The 6 Best Spike Jonze-Directed Rap Videos

The Throne, better known as Jay-Z and Kanye West, will premiere the first video from their debut collective Watch The Throne this Thursday at 8:56 p.m. ET/PT. Tune into MTV, MTV2, mtvU, MTV.com or BET at that time to see the superstars rapping together on “Otis.” It’s tough to pick a favorite track on the LP, which has been on repeat since we grabbed it this week, but the song featuring legend Otis Redding is as good a place to start as any.

Only a handful of music video directors are big enough to helm such an undertaking. That is, if your hand can only hold one option. Spike Jonze‘s body of work makes him the obvious candidate to direct “Otis.” Hype Williams may be the biggest name in hip-hop video directors, but he churns out a dozen videos yearly since 1995. When Jonze choosse to do a video, it’s an event. So to understand what you’re in store for with “Otis,” here are the best six Spike Jonze-directed rap videos.

6. Puff Daddy, “It’s All About the Benjamins (Rock Remix)”

While the setup for this Diddy video is annoyingly long, you have to remember the era. During the mid to late ’90s, superstars were testing the limits of how long videos could be. It’s also before rock-rap popped and dripped Limp Bizkit puss all over. So fans had to be led into this rock remix. When it finally gets started, it’s signature Jonze to see Diddy and crew rock a high school prom. Watch it here.

5. Notorious B.I.G, “Sky’s The Limit”

Sure, using children in a film or music video is usually a sign that the director is out of ideas. If nothing else, cute kids will get mainstream America to pay attention. However, this Notorious B.I.G. video completely turned that idea and rap’s bling image on its ear. Jonze found the best kid look-alikes and made an interesting comment on living “fat.” Watch the video here.

4. Ludacris, “Get Back”


Everyone’s first thought when seeing this video is, “Dude, those Popeye arms and huge hands look awesome on Ludacris.” It’s absurd at first, but the video turns into a humorous analogy for the anger and power the rapper wields. Watch it here.

3. Kanye West, “Flashing Lights”

Once you get 30 seconds into this Kanye West video, it’s impossible to stop watching until it ends. Impossible! Partly because it’s beautifully shot and features a half-naked woman with “Mad-Men” curves, but mostly because you want to figure out what the hell is going on. There are no easy answers, though, and no matter how many times you watch that hot bitch stab Kanye with a shovel, you’ll never grasp why. Watch it here.

2. The Pharcyde, “Drop”

The Pharcyde are the least famous on this list but grab this spot because of the video’s innovation. They weren’t a big group and didn’t have big budget, so Jonze suggested they simply shoot the entire thing backwards, including rapping the lyrics in reverse, and then play the footage forward. What results is an eye-grabbing video done on the cheap. Watch it here.

1. Beastie Boys, “Sabotage”

Not only did this video catapult Spike Jonze into the big time, but also sparked a renaissance for The Beastie Boys. Remember, he did this in 1994, well before the entire world started shooting things in ironic homage to ’70s cinema and television.

Photos: Getty Images