By Madi Choné

Hip-Hop is a unique genre for innumerable reasons, the most obvious being its comparative youth. Like the millennial generation, Hip-Hop was born and raised in a world surrounded by digital media. The genre embraced visual elements as inherent in its musical identity. Check out some of our favorite hip hop videos below.

Pharcyde x The Drop

Spike Jonze took a stab at rap videos, and this is what he came up with. Recorded entirely in reverse, the video is dominated by a surrealism unparalleled at the time. The more impressive part of the work is that to realize the video, the group had to memorize their lyrics phonetically backwards. Check out the video about the making of the film.

Vic Mensa x Down On My Luck

With clear roots in Chicago house music, this song proves just how musically omnivorous Vic is. He transitions effortlessly from orange soda bong rips on Chicago rooftops to gliding through the LA clubs. Although the video is set in a nightclub, it’s far from your average club video. Vic figuratively and literally stumbles through the high-pressure monotony of LA club life in a groundhog-day style video that makes everyone wish they had the ability to “try again”.

CRS x Us Placers

Child Rebel Soldier (CRS) is a dream team whose album I’m still very much waiting on. While you wait, watch little Lupe, Pharell, and Kanye (complete with a flashy popped polo and a backpack) guide you through their lines with cue cards.

Tyler the Creator x IFHY

Tyler is another artist whose musical talent is matched only by his visual prowess. It’s sometimes difficult to look past how straight up weird his content is, but when you do there’s some undeniable genius. In the opening, we hear him ask “Can we add some more color?” Throughout his videos, his eye for color adds an element of surrealism no matter if it’s just him on a golf course or a doll in a dollhouse.

Madvillan x All Caps

Directed and animated by James Reitano for Madlib and MF DOOM’s collab album, Madvilliany, this video explains the genesis of the duos alter-ego, Madvillian, complete with DOOM’s signature mask.  Appropriately, the video is entirely in comic book form, complete with job adds, credits to legendary comic artists, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in the fake title page, and even a cameo by Madlib and DOOM themselves in the mail-in section of the comic called “Mail (to the) Villain.”

Kids these Days x Clear Eyes

A video that perfectly encapsulates the “little kids, big world” vibe of Kids These Days when they released this song as high school students and were the faces of a new music movement in Chicago.

Kanye West x Good Morning

Kanye’s work is rarely released without meticulously crafted art to support it, making it difficult to pick a favorite. It’s hard to ignore this video where Haruki Murakami brings to life his designs for Kanye’s album. The protagonist, Kanye’s long time mascot, “Dropout Bear,” makes his way through a futuristic metropolis called “Universe City” in order to make it in time for his graduation ceremony. 

Greg Grease x C.R.E.A.M

A little known rapper from Minnesota who knows how to embrace his roots.

Eminem x The Real Slim Shady

Eminem has an extremely competitive and diverse arsenal of videos. You can’t overlook “Without Me“, “Stan“, or, my personal favorite, D12’s “My Band.” This video combines the satire, strange intensity, and flat out insanity that truly makes Eminem the real Slim Shady.

Tribe Called Quest x Scenario

Directed by none other than Spike Lee, this features some of the best of Tribe’s 90’s fashion while showcasing some of the earliest meta technology. This video could probably be released today as an ironic masterpiece. It really doesn’t get much better than Phife in wigs (0:51).

Lecs Luther x Trumpets

Unfortunately, the EP never followed the pre-release visuals, but if you’re craving more, check out some of his work under the name, “Rejjie Snow”.

Flying Lotus x Never Catch Me

Directed by Hiro Murai, this video isn’t as visually intense as one would expect from Flying Lotus, but it is really representative of his work with You’re Dead!. Watch a little girl and boy quite literally dance out of their caskets. I dare you not to think a little differently about death.

Joey Bada$$ x Unorthodox

The description of the video says “the goal was to capture the essence of the artists as the surrounding elements emphasized Joey’s gritty lyrics.” Lush animation brings every lyric to life while highlighting the city that inspired them, New York. Watch the making of the video here.

Danny Brown x Grown Up

Danny Brown can effortlessly swing from bangers like “Dip” to rap ballads like “Party All the Time.” This video perfectly showcases this versatility through a painfully adorable young Danny, showing the origins of both his charisma and his distinctive two front teeth.

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