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 latest installment of the series, we’ll be revisiting Capone-N-Noreaga’s 1996 single “L.A., L.A.,” which saw the newcomers teaming up with fellow Queen natives Mobb Deep and Tragedy Khadafi. Made as a response to Tha Dogg Pound‘s own 1995 single, “New York, New York”—which was accompanied by a music video many saw as disrespectful towards the East Coast—”L.A., L.A. (Kuwait Mix)” didn’t target Tha Dogg Pound or the West Coast directly, but was considered a rallying cry on New York City’s behalf. Produced by legendary producer Marley Marl, the song was strictly a Queens affair, helping put Capone-N-Noreaga on the national stage, revive Tragedy Khadafi’s career, and further establish Mobb Deep as the premier rap duo on the East Coast. Twenty years later, it is remained as one of the greatest posse cuts of its era and a pivotal piece of hip hop history.
Without further adieu, check out our ranking of the verses on “L.A., L.A. (Kuwait Mix).”
4 | Havoc
The Mobb Deep member adds another grisly verse to his grab bag of stanzas with his showing on this cut, repping for his Queensbrdige crimies over Marley’s bone-chilling backdrop. Rhyming second on the track, Havoc reels off couplets promoting loyalty and crew love, but not without the occasional idle threat, making this guest spot a memorable one.
Standout Lyrics “4-4 likes to pour one to the dome, lubricate your thoughts / Black mask stole a ride to avoid up north / Jeopardize my freedom, blink out when I see him / But nine out of ten niggas wouldn’t wanna be him / Rob him for his cash and spend it like per diem / Per diem, per diem, per diem.”
3 | Noreaga
Noreaga is the first lyricist to step up to the mic on the track and the C-N-N member doesn’t falter under the pressure, dropping a quick-strike verse that captures God’s Favorite in a militant vibe. Announcing himself as Louis Gotcha, the Lefrak native makes the most of his airtime, setting the tone for his QB compatriots with a performance that further stamped him as a breakout star in waiting.
Standout Lyrics: “Jose Luis Gotcha, golden guns and tons / General, Emanual, Iraq emerald / Government out to get me, trying to stick me / Move quickly, yo the God study swiftly.”
2 | Capone
Multiple stints in prison may have robbed Capone of the prime years of his career, but the QB hard-rock made his presence felt on a number of classic rap anthems, one of the more notable being this appearance. Mixing moments of introspect with capitalistic thoughts, Capone’s ambitions of wealth are tempered by paranoia of incarceration, resulting in a thought provoking rhyme spill that rates among his most vicious.
Standout Lyrics: “I’m in too deep, losing sleep I can’t call it / In love with this drug shit, loyal and all for it / What’s a nigga to do, with no cash, and twenty-two? / Take it, or find out the best way to make it fast / My man’s raking cash, fuck being lieutenant/I’m in it to win it so it might just take a minute.”
1 | Tragedy Khadafi
First making waves during the 1980s as the youngest member of The Juice Crew, by the mid-90s, Tragedy Khadafi had become an elder statesman in his right. In addition to helping steer the careers of Capone-N-Noreaga—whom he helped earn a record deal with Penalty Records—Tragedy remained a formidable lyricist, with a skill set superior to many of his peers. A prime example of Tragedy’s prowess behind the mic is captured on this song, on which he conjures visions of Armageddon while challenging halfway crooks and studio thugs. Anchoring the track with an extended stanza that trounces those of his costars, Tragedy drops the most renowned verse of his career while clapping back at his counterparts on the west, making his performance the crux of the posse cut’s greatness.
Standout Lyrics: “Been on this planet for 25 years and still strong / The world’s rotten like the veins in my father’s arm / I remain calm, study Islam, read the Torah / World going in flames like Sodom and Gomorrah / Niggas dried up, laying in the box from the virus / Commercial thugs try to bust gats at the livest / This life of crime only will shine real survivors / Y’all half-way niggas, I advise you not to try this.”
Revisit “L.A., L.A. (Kuwait Mix)” below.
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