The Trippiest Hip-Hop Videos Of The 90s
Antonia takes us through some of the most trippily innovative hip-hip videos she watched growing up.
Last year, we caught up with Lady Leshurr who spilled the beans on the creative vision she had in mind when creating the concept of her ‘Queen’s Speech’ series. The main aim was to bring the fun back to hip-hop and music videos. This got me thinking, how many hip-hop artists didn’t take themselves too seriously in that they were willing to try something new and play around with costumes etc? The movement of hip-hop was divisive in that it originally came from the struggle – but the best hip-hop is not necessarily the most conscious.
**Errrrr, some of the language in some of these songs are a bit explicit. We did try to find radio edits. So maybe don’t bump em too loud** [parental guidance ed.]
Every Video Busta Rhymes Ever Made In The Nineties
Busta Rhymes has a mad creativity and energy that is unmatched. From his flows, to his dance moves and acting skills to translate the wackiness, he is unbeatable. The dynamic between him and regular collaborator, director Hype Williams, meant that there was a strong consistency to the style of his storytelling in his videos.
Busta Rhymes – ‘Dangerous’
Busta took influence from the film ‘Lethal Weapon’ in which two coppers, who don’t like working in pairs, are partnered up to convict a dangerous criminal. In similar way that we think of Eddie Murphy (in Norbit, Nutty Professor and many, many more), Busta plays both the ‘dangerous’ soon-to-be convicted felon, and the wayward copper partner. He’s doing the most– running on top of a queue of cars waiting in traffic. He steals a car, a bus, tortures both coppers and rounds off by having a dance with them. It’s light-hearted and very slapstick.
Fun fact: the lyrics of the chorus ,‘This is serious/ We could make you delirious/ You should have a healthy fear of us/ ‘Cause too much of us is dangerous’ is taken from a warning advert from Long Island Regional Poison control children of the danger of loose prescription medications.
Busta Rhymes – ‘Gimme Some More’
Starting off with credits of ‘Flipmode Cartoons’ in the style of Tom and Jerry, he again narrates another adventure in the life of Busta, but this time as a child. He turns into a monster, chasing a mother-figure around the house. Filmed in a fish-eye lens by Hype Williams, ‘Gimme Some More’ is bursting with bright colours and wacky props. It’s an ultimate Busta classic that gave me the creeps as a child.
Busta Rhymes – ‘Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See’
This one went off on a huge ‘Coming To America’ tip, having his teeth cleaned whilst lounging in his gold silk dressing gown, and being bathed by servant women, he couldn’t sever the image of Prince Akeem if he tried. We see Busta casually strutting on petals and walking down a corridor with an elephant. Tribal make-up that glows in the dark, trippy choreography and women are used less as props but serve purpose to contribute to a storyline – they aren’t just video vixens. There’s so much going on – not all of it makes sense but it’s captivating.
Missy Elliott – ‘Beep Me 911’
Glitchy nineties, colourful feminism at its finest, ‘Beep Me 911’ is easily my favourite Missy Elliott video (closely followed by ‘The Rain [Supa Dupa Fly]‘). Missy is made up to look like a doll-like figure in a giant pink playhouse, amongst the equally doll-like 702 ladies pole-dancing and turning on podiums, holding the most flexible stances. I can’t decide whether they’re really good at robot dancing or if director Earle Sebatian is a genius. Magoo makes an appearance in a velvet suit, also looking like a creepy, glossy doll.
The Pharcyde – ‘Drop’
One of the most iconic music videos for hip hop of all time an instantly recognisable sequence, to this day has me wondering how they managed to do that – imagine how innovative this would have looked back in 1995. Turns out the crew learned how to say the lyrics to the whole song backwards and director Spike Jonze reversed the footage and it played out like so.
Snoop Dogg – ‘Who Am I (What’s My Name)?’
Snoop is a dog, and it’s scary because you really see how much his features really do look like a dog. It’s eerie. Snoop turns into a Doberman Pinscher every time he needs to get out of a tricky situation. We see the dogs wearing sunglasses, head bopping, smoking cigars, handling money at a poker table and stunting in sunglasses. Madness.
The Notorious B.I.G. – ‘Sky’s The Limit’
In this video we see blacked-out sunglasses, maids and a Jacuzzi – except it’s not actually Biggie and his crew. It’s a bunch of look-a-like kids dressed in bougie hip-hop. It’s a simple concept that works so well because the lead protagonist is the spit of Biggie, with his mannerisms and charisma. This video was another that was directed by Spike Jonze after Biggie’s untimely death – which serves to make it even more trippy but also an apt tribute to the late rapper, not long after his death. He reminisces on growing up in Brooklyn, but has made it. It’s a harrowing and uplifting narrative since the song is so positive.
The Roots – ‘What They Do’
As per usual, the Roots rose above the hip-hop handbook and offered their own alternative. This time it was a critique on the played-out hip-hop music video template. This was cleverly arranged with sarcastic subtitles and annotations of what is the conventional image of the hip-hop industry. It opens with a sunrise and a subtitle:
‘Rap Video Manual/ Enter artist’s name here:’ and ‘Pimp Reflections’ as we see them driving through a bustling city at night, reflected on a glossy car. The Roots were constantly proving their woke-ness – the subtleness of this video demonstrated that they could get involved and comment on the norm but with tons of class.
Bone Thugs N Harmony – ‘Crossroads’
This depiction of death was all too real for me. This video truly made me understand what death meant and what it means to never be able to see somebody again. The vividness is something that stuck with me until now. We a man acting as a Reaper taking life away from different people in the video and he then walks up a mountain with a vast amount of angels – including Easy E in the sky, and a newborn baby.
Have you got any videos to add to this list? Tweet us at @RifeMag and join the conversation.
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