Before we became sucked into this feature driven music industry. Before we craved to see album track listings- just to see whom the feature guest was. Before artist needed assistance from all of their musical peers. You know, back when both artists actually got in the studio together to create magic. Back when artists actually put out an album that consisted of just them, and or maybe an associate from their clique. Back when a feature was done off a genuine friendship, or the artists being fans of one another. Yeah…before the fact that if, Drake or Chris Brown blessed your single with a feature it meant an automatic hit song. Back when it was really a collaboration and not just a feature. Back when Mary J. Blige was the go to person to sing the hook on everyone’s track.
Remember when you’d become overjoyed when you found out your favorite artist had teamed up to do a song? Too bad, that now when you hear it you know it’s based on marketing schemes or an effort to get the song played on the radio. Case in point, that’s what occurred in the early 2000’s. Most rap artists had to have someone singing the hook in order to get radio play. However, that era actually produced some good collabo’s. The downfall of that is it’s no longer based on relationships. It’s become a collaborated business venture.
Since the conception of the collaboration; which initially began as remixes, we’ve been blessed to receive a slew of great ones over the years. And we’ve also received more than a few that artists could have kept. However, lets dive into some of the great Hip-Hop and R&B collaborations to date.
Fun Fact: since the conception of the category by the Grammy committee. Singer John Legend has the most nominations of six, with zero wins.
*DISCLAIMER: there isn’t a song that surpasses 2011 on this list.
30. Break Ups 2 Make Ups: Method Man & D’Angelo (1998) While enjoying the success of his solo debut project (Tical, 1994.) Mef returned with round two known as Tical 2000: Judgment Day. Taking advantage of the double disc era and the success it was having, the LP with twenty-eight tracks hit platinum status one month later. Probably with help from it’s many features that included Mobb Deep, Redman, Left Eye, Eric Sermon, and more. However, it was the collaboration with singer D’Angelo, where the two tell the tale of the bitter ex-girlfriend who won’t move on.
29. Freekin’ You (Remix): Jodeci & Wu Tang Clan (1995) JoJo, K-Ci, Mr. Dalvin & DeVante dropped their third and semi-final album (until 2015) as a group. “Freekin’ You” was “The Show, The Afterparty, The Hotel” leading single. And whereas Jodeci was used to instant success; the song wasn’t receiving chart success. This was when Hip-Hop and R&B was in transition and meeting each other half way. Ghostface wasn’t able to deliver at first, admitting to it all being something very new for him and recorded his verse two days later. The rest of the story is R&B Hip Hop history.
28. Knock You Down: Keri Hilson with Ne-Yo & Kanye West (2009) Although Ms. Hilson was known for her writing talents. She released her debut album In a Perfect World…and teamed up with super producer Kanye West, and hit-maker singer and writer Ne-Yo. All three participated in writing the song. Ironically, West’s verse makes references to Michael Jackson, who has passed during the height of the songs success.
27. Makes Me Better: Fabolous & Ne-Yo (2007) By the early 2000’s a hip-hop love song became proper protocol for every MC. Plus, you weren’t going to get much airplay without professing you love on wax. Fab had R&B’s brightest star Ne-Yo assist him on the Timbaland track that female rapper Eve had already recorded on, but never released. Thank Goodness for that, because “Makes Me Better” spent 14 weeks at number 1 in the Billboard Hot 100 Rap Tracks. And became an anthem for couples around the world.
26. Superwoman Pt.2: Lil Mo’ & Fabolous (2001) It doesn’t necessarily always take the third time to become charming. Sometimes round two makes the better impact. That’s exactly what happened for Lil’ Mo with her debut single. After making her presence known singing for well-known rappers (Ja Rule & Jay-Z,) and a failed single (Superwoman Pt.1) Mo refashioned the song, added rapper Fabolous, and made her leading single into a hit. Peaking at No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100. Lil’ Mo’s “anti chickenhead anthem” went on to become one of her staple songs thanks to DJ Clue.
25. Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip Hop): Erykah Badu & Common (2002) when your love life and work life come together for good. Badu’s 2002 Best R&B Grammy winning song was featured on the soundtrack for the film Brown Sugar. Serving as the film’s theme song, which is a flip and updated version of Common’s 1994 ode to hip-hop “I Used to Love H.E.R.” Where many may confuse the song with being a love story about two people. It’s really a person’s story about their love for hip-hop. “I fell in love and we kept, in touch through his friend Mic/Mike.”
24. Where the Party At?: Jagged Edge & Nelly (2001) When the men of Jagged Edge returned with their third LP Jagged Little Thrill it featured the Grammy nominated “Where the Party At?” The track has an appearance from rapper Nelly, and is the groups highest charting song. It spent three weeks at number one on the R&B charts, but nabbed the number 3 spot on the Billboard Hot 100. The song is a staple at parties, and currently can be heard in the Bud Light Lima-A-Rita commercial that’s ran countless times.
23. You Got Me: The Roots with Erykah Badu & Eve (1999) back when Erykah’s star was rising and Eve wasn’t a Ruff Ryder just yet. The Philly natives grouped with another unknown Philly artist, Jill Scott wrote the songs chorus that Badu sings. “You Got Me” is the Grammy Award winning song and the leading single for the band’s fourth studio album “Things Fall Apart.”
22. What’s My Name: Rihanna & Drake (2010) Rihanna is no stranger to hit songs. To date she has fourteen total. Her and Drake made magic twice. Her sixth song to hit number one was “What’s My Name” from her fifth studio album Loud. The Grammy nominated song wouldn’t be the last from the pair. She received her 14thnumber one in 2016 with Drake for “Work.” At this point, there’s no need for her to ask What’s My Name?
21. Let Me Blow Ya Mind- Eve & Gwen Stefani (2001) Ruff Ryders First Lady E.V.E. from Philly scored a mega hit on her sophomore album Scorpio. With help from Gwen, and a beat provided by Dr. Dre. In the summer of 2001, it was one of the biggest selling singles. And later it became a Grammy Award winning song that was a first for Eve, but moreover, it was the first in its brand-new category that year. Best Rap/Sung Collaboration was born and Eve represented for her team and hometown.
20. Can’t You See: Total & The Notorious BIG (1995) As Puffy was racking up new artist for his Bad Boy label it was only fit that he gather a few bad girls in the process. After lending their vocals to BIG hit song “Juicy.” He returned the favor by opening up their leading single; which was also featured on the New Jersey Drive soundtrack. The song samples the legendary James Brown’s “The Payback.” Fun Fact: Brown happens to be the most sampled artist ever!
19. ’03 Bonnie & Clyde: Jay-Z & Beyonce (2002) in 2002 Jay-Z had replaced rapper Foxy Brown as the Bonnie to his Clyde for his back then girlfriend Beyonce. The two created magic with The Blueprint 2 leading single “’03 Bonnie & Clyde.” The Kanye West produced track samples 2Pac’s 1996 song “Me & My Girlfriend,” which ended up sparking a feud with singer Toni Braxton who had also sampled the track on her 2002 song “Me & My Boyfriend.” However, Carter and West denied stealing the idea from Braxton. Meanwhile, the song became Jay’s second top ten hit and Beyonce’s first as a solo artist.
18. Touch Me, Tease Me: Case with Mary J. Blige & Foxy Brown (1996) if you want a hit song, throw Mary J. on it. That’s exactly with her then boyfriend newcomer Case did. He actually doubled up with the features for his hit song “Touch Me, Tease Me.” Female rapper Foxy Brown opens and closes the track as Case delivers the verses and Mary holds down the chorus. The song also has additional background vocals from Kelly Price and Koffee Brown. Although the song was featured in the Eddie Murphy film “The Nutty Professor,” it also served as Case’s leading single for his self-titled debut album. The single reached number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 and went certified gold.
17. Still Not a Player: Big Pun & Joe (1998) when you have to reiterate that you’re not a player. I guess your point has no choice but to be made the second time around. That’s what Big Pun did with the remix to his tune “I’m Not a Player” off his debut album Capital Punishment. The remix features singer Joe singing the hook with interpolations of Joe’s song “Don’t Wanna Be A Player.” It’s the late Pun’s most successful song.
16. Always on Time: Ja Rule & Ahsanti (2001) Irv Gotti found a good duo in the early 2000’s with Ja and Ashanti. The pair were writing and performing hits left and right. Ashanti scored her first number one single, while Rule collected his second. In 2009 is was named the 33rdmost successful song of the 2000’s.
15. Dilemma: Nelly & Kelly Rowland (2002) Nelly and Kelly gave the youth a new anthem for forbidden love. In 2002 Nelly dropped the third single off his sophomore album “Nellyville.” The Grammy Award winning song for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration has sold 7.6 million units worldwide, and was number 1 in ten countries. It would serve as the leading single for Rowland’s debut album “Simple Deep” (2002). In 2009, it was named the eleventh most successful song from 2000 to 2009 on Billboards Hot 100 Singles of the Decade. Dilemma is Nelly and Rowland’s both most successful song to date.
14. Breakdown: Mariah Carey & Bone Thugs N Harmony (1997) Mariah dropped her magnum opus Butterfly, and the projects fourth single featured Bone Thugs N harmony, who had garnered success from their hit song “Crossroads.” The song was produced by Stevie J and Puffy, written by Carey, as Krazyie Bone and Wish Bone assist Mariah singing about saving face and experiencing an emotional breakdown when her relationship abruptly ends.
13. I Wanna Be Down (Remix): Brandy, Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, & YoYo (1995) with the success of remixes on the rise, and newly teen sensation Brandy’s star on the rise. The label gathered up raps female all-stars to jump on the remix of Brandy’s hit single. Becoming a fan loved remix, the song placed Brandy in front of new eyes, and allowed others to join the remix movement. The remix was one of the first to infuse hip-hop and R&B together at the time, which later became the norm for that time and era.
12. What’s Luv?: Fat Joe & Ashanti (2001) Murder Inc. was killing the charts and Ashanti’s star was on the rise. Her partnership with Joey nabbed them both gold. “What’s Luv?” made Ashanti the first female artist to simultaneously occupy the top two slots on the Hot 100 chart. The song that samples 2Pac’s “Niggaz Nature” reached number two and remained on the charts for an astonishing twenty weeks.
11. Empire State of Mind: JayZ & Alicia Keys (2009) When Jayz decided to rep his hometown, he did it with a larger than life anthem. Enlisting New York native Alicia Keys, who beat out Mary J. Blige after Jay heard the piano’s loop. The two created a classic song that perfectly describes the essence of the Big Apple. The Grammy Award winning song was performed at Game 2 of the 2009 World Series. With all of Carter’s success, it became his first number one song that spent a consecutive five weeks on the Billboard Hot 100. Keys later made her own version without Jay’s verses on her 2009 release Elements of Freedom titled “Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down.” The song to date has sold 5.5 copies in the U.S.
10. I’ll Be Missing You: Puff Daddy & The Family (1997) While the world was still mourning the death of The Notorious BIG. Puff gave Poppa the ultimate gift that May on what would have been BIG’s twenty-five birthday. With production provided by Stevie J. and a sample from The Police’s “Every Breath You Take.” The Grammy winning tribute song became a staple for tribute songs. With worldwide sales of eight million and 11 weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100. In a recent interview Sting revealed that because Puffy didn’t get permission for the sample; he gets $2,000 a day for copyright laws.
9. Yeah: Usher, Lil John & Ludacris (2004)– Usher kicked off 2004 with a bang! Crunk&B is what he called it. “Yeah” served as the leading single for his fourth studio album Confessions, which is one of the last albums to surpass the 10-million-shifted mark. In true Usher star power; the platinum selling single spent a consecutive 12 weeks atop the charts. That’s until his following single “Burn” dethroned the longest running number one single in 2004. Although the genre Crunk&B never really took off. Yeah still has the ability to get anyone on a dance floor.
8. How Do U Want It: 2Pac with K-ci & JoJo (1996) PAC created history with his Death Row release. The double disc release was the first of its kind. The LP featured the number one hit song “How Do U Want It” with the Hailey brothers of R&B group Jodeci. On the track Shakur disses his biggest critic at the time C. Delores Tucker for her negative remarks about him in the media. The Grammy nominated song samples Quincy Jone’s “Body Heat.” The B-side of the single featured the songs “California Love.”
7. Put It On Me: Ja Rule & Lil Mo (2000) Then came the radio remix with Lil Mo. While the original song with Murder Inc. female rapper Vita appeared on Rule’s second album “Rule 3:36.” It was the remix version, which has Lil Mo’s vocals that helped the song become a hit for Ja. Becoming Ja Rule’s first top ten hit reaching number 8 on the Billboard Hot 100. “Put It On Me” became a massive hit that year. In 2001, it became the first music video to be retired from BET’s 106 & Park following a 60-day reign on top. Sadly, for it being one of the biggest songs for both Ja and Mo. The two had a fallen out over the business side of things.
6. Best of Me: Mya & Jay Z (2000) The original track features Ruff Ryders rapper Jadakiss, and tells the tale of a girl contemplating whether or not to be intimate with her lover. Being the leading single of Mya’s second album “Fear of Flying.” The single found major success with its remix that contained new verses and new music that had interpolations from Biz Markie’s “Make the Music with Your Mouth Biz.” Although the song didn’t perform well on the charts, it’s become a staple for collaborations and Mya’s jersey dress in the music video went down in black culture history.
5. Ladies Night (Not Tonight Remix) Lil Kim, Angie Martinez, Missy, Da Brat & Left Eye (1997) back when you had to have a hot remix to outshine the original. Not Tonight was originally produced by Jermaine Dupri and is featured on Kim’s debut Hardcore. The remix, with an extended title was featured on the Noting to Lose soundtrack. Lil Kim gathered her girls to celebrate female empowerment. Over the Kool & the Gang sample the rhyming divas had a hit on their hands, but it was Kim who collected her third consecutive number one single on the Rap Song charts. The music video to accompany the platinum selling single has appearances from other females in the music industry having the ultimate ladies night.
4. If I Ruled the World (Imagine That): Nas & Lauryn Hill (1996) Kurtis Blow birthed it and Nas raised it with help from Lauryn that is. At that point Hill was still a member of The Fugess. However, Nas’ obsession with the world started with “The World Is Yours” before resurfacing again with the Kurtis Blow’s 1985 hit of the same name. Divulging the many things he’ll do if he had the power, the song showcased Nas’ star power while becoming Nas’ first mainstream single, and it’s been ranks on may publications as one of the best rap songs.
3. I Can Love You: Mary J. Blige & Lil Kim (1997) Third times a charm. And for Mary J’s third album in the 90’s, Share My World, the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul called on her real–life friend Lil Kim to assist her on the Rodney Jerkins produced track that sampled Kim’s song “Queen Bitch.” The song was Blige’s second single from SMW reaching number two on the R&B charts right before the third single “Everything” came. However, twenty-odd years later and everyone still waits for Lil Kim’s infamous line “dipping on your Ninja Honda with Tanisha and Rhonda.”
2. Fantasy: Mariah Carey & Ol’ Dirty Bastard (1995) Carey’s crossover came with her collaboration with Wu Tang Clan’s Ol’ Dirty Bastard, and production from Puffy. She’s been credited for introducing the hip-hop world and pop world to each other, and “Fantasy” was the song to do such. Aside from becoming Mariah’s ninth number one single, it became the first single by a female in Billboard history to debut atop of the charts. It held its spot down for eight weeks at the tops of the chart, with a total of 23 weeks in the top 40. It was the second best-selling single in 1995, all while becoming certified double-platinum. “Me and Mariah…”
The Boy Is Mine: Brandy & Monica (1998) Yes, this song doesn’t feature any rap artist, but it was just as impactful and a duet first of its kind. What’s supposed to be the answer song to Michael Jackson’s and Paul McCartney’s “The Girl Is Mine,” The two teen divas had the hit song in the summer of 1998. It spent 13 weeks on top of the US Billboard Hot 100 charts, before becoming the best-selling single that year. The ladies proved there is strength in numbers. It became both of their first number one song, all while grabbing them both ladies their first Grammy. Later the song earned them both three Billboard Awards. In 2012 the girls reunited for another duet It All Belongs to Me.”
To listen to all the listed songs click here. Playlist powered by Apple Music.