10 Iconic Rap Duets

When defined by Merriam-Webster, the word duet succinctly means “a composition for two performers.” However, giving a much more thorough explanation, Wikipedia defines a “duet” as a “a musical composition for two performers in which the performers have equal importance to the piece, often a composition involving two singers or two pianists.”

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Because of distinctions like these, people don’t usually think of hip-hop when they think of modern duets. But, even though they aren’t singers, two MCs coming together in one rap performance could and should be classified as a duet, at least according to Merriam-Webster.

So, in the spirit of this assertion, we at American Songwriter decided to put together a list of our 10 favorite duets involving two rappers. With every artist listed below considered to be an undeniable legend in the genre, we feel that this decade of songs best represents what the peak of a hip-hop duet truly looks like.

“Nuthin’ But A G Thang,” Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg

A promotional single for Dr. Dre’s 1992 debut album The Chronic, his first full-length release after leaving N.W.A., “Nuthin’ But A G Thang” fortified how strong of a duo Snoop Dogg and Dre were. First conjured when Snoop was in jail in the early 1990s, the song was finally recorded after Snoop was released and after Dre decided to use the now-iconic sample of Leon Haywood’s 1975 song “I Want’a Do Something Freaky To You.”

“I took that [sample] back, recorded the track, Snoop got out and we just recorded this song at my house,” Dre said during a 2015 interview with BigBoyTV. “It was a bedroom that I converted into a studio in my house. That’s where the first half of The Chronic came from.”

[RELATED: The Meaning Behind Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg’s “Nuthin’ But a G Thang”]

“Brooklyn’s Finest,” Jay Z and The Notorious B.I.G

Truly epitomizing the song’s title, “Brooklyn’s Finest” sees the first ever collaboration between New York icons Jay-Z and the late Notorious B. I.G. The song landed on the former’s debut album Reasonable Doubt in 1996, a year before B.I.G. was slain.

“California Love,” Tupac Feat. Dr. Dre

His comeback single after being released from prison in 1995, Tupac’s “California Love” with Dr. Dre would become his first ever song to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Though Tupac was not alive for it, Dre would perform the song during his set at the 2022 Super Bowl Halftime show.

“Forgot About Dre,” Eminem and Dr. Dre

The tenth song on the track list for Dr. Dre’s sophomore solo album 2001 (1999), “Forgot About Dre” saw the California-bred producer-rapper start to build his now-legendary bond with blossoming Detroit MC Eminem. The song peaked at No. 25 on the Billboard Hot 100.

“Gossip Folks,” Missy Elliott and Ludacris

The third song on Missy Elliott’s 2002 LP Under Construction, “Gossip Folks” saw Elliott embrace the chip on her shoulder, fighting back against industry rumors about her appearance and sexual orientation. Bringing along rising star Ludacris to add more Southern flair, the song reached No. 8 on the Hot 100.

“21 Questions,” 50 Cent and Nate Dogg

Track 14 from 50 Cent’s fan-favorite debut album Get Rich or Die Tryin’, “21 Questions” includes both 50 Cent and Nate Dogg playing to their strengths. With canning raps from 50 and an incredibly infectious, catchy hook from Nate, the song topped the Hot 100 and has since been certified 4x platinum by RIAA.

“N****s in Paris,” Jay-Z and Kanye West

One of the most beloved tracks in both Kanye West and Jay-Z’s discographies, “N****s in Paris” was more than just the third song on their 2011 collaborative album Watch The Throne. It was a cultural moment. Validated by a No. 1 spot on the Hot 100, the song transcended hip-hop, thanks in part to the brash lyricism and the clever inclusion of the “It’s provocative” skit, taken from the Will Ferrell-led 2007 comedy film Blades of Glory.

“The Motto,” Lil Wayne and Drake

Much like “N****s in Paris,” Drake and Lil Wayne’s “The Motto” became one of the most noteworthy songs from the former’s 2001 album Take Care, even though it was only included as a bonus track. With Drake coining the term YOLO on the song, which took off as a viral craze, “The Motto” will never be forgotten.

“No More Parties in LA,” Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar

Still the only collaboration between the two, “No More Parties in LA” sees some of the most impressive rapping from Both Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar in their entire careers. Clearly just having fun in the booth and being incredibly expressive with their lyricism, Lamar and West made “No More Parties in LA” a definite highlight of the latter’s 2015 album The Life of Pablo.

“WAP,” Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion

Just followed up with a sequel in the form of “Bongos,” Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B’s 2020 hit “WAP” dominated the internet upon release. Due to its raunchy wordplay and sensual music video, the song reached No. 1 on the Hot 100 and became a club anthem once people were freed from the shackles of their homes because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

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