In the thirty years since the debut of MTV the music video has taken on a life of its own, especially in hip-hop. Thanks to smart phones, tablets and broadband access viewers are no longer tethered to their televisions for a music video fix.
While music sales may be in a flux, music fans have demonstrated a voracious appetite for visuals of their favorite artists. Though there is a definite correlation between which songs get drilled into our heads on the air and what gets watched online, in some cases videos helped buoy songs that otherwise flew beneath the collective radar.
RELATED: Top Hip-Hop Songs of 2013 … So Far
So using a very unscientific mix of video plays and public perception we present the biggest hip-hop videos of 2011. (Play data is from December 24, 2011.)
“Rack City” Tyga
Uploaded: September 8, 2011
Plays: 7,814, 557
For everyone who couldn’t name anyone in Young Money who wasn’t named Lil Wayne, Drake or Nicki Minaj, Tyga has a message for you: “Rack City, bitch!” While this simplistic ode to making it rain sounds like it was ghostwritten by Mr. Collipark and the Ying Yang Twinz, the asstastic clip should finally give the label suits the ammo to push the button on his oft-delayed debut album. There is a rumored clean version with a *cough* plot, but you tell us how many people have watched it when you find it.
“Can’t Get Enough” J. Cole f/ Trey Songz
Uploaded:Sept 16, 2011
Plays: 7, 867, 862
J. Cole is no dummy. When the lyricist from North Carolina prepped his Roc Nation debut he clearly thought “ya’ll ain’t about to Canibus me, no matter how much I like him” and put out this clip for “Can’t Get Enough” which by all accounts is “Big Pimpin” Jr. Warm locale? Check. Pretty girls on a yacht? Check. bouncy, ethnically enhanced soundtrack? Check. Hova taught you well.
Uploaded: October 21, 2011
Three days before his birthday Drizzy and his Nike gloves set the wheels in motion for his sophomore LP, Take Care. The clip was modest by Drake standards with him posing in baseball stadium, elevators and empty lots. But as Hov once eloquently put it, you don’t need a million-dollar video, just a million-dollar artist.
“I’m On One” DJ Khaled f/ Drake, Rick Ross, Lil Wayne
Uploaded: July 11, 2011
Let’s be real. With Drake leading off and on the hook this is DJ Khaled’s song in name only. If all I have to do is hold an umbrella and point a finger in the sky for song credit sign me up!
“Dance (Ass) (remix)” Big Sean Feat Nicki Minaj
Uploaded: Nov 1, 2011
Plays: 24,993,181, uploaded
Whatever Big Sean paid Nicki Minaj to do this song and video he needs to double it. Thanks to the cameo of the year by Minaj’s donk, the plays on “Ass” “Marvin And Chardonnay” in a matter of weeks, despite many thinking it was a better song. Don’t believe us? Tell us what Big Sean was wearing…in any scene…it’s ok, we’ll wait.
“Otis” The Throne (Jay-Z and Kanye West)
Uploaded August 11, 2011.
Plays: 31, 323, 152
The first and only video (so far) from Jay-Z and Kanye’s Watch The Throne was a statement clip like no other. You see that Maybach you all have been coveting since 2002? We’re going to strip it down, turn it into a stunt car and do donuts in the parking lot. Couple that with a refreshingly simple performance from Jay and Ye where they both actually SMILED and you have one of the most memorable music videos of the year of any genre. Even Mercedes decided to retire the vehicle after this clip. They literally killed it. Who else can say that?
“Lighters” Eminem and Royce Da 5′ 9″ f/ Bruno Mars
Uploaded: August 22, 20ll
Leave it to two of the most demented MCs out of Detroit (and probably North America) to put out such a sentimental, radio-friendly song. Oh, having Bruno Mars on the hook definitely helps get you past the gatekeepers. Now can we get one for “Loud Noises.”?
“Yonkers,” Tyler The Creator
Uploaded: Feb, 10, 2011
The man ate a roach. He ate a roach!
“How To Love” Lil Wayne
Uploaded: Aug 24, 2011
Plays: 40, 733, 966
Lil Tunchi became the most unlikely pro-life advocate of 2011 with the video to “How To Love.” The touching narrative of a young lady who decides not to have an abortion and the two different paths her child’s life could take if she was shown “how to love” almost makes you forget that Weezy calls himself the “P*ssy Monsta.”
Wiz Khalifa “On My Level” F/ Too Short
Uploaded: January 27, 2011)
The first 8 million people were probably watching to see what warranted the parental advisory warning at the beginning and the other 40 were probably too high from following the song’s instructions to notice that it’s rather tame by rap video standards.
Dr. Dre, “I Need A Doctor”
Uploaded: Feb 24, 2011
If Dr. Dre has held off on putting out Detox because of some perceived lack of demand, he need only look at the number of people who have checked in this year to check out his second video from Detox. Mr. Young, whatever is on your hard drive at this point, just put it out. Even if it’s to justify the thrashing of that sweet ride.
“Look At Me Now” Chris Brown feat Bustah Rhymes and Lil Wayne
Uploaded: March 16, 2011
Plays:138, 041, 790
Bustah Rhymes single-handedly revived hip-hop karoake with his show-stealing verse on this song. Catchy as all hell in its own right we’ll attribute at least half of these plays to folks practicing for the Def Jam Rap Star national championships.
“Super Bass” Nicki Minaj
Uploaded: May 5, 2011
The Barbies came out in full force to push “Super Bass” to ridiculous heights, and for good reason. The vibrant, colorful visuals perfectly complemented the feel-good ethos and cemented Minaj as a Pop Star. And having her bathe in a pool of Strawberry Quick didn’t hurt either.
RELATED: Top Hip-Hop Songs of 2013 … So Far
HONORABLE MENTIONS: These clips weren’t the most played, but they had big impacts for other reasons…
“Lotus Flower Bomb” Wale f/ Miguel from Ambition album
Uploaded: Nov 14, 2011
Plays: 2, 832, 800 (and counting…)
Easily the biggest song of Wale’s career the success of Ambition is making Rick Ross look like one of the best emerging A&Rs in rap.
2 Chainz, “Spend It”
Uploaded: July 26, 2011
Plays: 1, 774, 763
What a difference a name change can make? Thanks to the popularity of “Spend It” the artist formerly known as Titty Boi has enjoyed a career resurgence unseen since John Travolta did Pulp Fiction.
“ADHD” Kendrick Lamar
Uploaded: August 2011
Plays: 1, 005, 440
Our rookie of the year (all respects to Big Sean) has given us plenty of reasons to look forward to 2012 and this video is just one of them.
“Ghetto Dreams” Nas and Common
Uploaded: August 11, 2011
The event that was having these two vets on the same song and in a video was only eclipsed by the spectacle that was Watch The Throne.
, undun Final Cut
This honorable mention makes this list because at 9:19 it is literally the biggest video of 2011. Weaving in several songs from their latest album Undun, fans are treated to the visual narrative of the protagonist Redford Stephens.
MORE BEST OF 2011