Pittsburg native Cameron Thomaz, otherwise known as Wiz Khalifa has reached a new milestone, which no Hip Hop star ever has! The “Roll Up” rapper’s video for the hit single “See You Again” featuring Charlie Puth from the Fast And Furious soundtrack, surpassed 2.9 billion views on Monday, July 10th, according to YouTube data. This makes it the most viewed video of all time. The 4 minute sequence, which was released in April 2015, came at an especially heartfelt time following the untimely death of one of Fast’s main characters and a fan favorite: actor Paul Walker. It features clips from Walker’s last appearance in the Fast And Furious 7. The actor died in a single car crash in November 2013 prior to completing the film.
The record eclipses K-Pop phenom group Psy’s “Gangnam Style” video which previously held the record for five straight years. The rapper has not commented directly on the accomplishment, but did acknowledge that, He was “pleased the video/song has been able to inspire and impact so many lives.” For his part, singer Charlie Puth tweeted that his “Initial goal in 2007 was to eclipse 10,000 views on YOUTUBE. And wow.” Goal attained.
But Hip Hop is known for its musical tributes. A lyrical medium, it lends itself to the need to poetically express one’s self in times of grief. Here are a few other noteworthy Hip Hop tribute songs from over the years.
Some other noteworthy hip hop tributes include:
- Diddy feat. Faith Evans/112–Missing You. 1997.
Tribute To: Rapper Notorious B.I.G.
The hip hop ballad was released after the passing of New York legend Biggie Smalls, arguably, one the most iconic rapper to ever touch the mic. And although the video begins with Diddy almost humorously falling off a motorcycle, the combination of coloring, the heartfelt lyrics, and Faith, Biggie’s widow, singing her heart away on the hook, makes this song an undeniable classic.
- Bone-Thugs-N-Harmony– Tha Crossroads -1995
Tribute To: Though never officially confirmed, most assumed the heartfelt farewell single was attributed to their mentor and longtime friend, The late Eazy-E.
This track which begins as one of the eeriest Hip Hop beats, can bring chills down the spine of any Hip Hop fan. The video features a trench coated man, in dark shades, and a black wide brimmed hat, essentially snatching up souls throughout the video regardless of age or circumstance. As the video draws to an end, our man in black sheds his coat, to reveal angel wings as he brings an unending line of souls (including Eazy-E’s) to heaven.
- Jay-Z– I Miss You. (remix).
Tribute To: Singer Aaliyah, who passed in a private plane crash in 2001.
Recorded over Aaliyah’s original beat for “Missing You”, Jay-Z put out his own tribute to the late singer. Her relationship with Dame Dash, and friendship with Jay brought her into Roc-A-Fella’s inner circle, making her loss especially tragic for the label. The video itself features edited together clips of the singer and the grief stricken faces of those who left her behind.
- Naughty By Nature–Mourn You Till I Join You.
Tribute To: Rapper Tupac Shakur.
Focusing on their friendship, this song narrates the friendship between Naughty By Nature’s Treach & the late Tupac Shakur. Surrounded by images and footage of Pac, Treach verbally releases not only his enjoyment of their good times, but the pain he felt during the hard ones.
- Cheeks Feat. Stephen Marley– Till We Meet Again. 2001.
Tribute To: Former Lost Boyz member Freaky Tah who was murdered in 1999.
Cheeks pours his heart into this track that highlights the deficit he felt when Freaky Tah was killed. It’s an emptiness we all can relate to as we wait for someone to come through the door who will never pass through that threshold again.
- Wu-Tang Clan – Life Changes
Tribute To: ODB who passed away in 2004 from a drug overdose
Every member of the Wu stepped up to speak their piece about the late ODB. Almost like the portion of a funeral where people get up to say how they feel or express their memories, Life Changes, shared emotions of ODB’s place in the group and the grief they felt about his loss are shared through this track.
- TI. Feat. Jamie Foxx – Live In the Sky
Tribute To: Lifelong friend Philant Johnson who was murdered in 2006
Dedicated to a friend, who died in a shooting TI himself was present for, the song outlines the various situations where TI has lost someone he loves, and outlines the hope that when he passes he’ll be able to join them in Heaven. The video itself features Forest Whitaker, as a character not unlike the man in black from Crossroads (See above), who seems ever present when death occurs. As incident upon incident occurs, leaving lives lost, we are brought to the end where we learn that each moment was really a piece, bringing together TI’s own death.
- Styles P – My Brother
Tribute to: His younger brother Gary Quarles who died in a car accident in 2001
Although no music video accompanies it, Styles’ pain can be felt through his lyrics as he pays tribute to his late brother. He attempts to look at the brighter side as he considers his brother his angel, and recognizes he’s in heaven. But his grief can be heard all the same.
- Cuban Link – Flowers for the Dead
Tribute To: Big Pun who passed away from a heart attack in 2000
Cuban Link outlines the moments he learned of Big Pun’s death, the reaction of his family, and their ongoing desire that he were still alive. The video itself plays among old images of their crew, and two children running together in the street, meant to be Pun and Cuban Link as children.
- D.R.S. – Gangsta Lean
Tribute To: Unspecified Homies who passed. Released in 1993
Gangsta Lean is a song often forgotten. However, with the combination of West Coast thuggin’ and Boyz II Men-esque crooning, it’s one once you hear, you can’t soon forget. It embodies all the pain, truth, and love of a group of men who lost one of their homies, and looks forward to a day they can be together again. The video embodies everything that was great about the early 90s and Hip Hop, especially West Coast. With plaid shirts, skullies, snapback hats, cars on hydraulics, and forty ounce beers, all among the backdrop of a funeral filled with family and community mourning together the loss of an unnamed friend, D.R.S. essentially set the standard for Hip Hop ‘hood memorials with this classic hit.
-DeShonna Watson & Simone Hawthorne