In hip-hop, fans and critics often marvel at and put a premium on the supreme soloists or groups who can craft classic songs and bodies of work while remaining the central figure. However, the most electric moments in the culture occur when multiple emcees collaborate on a track, with the sole purpose of asserting themselves as the most lyrically gifted by delivering an epic rhyme spill that outclasses the others. Throughout the years, the songs—generally referred to as "posse cuts"—have become some of the most memorable in the genre's history, with rap's most legendary stars teaming up on wax and bringing the most rabid of rap fans' fantasies to reality.
In celebration of these historic songs and what they mean to the culture, REVOLT TV presents 'Tale of the Tape,' a series that breaks down the greatest posse cuts of all time, and rank the verses from least impressive to most beloved.
In our fourth installment of the series, we'll be revisiting the remix to LL Cool J's 1995 track "I Shot Ya," the classic posse cut that paired the legend with four rising stars in the rap game, many of whom would become cultural fixtures in their own right. After making one of the biggest comebacks in rap history in 1990 with his fourth studio album, Mama Said Knock You Out, LL Cool J regressed yet again in the eyes of many with his 1993 followup, 14 Shots to the Dome, leading a segment of fans to question if Uncle L would ever be able to regain his footing as one of rap's most bankable stars, let alone sustain it. That question would be answered in 1995 with the release of his sixth studio album, Mr. Smith, which would sell over two million units and produce multiple hit singles, including "Hey Lover," "Doin' It" and "Loungin."
However, while those tracks dominated radio, "I Shot Ya (Remix)," which paired LL with Keith Murray, Prodigy, Fat Joe and Foxy Brown; would reverberate through the streets and go down as one of the biggest street bangers of Cool J's career.
Without further adieu, check out our ranking of the verses on "I Shot Ya (Remix)."
5. Foxy Brown
It's not too often that an artist's first appearance on wax comes via a high-profile remix by one of the most legendary rappers of all-time. But, that's exactly what occurred when Brown was handpicked by the production duo Trackmasters to contribute a verse to Cool J's "I Shot Ya (Remix)." The second-to-last artist to spit on the track, the Brooklyn femme fatale displayed a poise beyond her years with her performance, following up impressive verses from the likes of Joe, Murray and Prodigy with a set of bars that may not have been potent enough to outclass her costars, but was more than enough to ignite a buzz that would result in Fox Boogie being touted as one of rap's leaders of the new school.
Standout Lyrics: "Thug niggas give they minks to chinks, tore down/We sip drinks, rockin' minks, flashin' rings and things/Frontin' hardcore deep inside the Jeep, mackin'/Doin' my thing, fly nigga, you a Scarface king/Bitches grab ya ta-ta's, get them niggas for they chedda'/Fuck it, Gucci sweaters and Armani leathers/Flossin' rocks like the size of Fort Knox/Four carats, the ice rocks, pussy bangin' like Versace locs pops"
4. LL Cool J
As one of rap's most competitive emcees, Cool J has always had a chip on his shoulder and was never slow to brandish it, particularly when pitted against his rivals and peers alike. One glaring example of Cool J scoffing at the competition can be heard on "I Shot Ya (Remix)." On it, the Queens native lists those who he has left in his wake of lyrical destruction over the years, while reasserting himself as rap's ultimate crown holder. Threatening to battle anybody in the rap game, including females, Def Jam's flagship artist closes out his posse cut with an ample amount of aggression that's palpable in every line, however, his verbal jabs fail to connect with the force and precision of his sparring partners, resulting in Cool J being a runner-up in this particular instance.
Standout Lyrics: "What the fuck, I thought I conquered the world?/Crushed Moe Dee, Hammer and Ice-T's girl/But still, niggas want to instigate shit/I'll battle any nigga in the rap game quick/Name the spot, I make it hot for you bitches/Female rappers too, I don't give a fuck boo/Word, I'm here to crush all my peers/Rhymes of the month in The Source for twenty years"
3. Fat Joe
During the time "I Shot Ya (Remix)" hit the streets, Joe was still riding high off of his sophomore album, Jealous One's Envy. But, he seized the opportunity to rhyme alongside Cool J and company for what would be his most high-profile guest appearance to date. With a verse sandwiched in between Murray and Prodigy's, and Brown and Cool J's, Joe's verse had a chance of getting lost in the shuffle. However, the Bronx heavyweight came swinging out the gate with the most explosive performance on the track. "Who the fuck you think you talking to?" Fat Joe warns before reeling off a succession of grisly bars that are sure to give any and all comers second thoughts about going heads up with the Terror Squad general. This resulted in a rhyme spill ranking among the best on "I Shot Ya (Remix)," a testament of Joe's improvement as a wordsmith, and a foreshadowing of his meteoric rise and future stardom.
Standout Lyrics: "Call the ambulette, this man's wet/Bullets cut him down from the root up just like a Gillette/Razor, which I keep hidden in my oral/Ready to spatter at any ad out that wants to quarrel/These feds want me for some tax evasion/Mad at the fact that somebody's getting lucci that's not Caucasian/Bullets be blazing through these streets filled with torture/Joey Crack a.k.a. Keyser Söze"
2. Keith Murray
After the release of his gold-certified debut album, The Most Beautifullest Thing in This World, the previous year, Murray was considered one of the breakout emcees on the east coast heading into 1995. That year, the Long Island native was tapped by Cool J to appear on the remix of "I Shot Ya." With his rhyme style, Murray had poll position within his reach after doling out intellectual violence with his stanza on the track, though he ultimately falls short of bringing home bragging rights.
Standout Lyrics: "My verbal combat's like a mini-Mac to your back/As soon as one of you niggas try to over react/The L.O.D. love good confrontation or vamp/Break your concentration, murder your camp/For the jealous, overzealous, we fellas/Blow the the spot like Branford Marsalis/Niggas coming through and acting wild/Y'all commercial niggas better have a coke and a smile"
Prodigy released his 1995 sophomore studio album, The Infamous, alongside Mobb Deep partner, Havoc. By the end of the year, the Hempstead, New York native and Queensbridge rapper had vaulted himself into the conversation of the illest rhymers out of New York. One of Prodigy's first collaborations sans Havoc came when he was tapped to appear on the remix to Cool J's track and the Crime Rhyme Houdini didn't disappoint, turning in a verse showcasing his off-kilter delivery and visceral imagery. From introducing the rap world to the illuminati, to sending a stray shot at costar/rival Murray, Prodigy edges out the competition for the top spot on "I Shot Ya (Remix)," a performance that coincided with his ascension into many fans and critics top five lists.
Standout Lyrics: "I conversate with many men, it's time to begin again/Forgot what I already knew, ayo, you hear me friend?/Illuminati want my mind, soul and my body/Secret society, trying to keep they eye on me/But I'ma stay incogni', in places they can't find me/Make my moves strategically, the G.O.D/It's sorta similar but iller than a chess player/I use my thinker, it coincides with my blinker"
Revisit "I Shot Ya (Remix)" below.
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