There’s nothing that quite pairs together more perfectly than hip-hop and R&B — most people refer to the blend as “hip-hop soul.” Being that Black Music Month is fully alive and thriving here at Black America Web, we figured now would be the perfect time to pay tribute to some of our favorite records that infused hard-hitting beats with soulful vocals.
You’ll spot more than a few of your favorite rap/singer duos on our list, from the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul herself, Mary J. Blige — undisputed since 1992! — and her classic ’95 cut with Wu-Tang Clan’s own Method Man, all the way to two heavenly souls, the late Aaliyah & recently departed DMX, that made sure we made it back in one piece while doing whatever was clever in 2000. We’re forever grateful for the concern.
It’s because of those artists mentioned and a handful of others that we wanted to pay homage to fresh bars and harmonizing vocals sounding so fresh when thrown together on a track.
MJB, M-E-T-H-O-D (Man!), X and Baby Girl are joined by the likes of Mariah Carey, Jay-Z, Erykah Badu, Common and a few of your other faves that made some of the best classic hip-hop soul cuts:
1. Method Man & Mary J. Blige – “I’ll Be There for You/You’re All I Need to Get By” (1995)
What better place to start than one of the best hip-hop soul collabs of all-time? Whether you prefer the original or the “Razor Sharp” remix (seen above), either way Meth and Mary set the blueprint with this one.
2. Case, Foxy Brown & Mary J. Blige – “Touch Me, Tease Me” (1996)
Case let the ladies take the lead for the most part here, but the soul crooner definitely held his own against Fox Boogie’s illest “na na” references and The Queen’s unforgettable hook.
3. The Notorious B.I.G. & 112 – “Sky’s the Limit” (1997)
Try and get through this one without tearing up! We miss you forever, Biggie.
4. Janet Jackson, Q-Tip & Joni Mitchell – “Got ‘Til It’s Gone” (1997)
Given their rumored romance around the late ’90s, it goes without saying that Janet and Tip made great music together during this time.
5. Jon B. & 2Pac – “Are U Still Down?” (1998)
Known as the last feature Pac recorded before his death, we appreciate that his lyrical sign-off came out so smooth.
6. Mariah Carey & Jay-Z – “Heartbreaker” (1999)
In case you didn’t get the memo she posted a few days ago in reference to that made-up beef with Hov, people loved this collab so much that it spent two weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100. Nothing but hits!
7. Aaliyah & DMX – “Come Back In One Piece” (2000)
Who could’ve imagined that we’d be saying R.I.P. to both of these legends? We just hope they’re both making bangers for the angels now.
8. Erykah Badu & Common – “Love Of My Life (An Ode To Hip Hop)” (2002)
The classic feel of this record is why it’ll always knock. Even though their relationship didn’t last, Common and Badu were at least able to channel the energy into a sonic love letter to rap.
9. Pharrell & Jay-Z – “Frontin'” (2003)
Rarely do songs and the accompany music video come across any cooler than this record. The fact Pharrell and Jay-Z are both still dominating the music game isn’t surprising in the least bit.
10. Keyshia Cole, Missy Elliott & Lil’ Kim – “Let It Go” (2007)
Ladies realizing worth in a relationship and deciding to leave for the better? We love this song! *Michael Jackson voice*