Video Vault: The Top 20 Rap Videos of 1993
Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)
1993 was an incredible year for hip-hop. It spawned a wealth of untouchable albums, like Wu-Tang Clan’s Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), A Tribe Called Quest’s Midnight Marauders, and Snoop Doggy Dogg’s Doggystyle (just to name a few). Plus, it was jam-packed with singles that twenty years later are bonafide classics. And those singles came equipped with videos that many of us who grew up during the era worshipped. But, unfortunately, we didn’t have the luxury of YouTube and rap blogs back then when we wanted to watch them. We had to tune in to Yo! MTV Raps and Video Music Box and The Box to catch all the videos that were new or popular. Maybe, just maybe, we were slick enough to record our favorites on a VHS tape. But for the most part, our only search engine for rap videos was our television dial.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of this golden year in hip-hop history, we took advantage of the modern-day technology at our fingertips (YouTube you rule!) to put together our Top 20 Rap Videos of 1993. And trust us, this countdown is stacked. So crack a 40 and a blunt, turn off your pager, and relive the sights and sounds of ’93. And for the youngins out there whose parents still hadn’t met yet when these videos dropped, make sure you bookmark this.
20. The Beatnuts “Reign of the Tec”
The Beatnuts came out squeezing in the video for the first single off their debut release Intoxicated Demons: The EP, “Reign of the Tec.” They’re flashing steel throughout the whole clip. Look out for Brand Nubian MC Sadat X on the hook, and Psycho Les and Juju hopping out the helicopter to let cats know, “When [we] pop the trunk, hit the deck.” This is that Queens gangster shit. Early.
19. Casual “I Didn’t Mean To”
Oakland’s Hieroglyphics collective had a big year in 1993, with Casual, Souls of Mischief, and Del the Funkee Homosapien all releasing stellar LPs. “I Didn’t Mean To” was the lead single off Casual’s Fear Itself album, and the beat was so raw that East Coast don The Notorious B.I.G. would eventually borrow it for the intro to his Best of Biggie mixtape with Mister Cee. As for Casual, well, this man is way too underrated as an MC. Crazy voice, crazy flow, and check for the crazy red and white Beemers in the video, too.
18. Lords of the Underground “Chief Rocka”
“Chief Rocka” is the Lords of the Underground’s biggest hit, thanks to top notch rhyming by Mr. Funke and DoItAll, tight production by K-Def, and a crisp mix by the one and only Marley Marl. The video takes us inside the hallways of Newark’s project housing, where the two MCs flex their funky techniques. Do remember, this song is where Biggie got the “Machine Gun Funk” chorus, “I live for the funk, I die for the funk.” We bet this joint will still rock a party twenty years later.
17. Run DMC ft. Pete Rock & CL Smooth “Down with the King”
Yo, Run-D.M.C. and Pete Rock & CL Smooth on one track? Yup, this is nothing but King shit. It’s honestly not even fair that these two legendary rap groups did a song together. Check out the all black everything affair above, and get down with the Gods of hip-hop. Nuff said.
16. KRS-One “Outta Here”
When KRS-One went solo on Return of the Boom Bap, he enlisted DJ Premier to do a gang of tracks, including “Outta Here.” The single came equipped with a raucous video, featuring Kid Capri on the wheels, and KRS and a bunch of his homeboys on stage wiling out. With this cut, KRS-One made it very clear—“BDP is old school, but we ain’t going out.” Word up.
15. De La Soul “Breakadawn”
De La Soul followed up their critically acclaimed sophomore album De La Soul is Dead with their third and equally incredible LP Buhloone Mindstate, and kicked things off with “Breakadawn,” a chill single that merged a Michael Jackson loop with a Smokey Robinson vocal sample. The video is not your typical rapper backdrop, as the Plugs take it out to the desert (and into an area described as the “sunken city”) to display their anti-pop styles.
14. Onyx “Slam”
Onyx was huge in 1993! Yo, Sticky Fingaz verse on this? Wow. Rap fans coast to coast were in front of their bedroom mirrors rapping along to every word. B-b-b-but wait, the video was ill too. Instead of a high-profile hip-hop cameo, these dudes had their hardcore metal buddies Biohazard in their shit. You want turnt up? Press play, B-boys.
13. The Pharcyde “Passin’ Me By”
The Pharcyde’s debut album Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde actually dropped in ‘92, but the “Passin’ Me By” single wasn’t officially released until ‘93. While most rappers were boasting about how they were baggin’ all the honeys, the Pharcyde kept it 100, and made a song about getting dissed. The black and white video was dope, too, with unique upside-down angles, and some gorgeous eye candy.
12. Cypress Hill “Insane in the Brain”
Filmed inside San Francisco’s DNA Lounge, Cypress Hill’s video for “Insane in the Brain” gave us a glimpse at how live their shows were, with B-Real and Sen Dog going buck to DJ Muggs’ top-notch track, stagediving with their fans in front of their iconic skull backdrop. It became Cypress Hill’s biggest record to date in ‘93, and was a hype introduction to the blunted sounds found on their sophomore album Black Sunday.
11. Snoop Doggy Dogg “Who Am I? (What’s My Name)”
As if his appearances on “Deep Cover” and “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang”* didn’t clue everyone in America into who he was by ‘93, Snoop Doggy Dogg released his first solo video to ensure that we definitely all knew his name as he prepared to drop his debut album Doggystyle. And for everyone who thought Snoop kind of looked like a dog, and assumed that was probably how he got his name, well, that was confirmed, too, as he transformed into a dog in the video. Bow wow.
10. Naughty by Nature “Hip Hop Hooray”
Before this became the unofficial worldwide hip-hop anthem, Treach, Vinnie, and Kay Gee shot the video for their sophomore album 19 Naughty III‘s single “Hip Hop Hooray” in their hometown of East Orange, New Jersey, with Spike Lee behind the camera directing. Check for Spike’s cameo, too, and also a guest appearance by Treach’s machete.
9. Black Moon “How Many MC’s”
Black Moon introduced us to their jazz-heavy, boom bap Brooklyn street sounds in 1992 with “Who Got Da Props?” And in ‘93, they dropped their debut Enta Da Stage, which featured their banging second single, “How Many MC’s.” It had one of the hardest beats of the year (thanks to DJ Evil Dee), a perfect KRS-One vocal sample, and Buckshot was flowing his ass off. Take a trip around the way with them in the video, as they kick their raps inside a project elevator. Shouts to the Franklin Avenue Posse.
8. Souls of Mischief “93 ’til Infinity”
Souls of Mischief took us to the hills of Northern California in their video for “‘93 ‘til Infinity,” giving rap fans across the country a chance to vibe out with them just beyond their hometown blocks in East Oakland. It’s now two decades later, and this song still feels as good as the day it was released. Souls definitely nailed it with the title. This will infinitely be the shit.
7. Fat Joe da Gangsta ft. Grand Puba and Diamond D “Watch The Sound”
Fat Joe enlisted fellow Diggin’ in the Crates crew member Diamond D, who also happens to be the producer of the song, and Now Rule’s freshest Grand Puba, for one of the toughest collabos of 1993. The trio hops in a limo with some pretty young things, and lets the real heads know what time it is with back to back to back vicious verses. Great Sister Nancy sample on the hook, too. Also, peep Puba’s gear. He was always next level with it.
6. Redman “Tonight’s da Night”
Redman kept the videos coming the year after dropping his debut album Whut? Thee Album, filming a black-and-white clip for “Tonight’s da Night.” It’s a snowy day in Newark, and Hurricane G is sitting shotty with Reggie Noble as he kicks his snot-nosed, rough and rugged bars over one of the illest loops in the history of rap music (yeah, we said it). Fasten your seat belt, and bundle up in your bubble goose. This joint knocks. By the way, sick Naughty by Nature hoodie, Funk Doc!
5. Wu-Tang Clan “Protect Ya Neck”
Wu-Tang Clan took the world by storm in ‘92, bum-rushing the industry with their Kung fu influenced Shaolin street styles on “Protect Ya Neck.” The single was then officially released in May, 1993 by Loud Records, and a video was shot featuring everyone on the song (is that Cappadonna in the background, too?) It’s ill to see the whole Clan in their original state, rapping alongside each other in Champion hoodies and Wallabees. And RZA has come along way from directing this clip. He’s directing and starring in his own big budget films with Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu now!
4. 2Pac ft. Shock G and Money-B “I Get Around”
2Pac knew how to party, there’s no denying that. It’s quite possible that the pool party in Biggie’s “Juicy” video was inspired by the scenes in “I Get Around.” Pac was the man, up in the bed draped in women, getting handcuffed and shit, rapping with the big ass cell phone in his palm. And seeing Shock G without his Humpty nose kicking game poolside with Money-B was legendary. This is a classic summer rap video right here.
3. Ice Cube “It Was a Good Day”
Ice Cube’s Predator album dropped in ‘92, but it wasn’t until ‘93 that the single and video for “It Was a Good Day” was released. The visuals followed Cube through a day in the hood, from breakfast (“Mama cooked the breakfast with no hog”), to playing craps with the homies (“What’s the haps on the craps?”), to shooting hoops (“fucked around and got a triple double”), to getting laid (“felt on the big fat fanny, pulled out the jammy, and killed the punanny”). Add in Cube not having to use his AK or deal with the pigs, and you’ve got yourself arguably the best day in the history of gangster rap.
2. A Tribe Called Quest “Award Tour”
The hip-hop world was patiently waiting in 1993 for what was going to come next from A Tribe Called Quest after The Low End Theory. Their fans were still amped off the album’s last single, “Scenario,” but were definitely itching for new material. And Tribe delivered with “Award Tour” for sure. The video was filmed in front of the Unisphere in Flushing Meadows Park, filtered with a sepia-esque tint, and displayed in a gold frame (this is art people!!!!) It also featured their fellow Native Tongue family members De La Soul, with Trugoy providing the chorus. It was clear after this video release that Midnight Marauders was not going to disappoint. And it didn’t.
1. Dr. Dre ft. Snoop Doggy Dogg “Fuck wit Dre Day (And Everybody’s Celebratin’)”
This shit was crazy when it dropped. Sleazy-E?! Wow. Dre gave less than zero fucks with this one, putting his old N.W.A partner in rhyme on super blast. And Snoop, cool as ever, held him down the whole way, as they bounced bars back and forth amidst some sort of wild, South Central warehouse party. From the opening skit with the dickhead record executive to the closing scene where Sleazy-E is doing the running man curbside holding a “Will Rap For Food” sign, it gets no better than this. “Dre Day” was the most memorable rap video of 1993, no doubt about it.
RIP Jam Master Jay, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, 2Pac, and Eazy-E.
Release dates via MVDBase (only videos officially released in 1993 were included on this countdown).
*The “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang” single/video was officially released in 1992, hence its exclusion from this countdown.