From 90s rap legends like Biggie Smalls to Y2K icons, we've been blessed with lots of musical gems over the years. According to critics, here are some of the best collaborations in hip-hop history.
Jay-Z ft. Kanye West & Rihanna: Run This Town
It's no surprise these two Rap Kings would make it extra clear that they run this town together. With the accompanied vocals of Rihanna during the song's catchy chorus, there was no doubt this would be a hit.
The Grammy-winning tune is a lot more than meets the eye. According to GeniusLyrics, the song explicitly portrays the "less order and more chaos" occurring deeper into society. Together, they are lyrically trying to bring order back to nations, as the "rap game's about to be overthrown and taken over by Roc Nation."
Lil' Kim ft. Da Brat, Left Eye, Missy Elliott & Angie Martinez: Not Tonight
No beat had more flames than Not Tonight, which featured the hottest female hip-hop artists back in 1996. Whether it's getting ready for ladies' night or out with friends, there was something "truly magical" when these girls got together in their prime time, as noted by Hellogiggles.
During this era, these ladies were killing it. While Kim had just gone platinum, Left Eye was working solo, Da Brat debuted her sound on Mariah Carey and Missy's albums, and Martinez was the hottest new rapper on the block. Putting them all together was probably the best career move, adding "feminine empowerment" to the industry.
Kanye West ft. Chance The Rapper: Ultralight Beam
Mr. West is back in the building, and this time he took a chance with Chancelor Johnathan Bennett, a.k.a. Chance The Rapper. Featured on Ye's 2016 studio album Life of Pablo, the pair came together to produce the slow rap melody. Clearly, the two have some sort of musical magic, as they created a 5-minute and 20-second gem.
Chance honored his feature on the album, praising Ye through the lyrics, "I met Kanye West, I'm never going to fail." So, this musical collab was just as momentous for Chance as it was for us. While the song was released at the peak of Kanye's gospel empowerment, it worked perfectly with Chance The Rapper's smooth style.
Saweetie ft. Doja Cat: Best Friend
It's the best friends who took over TikTok with their 2021 ultimate friendship anthem. Both facing the industry as rising female rap artists, their new feminist beat was a chance to break the barrier of beef between female artists, as noted by TheThings.
The two were introduced multiple times and were constantly in awe of each other's musical talent, both new to the game. Though Saweetie originally asked Nicki Minaj, she politely declined because she felt it didn't suit her. Fair enough. Luckily, Doja Cat got called in, and the rest is history.
Dr. Dre ft. Snoop Dogg: Nuthin' But A G Thang
Discovered by Dr. Dre himself, Snoop made his iconic debut after featuring on the lead single of Dre's 1992 studio album, The Chronic. Years after working together on Nuthin' But A G Thang, the iconic duo is still considered by fans to be a perfect pair, bringing listeners a soulful selection of gangster rap.
Nuthin' But A G Thang was Dre's debut single on his album The Chronic after his exit from rap group N.W.A. Once Dre realized Snoop had an authentic flare for rap, it wasn't long before they linked up and earned a spot in hip-hop history. From earning platinum status to peaking at #2 on Billboard, this track is, no doubt, a classic.
Jay-Z ft. Eminem: Renegade
When the real Slim Shady meets Mr. Carter, only good things can come from that. The noticeably different styles between the two artists created a tune that BroBible ranked as "the best Eminem song ever… and you probably aren't listening to it enough."
What makes this tune stand out from the others is that it is the only song on Jay-Z's The Blueprint with a guest feature. So, Slim must have felt pretty privileged having spit bars on the album just two years after his Slim Shady debut in 1999. Talk about GOAT status.
Nicki Minaj ft. Eminem: Roman's Revenge
Eminem does it again. Nicki Minaj kicked off her career in 2009 with her Barbie-like personality and released the Pink Friday album in 2010. After appearing on previous tunes with Lil Wayne and music producer Will.i.am, she did not hesitate to include this rap legend in her first album to raise hype.
Featuring the harmonious blend of her Trinidadian background and his Detroit roots, "the sheer energy the two bring to the table" makes this collab worthy of a spot on our list, as Beats Per Minute put it. Not to mention, the rappers' famous alter egos, Roman Zolanski and Mr. Slim Shady, make an appearance.
Kanye West ft. Rihanna, Kid Cudi & Fergie: All of The Lights
Put all of the biggest names from the 2000s in one track, and this 2011 summer anthem is born. Ye kindly featured the Pon De Replay, Fergalicious, and Day 'n' Night singers on his track for a cultural twist in every verse. But being the lyrical genius he is, Mr. West didn't stop there.
The rap collab extends its features on other remixes, featuring artists such as Alicia Keys, Elton John, John Legend, The Dream, and Elly Jackson on a 5-minute special, making it among the most star-studded hip-hop collabs. No wonder it nabbed a Grammy for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration.
Kendrick Lamar ft. Rihanna: Loyalty
It was a time when Kendrick debuted a CAPITALIZED moment in lyrical history: this gem has won the Grammy Award for Best Melodic Rap Performance and NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Duo, Group, Or Collaboration. While Insider notes Lamar as a "compelling and honest storyteller," we couldn't be prouder of this track.
With Kung Fu Kenny and Bad Gal RiRi on the track, there is nothing better than listening to authentic lyrics that are always resonating with the public. The Loyalty music video perfectly represents the pair's personalities, both captivated by trust and faithfulness. POWERFUL.
Cardi B ft. Megan Thee Stallion: W.A.P
The song that shocked the nation and embraced girl power: both fairly new to the rap scene, Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B went from the top and made this track drop hot within seconds of release. We don't know how or why these two decided to get together, but no one is complaining.
While the certified freaks gave us all a glimpse into their explicit lives with detailed lyrics, their archetypical personalities tied with the beat made a jaw-dropping single. Perhaps it's no surprise the duo went on to make history as the first female rap collaboration to debut at #1.
Kanye West ft. Big Sean & Jay-Z: Clique
There's nobody that can mess or match with this clique. According to IndieHipHop, Big Sean rushed to 102.7 FM in Detroit to meet Kanye, hitting him with a "16 bar" freestyle. With potential right in front of him, Ye took Sean under their wing, adding Jay-Z for hype.
Thankfully, the freshest trio gave us an explosion of lyrics for the ultimate rap collab. The single was released in 2011 and is still the life of the party to this day. As Sean himself told Million Dollaz Worth of Game, "he went too crazy on the hook, so." But there's more where that came from. Keep scrolling.
Dr. Dre ft. Eminem: Forget About Dre
Dr. Dre is for sure a rapper never to be forgotten. Starting with his debut in the rap group who came straight 'outta' Compton, N.W.A, Dre's bars are too talented not to be credited. However, Eminem's rap career and success emerged from a different nature.
According to Parlia, Eminem's success - aside from his talent - is due to him breaking the "cultural barriers of rap." Considering the lack of diversity in 1999 when rap music took off, artists like Dre didn't have to "fight their way into the culture." Eminem proved his worth in the industry. The two together are lyrical legends.
Kanye West & Jay-Z: N****s In Paris
These two will never stop stuntin' on us. In 2011, Ye and Jay blessed us with their combined studio album Watch The Throne. The Kings of Rap clearly knew this collaboration was one waiting to happen. It would almost be a travesty in hip-hop history if these two never lyrically linked up.
The duo took their spot on the throne, with this track taking off like no other. Not only did it earn a Grammy, but the song humorously adds random parts from Will Ferrell's Blades of Glory script. As stated in the song, "I don't even know what that means:" No one knows why the two decided to include such lines, but hey, it works...
Travis Scott ft. Drake: Sicko Mode
It's Cactus Jack's (Astro) world, and we're just living in it. Scott's 2018 album, Astroworld, brought his career into a different dimension. Of course, we're referring to his and Drake's collab, Sicko Mode. Featuring a range of varying beats, the mind-bending track caught significant attention from fans.
As reported by RollingStone, Scott was not getting enough "respect from the rapper community." But, his confidence gave him the push to collab with four-time Grammy Award-winning artist Drake, casting Sicko Mode as a song that represents "what Travis Scott does best."
Kanye West ft. Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj & Bon Iver: Monster
Once again, old and new rap legends came together to perform the 2012 hit Monster. The lyrics metaphorically explain the dark parts of fame, where they are all depicted as monsters just for doing their job and dealing with the consequences as real people. However, it was not Kanye who received the most recognition.
According to Spin, Nicki's verse was "career-altering" for her, claiming to be the "single best verse of the 2010s." Minaj praised the song on Instagram on its 7th anniversary but revealed Kanye was nervous Nicki's verse would overpower his genius creativity. All in all, the song still goes down as one of the best collaborations.
Omarion ft. Chris Brown & Jhené Aiko: Post To Be
In 2015, Omarion's name was put on the map due to his collaboration with the mixed sounds of Chris Breezy and Jhené Aiko. It is more than likely we have all gone crazy to this beat in the club. With racy lyrics and a rhythm perfect for dancing, Omarion won with this one.
Billboard charted this hit in the top spot for mainstream, hip-hop, and R&B, while the music video reached more than 301 million views. Although the song did not land any Grammy Awards, the artists' confidence in the hit accelerated its hype, taking it to every playlist.
Estelle ft. Kanye West: American Boy
Probably one of the most famous one-hit-wonders: composed by All of Me singer John Legend, Estelle added her own sophisticated twist to rap. British singer Estelle Swaray meets American boy Kanye West, a song with a lot more meaning than we think is credited.
According to afterglowatx.com, the song is a "reflection on the romanticization of America and exemplifies all that fascinates non-Americans about life in the U.S." Hopeful about her new boy toy, Estelle sings about him taking her to see all the U.S hot spots. This track was the ultimate dance club anthem, peaking at #9 on Billboard.
Kanye West ft. Pusha T: Runaway
Safe to say, this one's not going anywhere soon. While the two rap stars are polar opposites, this was the perfect time to tie their lyrical genius traits together. Pusha T told NME, "He's (Kanye) very emotional, and I am way more calculated than him." We can only wonder how long it took to compromise.
Kanye credits his bad behavior in the song, making several toasts to his hood image. According to MTV, Ye was pushing for "more douche bag" lyrics, becoming frustrated that Pusha could not produce the song he had in mind. After countless re-writes, they created this collab - "and a seriously godd*m good one at that," as Pitchfork put it.
Jay-Z & Mary J. Blige: Can't Knock The Hustle
We are oBLIGEd to include this one in hip-hop charts: When the sounds of Soul Queen Mary J. met multi-Grammy Award-winning rapper Jay-Z, a gem was born. Dubbed one of Hova's greatest songs, according to Rolling Stone, the head-bopping beat had fans going crazy for this never before seen duet.
The song recalls Jay's childhood, raised by a single mom and involved in street activity. After working his way into fame, 'Jazzy' would rap on the streets of his neighborhood. Blige called out his ego after telling Billboard magazine her reaction upon being asked to feature on the track: "who is Jay Z?" No comment.
The Notorious B.I.G. ft. P-Diddy, Mase & Kelly Price: Mo Money Mo Problems
The great thing about rap collaborations is that, essentially, anything goes. When Biggie Smalls (and featured artists) wrote a great beat in the late 90s, he decided to incorporate Diana Ross's I'm Coming Out, a tune that came out almost a decade before.
Biggie Smalls and co. wanted the world to know that there was a new rap gang on the scene. A delicate mixture of male and female R&B rhythm, Stereogum pointed out this hit to be "the biggest sustained run of Hot 100 success since the Bee Gees in 1978."
Rihanna ft. Jay-Z: Umbrella
This global smash hit won over our hearts from the moment it was released. Bad Gal RiRi collaborated with Mr. Carter in the 2007 hit Umbrella. This storm of a song was a huge career move for Rihanna, adding a hip-hop twist to singing in the rain.
MTV credited the hit on its 10th anniversary, dubbing it an "iconic" hit that "changed her forever." The take three action tune turned heads when Rihanna changed her image, trademarked as "good girl gone bad." But, no one was complaining as this was the perfect time for this kind of "storm" in RiRi's career.
Jay-Z ft. Beyoncé: Bonnie & Clyde
Talk about a trip down memory lane: the very first song the two recorded together, hip-hop's power couple referred to themselves as the Great Depression criminals in love. There for each other through thick or thin, or any crime when putting it into context.
This collab was the first clue that the pair were dating, making a romantic statement. While Carter sings, "All I need in this life, you see, is me and my girlfriend," Bey responds, "Down to ride 'til the very end, it's me and my boyfriend." Now married with 3 kids, the nostalgic hit will forever remain in music history.
Drake, Kanye West, Lil Wayne & Eminem: Forever
These iconic rap artists are here to stay, forever. From Eminem, who started his career in the 90s, to Drake, who secured his position in the industry with his studio album Thank Me Later, these rappers have a unique sound and career path - which ironically makes them work so well together.
As sung by Drake, "but understand nothin' was done for me, so I don't plan on stopping at all," the artists vowed their careers were everlasting. The haters can hate, but these rappers are now top Billboard artists. Sharing a similar experience pre-fame also enhanced the emotions in the song - dubbed one of the hottest tracks of 2009.
Mariah Carey ft. Ol' Dirty Bastard: Fantasy (Remix)
Who would've thought the singer who can reach a high pitch of G#7 could get down low with the bars of Ol' Dirty Bastard? The unexpected remix has an incredible back story. From all-nighters in the studio to unprepared music video shoots, the song went from shambles to sensation overnight… or three nights.
The whistle-tone wonder was willing to pay the rapper a large amount of dough to feature on the album - despite being absent from the countless attempts to finish the record. And with good reason. "The Billboard singles chart was brazenly flipped into hip-pop perfection," as ET Online put it.
Tyga ft. Offset: Taste
Get a taste of this. After Tyga's spotlight relationship with Kylie Jenner, his recognition soared through the roof. But it reached new levels after T-Raww grabbed the change to take Offset off Migos' hands. While Migos are known for their famous adlibs, this track was bound to have some serious sound.
Billboard credited Tyga for taking this track "back to basics." The rap collab secured its position in the top 15 of the Hot 100 list after providing a catchy dance anthem. There was no doubt that this track would heat up after hearing Offset would be adding some serious swag to it.
Eve ft. Gwen Stefani: Let Me Blow Ya Mind
Harajuku-obsessed Gwen Stefani stepped out of her comfort zone when she featured on "one of the greatest Dr. Dre productions," as Rolling Stone put it. For Eve, the rapper was just getting started, while Stefani already had marked her place in the charts with Rich Girl. But, it wasn't always going to stay this way.
According to Vibe, it was mentioned on CBS' The Talk that Eve's record label was "hesitant" about including the Rich Girl singer on the track. After Dr. Dre produced the single, the Tambourine singer had to fight for Stefani, confident that it would be well worth it. And it was.
Blackstreet ft. Dr. Dre, Queen Pen: No Diggity
Of course, we had to add the original rump shakers to our list of top rap collaborations. Released in 1996, the prime time for the new rap era, Blackstreet struck fans with the catchy collab featuring Dr. Dre and Queen Pen. Slang for 'no doubt,' DiscoverMusic reported that the track, in fact, nearly didn't happen.
The R&B blues combo was so different from mainstream 90s music, the label didn't think it would work then. But, with the help of musical legends Dr. Dre and Heavy D, the song scored some significant clout - peaking at #1 and becoming the ultimate anthem.
Nelly ft. Kelly Rowland: Dilemma
No matter what we do, all we can think about is Nelly and Kelly's R&B fling. At the peak of 2000s rap, a 2002 hit was released and was soon in everyone's MP3 most-played playlist. Cast as sidewalk sensations, Nelly and Kelly set the scene of two teenage lovers in the 90s.
Aside from their young love, the real dilemma lies within the two exchanging text messages over an Excel spreadsheet, which had viewers baffled for years. A soulful beat that tells the story of a confused couple lost within their feelings, the music video raked in over 1 billion views.
Beyoncé ft. Jay-Z: Crazy In Love
It's all about the songs that speak the truth. While they started dating when Beyoncé was still a member of former group Destiny's Child, the pair fell crazy in love. So, why not write a song about it? With both of them having a huge spotlight in the public eye, it was a match made in hip-hop heaven.
The two flames create music that is just as attractive as they are as a couple. The smooth swag in their personalities left fans hooked over their performances. Not only did this track nab all the biggest awards back in 2003, but it remains a fan favorite to this very day.
Keri Hilson ft. Kanye West & Ne-Yo: Knock You Down
Also known for her Pretty Girl Rock anthem, the Y2K pop sensation Keri Hilson collaborated with Ye and Ne-Yo. This was Hilson's first #1 hit on the R&B charts and, well, "it's been in the Top 10 for ages," as BBC noted. But aside from featuring two big-name artists, the song entails more backstory...
This song would be nothing without a Kanye West love affair. But, according to Songfacts, Mr. West's feature was last-minute, where he went from "60 bars of verse, and they had to cut it down to 20 bars." Initially, the record was not for Hilson, but the writers eventually handed it to her - and we're certainly glad they did.