12 of the Greatest Hip-Hop Duos of All Time
XXL celebrates 50 years of hip-hop with this feature.
Some of the best things in life come in pairs. Whether it’s hit records, one-off collaborations, or rapper-producer combos, nothing beats having the yin to a yang—musically speaking. Duos in hip-hop certainly have made their mark. With five decades of rap officially arriving this summer, there are plenty of hip-hop duos that have emerged through the years
In fact, according to Nielsen SoundScan’s 2017 year-end music industry report, the more artists, the better, especially as it relates to what’s topping the charts. Beyond the metrics, when certain artists are paired together, they can do no wrong in the recording studio. Lyrically, they tend to bring out the best in each other. At times, it’s almost like the barriers to competition have been completely eroded through teamwork. And instead of vying for who’s the best, rappers complement each other with a shared goal in mind: making great music.
One of the earliest duos to take rap to new heights through collaboration is Eric. B & Rakim. Together, the esteemed DJ-MC combo delivered Paid in Full, which is widely regarded as one of the most important rap albums ever created. Similarly, OutKast, made up of André 3000 and Big Boi, helped popularize Southern rap with their unique vocal stylings and unorthodox takes on everyday life.
As hip-hop has continued to evolve throughout the years, notable tandems like Mobb Deep, Black Star and others have proved that there is strength in numbers—most often when that number is two. In doing so, they allowed their individual success to take a backseat to compatibility for the sake of creating timeless tracks together.
With hip-hop turning 50 this year, XXL takes a look back at some of the greatest duos to pick up a mic.
See Greatest Hip-Hop Duos of All Time
With additional reporting from Jordan Lebeau.
This editorial is presented by McDonald's.