Tale of the Tape | Noreaga's "Banned From TV" ft. Big Pun, Cam'ron, Jadakiss, Styles P & Nature
In this series, we rank the verses of classic posse cuts, from least impressive to most beloved.
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 the second installment of the series, we’ll be revisiting Noreaga’s 1998 track “Banned From TV” from the Queens native’s solo debut N.O.R.E. Arriving after a star turn by Noreaga on his and fellow C-N-N member Capone’s 1997 group effort War Report—as well as on albums by The Firm and Big Pun—”Banned From TV” would help continue that momentum while simultaneously servicing the streets with a little bit of hardcore. Boasting a line-up of spitters that includes Big Pun, Cam’ron, Nature and LOX members Jadakiss and Styles P., “Banned From TV” would become one of the biggest posse cuts of not only 1998, but in the history of rap, making it an essential gem from its era.
Without further adieu, check out our ranking of the verses on “Banned From TV.”
5 | Cam’ron
With his own debut album, Confessions of Fire, weeks away from being released, Harlem rapper Cam’ron benefited greatly when listeners caught wind of his appearance on “Banned From TV,” resulting in additional anticipation surrounding the album. However, despite the future Diplomat turning in a strong performance that is memorable in its own right, the sheer brilliance exuded by his collaborators proves too much to overcome, making his verse the most pedestrian of the five stanzas on this late ’90s banger.
Standout Lyrics: “Yo, yo been in rich places, sick places / Seen my story, 6,666 pages, wages / I rolled six aces and at the same dice games / I caught six cases, all over big faces / Now it’s tipped laces, ready to dig faces / But the bing, it ain’t a bit spacious / Niggas loading up their rib cages, cats like to rip places / Bloody lip tastes, but Cam is a big racist.”
4 | Noreaga
As the song’s host, Noreaga raps last on “Banned From TV,” an honor he does justice by anchoring the track with an electrifying flurry of bars that ratchet up the energy of the proceedings instantly. From quirky choices in beverages (“Hennessy straight, with tomato juice”) to giving props to the likes of UK DJ Tim Westwood, Noreaga’s verse may not be the most lyrically precise, but it’s easily the most entertaining and one of the greatest rhyme spills of the Lefrak legend’s storied career.
Standout Lyrics: “Ayo, there’s two ways into the hood, one plain / The other smoke chronic like straight to the brain / Ayo, let’s get loose, Hennessy straight with tomato juice / Queens stallion, my guns, fully Italian / Now y’all niggas recognize medallions / I play the best hood, O-T with Tim Westwood/Used to be on Section 8, now my section is good / Thugged out niggas, we eat as much as we could.”
3 | Jadakiss & Styles P.
Riding high off the release of their platinum debut Money, Power, Respect earlier that year, The LOX got back to doing what initially put the trio on the radar: bodying guest appearances on high-profile records from some of rap’s biggest names. However, one of the first instances in which group members Jadakiss and Styles P. displayed their innate chemistry with one another and emerged as one of the better lyrical tandems in hip-hop was the pair’s guest spot—sans third group member Sheek Louch—on “Banned From TV.” Going bar for bar with one another in a back-and-forth routine, Jadakiss and Styles turn in a performance that ranks among their greatest as a duo and plays a huge role in making “Banned From TV” the undisputed classic that it is.
Standout Lyrics: “Ain’t no niggas in the world you know thorough than this / Bust off and sit the hot barrel dead on your lips / Like two thirds of a brick, (Paniero) and ‘Kiss / The kiss the crystal white fluffy part that’ll (come back quick) / (See the plan is to stash all) and cash y’all’s / (The weed so strong), they gotta put it glass jars / Niggas try to smoke me out the (moke me out) / ‘Cause the rims on my new joint be poking out.”
2 | Big Pun
One of the biggest winners in hip-hop of 1998 was Big Pun, who lived up to the hype with his platinum-certified debut album Capital Punishment, which helped break down the door for Latin solo rappers on the mainstream level. In addition to his own album, Pun was seemingly omnipresent throughout the year, lending his talents to a number of the top rap and R&B artists in the game, one of them being frequent collaborator Noreaga, who enlisted the Terror Squad franchise player to appear on “Banned From TV.” Rhyming second in the lineup, Pun came out of the gate swinging, knocking his verse out of the park with multiple quote-worthy bars that speak to his reputation as one of the most feared lyricists in rap. In the end, however, despite Pun turning in a Hall of Fame performance, he would ultimately be bested by a certain rising lyricist whose buzz was about to skyrocket off the strength of his own showing on the song.
Standout Lyrics: “Champagne on the rocks, sporting a Fort Knox Lazarus / Shark salad with carrots, pork chops and applesauce / Twin connection, disrespect watch your body cave in / Pump the shotty guaging, hit the shorty while he potty training / I ain’t playing, I’m truly the worst / You’ll be the first to get his whole body fully reversed / Uzi ya hearse, leave you double-dead, I’m a bubble-head / I never listen to nothing my mother said.”
1 | Nature
First coming to prominence as a member of the ill-fated rap super-group The Firm after replacing Cormega in the lineup, Queens rapper Nature left a positive impression on listeners, who quickly became enamored with the relative unknown’s lyrical guile and penchant for delivering rewind-worthy couplets throughout his verses. Heading into 1998 as one of the most highly touted rookies in rap, Nature continued to raise his profile with freestyles and features on material from his peers, but the guest spot that would make the biggest impact was his appearance on “Banned From TV.” Leading a battle off—when in the midst of the level of talent surrounding him—could prove to be both daunting and a disadvantage, but Nature showed no signs of feeling the pressure, reeling off a verse that is as nonchalant as it is lethal. Catching the listeners ear from the opening bar, Nature holds court in an effortless manner, dropping punchlines and quotables that ring as some of the wittiest musings you’ll find on wax, resulting in an epic showing that is remembered as the shining moment in an otherwise lackluster career.
Standout Lyrics: “Regardless of rain or snow, sleet or hail / I kick street tales, choking niggas like I’m Sprewell / Golden State, holding your fate in the palm of my hand / Blow you away like it’s part of the plan / I gotta call it like I see it, talk it like I be it/Walking my walk, thugged out orthopedic / ‘Cause I’m soon to be up, give me room watch me heat up/Niggas try to stick me like Abner Louima.”
Revisit “Banned from TV” below.
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