Best Videos of 2011 — Hip-Hop and R&B
The best videos of 2011 all have one thing in common: they’re visual eye candy. With Beyonce snagging African dancers for ‘Run the World (Girls),’ Lil Wayne taking a cue from a blockbuster hit for ’6 Foot 7 Foot’ and Frank Ocean’s hallucinogenic clip for ‘Novacane,’ there was no time to be bored while watching. As The BoomBox gets ready to ring in the new year, we revisit our favorite music videos from the past 12 months. Find out which singers made the cut, what rhymers landed on the countdown more than once and who slid into the No. 1 spot.
20. ‘Gucci, Gucci,’ Kreayshawn
Oakland rapper Kreayshawn was flying under the radar until the release of the music video for ‘Gucci, Gucci’ became a viral hit and landed her a record deal. With her hipster-chic fashion choices and a chorus of “Gucci Gucci, Louis Louis, Fendi Fendi, Prada. Basic b—-es wear that s— so I don’t even bother,” the petite MC showed us she’s more interested in stepping out from the pack than being a follower.
19. ‘Red Nation,’ Game Feat. Lil Wayne
Game has never been shy about showing his loyalty for his blood gang, but the release of the single ‘Red Nation’ was a little too much to handle for the folks over at BET. The “post-apocalyptic” video for the lead single off his ‘The R.E.D. Album’ was banned from that network due to its heavy glorification of gang affiliation, but still managed to garner over 11 million views on YouTube. As a result of the hoopla, Game scored a Billboard chart-topping LP.
18. ‘Headlines,’ Drake
As fans continued to wait patiently for his ‘Take Care’ release, Drake chose the lead single ‘Headlines’ to answer the skeptics, quiet the haters and address his supporters. Although not a typical single choice, Drizzy put his emotions on full display on the track, produced by longtime collaborators Boi-1da and Noah “40” Shebib. Null of any members of his Young Money family, the music video is a toast to his accomplishments, features a fancy dinner spread and showcases his fondness for sweaters.
17. ‘Cry Baby,’ Cee-Lo
Cee-Lo Green struck a chord with TV fans by casting Jaleel White — who played the lovable nerd Steve Urkel on the ’90s show ‘Family Matters’ — in the lead role for his ‘Cry Baby’ video. White imitates Green’s vocals about a man feeling guilty for leaving his girlfriend. As the fifth release off his album ‘The Lady Killer,’ the song wasn’t a commercial hit but the jovial visuals full of dance sequences are sure to put you in a good mood.
16. ‘Nasty,’ Nas
Over the years, this Queens MC has had several aliases but his “Nasty Nas” mantra will always hold a special place in his legacy. ‘Nasty,’ the first single off his forthcoming 10th solo album, is a throwback to the Nas of yesteryear, as he flows with the same candor and exuberance that put him on the map more than 20 years ago. The music video is an ode to his Queensbridge roots, featuring the rapper returning to his old neighborhood.
15. ‘Yonkers,’ Tyler, the Creator
When you watch Tyler, the Creator, you can pretty much expect him to do something outside of the box. The Odd Future frontman gets extra gory in the visuals for the first single from his ‘Goblin’ debut. The black-and-white video might make you a little queasy since it has everything from Tyler eating a cockroach to throwing up blood. You never know what the L.A. native has up his sleeve, and for that, we salute him.
14. ‘Motivation,’ Kelly Rowland Feat. Lil Wayne
Kelly Rowland turned the sex factor all the way up for her ‘Motivation’ video, moving so far away from her more wholesome Destiny’s Child days. The singer dropped the seductive single — the first off her ‘Here I Am’ LP — in April, and the barely-there wardrobe she rocked surely motivated fans to push the Jim Jonson and Rico Love-produced track right to the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Hip-Hop/R&B charts.
13. ‘Novacane,’ Frank Ocean
Frank Ocean‘s career is moving fast, and he may just be getting numb to all the recognition, as proved in his first official visual. Odd Future’s resident crooner has proven to be prolific both behind the scenes and in front of the mic, with the release of the lauded track ‘Novacane.’ With over 2 million views on YouTube, the music video’s intrigue lies within its simplicity, featuring Ocean sitting in a hotel room, reminiscing over past sexual conquests while rubbing his face with a gooey substance.
12. ‘Lost Ones,’ J. Cole
Even before he had a record deal, J. Cole‘s artistry was on point. The North Carolina rapper shot the video for ‘Lost Ones’ three years ago, but the track landed on his debut LP, ‘Cole World: The Sideline Story,’ released in September. The emotional concept finds the Roc Nation rapper contemplating marrying his girlfriend after getting her pregnant. According to Cole, who self-produced the track, the music was influenced by musician Alex Gordon.
11. ‘Run the World (Girls),’ Beyonce
Girls “run the world,” but Beyonce runs the music game. For as long she’s been in the industry, she’s always made sure to salute independent women. ‘Run the World (Girls),’ the lead single from her ’4′ album, samples Major Lazer’s ‘Pon de Floor,’ birthing a trippy, almost futuristic sound, complimented by the dance heavy video in which Bey acts as the “ruler.” The video’s shining moment comes in the intricate footwork inspired by African dancers she found.
10. ‘Sure Thing,’ Miguel
For any artist, their first No. 1 single is a milestone, and it’s safe to say that Miguel is as proud of ‘Sure Thing’ as we are. Off his ‘All I Want Is You’ debut, the song is a neo-soul-esque love letter full of tantalizing analogies. The crooner tapped Hype Williams to direct the music video, only heightening its appeal. Aside from topping Billboard’s Hop-Hop/R&B charts, ‘Sure Thing’ has garnered over 14 million views on YouTube.
9. ‘Far Away,’ Marsha Ambrosious
Marsha Ambrosius courageously tackled bullying, suicide and prejudice in the video for her single ‘Far Away,’ the second release off her ‘Late Nights and Early Mornings’ debut. In the clip, an African American homosexual couple celebrates their love but things turn tragic when one lover commits suicide. The concept was personal for Ambrosius, whose close friend tried taking his life after facing opposition to his sexuality. The visual earned the singer a 2011 BET Awards nomination in the Video of the Year category.
8. ‘Dance (A$$)’ Remix, Big Sean Feat. Nicki
Nicki Minaj built a career off of making funny faces, but it’s her backside that grabbed all of the attention in the remix video to Big Sean‘s ‘Dance (A$$)’ video. In the video for the song, off Sean’s ‘Finally Famous’ debut, the Detroit native’s performance is noteworthy, but Minaj’s extra tight pants and incessant butt shots brought the “ass” concept to life. With over 8 million views on YouTube since it’s release in early November, its safe to say that Young Money rhymer’s assets are the reason for its success.
7. ‘Look at Me Now,’ Chris Brown Feat. Busta Rhymes & Lil Wayne
Chris Brown had something to prove with the second single off his ‘F.A.M.E.’ album. Instead of harping on the bad press that was feared to ruin his career, he made a statement with ‘Look At Me Now.’ Featuring Busta Rhymes and Lil Waynel, Breezy called on producers Diplo and Afrojack to construct the Dirty South-inspired sound. The music video was an ode to old school rap, with Chris tapping into his inner-Fresh Prince by way of his colorful wardrobe.
6. ‘The Show Goes On,’ Lupe Fiasco
As the lead single off his ‘Lasers’ album, ‘The Show Goes On’ was a fitting description of the state of Lupe Fiasco‘s career. The music video shows the Chicago MC’s touring life, while the lyrics, “I don’t switch up I just laugh, put my kicks on they desk/ Unaffected by their threats,” revealed the strained relationship with his record label. Hopefully the No. 1 debut of ‘Lasers’ helped to smooth things over.
5. ‘S&M,’ Rihanna
You can’t record a song called ‘S&M’ and not expect the music video to push the sexual envelope. For the fifth single off her ‘Loud’ album, the Bajan beauty walked celeb-blogger Perez Hilton on a leash, threw on a pink latex bondage outfit and put together a visual commentary on the prying media. The tattooed singer was later sued by director David LaChapelle for allegedly stealing some of his shots, but settled the suit for an undisclosed amount.
4. ‘Super Bass,’ Nicki Minaj
In the world of Nicki Minaj, glow-in-the-dark neon lipstick, pink wigs and a throbbing bassline happen to all be the ingredients for a good music video. For ‘Super Bass,’ the pop-friendly seventh single off her ‘Pink Friday’ debut, Sanaa Hamri directs Minaj as she serves up eye candy for the camera. She not only achieved her goal in thrusting around and showing off her goods while rapping of a crush on her mind but threw in a lap dance for good measure.
3. ‘All of the Lights,’ Kanye West Feat. Rihanna & Kid Cudi
Kanye West took the concept of his ‘All of the Lights’ single seriously when he put together the video for the fourth single off his ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’ release. Using just about any and every neon light source imaginable, the Hype Williams-helmed clip was so luminescent that it was targeted for causing epileptic seizures. West later added a warning to the video, which has received over 25 million views on YouTube.
2. ‘Otis,’ Jay-Z & Kanye West
Only Jay-Z and Kanye could destroy a $400,000 car in a music video and make it look cool. When the rap duo released ‘Otis,’ the second single off their ‘Watch the Throne’ collaboration, they blended the perfect cocktail of old and new. The single, produced by Yeezy, samples Otis Redding’s ‘Try A Little Tenderness,’ and everything about it was unconventional from the Riccardo Tisci-designed album cover to the Spike Jonze-directed video.
1. ’6 Foot 7 Foot,’ Lil Wayne Feat. Cory Gunz
Weezy re-entered the game after exiting prison ready to annihilate the competition with the first single off ‘Tha Carter IV’ LP. He teamed with ‘A Milli’ producer Bangladesh and added a ferocious flow by Cory Gunz to the bill. The only thing better than the ’6 Foot 7 Foot’ track is its music video. Directed by Hype Williams, the visual feast was inspired by the film ‘Inception,’ and brings to life many of the lyrics mentioned in the track.