly more of a grandiose edge. People will debate all day about who went the hardest (FYI: it definitely wasn’t Action Bronson), but manic court jester Danny Brown injects the song with the most amount of energy, his pledge to “moonwalk on the sun with shades on” bringing an eccentric personality to an otherwise straight-laced posse cut. Danny is acutely aware that rap, first and foremost, should be about having fun.
Best verse: Danny Brown
Jay Rock ft, Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q & Ab Soul – “Vice City” (2015)
Sadly, the idea of a Black Hippie project now feels mythical, but this was a nice preview of what to expect should it ever happen. The experimental wavy bass brings out the heat from TDE’s finest, with Q ridiculing rappers who can spit big words but can’t hang onto their girlfriends. He edges it, with Kendrick playing it surprisingly safer than usual.
Best verse: Schoolboy Q