Just Rankin’ Sh!t

9 Anthems That Slap Harder Than ‘The Star-Spangled Banner,’ Ranked

It takes more than gleaming and ramparts to make a song a classic

Photo: Johnny Nunez/Getty Images

9. “O Canada”

As far as national anthems you’ll hear in an NBA arena — hopefully in 2021 — we’re gonna go with the one that’s been amended to be gender-neutral and, uh, wasn’t written by an avowed slavery apologist.

8. “POV City Anthem,” Cadillac Tah

Years before dudes started snappin’ to “Laffy Taffy” and hopping around mom dukes’ living room to Soulja Boy, this all-but-forgotten Murder Inc. pioneer jumped on a damn polyphonic, two-way pager loop and birthed literal ringtone rap. Salute!

7. “Party Rock Anthem,” LMFAO featuring Lauren Bennett and GoonRock

While this may have been the most annoying earworm of 2011, the frenetic breakdown is still unfuckwithable. (Plus, nowhere in “The Star-Spangled Banner” did Francis Scott Key mention moving booty weight.)

6. “Uptown Anthem,” Naughty By Nature

To quote Dave Chappelle as Samuel L. Jackson, Juice! That was a good one!” And Ernest Dickerson’s 1992 classic didn’t just give us Tupac’s first heel turn and one of the least cringey DJ battles ever committed to celluloid — it gave us a soundtrack featuring Treach at the height of his rapid-fire powers. With a Tupac cameo in the video, obviously.

5. “Dipset Anthem,” The Diplomats featuring Cam’ron and Juelz Santana

Because you just can’t resist hitting a virtually horizontal bob and lean once the beat drops. Because “Okay, okay, okay/Y’all can’t fuck with me, no way” is a rallying cry that matches uniquely American machismo with hood hubris. Because Dipset is forever. We really mean it. (Aye!)

4. “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem),” Jay-Z

Hov might not be living a ghetto life anymore, but neither is Lil Orphan Annie — and that iconic sample makes Mark the 45 King’s thumping instrumental the eternally perfect soundtrack for Anyhood, U.S.A. When this anthem plays, we have no choice but to stand!

3. “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem,” DMX

Riddle us this: How has Darkman given us two anthems but has yet to be immortalized in U.S. history classes for it? Not only was the original album version of this track the sonic embodiment of the Tunnel, but the all-hands-on-deck remix somehow managed to put the “YOOOOO!” in “YOOOO!nkers.” Put a hand on your heart (and a razor blade under your tongue).

2. “Player’s Anthem,” Junior M.A.F.I.A.

Damn near the apex of the anthem, and straight-up ubiquitous on mid-’90s blend tapes. (Peace to Ron G, Brucie B, Kid Capri!) From the Cease-Biggie-Kim trifecta to the peak Bad Boy New Birth sample to the don’t-give-a-NSFW hook you can’t help but chant, it’s end-to-end undeniable. Gwaaaan grit ya teeth.

1. “Int’l Players Anthem (I Choose You),” UGK featuring OutKast

The swankiest anthem that somehow combines love, pimpin’, and commitment with effortless Southern verve (all depicted in one of the most epic music videos of its era). The birthplace of America’s flyest cultural influences is also home to its greatest global groove. Go ’head and CC every girl that you see see ‘round town.

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