FEATURE: Hard & B

Rappers and R&B singers weren’t always requisite bedfellows. While singers like Bobby Brown faced little to no backlash when sprinkling bars between notes, rap listeners initially weren’t as forgiving. Simply put, in a genre obsessed with street credibility and hardcore imagery, dabbling in R&B equaled selling out.

Back in 1989, Eric B. & Rakim’s guest appearance on Jody Watley’s friends—one of rap’s first forays into R&B territory— didn’t go over so well; perhaps because Rakim—an MC revered for his superior lyricism on tracks like “I Ain’t No Joke” and “Microphone Fiend”— delivered two watered down verses on the track. “When Rakim did [‘Friends,’ with Jody Watley], we were all confused…” legendary mixtape DJ, Ron G, told XXL in the August 2009 issue (The Hip-Hop Soul Issue). I was like, “How do you go from hard edge to soft edge and you’re a hard artist?”

By the early 1990s, Rap and R&B collaborations were commonplace. The Notorious B.I.G. dropped eight bars on Mary J Blige’s “Real Love” Remix and Wu-Tang Clan’s Old Dirty Bastard, Method Man and U-God made an appearance on SWV’s “Anything” Remix.

Now 20 years after Rakim plunged into uncharted waters, the line between rap and R&B has become significantly blurry. Still, MCs like Fabolous, who has become R&B’s go-to guest collaborator over the years, spits lyrical verses whether working with The-Dream or Jay-Z. “I’m one of the few artists that is able to do that and still hold his credibility and also not lose his edge as far as being creative and lyrical,” Fab told XXL during the behind the scenes shoot for the August 2009 cover. “At the same time too ’cause when I attack a joint even R&B-wise, I go at it the same way I would go at a hip-hop joint but just more stay in the subject of the R&B song.”

Fab’s not alone. MCs like Jay-Z, Ludacris and Jadakiss have consistently recorded stellar verses on R&B tracks throughout their careers. Here, XXLMag.com ranks the Top 25 best rap performances on an R&B song.—Compiled by Matt Barone, Carl Chery, Mike Delfin, Kamaria A. Gboro, Clover Hope, John Kennedy, Rob Markman, Patresha Williams and Taiia Smart Young

25. Keith Murray on R. Kelly’s “Home Alone,” R. (1998)

24. Heavy D on Monifah’s “I Miss You,” Moods…Moments (1996)

23. Styles P on Akon’s “Locked Up,” Trouble (2004)

22. Big Boi on Missy Elliot’s “All N My Grill,” Da Real World (1999)

21. Skillz on Aaliyah’s “Are You That Somebody” Remix, Are You That Somebody Remix 12″ (1998)

20. Lil Wayne on Destiny’s Child’s Soldier,” Destiny’s Fulfilled (2004)

19. Mase on 112’s “Love Me,” Room 112 (1998)

18. LL Cool J on Mary J Blige’s “Mary Jane (All Night Long)” Remix, Mary Jane (All Night Long) 12″ (1995)

17. Ludacris on Ciara’s “Ohh,” Goodies (2004)

16. Jadakiss on Usher’s “Throwback” Remix, Confessions Special Edition CD (2004)

15. Kanye West on Dwele’s “Hold On” Remix, Hold On Promo 12″ (2004)

14. Common on Erykah Badu’s “Love of My Life (An Ode to Hip-Hop),” Brown Sugar (Original Soundtrack) (2002)

13. Big Pun on Brandy’s “Top of the World Part II,” Top of the World Part II CD Single (1998)

12. Lil’ Kim on Mary J Blige’s “I Can Love You,” Share My World (1997)

11. Nas on Allure’s “Head Over Heels,” Allure (1997)

10. Andre 3000 on Lloyd’s “You” Remix, You 12″ (2007)

9. Fabolous on Lil’ Mo’s “Superwoman Pt.II,” Based on a True Story (2001)

8. Rakim on Truth Hurts’ “Addictive,” Truthfully Speaking (2002)

7. Smiff-N-Wessun on Mary J Blige’s “I Love You” Remix, I Love You 12″ (1995)

6. Foxy Brown on Case’s “Touch Me, Tease Me,” Case (1996)

5. AZ on D’Angelo’s “Lady,” Lady 12″ (1996)

4. The Notorious B.I.G. on Mary J Blige’s “Real Love,” What’s the 411? (Remixes) (1993)

3. Jay-Z on Mya’s “The Best of Me Part 2,” Best of Me 12″ & DJ Clue-Presents: Backstage-Mixtape (Music Inspired By The Film (2000)

2. Raekwon & Ghostface on Jodeci’s “Freak’n You,” Get On Up 7″ CD Single (1995)

1. The Notorious B.I.G. on Total’s “Can’t You See,” Total (1995)

  • Dangerous B

    Ain’t you heard Luda’s verse on Usher’s Yeah… He killed that and made the song into a worldwide hit!!

    • cano

      Mase and Biggie on Only You by 112
      Mase on Brandys sittin on top of the world

      Take that MAd Skills out

    • Big Voltron

      What about Montel Jordan on Montel Jordan’s “This is How We Do It”?? How about Bobby Brown on Bobby Brown’s “My Prerogative”??? Al B. Sure on his own tracks as well

  • http://Pierzy11@gmail.com Pierzy

    Great list – some verses on here I always thought were pretty underrated [Mase on 112 when he took shots at Jay; NaS on the Allure track] BUT I have one glaring omission:

    Lil’ Kim, Fox Brown & Da Brat on Total’s “No One Else” (Remix). That shit is classic!

    • http://Pierzy11@gmail.com Pierzy

      What about Nas on Mary J’s “Love Is All We Need”?

      • white boy

        What about “What about us” by Brandy and Nas. Was kinda nice imo.

    • http://www.myspace.com/fastlifearchitects miles archer

      This list is fugasi, son.

      How you gonna leave off Biggie & Mase from 112′s “Only You”??????

      Ol’ Dirty Bastard on Mariah Carey’s “Fantasy”???????

      Dr. Dre & Queen Pen on Blackstreet’s
      “No Diggedy”?????

      Jay-Z on “Fiesta”????????

      Grand Puba on Mary’s “What’s the 411″???? (I love Biggie, but it’s the same verse from “Dreams” on the remix)

      Just off the top of my head I can think of shit better than what you got on this list.

      Alicia Keys “Streets Of New York” ft. Nas & Rakim

      Amerie ft. Nas “Man Up”

      Missy Elliot “one minute man”(remix)
      ft. Jay-Z

      • King Joffy Joe

        @ miles archer, CO-SIGN that opinion HEAVY, sir.

      • http://xxlmag jb

        U rite! Dat Ol Dirty and Mariah joint gotta be there.

  • BeerGangsta

    This is about the best thing that XXL every put out. Lot of good music then. I like that one with Andre 3000 and Lyold. That was the hook up. I wish these dam new Rappres would learn how 2 make good music.

  • Connoisseur

    What about Luda’s verse on Lovers and Friends?

  • chillin mayne

    i dont care wat none of yas say, but dat Ja Rule verse on the mary j blige song, “rainy days” was off da dayum CHAIN!

    • RiZob

      THANK YOU!!! HOW CAN THIS LIST EXIST WITH NO JA RULE!…

  • http://www.myspace.com/nessnice nessnice

    nice list… honerable mentions… shai ft. jay-z “i dont want to be alone” horace brown ft.jay-z “things we do for love” gina thompson ft. missy “the things you do” changing faces ft. jay-z “all of my days”

  • Bobo D

    ODB on Mariah Careys Fantasy, “Me and Mariah go back like babies and pacifiers”.

    • yoprince

      excellence!

  • the dmi chi

    Slick Rick on Al B Sure’s “If I’m Not Your Lover” rmx

    Missy on Gina Thompson’s “The Things You Do”

    Wu-Tang on SWV’s “Anything” rmx

    Damn near all of Luda’s cameos

    • http://Pierzy11@gmail.com Pierzy

      Good call on Wu!

  • cramzy

    Kanye on Talk About Our Love by Brandy

    Here’s a couple of things I can’t honor, man
    How you listen to a girl that still wanna man?
    Tell me the truth is that a man or Juwanna Mann?
    I’m wonderin’ why she “ret to go” like Wanda then?
    When we met you was a V like Madonna, man
    Now you in the field runnin’ plays like Donovan
    McNabb before you get in a cab
    I’ll trade in my cab
    Just to take you back to last summer, man
    You don’t remember when you was my sweetest?
    You don’t remember when I called you Reese’s Pieces?
    Cause it’s no wrong way to do you know what
    She turned around and giggle said; “You so nuts!”
    But nowadays we actin’ way too grown up
    Like how ya ex girl get the new numba
    The rumors was so numerous
    For stickin’ by me, I had to give you two thumbs up
    And that’s why

    and 3 STACKS on I Cant Wait by Sleepy Brown

  • jt

    u forgot about shyne and carl thomas he killed that

  • T REX

    come on xxl how r u gonna leave meth’s an mary’s all i need.

    • murK

      EXACTLY!! that shit won a grammy, man!

  • Curtis75Black

    Damn !!, No Allure and LL – No Question, Carl Thomas and LL – I wish remix, Montell Jordan and LL – Get It On Remix ? Come on XXL, if you’re gonna try and rep this at least do it with songs when the verse is compatable, not just another Hot artist spitting BullShit on a R&B track just to get extra spins.

  • Dstarr

    IT MUST BE THE ASS
    that got me like damn it ever get any fatter man the rule gone have to get at ‘er

    how is the rule not on this list thats some bullsht

  • Curtis75Black

    Big Daddy Kane & Patti LaBelle – Feels like another one.
    LL Cool J & Keith Sweat – Why me Baby and Remix
    Busta Rhymes, MC Lyte and LL & LSG- Serious
    Brandy ft. Latifah, YoYo and MC Lyte – I wanna be down remix

  • built4NC

    on the real, someone needs to come out with a mixtape with these tracks. oh yea. AZ and D’angleo should be top 3 IMO. dope list nonetheless

  • chronwell

    My two favorites are Biggie on 112′s Only U and the Luda verse on OHH.U forget Dres of Black Sheep on Vanessa Williams’ Work TO do.

  • wtf???

    JA RULE should have been on this list

    Damn shame

  • http://Yahoo Tyrrell Wilson

    How about the the bad boy remix to Mariah Carey’s honey when mase and the lox killed

  • blaktwan

    Wut about Biggie on 112′s “Only You”.

  • McFly

    Method man on Mary J Blige “You’re All I Need”…Ain’t that a classic?????

  • LightsOut

    Beyonce feat Jay-Z – Upgrade You
    Mariah feat Bone – Breakdown
    SWV feat WuTang – Anything remix
    Marcus Houston feat Joe Budden – Clubbin (maybe I’m reachin on this one, but I like it)

  • THE won

    PAC ON JON B “ARE YOU STILL DOWN”

    • Rwayne

      man these new york publications don’t give Pac the love he deserves…..the claim him as one of the best because they know people wouldnt take em serious as a hip hop publication without mentioning him….but when it comes down to best verses and shit like that THEY ALWAYS GOING WITH THE HOME TEAM….Biggie’s and Total’s Joint was Hot….BUT NUMBER 1???? HELL NAW…

  • conni

    Are You Still Down, Jon B featuring Tupac
    112’s Anywhere featuring Lil Zane
    Missy’s One Minute Man featuring Jay-Z on the remix

  • JayRight

    Mariah Carey – Thank God I Found You ft/ Nas, Joe (remix)

  • David HussleSoft

    Niggaz is slippin how about Lil Zane wit 112 “Any Where” Zane is wack but that verse was fire

    Nas and R.Kelly “Did You Ever Think”

    Gina Thompson and Missy “The Things You Do”

    • David HussleSoft

      Yall should flip this though and do best collabos rappers featuring r&b artist there are a lot of hits on that end to.

      I almost forgot Jadakiss on the original Best of Me with Mya

      “And im do this just like Tony did it to Frank” -Jada

      David HussleSoft cuz I stay on Ye Watch

  • NESTO

    You can’t have a Top 25 List without Wu Tang on the SWV track,(Anything). And #2 on your list should have been 112 feat. B.I.G. & Mase,(Only U).

  • Dstarr

    nas on j-lo’s song i’m gonna be alri shud be on it aswell

  • *BLOCK*

    BLOCK BITCH!!!!!!!!!!

    THIS LIST DOES NOT GET THE BLOCK STAMP OF APPROVAL!!!

    ITS SO MANY SONGS THAT SHOULD BE ON THIS LIST ABOVE SOME OF THE ONES ON HERE…IN MY OPINION AND FROM THE LOOKS OF IT EVERYBODY ELSE ABOVE ME

    *BLOCK*
    ~FRONT LINE ALLIANCE~
    CAROLINA SURVIVOR

  • http://Yahoo Tyrrell Wilson

    Good question how is Ja Rule not on this list. every R&B callabo he did was fire.he made Lil Mo, Ashanti and Jennifer Lopez hot and haven’t benn since they stopped collaborating with him

  • Jerm

    Luda is does pretty well on R&B features

    like Alicia Keys – Like Ill Never See You Again Remix, he made that probably better than the original.
    and on Jamie Foxx – Unpredictable as well

    amd 3 Stacks murked Lloyd’s You Remix too
    but thats a solid list though.

  • BrocktonPatriot

    Luda’s verse on Shereefa’s “I need a boss”

  • three2sixCubed

    This list is compiled of rapper artist droppn a verse on R&B songs. “All I Need” was by Methodman FEATURING Mary J. Blige. The list is okay but they missin’ some shit. I’m sure a R&B song featuring Ja Rule should’ve made the list. But yall did fuck up and leave off Fantasy tho. That shit jammed. LOL @ some of these songs were cd singles damn that goes back.

  • MB

    What about Pac’s verse on Jon B’s “Are U Still Down”, Face on Lloyd’s “Southside”, Snoop on John Legend’s “I Can Change”, Meth on Mary J’s “All I Need”, Outkast on Sleepy Brown’s “I Can’t Wait”. I think a lot of these songs are better than some on the list, but hey, it’s not my list. No hate for the music that is on the list, just my opinion.

  • Curtis75Black

    If Heavy D is gonna be on this list, what’s up with Janet Jackson & Heavy D – Alright or Micheal Jackson @ Heavy D – Jam ?

  • Cory

    Yo Luda verses on Ameries why cant we fall in love gotta be top 3

  • http://www.justice.gov.za GO-Getta’

    Damn better late than never.Off the top!!!!

    Touch me, tease me > Case ft FB & MJB
    Fantasy > MC ft OBD
    Only u > 112 ft Biggie
    R u still down > JB ft Pac
    Check on it > B ft Pim C
    Home alone > RK ft KM
    No Diggity > BS ft Qeen Pen

    I’m gone………..

  • hh93

    can’t forget Grandmaster Mele Mel on Chaka Khan’s “I Feel for You”

    Chaka on the vocals, written by Prince, harmonica solo from Stevie, session work from The System and Mele Mel’s classic verse…damn, what more do you want? :-)

  • fettah

    what about meth n mary J yall ppl at xxl mag ARE fallin off what us this the source mag hahahahahahah

  • rza

    Man y’al trippimg.how on earth do you not mention ll cool j on dat join with lyfe jennings – freeze

  • Blake6000

    Two things that render this list invalid:

    1) Mary J Blige-Your all i need Featuring MethodMan SHOULD be number 1

    2) Jon B- Are you still down featuring Tupac is not on the list.

    Stop making lists that are not properly researched.Shame on you XXL

  • SOUTHSIDE A-TOWN

    the only other one i can think of that didn’t get mentioned was Green Light ft. Andre 3stax. he killed that shit.

  • Curtis75Black

    XXL, how long did it take your staff to come up with this list. I know ya’ll have your biases toward certain emcee’s in general and we know that you have to keep up with that image, whatever that is today and we all know you can forget certain songs but how in the Hell we remembered all the songs that was omitted ? We as fans blazed at least 50 tracks that are better than your list. No Jon b and 2pac which I think is the ultimate collaboration straight up !! Feels like they was in the booth together. Robin Thicke and Lil Wayne were you have to admit set it off. Clipse with Justin Timberlake as odd as it was they blazed it. TI and Justin, same results. This is where ya’ll should’ve said ‘Fuck Radio spins and based it on who put it down and killed it.

  • s dot

    surely, crazy in love beyonce feat. jay

  • Keyboard K

    SMH@ cats still sleeping on G Rap’s verse on the Brown Sugar Beatminerz Remix

  • Enlightened

    If you gon’ say Biggie is #1 on that total track, Keith Murray has to fit somewhere in the top 25 with his verse on the remix version of that same song

  • Jay Clyde

    you forgot to add “Mase on Only You – 112 Remix” you xxl idiots.. staff is horrible

  • http://Myspace.com/fleetic Collegiate

    What about Jay on Aaliyahs “Missin You Remix”? that shit gave me chills

  • Pingback: Fab’s Album “Loso’s Way” Expected To Sell 100K First Week - DopeStarz

  • Saxxx

    NO 2PACOGRAPHY?????
    where’s HOW DO YOU WANT IT???????
    TOSS IT UP????
    I AINT MAD AT YA??????

    AND ALL THAT RECYCLED B-S THAT EVERYBODY IS MAKING $$$ OFF OF THE LAST 10 YEARS???????

  • jayman

    Shaquille O’Neal’s verse on New Edition – hit me off remix was fire

  • Saxxx

    NO 2PACOGRAPHY?????

    WHERE’S “HOW DO YOU WANT IT”?????
    TOSS IT UP????
    ARE YOU STILL DOWN?????
    CALIFORNIA LOVE!!! (WITH ROGER TROUTMAN)!!!!????
    ALL ABOUT YOU (WITH NATE DOGG)???

    GET REAL!!!!!

  • John Cauner

    Seems like a good list. I gotta look up that Nas/Allure track. Never heard it. Actually I haven’t heard 17 of those 25 tracks. I gotta catch up.

  • goldfromthe49

    This list gets an L…How is Mary and Method not on that list. Its featured in your magazine but its not good enough for your website?

  • Pablo

    raekwon and davina ” so good ” !!!!

  • Matic & Ill

    Nas on J-Lo’s – Be Alright

    very nice track

  • ShamGudda

    You gotta have that MJB wit Smif-n-Wessun “I Love You” remix “This is how we do…This is how we do everyday all day”. Also that 112 ft. Big and that Mariah Carey and ODB. Those are my top three honestly. IDK how they wadn’t on the list.

  • http://www.biguklove.com amy

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  • Dee2007

    As much as I hate Ja rule with a damn passion he deserve at least one spot up there. All them Ashanti assisted songs and no spot.

    Tupac and Jon B still bangs in my car

    Method Man and Mary J. Blidge really??

    Y’all need to apologize to us for this redo this List. This was worser than the best or rapper on MTV in 07.

  • L BOOGS

    How can yall not put Kanye’s verse from john Legend’s album on there. i think it’s called promise not do it again. That song made me really appreciate Kanye spit game and everything he said was real.

  • L Boogs

    correction the song is called number one

  • ThingAlec

    Major props for putting that Top of the World remix. Pun flows on that track.

    Encima del mundo
    Follow the squad we never segundo
    Tell el mundo, telling vatos of every remover
    Word chula we packing men like Lollapalooza
    From here to Havana, Cuba then Puerto Rico en scooter
    Getting mula
    Sitting on top of the world like A Buddha
    Who the first Latin to go platinum without the basura
    Big Pun the caputera with cheddar
    Never settle for second best cause I’m primera, which forever

  • Ty

    Jay-z on Mya’s best of me remix. He was spittin