Hip-hop AMVs came late to the scene and showed up just in time to kill the game. When you watch the right rap AMV you can’t help but wonder how you were getting by in life without it. They’re a gateway drug that lures anime fans to lesser known tracks, and better-known tracks to lesser-known anime. And when you pair a well-known banger to with a popular anime? That’s just 3-5 minutes of sheer bliss.

And the crazy part? Most of us don’t even fathom the amount of time spent behind the scenes, cutting scenes a tenth of a second long so that left hook hits just right when the beat drops. But this isn’t about “good” hip-hop AMVs, this is about the best – and I can’t even pick a favorite, so we’re getting two and a half.

So stand up, stretch, and shake off your worries for the next 10 minutes, ‘cause these joints go hard.

“Mama Said Knock You Out” (1990) by LL Cool J
Avatar: The Last Airbender & Legend of Korra

Classic track? Check. Perfect editing? Check. Add in some of the dopest Earth-bending from 2 of the most beloved characters across the Avatar universe, and you have one of the best AMVs you’ll ever see. The glory of splicing Toph da Gawd with action scenes with Lin Beifong – her daughter, who’s actually aged older than her for audiences – to one of the best fight tracks of the 90s? It’s almost more than my heart can bear.

Favorite Scene: “I’m gonna take this itty bitty world by storm… and I’m just getting warm.”

“Battle” (2002) by Gang Starr
Samurai Champloo

Samurai Champloo already lends itself to hip hop as well as any anime could, and when you add amazing editing to a track from the 8-Mile original soundtrack, you get one hype anime. I would have never expected the fast, frantic fight scenes from Samurai Champloo to fit with the king of monotone, Gang Starr, but you understand immediately when you first watch it. The chorus embodies the swagger of Mugen (read more about the gawd Mugen and other darker-skinned anime characters here), inviting any challenger to take a crack at the belt if they want to get that work. You wanna battle? How much you got… ‘cause I’m ‘bout to run it.

Favorite Scene: “I ain’t talking romance, but you’ll get swept off your feet” and the 5 seconds of perfection thereafter.

“Caillou” (1997) by Caillou, PBS

Just wait for the beat to drop. This counts as half an AMV, partially because length, partially because it needed limited editing (relatively speaking – all these joints take more time than most of us are willing to spend, or we’d all be making them), and partially because it isn’t really hip hop. But when you see it you might agree – it’s close enough, or so dope you don’t even care. This one takes the theme song from an old cartoon from PBS, Caillou, and adds fire. This joint needs air holes on the tech nine to keep from overheating. The scenes from Onepunch-Man basically play through for the most part, and the track remix is so limited that it’s almost annoying, but not. Like, if this track was even 5 seconds longer it’d be annoying, but maybe that’s just because I watch it 5 times in a row each sitting. You can decide for yourself.

Like those AMVs? Check out their creators, and show them some love, because making these vids takes a lot of work. Know any other hip hop AMVs? You can’t keep them to yourself. Let us know. Let everyone know.

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  • Jordan Calhoun is a writer in New York City. His forthcoming debut book "Piccolo Is Black" is a celebration of the common adaptations we made while non-diverse pop culture helped us form identities. He holds a B.A. in Sociology and Criminal Justice, B.S. in Psychology with a minor in Japanese, and an M.P.A. in Public and Nonprofit Management and Policy. He might solve a mystery, or rewrite history. Find him on Instagram and Twitter @JordanMCalhoun

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