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Ranking the top joint albums from the past ten years

November 13, 2018

Image © G.O.O.D. Music/Def Jam Records 2018

Image © G.O.O.D. Music/Def Jam Records 2018

Nothing gets a music fan more excited than when their favorite artists announce a collaborative project with each other. While the mixing of two or more artists’ distinctive styles can be tricky, the resulting product can be one that is properly cohesive, if done correctly.  These are some of the top collab albums from the past ten years:

  1. T-Wayne, Lil Wayne and T-Pain (2017)

Hip-hop fans everywhere were pleasantly surprised when these two legends released their long-awaited collab album, which had been completed since 2009 but had never released due to Lil Wayne’s legal troubles at the time.

The eight-song mixtape features Weezy and T-Pain trying their hand at the other’s style, with Pain spitting on some songs with Wayne and Wayne trying his hand at R&B on some songs with T-Pain. From harder songs like “Breathe” to silky smooth R&B songs like “Waist Of A Wasp,” which finds T-Pain most in his element, this mixtape is a blast from the past, when both artists were near the pinnacle of their primes.

  1. Free (Based Freestyles Mixtape), Chance the Rapper and Lil B (2015)

Some of the best music is produced when artists can go into the studio, have fun and make it organically. Free (Based Freestyles Mixtape), a solely freestyled tape put together by Acid Rap-era Chance and the always rambunctious Lil B, was a collaborative effort which showed both artists at their best.

What made this project special was the natural chemistry between Chance and Lil B in the studio, made apparent in moments such as Lil B dropping a “woo!” when Chance drops a nice bar. Songs like “Amen,” a vibey, slower song, and “First Mixtape” stand out. “So when I say I’m, I’m, I’m rare/I just mean I’m like Jordan when I’m catchin’ some air,” raps Chance off the dome on “We Rare,” another standout track on the tape.

  1. Without Warning, 21 Savage, Offset and Metro Boomin (2017)

21 Savage and Metro Boomin, who’s collaborations together date back to 21’s first mixtape The Slaughter Tape, reunited along with the assistance of Offset to make a sinister Halloween-inspired project.

Metro masterfully sets an eerie and unsettling atmosphere, utilizing clips of wolves howling on “Nightmare” and sinister laughing, which plays perfectly with 21 Savage and Offset’s inauspicious styles of rapping on this tape. Even the album cover itself sets a vibe with a picture of a doberman pinscher showing its teeth.

This album was the perfect soundtrack to set the mood for Halloween. “Still Serving,” a track where 21 Savage raps about his uncle in prison and Offset flexes his renowned flow, is one of the standouts on a great project.

  1. KIDS SEE GHOSTS, Kanye West and Kid Cudi (2018)

Fans of Kanye West and Kid Cudi had been waiting for a joint project from these two groundbreaking artists since their respective ascensions to fame in the late 2000s.

With two distinctive styles of music, defined by blending genres of music to make one, singular art form, fans were pleased when the two musical wizards finally dropped their collaborative album, KIDS SEE GHOSTS.

Featuring cover art by Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, KIDS SEE GHOSTS was a cathartic expression from West and Cudi. Songs like “Fire” and “Reborn” show the artists in their weakest moments, but not before showing them moving past them. This long-awaited project was a glimpse into these artists’ past struggles and a message that no matter how down you feel, you can always make it back out.

  1. Super Slimey, Young Thug and Future (2017)

Two of trap music’s biggest stars in Future and Young Thug linked up for a hit of a collab in Super Slimey. Aided by producers such as Southside, London on da Track and Mike Will Made It and a sole feature from Offset, this collab album is filled with bangers from the two Atlanta rappers. Songs such as “No Cap,” “200” and “Mink Flow” bring the heat. Mixed in are ballads such as “Real Love,” “4 da Gang” and “Group Home,” which are moodier tracks on which the rappers spit about topics ranging from their fears to staying loyal to their crew.

While this project was not the most cohesive at points, the overall effect of having Future and Young Thug collaborate makes this album a solid attempt from two of raps mainstays.

  1. Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho, Travis Scott and Quavo (2017)

Following their most noteworthy collab on the timeless “Oh My Dis Side” off of Travis Scott’s Rodeo, fans were left craving more from Quavo and La Flame after Scott teased multiple songs with the Migos rapper on an Apple Music Wav Radio show in 2016.

Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho finally dropped at the end of 2017 and brought the heat. The project kicks off with a sample of Otis Redding’s “Cigarettes and Coffee” on “Modern Slavery,” setting up for a fire beat drop, and Scott and Quavo rapping about their iced out chains, a reference to slavery and a testament to how their talents and hard work have paid off to allow them to live the lavish lifestyle that they do.

Standouts include “Motorcycle Patches,” “Huncho Jack,” “Saint Laurent Mask” and “Where U From” as well as the final track, “Best Man,” a trap ballad where Scott and Quavo reminisce on their early lifestyles and relationships made along the way. “Dropped out of school/Graduated from the streets/Countin’ up the bands/Just my brothers and me,” sings Quavo on the outro. Defined by stellar production and the unique energy brought by Scott and Quavo on each track, Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho was a successful collaborative effort from these rap stars.

  1. What a Time to Be Alive, Drake and Future (2015)

Drake and Future, both at the height of their careers at the time, linked up and made a mass collection of hits with What a Time to Be Alive. The album’s cover, a collection of shining diamonds, is a sign of what was to be expected from this project.

Drake and Future rap about their wealth and social standing on songs such as “Diamonds Dancing” and “Big Rings.” Future exudes his pain and raps about how money has changed him on “Live from the Gutter.”

The best chemistry between the two is shown on songs like “Plastic Bag” and “Scholarships,” where Future and Drake rap about how they deserve a scholarship because of how hard they’re ballin’, and banger “Jumpman.” Drake and Future, two very different artists, properly coalesced on this project, resulting in a great project.

  1. Watch the Throne, Kanye West and Jay-Z (2011)

Jay-Z and Kanye West, two of music’s brightest stars during the span of the 2000s, made hip-hop fans giddy with excitement when they dropped Watch the Throne. Watch the Throne is a stellar effort between Yeezy and Jigga where their chemistry set the standard for what a collaborative project should be.

“No Church in the Wild,” featuring the soul-soothing vocals of Frank Ocean, leads off the album. The second track, “Lift Off” featuring Beyonce, finds West and Jay-Z rapping about their success while Beyonce blesses the track, singing, “We gon take it to the moon, take it to the stars/How many people you know could take it this far?”

On “Otis,” Kanye flips a sample from the great soul singer Otis Redding into an entire instrumental, showing Kanye’s productive extraordinaire. Jay-Z and West rap with short, alternating verses, all whilst building off of each other’s verses, showing the chemistry between the two greats.

Other standouts on an album full of them include “****** in Paris,” a song that will forever hit like the first time I listened to it, “Who Gon Stop Me,” “Murder to Excellence” and “The Joy,” to name a few. Watch the Throne was the prime example of what a collaborative effort should be, with Jay and ‘Ye seamlessly meshing on a 16 track project.

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