1. Jay-Z & Kanye West “Otis”

1. Otis

Director: Spike Jonze
Release Date: August 11, 2011
If there is one thing that is clear from watching The Throne’s video for “Otis,” it’s that Jay-Z and Kanye West undoubtedly had a ish load of fun shooting the clip. Rap fans have never even seen Hov smile that much, ever. In between cheesing, viewers also witnessed the duo demolish a Maybach and then take it for a spin with a bunch of models and comedian Aziz Ansari. And then, of course, there were also fireworks. We are not worthy.

2. Future “Tony Montana”

2. Tony Montana

Director: Jessy Terrero
Release Date: October 27, 2011
Atlanta upstart, Future, flew all the way to the Dominican Republic to shoot the video for his breakout single, “Tony Montana,” and it was definitely worth the trip. The visually stunning clip tells the story of a big shot drug dealer, played by Future, that is called in from the States to handle a robbery situation going on in DR. Complete with birds-eye view shots, real actors and even subtitles, this clip played more like a movie then a four minute music video. Motion picture ish.

3. Tyler, the Creator “Yonkers”

3. Yonkers

Director: Wolf Haley
Release Date: February 10, 2011
Odd Future were already starting to make noise in the beginning of 2011 in the media, but group leader, Tyler, the Creator’s self-directed music video for “Yonkers,” put the crew on the map for the rest of the world. The disturbing Black and White clip went on to rack up over 32 million views on YouTube, a MTV VMA nomination for Video of the Year and even a co-sign from Mr. Kanye West. Bonkers!

4. Chris Brown ft. Busta Rhymes & Lil Wayne “Look At Me Now”

4. Look At Me Now

Director: Colin Tilley
Release Date: March 10, 2011
Chris Brown’s colorful clip had a lot of nostalgic elements that kept viewers interested. First, it featured Breezy dressed up as a young Spike Lee from Do The Right Thing, second, it had a lot of young breakdancers doing killer moves while rocking throwback Starter jackets and most importantly, it featured an animated Busta Rhymes rapping 100 miles an hour under a magnifying glass. In other words, there was a lot to look at.

5. Meek Mill ft. Rick Ross “I’ma Boss”

5. Ima Boss

Director: Benny Boom
Release Date: August 31, 2011
Rick Ross’ young gunna Meek Mill brought the cameras to his hometown of Philly when it came time to shoot the video for his exciting summer smash, “I’ma Boss.” And he made his city proud by bringing out local stars, Beanie Sigel, Freeway and Young Chris and shooting them right in front of cheesesteak mecca, Genos. But what really makes this video so great was the amazing shots of Meek and his crew doing tricks on their motorcycles and four wheelers in slow motion. So bossy!

6. Kanye West “All of the Lights”

6. All of the Lights

Director: Hype Williams
Release Date: February 18, 2011
The electrifying visuals for “All of the Lights” were so intense, it came with a warning that it could potentially trigger a seizure for people with photosensitive epilepsy. Rihanna’s sexy cameo didn’t help either.

7. Kid Cudi “Mr Rager”

7. Mr. Rager

Director: Jeremie Rozan
Release Date: September 8, 2011
Inspired by the cult classic film, Old Boy, Kid Cudi’s apocalyptic, brutal video for “Mr. Rager” features a lot of violence and blood. A favorite of XXL’s online video director, Samtubia Edwards, the clip finds Cudder involved in a crazy dream where he has to fight for his life and against his own demons. Rage on.

8. Nas “Nasty”

8. Nasty

Director: Jason Goldwatch
Release Date: October 12, 2011
After returning to his original namesake and sound, it was only right that Nas came full circle and took it back to the Queensbridge Houses that raised him for the video to his latest single, “Nasty.” This time, God’ Son showed up on the block in a Maybach and quickly handed out gifts to local residents before ending up in a makeshift studio in a project apartment, stripped to merely a black wifebeater and jeans. Back to the basics.

9. Dr. Dre ft. Eminem & Skylar Grey “I Need a Doctor”

9. I Need A Doctor

Director: Allen Hughes
Release Date: February 24, 2011
Dr. Dre’s high concept clip for “I Need a Doctor” is easily the longest, most expensive and most captivating clip of 2011. Drawing from Dre’s decade-long absence from store shelves, the story line of the video show the West Coast rap legend coming back to life after a near deadly accident with a little inspiration from close friend, Eminem.

10. Nicki Minaj “Super Bass”

10. Super Bass

Director: Sanaa Hamri
Release Date: May 5, 2011
Nicki Minaj pulled out all the stops for the video for her chart-topping smash hit, “Super Bass.” You got ice sculptures of motorcyles, half naked boy toys, spooky lap dances under a black light, pools with pink goo, and a gang of hot backup dancers all wearing daisy dukes, wife beaters and pink wigs. What did she miss?

Top 10 Best Videos of 2011


There was no shortage of great videos in 2011. With the recession seemingly waning, big budgets are once again accessible to artists—as evident in the beautiful clips by Dr. Dre, Kid Cudi and Future. Yet, for MCs more inclined to save their pesos, directors continued to find interesting ways to build something from nothing (see “Yonkers” and “Otis”). Some old video clichés got a new spin (see “Look At Me Now,” “I’ma Boss” and “Super Bass”) and some fresh effects birthed this year (“All of the Lights”) are sure to be commonplace by next December. So, without further ado, XXL is proud to present the top 10 videos of 2011.—XXL Staff