The Top 10 Rap Collabs of The 2010s
By: Alex Marcheschi
A collaboration between rappers is the most exciting thing that can happen to a rap fan. What’s the first thing you check when you see a new album’s tracklist? The features, of course. The 2010s were filled with amazing features, it could be argued that it was the theme of the decade. You want a chart topper? Your odds drastically increase when you bring another rapper/multiple rappers into the mix. From an unlikely Cleveland duo to the wordsmiths who run the West Coast, the decade had some legendary collabs, let’s rank ’em 10-1.
10. SMUCKERS – Tyler The Creator ft. Kanye and Lil Wayne (2015)
“PUT THAT FUCKIN’ COW ON MY LEVEL, ‘CAUSE I’M RAISING THE STAKES. MOM I MADE YOU A PROMISE, IT’S NO MORE SECTION 8. WHEN WE ATE IT’S THE STEAKS, NOW OUR SECTION IS GREAT, ‘CAUSE THAT’S THE LEVEL I’M AT, MY N**** PASS EM A PLATE.” – Tyler
“RICHER THAN WHITE PEOPLE WHITE BLACK KIDS, SCARIER THAN BLACK PEOPLE WITH IDEAS. NOBODY CAN TELL ME WHERE I’M HEADING, BUT I FEEL LIKE MICHAEL JORDAN, SCOTTIE PIPPEN AT MY WEDDING.” – Kanye
“HOLD YOUR FUCKIN’ PONIES MY HOMIE. I WHIP YOUR DONKEY BY MY LONELY, I EAT PUSSY LIKE SHONEY’S. THAT’S TUNECHI HOMIE, MASTER OF CEREMONIES. I KNOCK EM DOWN, DOMINO EFFECT, NO PEPPERONI, I SWEAR!” – Lil Wayne
Tyler, Kanye and Lil Wayne all rolled around in kerosene and shotgunned a Four Loko before this song was recorded, it’s the only explanation. No three rappers have ever been so absurdly in sync. The wordplay and wit is unmatched. Tyler brings that out of artists, Kanye talked about it below at the 2:20 mark:
It’s one of my favorite Kanye verses ever.
9. Gees – Mac Miller ft. ScHoolboy Q (2013)
The chemistry on this song is what makes it so amazing, and it ages like a fine wine. I swear it gets better every time I listen to it. You can feel that the song was born from Mac and ScHoolboy just hanging out. It’s eerie in retrospect as Mac raps “all the best rappers are usually dead, but I’m the poison that left the widow Juliet.”
As only he could, Mac gave us both a Shakespeare and Tony Romo reference in this one. The song feels like ScHoolboy was just standing right next to Mac during the recording, anxiously waiting for his turn to brag about bringing the bucket hat back in style during the middle of the decade. This song just makes you want to do hoodrat things with your friends.
8. New Freezer – Rich The Kid ft. Kendrick Lamar (2018)
Put this song on and everyone in the room will immediately start doing the now infamous dance:
The beat itself is legendary, Rich The Kid floats on it effortlessly and lays his jacket over a puddle for Kendrick to come in a remind us that he can rap in every single way possible. I’ll always remember the music video with Kendrick milly rocking while eating Chinese food in a hoodie/Kobe jersey combo. Everyone’s badass little alter ego comes out when New Freezer comes on. “I NEED SOME TOP FROM LIKE TWO SETS OF TWINS, TWINNIE-TWIN-TWINS YEAH YEAH.” Hilarious. Monumental song.
7. Wow Freestyle – Jay Rock ft. Kendrick Lamar (2018)
Inarguably fire. The opening question, the beat, Kendricks first few lines, the seamless passing of the torch. “We don’t miss we call shots, swervin, I pay em no mind because I curve em. I told her I do better when I’m workin. You scared motherfucker, go to churches.” Unreal from Jay Rock. There’s nothing cooler than hearing two rappers brag about their friendship. “Me and Rock go back like flippin mattresses, me and Dot go back like knockin addresses.” They end the song with a kind of prayer to the streets that sends a shiver down your spine:
In God we trust
Fear no man, but in god we trust
Both palm in hand, prayin’ I stay up
I know you try your best but it’s not like us
Wow, oh you say you got a bad one
Wow, I can tell you never had one
6. Just What I Am – Kid Cudi ft. King Chip (2013)
A true all-time classic. I will be listening to this song for the rest of my life. The Cleveland duo of Cudi and King Chip (formerly Chip Tha Ripper) dominated the midwest college scene during the early 2010s. There wasn’t a college campus Chip didn’t tear down. “Just What I Am” is the perfect anthem for confused young people. “I’m just what you made, God” hits so hard at the beginning and the classic monster-y refrain of “I NEEEED SMOOOKE” is both ominous and fun. Cudi comes in with the second verse and it’s perfect. Peak Kid Cudi. “I had to ball for therapy, my shrink don’t think that helps at all. Whatever, that man ain’t wearing these leather pants. I diagnose my damn self, these damn pills ain’t working fam.” Just the best. Everyone loves a good rebellious banger.
5. Where Ya At – Future ft. Drake (2015)
“WHERE YA ASS WAS AT? I TAKE ATTENDANCE LIKE A CLASSROOOOOM.” Future and Drake perfectly encapsulated the feeling fake friends give you in this one. The YouTube comments of this song joke about how Drake had to come in and translate Future’s verse for him, and that’s basically true. But, no one can do what Future does. He basically re-invented rapping. No one has ever sounded like him and it’s amazing every time. He’s the only person who can say “struggle” like “scruggle” and go unquestioned. The world was a better place when Drake and Future were making piles of songs together. This song doesn’t get old.
4. Waves – Kanye ft. Chris Brown & Kid Cudi (2016)
The frat boy anthem. This song comes on when everyone at the party is effectively keeshed. The Brown Out Banger, if you will. Kanye used Cudi’s hum like Mariano Rivera used his cutter on this one, and that scumbag Chris Brown turned in the best vocal performance of his career. This is objectively a perfect song. The first “Waves don’t dieeeee” from Chris Brown literally hits you like a wave. And Kanye’s “Sun don’t shine in the shade, bird can’t fly in a cage” will be in Instragram bios until the end of time. The looping angelic voice in the background mixed with the piercing screams creates a completely unique, once-in-a-lifetime song.
3. Devil In A New Dress – Kanye ft. Rick Ross
The first time I heard this song I left my body behind. As the sound was entering my noggin, my soul left. Rick Ross recently wrote about how he flew out to Hawai’i to record this song with Kanye, but Kanye didn’t like his original verse, so he waited a while then told Ross to try it again. Ross did exactly that, and he created an all timer. In this classic, Kanye raps as only he can…
Why you standing there with your face screwed up?
Don’t leave while your hot that’s how Mase screwed up
Throwing shit around, the whole place screwed up
Maybe I should call Mase so that he could pray for us
I hit the Jamaican spot, at the bar, take a seat
I ordered the jerk, she said, “You are what you eat”
as he sets up a legendary Mike Dean guitar solo that serves as the waiter for Ross’ verse, which is unveiled like a t-bone steak under a giant, shiny metal plate cover. Ross proclaims: “LOOKIN’ AT MY BITCH, I BET SHE GIVE YOUR ASS A BONE. LOOKIN’ AT MY WRIST, IT’LL TURN YOUR ASS TO STONE. STRETCH LIMOUSINE, SIPPIN ROSE ALL ALONE. DOUBLE-HEADED MONSTER WITH A MIND OF HIS OWN.” It was hard not to make this number one, and it very well might be, but at least in the moment when I decided to write this, two songs seemed better.
2. a lot – 21 Savage ft. J. Cole
In this song, J. Cole breaks the fourth wall by telling the story of how 21 Savage got him to do his verse on this song. It’s pretty mind-blowing, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone do that before. However, that’s beside the point, this song is mystical. I could play it on a loop for hours and enjoy every second. 21’s idea of asking a plethora of both positive and negative questions, only for the answer to be “a lot” every time is so impressive.
The opening of J. Cole’s verse sounds like it was recorded in a war bunker, and it sets the tone for his historic verse about the validity of the current music industry. The song’s charm comes from 21’s honesty about all of the mistakes he’s made and the success that has come with it. Everyone can relate to it, it taps into something primal. There are no flaws in this one. 21’s “I’d rather be broke in jail than be dead and rich” goes against basically everything most rappers tell us, and it points to his love for life and fear of death while reminding us all that you can’t take it with you. Masterful.
- Money Trees – Kendrick Lamar ft. Jay Rock (2012)
Kendrick and Jay Rock with two appearances on the top 10 list, you love to see it, and it reminds you that this duo is up there with the all-timers. This has to be the number one collab of the decade. Two words: “ya bish.” Say those two words and everyone knows what you’re talking about. The amount of hard hitting one-liners in this song is enough to knock you out.
“You lookin like an easy come up ya bish, a silver spoon I know you come from, ya bish.”
“Everybody gon’ respect a shooter, but the one in front of the gun lives forever.”
“Money trees is the perfect place for shade.”
But nothing compares to Kendrick’s initial “a dollar might” master class in lyric writing:
A dollar might, just fuck your main bitch that’s just how I feel
A dollar might, say fuck them n****s that you came with that’s just how I feel
A dollar might, just make that lane switch that’s just how I feel
A dollar might, turn to a million and we all rich that’s just how I feel
I have cried to this song before, not because it makes me sad, but because it’s purity pulls the moisture out of my eye balls. The song would be legendary if it ended before Jay Rock’s verse even starts, but the inclusion of his story makes the song the number one collab of the decade. Many rappers have tried to paint the picture of Compton’s streets for us, but no one has done it better than Jay Rock.
Baking soda YOLA whipping, ain’t no turkey on Thanksgiving
My homeboy just domed a n****, I just hope the Lord forgive him
Pots with cocaine residue, everyday I’m hustlin’
What else is a thug to do when you eatin’ cheese from the government?
Gotta provide for my daughter ‘n’ ’em, get the fuck up out my way, bitch
Got that drum and got them bands just like a parade, bitch
Drop that work up in the bushes, hope them boys don’t see my stash
If they do tell the truth, this the last time you might see my ass
Imagine doing things on a daily basis that could send you to jail for over a decade or even get you killed. Couldn’t be me, and that’s why these guys are the best at their craft. They were born in it, molded by it. Money Trees is the best collab of a decade full of them. Godspeed to Kendrick and Jay Rock, may the dynamic duo bless us with another anthem in the years to come.
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