Yesterday, in honor of Def Jam's 30th Anniversary this week, we brought you our choices for the Top 5 most iconic Def Jam videos of all time. As great as those are, and believe us they are, it's only right when looking back at three decades of dominance to acknowledge all the less heralded gems in the Def Jam Video Vaults that never seem to get their due. Here are our picks for the Top 5 Most Underrated Def Jam videos of all time!
Young Jeezy – "Crazy World" 2008
Young Jeezy's third album, 2008's The Recession, surprised a lot of people. For some, the fact that Jeezy now was including the word "Recession" in his verbal arsenal at the time of a recession signaled some deeper meaning to his work. Truthfully, while you could make an argument for Jeezy maturing as a writer, The Recession showed more of Jeezy's resources being used for his most sonically cohesive project. The most ambitious aspect of its release was the phenomenal video for "Crazy World," whose imagery resembled nothing on any rap video outlet at the time.
4) Oran "Juice" Jones – "The Rain" 1986
Def Jam's foray into the world of R&B could have been met with a level of skepticism, but the undeniable coolness of Oran "Juice" Jones helped make that transition an easy one with the video for his biggest hit, 1986's "The Rain." A great as the mid-song monologue is (and yes, it's exactly as long on the single as it is seen here), getting to witness it firsthand after we get to see the work Jones puts in pre-social media stalking his unfaithful lady is a triumph.
3) 3rd Bass – "Steppin' to the AM" 1989
3rd Bass' videos for MC Hammer diss "The Gas Face" and Vanilla Ice diss "Pop Goes the Weasel" both wind up seen whenever the artists or their targets get discussed, and rightfully they're heralded for some unforgettable imagery. But "Steppin' to the AM" should be just as respected for doing exactly what a rap group's video should: establishing the identity of the members while matching the momentum of the song's energy with creative visuals. Look for a cameo from director Ralph McDaniels in the very, very beginning.
2) Jay-Z featuring Amil and Ja Rule – "Can I Get A…" 1998
For all the millions and millions of dollars that have been poured into perfectly marketing Jay-Z's public image over the past 15 years, we all know the clip that made him a pop culture staple. His breakthrough, and biggest selling, album Vol. 2…Hard Knock Life hit store shelves with three singles at the same time, his "Money Ain't a Thang" duet with Jermaine Dupre from his album, the "Hard Knock Life" title track and the Rush Hour soundtrack's "Can I Get A…" While "Hard Knock Life's" use of the Annie sample may have made the track accessible as a publicity-generating curiosity, "Can I Get A…" is what made Jay cool. A crossover smash that didn't even try to crossover, it's also the rare case of a clean version that's widely considered superior to the dirty version. Also, shouts to the late Chris Penn who cameos here at the bartender.
1) Scarface – "On My Block" 2002
Scarface's "On My Block" is a generally respected video by those who've seen it, but the fact that it isn't automatically universally considered among the greatest music videos of all time is what will made the clip forever underrated. Combining the daunting tasks of both the single-camera-take illusion, as well as the symmetry of the beginning and end, the Marc Klasfeld-directed clip is an absolute triumph of the music video medium. Scarface's story of his block through the years is as heartbreaking as it inspiring, but our favorite moment might be Scarface's sole appearance in the video, briefly seen selling copies of his group Geto Boys' album Uncut Dope out the trunk of his car.