Merging the sounds of hip-hop and R&B started as early as the late ’80s/early ’90s. As hip-hop and R&B collaborations have become more mainstream, the last two decades have been blazing with hot tracks featuring our favorite singers and rappers artist.
Here are our top 10 favorite R&B/Hip-Hop collaborations within the past two decades.
1. Puff Daddy ft. Faith Evans and 112 – “I’ll Be Missing You”
The year 1997 was a heart-wrenching time for the music industry. Musical peers and fans across the world mourned the loss of The Notorious B.I.G. His music family and close friends Diddy (then known as Puff Daddy), Faith Evans, and 112 collaborated on a heartfelt rap ballad to celebrate his legacy. The emotional record contained samples from “Every Breath You Take” by The Police and became the first rap song to debut at No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
2. Beyoncé ft. Jay-Z – “Crazy in Love”
Destiny’s Child front-woman, Beyoncé stepped out on her own and enlisted Jay-Z for her breakout hit “Crazy in Love.” The two lovers stormed the airwaves in 2003, eventually earning Bey two Grammy Awards including Best Rap/Sung Collaboration.
3. The Fugees – “Ready or Not”
“Ready Or Not, Here I Come, You Can’t Hide Gonna Find You and Take it Slowly.” Hip-hop trio The Fugees took the world by storm with their multi-platinum album “The Score.” The album’s third single “Ready or Not” is one hip-hop/R&B collaboration for the books. The track evoked striking lyrically content by Wyclef Jean and Pras while showcasing Lauryn Hill’s versatility as a singer and MC.
4. Usher ft. Lil Jon & Ludacris – “Yeah”
Usher’s 2004 hit single “Yeah” featuring Ludacris and Lil’ Jon became one of the first mainstream tracks to combine the elements of southern crunk music & R&B. The Lil Jon produced song had everyone across the world screaming, “Yeah,” and earning the trio the longest-running number one on Billboard’s Hot 100 in 2004. It also won Best Rap/Sung Collaboration at the 47th Grammy Awards.
5. Nelly ft. Kelly Rowland – “Dilemma”
Riding off the success of his 2002 club banger “Hot in Herre,” Nelly slowed things down with his follow-up single, “Dilemma,” which featured Kelly Rowland. In the song, the two exchanged their passion for each other The song sampled, Patti Labelle’s classic hit “Love, Need and Want You.” “Dilemma” became one of Nelly’s and Kelly’s biggest hits of their careers to date.
6. Donell Jones ft. Left-Eye — “U Know What’s Up”
In 1999, Donnell Jones teamed up with Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes for his hit single “U Know What’s Up.” Jones sang smooth lines trying to win over his love interest. Meanwhile, Lopes rapped effortlessly over the soulful track. The song became an instant hit and topped the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart for eight weeks.
7. Jagged Edge ft. Nelly – “Where The Party At”
So So Def R&B group Jagged Edge hit it big in 2001 with their club anthem, “Where the Party At,” which featured Nelly. The Grammy-nominated track had everyone shouting, “Where the party at?” as soon as they hit the club. The party jam was the highest charted song on the Billboard Hot 100 (No. 3) for Jagged Edge. It also earned them a number one spot on Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks Chart.
8. Mary J. Blige ft. Lil Kim – “I Can Love You”
In 1997, Hip/Hop & R&B royalty Mary J.Blige and Lil’ Kim teamed together for one of the most underrated hip-hop/R&B collaborations of the last two decades. Blige lets her man know, that her love is irreplaceable and no one will make him feel the way she does, while the Queen Bee co-signs with hardcore lyrics like, “Under pressure/I lie for ya/die for ya.”
9. Jay-Z ft. Alicia Keys – “Empire State of Mind”
Hip-hop mogul Jay-Z and R&B songstress Alicia Keys showed love for their hometown New York on “Empire State of Mind.” From name-checking notable locations and neighborhoods to expressing the feeling of attending historical events at Madison Garden and the famous people to emerge from the city, the record truly captured the heart of New York.
10. Erykah Badu ft. Common – “Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop)”
Neo-soul songstress Erykah Badu took a trip down memory lane with her 2002 hit “Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop),” sharing her memories of a ghetto romance with the help of hip-hop veteran Common. The song peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hip-Hop/R&B Charts and earned Badu a Grammy for Best R&B Song.
What are some of your favorite R&B/Hip-Hop Collaborations?