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The Most Iconic Collaborations in Hip-Hop, According to Critics


| LAST UPDATE 10/18/2022

By Tiana Blanco

When two big names in hip-hop link up to create a record, the results are often epic. Although not all go on to top the charts, critics have hailed these collabs as the most memorable in history.

Dr. Dre ft. Snoop Dogg: Nuthin' But A G Thang

Hard-core fans of Snoop might already know that he was first discovered by fellow rapper Dr. Dre. back in the early 90s. Since then, the two have formed a tight bond both professionally and personally.

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Jeff Kravitz / Contributor via Getty Images

After Dre left N.W.A., he wanted his debut solo album, The Chronic, to be perfect if he wanted to stay on top. And what better way to do so than by featuring a new rapper, on his single Nuthin' But A G Thang? Not only did the collab earn platinum status, but it reached #2 on Billboard charts, boosting both rappers' careers.

Jay-Z ft. Eminem: Renegade

When two legendary rappers team up for a song, it's no doubt it'll take off. So when Slim Shady and Mr. Carter collaborated on Renegade, the world was blessed with an unforgettable hit. BroBible went as far as to describe it as "the best Eminem song ever… and you probably aren't listening to it enough."

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Kristian Dowling / Staff via Getty Images

But what was so special about the track that made it stand out against so many others? Well, the different styles that Eminem and Jay-Z have worked perfectly together, which may also be the reason why the song was the only one on Jay's album The Blueprint to have a feature. What an honor.

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Nicki Minaj ft. Eminem: Roman's Revenge

It comes as no surprise that Eminem's helped boost up so many other songs with his talent. Back in 2009, Nicki Minaj was kicking her rap career off. And along the way, she got the honor of working with legendary artists such as Lil Wayne and music producer Will.i.am.

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Kevin Winter / Staff via Getty Images

So when she started recording for her album Pink Friday, she knew she needed to up her game by featuring Slim Shady on the track Roman's Revenge. And thus, a masterpiece was born thanks to "the sheer energy the two bring to the table," as described by Beats Per Minute.

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Kanye West ft. Rihanna, Kid Cudi & Fergie: All of The Lights

When some of the most influential artists of the early 2010s collab on one song, it easily rises to the top of the charts. Kanye, Rihanna, Cudi, and Fergie all teamed up to bless us with what we can arguably say is still a hip-hop gem: All of the Lights.

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Marc Piasecki / Contributor via Getty Images

But that's not the only reason why the star-studded song received a Grammy for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. Kanye also created other remixes to the song that included Alicia Keys, Elton John, John Legend, The Dream, and Elly Jackson on a 5-minute special. Wow, talk about legendary!

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Kendrick Lamar ft. Rihanna: Loyalty

It was 2017, and Kendrick Lamar was at the top of his game, having just released DAMN. And with it came multiple guest features, including Loyalty with Rihanna. It became so popular that it even won a Grammy for Best Melodic Rap Performance and NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Duo, Group, Or Collaboration.

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Christopher Polk / Staff via Getty Images

Both Kung Fu Kenny and Bad Gal RiRi added a special element to the song, both with the melody and with the lyrics, which was described as "compelling and honest [storytelling]" by Insider. And honesty, we have to agree because those lyrics were truly enthralling and alluring.

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Cardi B ft. Megan Thee Stallion: W.A.P

How can we forget about the smash hit that shook the world - all while empowering women of all kinds? Despite both Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion being relatively newcomers in the scene of rap, these two ladies joined forces and dominated the charts. And made history in the process.

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Cardi B via YouTube

Not only were they the first female rap duo to debut at #1, but the artists instantly began trending all over social media - especially TikTok. Together these certified freaks showed the industry that both men and women could sing about NSFW topics without being slammed. And we're here for it.

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Kanye West ft. Big Sean & Jay-Z: Clique

When three of the industry's top rappers joined forces, we scored ourselves a song that's almost always topping our playlists. And even years later, it's still played at clubs and parties. Kanye, Jay, and Big Sean are definitely a clique that nobody is messing with.

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Scott Dudelson / Contributor via Getty Images

IndieHipHop revealed that Sean first met up with Ye, who showed him a "16 bar" freestyle. It was then and there that they came up with Clique, which was dropped in 2011. Sean once admitted to Million Dollaz Worth of Game that "he went too crazy on the hook, so." And we have to agree.

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Dr. Dre ft. Eminem: Forget About Dre

Dr. Dre rose to fame as a member of the rap group N.W.A who came straight outta Compton. After gaining recognition and going solo, the rapper continued to be just as successful - one might even say more so than before. And through the years, he's worked with many rappers who started in the industry a tad differently.

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Jeff Kravitz / Contributor via Getty Images

Parlia noted that Eminem, for instance, gained his fame by breaking the "cultural barriers of rap." But artists like Dre didn't have to "fight their way into the culture" when rap became big in the 90s. Despite the different ways they rose to the top, these two created magic together, including Forget About Dre in 1999.

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Kanye West & Jay-Z: N****s In Paris

Did we really expect anything less than musical gold when these two lyrical geniuses teamed up back in 2011 to drop the song of the year? Arguably the best collab of the year? When Watch The Throne dropped, fans were eager to hear what Ye and Jay had cooked up - but nothing could have prepared them for what they heard.

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TIMOTHY A. CLARY / Staff via Getty Images

Instantly N****s In Paris became a global hit that gained the artists more recognition and helped them nab many awards. The track even received a Grammy for both Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song. Dare we say that using some parts from Will Ferrell's Blades of Glory script helped them win?

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Travis Scott ft. Drake: Sicko Mode

In 2018, Travis Scott released his album Astroworld, setting his career into a whole new (Astro) world. But while many of the songs made it onto the charts, there was one specific track that catapulted all the way to the top. And we've got a feeling the legendary feature didn't hurt.

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Music HQ via YouTube

Sicko Mode, which featured 4-time Grammy winner Drake, not only had jaw-dropping verses, but a variety of beats pulled the project together. RollingStone said that before the song, Scott didn't have any "respect from the rapper community." But bringing Drizzy on this song captured "what Travis Scott does best."

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Kanye West ft. Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj & Bon Iver: Monster

Kanye linked up with Jay-Z and Nicki Minaj back in 2012 on the smash hit song, Monster. The track's lyrics were admired for metaphorically describing how the music industry can be dark at times when the media, unfortunately, portrays the artist as monsters.

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Kevin Mazur / Contributor via Getty Images

Despite being Ye's song, Minaj actually received the most recognition. Her verse was described as "career-altering" by Spin, who called it the "single best verse of the 2010s." On the song's 7th anniversary, Nicki admitted that West was concerned this would happen as he was worried her verse would overpower his part.

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Jay-Z ft. Kanye West & Rihanna: Run This Town

In the world of rap, Jay-Z and Kanye definitely run the show. And they made that clear when their song, Run This Town, instantly hit the charts and became a huge success. But obviously, a major shoutout goes to RiRi, whose vocals took the track to a whole new level. 

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Theo Wargo / Staff via Getty Images

GeniusLyrics explained that the catchy beat illustrated the "less order and more chaos" that happens within our society. The lyrics are a metaphor that tries to bring the country back to order, as the "rap game's about to be overthrown and taken over by Roc Nation." 

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Omarion ft. Chris Brown & Jhené Aiko: Post To Be

Newcomer Omarion was able to get music legends Chris Brown and Jhené Aiko onto his track Post To Be, which helped boost his career like no other. We have no doubt that at one point or another, arguably, everyone has sung and danced along to this beat at a club or party. Just us?

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Helen Boast / Contributor via Getty Images

The song hit the Billboard charts, ranking at the top in many categories, including mainstream, hip-hop, and R&B. It was such a hit that in 2014, even the music video was able to nab a staggering 301 million views! So naturally, Post To Be needed a spot on our list.  

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Estelle ft. Kanye West: American Boy

Estelle might have been a one-hit wonder, but her track American Boy featuring Mr. West, is hard to forget. With her eloquent voice and his genius rap verses, these two gave us the song of the decade. But they're not the only ones who deserve credit since John Legend produced the track.

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Estelle via YouTube

Based on reports from afterglowatx.com, the melody is a "reflection on the romanticization of America and exemplifies all that fascinates non-Americans about life in the U.S." And it seemed like both Americans and foreigners enjoyed the tune since it reached #9 on Billboard.

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Kanye West ft. Pusha T: Runaway

Kanye West and Pusha T might be two celebrated artists in hip-hop, but they have rather different styles when it comes to their songs. But despite this, they were able to work together and give us an iconic song that can still be heard pumping these days.

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Johnny Nunez / Contributor via Getty Images

MTV revealed that for the song, Ye wanted the lyrics to be "more douche bag," but his music partner disagreed with his ideas. After a few tries, they finally came to an agreement that led to the ultimate collab, which, as Pitchfork noted, was "a seriously godd*m good one at that."

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Jay-Z & Mary J. Blige: Can't Knock The Hustle

These two definitely hustled their way to the top! Jay-Z and Mary J. Blige shook the world of rap when they released Can't Knock the Hustle in 1996. With her soulful voice and his musical talents, it easily shot up into what was described as one of Hova's greatest songs by Rolling Stone.  

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Theo Wargo / Staff via Getty Images

Funny enough, this iconic tune was almost not created because Blige admitted to Billboard that when she was first approached with the idea of having (then) newcomer Jay hop on her track, she responded with "who is Jay Z?" LOL. Well, safe to say, she's grown to know his name since then.

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The Notorious B.I.G. ft. P. Diddy, Mase & Kelly Price: Mo Money Mo Problems

When Notorious B.I.G. joined forces with not only P. Diddy but also Mase and Kelly Price, magic was made. Mo Money Mo Problems took its own unique take on Diana Ross's iconic I'm Coming Out. And even though the songs were made almost ten years apart, they both topped the charts.

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Raymond Boyd / Contributor via Getty Images

The star-studded track simply had to be featured on this list. A perfect combo of both men and women rappers on the beat is probably what led Stereogum to describe the R&B track as "the biggest sustained run of Hot 100 success since the Bee Gees in 1978." Wow, what a compliment...

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Rihanna ft. Jay-Z: Umbrella

Whenever the first few seconds of this beat plays, arguably every person in the room perks up. Umbrella may have been dropped back in 2007, but it's still recognized as a club classic. This Jay-Z collaboration was a strong career move for Rihanna, casting her in a new light.

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Lester Cohen / Contributor via Getty Images

According to MTV, this iconic song "changed her forever" and marked her public transition from "good girl to bad." For RiRi, the take three action hit was just what her career needed, a hip-hop-style storm that turned her into the star we know and love today.

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Saweetie ft. Doja Cat: Best Friend

Saweetie and Doja Cat shattered more than records with their 2021 TikTok anthem, Best Friend - they destroyed the old-fashioned stereotype that successful women can't be friends. Both at the top of the hip-hop game, they combined their skills to create the ultimate hit.

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Official Saweetie via YouTube

After meeting on numerous occasions, the two artists shared an instant connection, bonding over their mutual love for the musical genre and their fresh starts in the industry. After Nicki Minaj politely rejected Saweetie's offer to appear on the track, Doja jumped in and never looked back.

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Jay-Z ft. Beyoncé: Bonnie & Clyde

Jay and Bey may now be one of the greatest power couples of all time, but once upon a time, they were nothing but whispering rumors. After releasing their first ever song together in 2002, many quickly analyzed the lyrics, searching for further confirmation of their relationship.

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KMazur / Contributor via Getty Images

Carter famously sang, "All I need in this life of sin, is me and my girlfriend," with Bey responding, "down to ride 'til the very end, it's me and my boyfriend." All the answers seemed to be there in black and white. Now, three kids later and plenty of collabs later, it's the ultimate nostalgic hip-hop tune.

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Lil' Kim ft. Da Brat, Left Eye, Missy Elliott & Angie Martinez: Not Tonight

Not Tonight hit in all the right places. Released back in 1996, the hottest female hip-hop stars came together to produce a "truly magical" song that would stand the test of time, as noted by Hellogiggles. Through the years, this track has played in the background of many memorable nights.

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Ron Galella, Ltd. / Contributor via Getty Images

When it came to hip-hop, this era belonged to these women - all at the top of their game. Kim was fresh off a platinum record, Left Eye had just gone solo, Da Brat was producing sounds for Mariah Carey and Missy Elliot, and Martinez was the new 'it' rapper. This collab gave the industry a dose of "feminine empowerment."

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Drake, Kanye West, Lil Wayne & Eminem: Forever

This collab will be an iconic classic forever. From the minds of some of the most legendary hip-hop artists to walk this earth, they perfectly blended their unique sounds. Although Slim had been dropping records since the '90s, and Drake didn't make his mark till about 2010, this variety in experience only helped their case.

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Robert Gauthier / Contributor via Getty Images

As declared by Drake, "but understand nothin' was done for me, so I don't plan on stopping at all," the rappers vowed to stick around, promising the world their careers would continue to flourish. True to their words, they all still remain at the top of the charts, individually releasing hit after hit.

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Mariah Carey ft. Ol' Dirty Bastard: Fantasy (Remix)

In the most unlikely of collabs, MC, with the voice of an angel, and Ol' Dirty Bastard got together in the recording booth and created one of the most catchy remixes in hip-hop history. But behind the scenes, there was plenty of chaos - from all-nighters to unprepared music video shoots.

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Lawrence Lucier / Contributor via Getty Images

Carey was ready to splash out the cash in order to have the rapper appear on her album. Even though he was tough to pin down in the studio, Mariah knew it would be worth it. Why? Well, "the Billboard singles chart was brazenly flipped into hip-pop perfection," as noted by ET Online.

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Tyga ft. Offset: Taste

If anything is guaranteed in life, it's that once one dates a Kardashian, they will be boosted into the spotlight. After famously getting together with Kylie Jenner, Tyga was at the peak of fame. Capitalizing on this, he nabbed Offset out of Migos and dropped a sound to secure his place in the scene.

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Jerritt Clark / Contributor via Getty Images

Praised by Billboard for taking this tune "back to basics," this unstoppable dance anthem earned the duo 15th place on the Hot 100 List. With Migos famous for their adlibs, it seemed that adding Offset to the tune was the perfect recipe for a smooth hit with some serious swag.

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Eve ft. Gwen Stefani: Let Me Blow Ya Mind

Described by Rolling Stone as "one of the greatest Dr. Dre productions," Gwen Stefani gave her career a huge boost when she joined the team behind Let Me Blow Ya Mind. While it may have been a step in a new direction, working with a new, upcoming rapper, this move would eventually make her a very Rich Girl.

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L. Cohen / Contributor via Getty Images

As reported by Vibe, it was revealed on CBS' The Talk that Eve's record label was not eager to have Gwen on board. Eve felt confident Stefani's vocals would enhance the song, and after Dr. Dre finished production, she fought hard to make the collab happen. Thankfully, she had the foresight.

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Kanye West ft. Chance The Rapper: Ultralight Beam

Mr. West does not collaborate with just anyone. He has a reputation to protect, and therefore, he chooses his partners wisely. One of West's more riskier decisions was to team up with new kid Chancelor Johnathan Bennett, a.k.a. Chance The Rapper, on his 2016 album Life of Pablo.

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Paul Natkin / Contributor via Getty Images

The 5-minute and 20-second slow rap melody was musical magic, combining Chance's smooth rap style with Ye's then gospel empowerment vibe. Honoring the momentous career moment, Chance rapped his appreciation to the Heartless singer, singing, "I met Kanye West; I'm never going to fail."

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Blackstreet ft. Dr. Dre, Queen Pen: No Diggity

This list would simply not be complete without the inclusion of the original rump shakers. In 1996, when the rap genre was hitting its stride, Blackstreet hit the charts with a legendary track featuring Dr. Dre and Queen Pen. According to DiscoverMusic, No Diggity, slang for no doubt, almost failed to come to fruition.

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Jim Steinfeldt / Contributor via Getty Images

Combining R&B and blues in this way was an unprecedented approach to '90s music - and the label was hesitant to make such a bold move. Luckily, the musically-gifted Dr. Dre and Heavy D worked their magic and turned the song into a #1 chart-topping hip-hop anthem.

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Nelly ft. Kelly Rowland: Dilemma

It's hard to talk of 2000s rap without thinking of this iconic collaboration. This 2002 hit, Dilemma, instantly took over, topping the most-played playlists on everyone's MP3 players. The accompanying music video further boosted our obsession with the track, making us all dream of a sidewalk teenage romance. No?

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Nelly via YouTube

A young and in-love Nelly and Kelly gave us much to analyze in the clip, mostly their choice to exchange text messages in an excel spreadsheet, confusing viewers for years. Texting controversy aside, many connected with the soulful song about confused, emotional teens, helping the video attract over 1 billion views.

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Beyoncé ft. Jay-Z: Crazy In Love

While their first collab introduced their romance to the world, this track provided all the necessary updates on their relationship status - notably that they were Crazy In Love. Both highly successful artists, there was no better way to show off their bliss than to put it in a song and cash in the big bucks.

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Beyoncé via YouTube

The power couple certainly knows how to create show-stopping music and sizzling performances. With the release of the song's music video, fans could not get enough of their smooth moves and swag style, and the track won all the most honorable awards in 2003. Still, today, it's a fan favorite.

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Keri Hilson ft. Kanye West & Ne-Yo: Knock You Down

Pretty Girl Rock singer, Keri Hilson, switched up her usual pop content with a Ye and Ne-Yo rap collaboration. Talk about hitting it big on the first try, the song placed her on the number #1 spot on the R&B charts and has remained there for years. But despite its smooth landing, it was a bumpy journey...

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Keri Hilson via YouTube

While it's hard to imagine the song without Mr. West's contribution, it was thrown in at the last minute, according to Songfacts. The rapper started with "60 bars of verse, and they had to cut it down to 20 bars." Hilson was also not the first choice for the record, reluctantly chosen by the writers. To think what would have been!

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