There has been a lot of talk about R&B lately, especially in more recent years. Although they grew up separately, R&B and Hip-Hop have become more and more alike. R&B is starting to lean more toward the gritty urban feel of Hip-Hop, and rap music has been incorporating some of R&B’s smooth melodies. Questions have arisen in music conversations that deserve answers: Is R&B dead? What’s classified as alternative R&B? Today we’re not going to try and answer those questions. Instead, we’re going to take it back to the good old days when R&B songs featured real rap verses. I’m not talking about songs where the singer also raps, or the song where the rapper also sings. I’m talking about R&B songs made by real R&B artists with a guest rap verse from a real emcee.
Now Hip-Hop/R&B team ups are nothing new, we know. On the latest episode of White Label Radio, we paid tribute to these classic collaborations and crafted a list. So here are the Top 5 Hip Hop/R&B collaborations of all time:
1. “All I Need” – Method Man w/ Mary J Blige. Produced By: RZA, Sean “Puffy” Combs
The Grammy award-winning remix of “All I Need” is one of the best Hip Hop & R&B collaborations ever created. At the time of its release, the song was considered by fans a cult classic due to the fact that Meth is showing how much he loves his girl. I would consider this the sweetest partnership between Hip Hop and R&B. Meth’s hardcore attitude, combined with Mary J. Blige’s commanding verse and hook, voices a shared love they have for their partner. This song is considered to be genuine love/relationship song by the people of the ’90s. The song samples Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s “You’re All I Need to Get By.”
“I remember the first time I met Mary. I got invited to Biggie’s gold party at the Roseland Ballroom. They got footage of that on YouTube. I had the big afro and the brown leather coat, we was bums. We ain’t give a fuck. That’s Staten Island for you. I met Mary that night and she told me she wakes up to Bring The Pain every goddamn day. I was like, ‘Well shit, I love the shit out of Mary J. Blige! She ain’t have to say that shit to me...’” – Method Man
2. “If I Ruled The World” – Nas w/ Lauryn Hill. Produced By: Rashad Smith & Trackmasters
The moment two of the biggest artists at the top of the game came together to create magic. Nas discusses the different things he would do if he “ruled the world and everything in it, sky’s the limit.” The song is based on the Kurtis Blow hit of the same name and samples the beat of “Friends” by Whodini. Lauryn Hills verse alters the song “Walk Right Up To The Sun” by The Delfonics. There is a whole lot of old and new school going on in this cut, produced by Rashad Smith and Trackmasters.
“If I Ruled The World” was Nas first Top 20 R&B single, and was also nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance.
3. “One More Chance (Remix)” – Notorious B.I.G. w/ Faith Evans. Produced By: Sean “Puffy” Combs & Rashad Smith
Another cut remixed by Puffy. “One More Chance” the remix was the biggest release among all the songs released off the Ready to Die album commercially. Biggie’s smooth East coast flow, mixed with wifey Faith Evans’ vocal performance made it a flawless song. The lyrics refer to girls begging the Notorious B.I.G. to be down with them one more time, after he stops calling. At the time of its release, “One More Chance (Remix)” was the highest debuting singles of all time, tying Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson when it entered the Hot 100 at #5. It features un-credited vocals from Mary J. Blige.
4. “Still Not a Player” – Big Pun w/ Joe. Produced By: Dahoud Darien & Knobody
This gem can still be heard to this day on commercial radio and in the clubs. For the remix, Pun and R&B singer Joe worked to merge Pun’s “I’m Not a Player,” cut and Joe’s single at the time “Don’t Wanna Be a Player.” Joe sung the chorus off his released song over a salsa-influenced beat. While Pun was always known for his rapid lyrical style, this song was shown to be a great transformation in his style that appealed to the mass crowds. A perfect Hi- Hop and R&B recipe—Pun even added some vocals on the bridge to add that extra flavor.
Both songs “I’m Not a Player” and “Still Not a Player” don’t really share anything in common outside their names, but the former is often considered a great album cut, while the latter, the remix, is dubbed a classic.
“The “Still Not a Player” record was kinda funny because I had “Don’t Wanna Be a Player” as my single at the time. And Pun had, I think, a similar record too,” Joe said. “I’m not sure what it was called, but anyways the two songs were so similar we just sat down and chopped it up and was like Yo, we should just merge the two.” – Joe
5. “Home Alone” – R. Kelly w/ Keith Murray. Produced By: G-One
Keith Murray is known for being extremely Hip-Hop—a hero amongst backpackers. For that reason, “Home Alone” is one of the most surprising collaborations in my opinion. The King of R&B linking up with Keith during that time was a shock. “Home Alone” is the fifth single released off R. Kelly’s 1998 album R.
The song features un-credited vocals from Kelly Price. The music video was directed by Hype Williams and was shot at Kelly’s house at that time.