1998 is a landmark year that is remembered as the beginning of one of the greatest eras in hip-hop. Over the course of twelve months, artists like DMX, Big Pun, Noreaga, Lauryn Hill, Blackstar, and The Lox all released classic debuts, while veterans like JAY-Z, Outkast, Scarface, Gang Starr, Fat Joe, and Master P all made statements with breakout albums of their own, resulting in a renewed sense of excitement within the culture.
Aside from the classic bodies of work and hit singles that would dominate the radio and find crossover success, 1998 was a monstrous year for collaboration in rap, as a number of rap's rising stars and most respected names hopped on each others' tracks, with the sole intention of walking away with the ultimate bragging right of having the best verse. In contrast to the standard feature, which may feature one or two guests, the posse cut consists of four or more artists on a track and usually stray from the format of the standard rap song.
At a time when lyricism in rap was near its peak, these posse cuts were heralded on the streets and caught extra burn on radio mix-shows, making an artist's performance on them instrumental in building their reputation and legacy. In celebration of one of the most exciting and riveting eras for hip-hop, REVOLT looks back on 15 of the most explosive and memorable posse cuts from 1998 that stood the test of time and remain classics to this day.
1 | "Glamour Life"
Singles like "Still Not A Player" and "You Came Up" made Big Pun a crossover success, but the deep cuts on his debut album, Capital Punishment, have been just as important in establishing him as one of the greatest rappers of all-time. One song from the album, "Glamour Life," which featured Fat Joe and Terror Squad members Armegeddon, Triple Seis and Cuban Link, ranks among the most memorable from Capital Punishment's tracklist and, in spite of the lack of a rap verse from Pun, remains a classic posse cut and proved that the rest of TS were capable spitters in their own right.
2 | "Niggaz Done Started Something"
One of the runaway stars of 1998 was DMX, who made a grand entrance with his wildly successful multi-platinum debut It's Dark and Hell Is Hot, an album that would bring the grittiness back to the forefront of hip-hop. A highlight from It's Dark... that got rap fans going was "Niggaz Done Started Something," a track that paired the Ruff Ryder with The LOX and Ma$e for one of the high-powered collaborations of the year and a reminder of why X earned a reputation for being one of rap's premier closers during his prime.
3 | "Reservoir Dogs"
Finally getting over the hump and becoming a certified star with the release of Hard Knock Life: Vol. 2 in 1998, JAY-Z was at the beginning of what would be one of the most successful runs in music history. Nowadays, being that he's on the brink of being a billionaire, Hov may not feel the need to spar with his peers like he once did, but 20 years ago, on tracks like "Reservoir Dogs," which features The LOX, Beanie Sigel and Sauce Money, the Brooklyn tycoon was as deadly and competitive as they come.
4 | "Banned From TV"
After partner-in-crime Capone's incarceration for parole violation prior to their release of C-N-N's debut album The War Report, Noreaga was forced to keep the brand alive on his own, unleashing the solo album N.O.R.E. in summer 1998. The Neptunes-produced single "Superthug" may have been the main draw on radio and television, but one song from the album that the streets would gravitate to was "Banned From TV," an epic posse cut produced by Swizz Beatz and featuring fellow Big Apple rhyme animals Nature, The LOX, Big Pun & Cam'ron.
5 | "Bulworth"
One posse-cut from 1998 that often gets overlooked is "Bulworth (They Talk About It While We Live It)," which pairs a diverse cast of emcees that include Method Man, KRS-One, Prodigy and KAM for a meeting of the minds. Produced by DJ Muggs, "Bulworth (They Talk About It While We Live It)" may not get the same amount of fanfare as other songs on this list, but is equally impressive in terms of pure bars and lyricism.
6. "Gang's All Here"
Brownsville, Brooklyn duo Heltah Skeltah links up with a few of their Boot Camp Clik affiliates on "Gang's All Here," an extended posse cut from Ruck and Rock's sophomore album, Magnum Force. Produced by Smoke, "Gang's All Here" finds the likes of Smif-N-Wesson, Buckshot, Ruste Juxx, Starang Wondah and other members of the Duck Down family going for delf on one of the unsung collaborative efforts of 1998.
7 | "Gang Bangin' Ass Criminal"
During a time in which the West Coast was reeling from the demise of Death Row Records, one of the few artists waving the flag was Daz Dillinger, who made his solo debut in 1998 with Retaliation, Revenge and Get Back. On the track "Gang Bangin' Ass Criminal," Daz Dillinger costars alongside Big Tray Deee, Kurupt, Soopafly, Bad Azz and Ty Cuzz for one of the album's more memorable salvos and a collaboration that remains an unsung gem two decades later.
8 | "Fantastic 4"
In 1998, DJ Clue made the transition from mixtapes to commercial releases with his compilation The Professional, which boasted a lineup that included the most respected rap artists on the East Coast and beyond. On the song "Fantastic 4," DJ Clue phones in Big Pun, Cam'Ron, Canibus and Noreaga to contribute verses, with each artist rising to the occasion with impressive rhyme spills and concentrating their forces for an epic posse cut for the ages.
9 | "Twice Inna Lifetime"
Indie-rap fiends rejoiced when Black Star, comprised of underground stalwarts Mos Def and Talib Kweli, released their debut album, Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star, on Rawkus Records in 1998. "Definition" and the Common-assisted "Respiration" are the most popular selections on the album, but "Twice Inna Lifetime," the duo's collaboration with rappers Wordsworth, Punchline and Jane Doe, ends the album off with a bang, as the five emcees catch wreck over production by Hi-Tek.
10 | "Bobby Did It (Spanish Fly)"
On RZA's debut album Bobby Digital in Stereo, the Wu-Tang founder calls in Timbo King, Ghostface Killah, Jamie Sommers, Ndira and Islord to join him on "Bobby Did It (Spanish Fly)," a selection filled with off-kilter rhyme-spills over percussion, synths and strings. Cast alongside a diverse cast of Wu affiliates, RZA and Ghostface Killah shine brightest on "Bobby Did It (Spanish Fly)," a standout offering from one of 1998's most electric debuts.
11 | "Live from the DJ Stretch Armstrong Show with your host Bobbito 'The Barber'"
1998 was a big year for Rawkus Records, as the indie label further cemented themselves as the hottest imprints in rap with a number of releases, including Lyricist Lounge Vol. 1. The double-disc compilation, which boasted appearances from Rawkus signees and affiliates, was a grand affair from top-to-bottom, but its finest moment may come via the track "Live from the DJ Stretch Armstrong Show with your host Bobbito 'The Barber'," which captures Black Thought, Common, Pharoahe Monch and Absolute in a friendly, yet highly competitive cipher.
12 | "Make 'Em Say Uhh #2"
No Limit Records enjoyed a landmark year in 1998, with a multitude of album releases that would dominate the Billboard charts and stamp the label as a powerhouse. As the mastermind behind the operation, Master P's MP da Last Don was the most epic of all of the No Limit releases up to that point and sold over four million units, largely off the strength of the single "Make 'Em Say Uhh #2," a raucous anthem featuring Fiend, Silkk the Shocker, Mia X and Snoop Dogg. Produced by KLC, "Make 'Em Say Uhh #2" stands as one of the signature posse cuts out of the South and one of the more indelible moments from No Limit's unprecedented run.
13 | "Blackout"
In 1998, DMX capped off a monumental year by making history as the first rap artist to have two albums debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in the same calendar year with his sophomore album, Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood, an album that confirmed his status as megastar. The album carried on DMX's tradition of testing his sword against his label-mates, affiliates and rivals with "Blackout," which included verses from JAY-Z and The LOX, who all came with the intention of earning top bragging rights, resulting in a succession of aggressive flows and witty wordplay.
14 | "John Blaze"
After introducing Big Pun to the world earlier that year, Fat Joe would also crash the party in 1998, releasing his third studio album, Don Cartagena, which would be his first to achieve gold certification. The Puff Daddy-assisted title-track was the biggest hit from Don, but the song that would resonate the most within the hip-hop community would be "John Blaze," a lethal posse cut pairing the Terror Squad captain with Big Pun, Nas, Jadakiss and Raekwon that proved he could hang with the most feared spitters in the game.
15 | "Ruff Ryders Anthem (Remix)"
DJ Clue's penchant for premiering exclusive material made him a legend on the streets, so when he got the opportunity to release a compilation with rap's hottest names, the Queens rep went all-in on the endeavor, pulling in a number of rap's biggest stars to contribute. On Clue's 1998 major label debut, The Professional, DMX debuted his "Ruff Ryders Anthem (Remix)," a high-powered collaborative effort featuring label-mates Drag-On and Eve, as well as affiliates Jadakiss and Styles P that continued the Yonkers native's streak of historic posse-cuts.
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