Top 10 Hip Hop Videos of 2012

2012 was truly a great year for music and for the continued evolution of music videos. From waking up early for Yo! MTV Raps to garnering millions of views on Youtube, the way we encounter and perceive music videos has changed. These videos reflect the people and environments that produce and influence the music encapsulated in a director’s cinematographic point of view. Narrowing down the thousands of videos into a mere 10 was a challenge and, let it be said, I left out some videos with legitimate claims to spots on this list. The criteria was a mix of opinions from our team; we tried to find videos in which both the director and rapper went out of their way to portray a subject (or subject matter) in a distinct artistic light. Without further ado…

10. Pop That- French Montana (Directed by Parris)

The #1 comment on Youtube pretty much summarizes this video: “This porn has some good music”. This video is your standard vixen-filled, pool-party themed, casual Wednesday afternoon day in the lives of Ross, Drake, and French and the video is evidence as such. While not displaying much creativity into unexplored video grounds, sex sells and this was a pretty sexy video. *For the record, this was BET’s #1 video*

9. Neat-O – Three Loco (Directed by Mike Clattenburg)

Andy Milonakis, Riff Raff, and Dirt Nasty star in this hilarious video. Words can’t describe this video/song which tackles MILFs, 40 oz, and the “Timothy Tebow” among its subject matter.

8. Slow Down – Clyde Carson (ft. The Team) (Directed by Derrick G)

It was hard to choose between this video and Bay Area banger ‘Function’. However, with its dynamic dance and the rebirth of “side shows”, an Oakland phenomenom where drivers attempt donuts at neckbreaking speeds in residential neighborhoods, Clyde Carson has a pretty sensational video on his hands.

7. HYFR – Aubrey “Drake” Graham (Director X)

Mazel Tov! Drake finally embraces his Jewish heritage, which has threatened to delegitimize his “street-cred”. The result is a genuine video of Drake celebrating both sides of his genetic history with Lil Wayne and Birdman giggin’ in the background. The track is one of the standouts from Drake’s sophomore album and the video is original and comically refreshing.

6. Chandelier – Curren$y (Directed by Brian Petchers)

‘Chandelier’ is a great example of how a tasteful video can enhance a stellar song. The audio is captivating, and through director Brian Petchers’ lense, Spitta is able to delve into the prideful pitfalls of dating women with similar lifestyles. “Double standard rules apply/ You can’t do what a man do, that don’t look good in the streets’ eye” An introspective track that goes perfectly with this smooth video.

5. Goldie -ASAP Rocky

A$AP Rocky has proven to be more versatile than the label cast onto him by 2011’s Purple Swag. Rocky directs the video himself, letting his gold (pre Trinidad James) sink into all aspects of this vibrant video. The cinematography depicts A$AP in Paris, riding through the streets, mobbin’ with his homies, and generally being the man. Don’t believe me? Rocky explains in an interview, “basically the concept of the video is to be more flamboyant and just to showcase a lot of flashy luxury—old foreign cars and fashion models. I need you to know this is all my idea. I’m the flyest motherfucker you know.”

4. Regan – Killer Mike (Directed by Daniel Garcia and Harry Teitelman)

Killer Mike exuded some business savvy by releasing this politically charged video the day before the presidential debates. He touches on youth being targets of consumer driven capitalism, the Iran-Contra affair, and Regan’s war on drugs, among other things. The cartoon video  climbs to a fever pitch and does a good job playing off of the energy Killer Mike displays on the track. Not to mention EL P on the beat.

3. Herb Shuttles – The Underachievers (Director X)

This spot was bookmarked for Flatbush Zombie’s ‘Thug Waffle”, but the ‘Herb Shuttles’ video was too good to pass up. After Pro Era and Flatbush Zombies broke onto the New York scene, The Underachievers seem poised to make similar moves in NYC with the release of their debut mixtape in 2013. The Underachievers actually feature guest appearances from both Zombies’ rappers in this fantastic video. Director X takes us through an eerie ride complete with dubious amounts of weed, digital animation, and plenty of homies. The two rappers AK and Issa Dash trade bars on the track…

[Issa Dash]

Knowledge nigga, crown the kings

Got the wisdom from the light like Socrates

You ain’t about that life, nigga drop to your knees

In the presence of mothafuckin’ legend my G


G, I’m a legend my G

Reefer blowin’, sour diesel potent

Got my 3 eyes open, Pineal gland is swollen

2. Pineal Gland – Ab Soul (Directed by Aplus Filmz)

Ab Soul finds himself with the impossible task of trying to snag the prettiest girl in the room even though his posse consists of Jay Rock, the first TDE member with a deal, Schoolboy Q, the ex con with swag through the roof, and Kendrick Lamar, who is by all accounts the reincarnation of Tupac Shakur. However it is Ab Soul’s relaxed brilliance on cuts like ‘Pineal Gland’, which indicate he might stand a fighting chance. ‘Pinaeal Gland’ is a trippy journey through a DMT inspired visit into Soul Brother #2’s mind, which is communicated beautifully through the video and lands a crucial spot on the count down.

1. Thuggin/Shame – Freddie Gibbs

I’m not going to go into great detail about these videos because we did a full length piece on the videos already, but it cannot be understated how beautifully Jonah Schwartz crafted these stunning portraits of Gibb’s environment. Both are cinematographic marvels and could almost stand on their own without the audio. The videos are bolstered by Madlib produced beats plus Freddie spitting straight jail bars on the tracks. The viewer has little to complain about as Gibbs takes you straight to the veins of the streets.