@Singersroom top 10 Hip Hop Collabs of @MaryJBlige

January 17, 2013
Mary J. Blige and John Legend have a lot in common. The obvious similarity - both are incredibly successful R&B artists. However, one can apply that same connection to an almost endless number of storied figureheads within the genre. So what is it that makes the relationship between Blige and Legend so exclusive? Crossover success! For nearly a decade Mary was the go-to feature vocalist who was sought out by hip-hop artists across the map. A hook from the R&B superstar was almost the surefire recipe for a radio hit. Fast-forward to the past half-decade and John Legend occupies the same hip-hop/R&B collaboration thrown held by Blige in the years before him. With that said, we’ll save the John Legend collab list for another day. For now, let’s look at the woman who brought the two genres together in a way nobody had ever done before.
Grand Puba - Check It Out
NUMBER 10: Grand Puba - Check It Out
It might be a song about pretty much nothing, but there is something so satisfying about the simplicity of “Check It Out”. With Blige delivering some impressive vocal runs, this 1992 Grand Puba track is one of her earliest and best hip-hop collaborations.

Ludacris - Runaway Love
NUMBER 9: Ludacris - Runaway Love
If you had told me that the man behind “Blueberry Yum Yum” and “Move Bitch” was going to essentially create the “Brenda’s Got a Baby” of the new millennium, I would have probably called you crazy. Yet in 2006 Ludacris did just that with “Runaway Love”, featuring a haunting hook sung by Mary herself. The contrast between the disturbing imagery of the verses and the serene optimism of the chorus is what makes this a truly compelling collaboration. 

Wyclef Jean - 911
NUMBER 8: Wyclef Jean - 911
In the aftermath of the Fugees’ fallout, Wyclef Jean and Lauryn Hill pushed forward with respective solo careers. While Hill has been the more critically acclaimed of the two, namely for her classic The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Jean has released a steady flow of powerful tracks – deftly demonstrated on “911” as he and Blige display a chemistry often lacking in hip-hop/R&B collaborations.

NUMBER 7: Talib Kweli - I Try
Before Ye was Ye he was the man behind the instrumentals for some of the most deadly lyricists in hip-hop, most notably Jay-Z and Talib Kweli. The latter might not have the most recognizable name in the mainstream world, but he has been consistently pushing out great records. So when he and Kanye teamed up with Mary J. Blige on 2004’s “I Try”, the hip-hop community paid close attention. The resultant collaboration is a Kweli classic, as well as one of Ye’s most underrated productions.

Lauryn Hill - I Used To Love Him
NUMBER 6: Lauryn Hill - I Used To Love Him
The story of Lauryn Hill is one of the most compelling in all of hip-hop and R&B. As one of the most multi-talented artists out there, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill seemed like only the first chapter of a prolific and successful solo career for the former Fugees member. And while clearly things didn’t pan out quite like that, we still have Miseducation and the standout “I Used to Love Him”, a song that showcases two of the most respected voices in R&B. The interplay between Hill and Blige is just phenomenal.

Dr. Dre - The Message
NUMBER 5: Dr. Dre - The Message
Often overlooked on Dre’s classic 2001, “The Message” epitomizes West-Coast hip-hop. First and foremost drums hit so fucking hard. Add the staccato keys, upper-octave strings, and Blige’s soulful croon, and you’ve got a track with the perfect pocket for Dre and Rell to surgically attack. Let’s hope that there’s another collaboration like this on Detox… Shit let’s just hope for Detox to even be real at this point.

Common - Come Close
NUMBER 4: Common - Come Close
A well-done duet has the ability to create a realism often lost in sole perspective narratives. And while there is a tendency to overlook hip-hop when discussing duets, Common and Mary J. deliver a very honest back-and-forth dialogue on “Come Close”, showcasing the power that a love story told by two can have.

Jay-Z - Cant Knock the Hustle Live
NUMBER 3: Jay-Z - Can't Knock the Hustle (Live)
Jay-Z and Mary J. Blige on a track together – that’s a lethal combination. Now add The Roots into the mix – that’s just unfair. Well that’s exactly what you get with the live rendition of “Can’t Knock the Hustle”, originally off the debut classic Reasonable Doubt. While the studio version is already great, the live instrumentation simply takes this track to the next level.

Ghostface Killah – All That I Got Is You
NUMBER 2: Ghostface Killah – All That I Got Is You
It doesn’t get much rawer than this. Ghostface tells the story of a life weighed down by the struggles of poverty, sculpting a narrative drenched in bone chilling imagery. When Mary J.’s voice shines through, it feels like a comforting lullaby, told to a child who’s seen far more of than their fair share of evils. Simply put, “All That I Got Is You” is utterly beautiful.

Method Man - Ill Be There For YouYoure All I Need to Get By
NUMBER 1: Method Man - I'll Be There For You/You're All I Need to Get By
Released in 1995, this Method Man/Mary J collaboration encompasses so much of what 90s hip-hop was all about. The grimy drums, smooth melodies, and a classic New York flow. While diehard Pac and Dre fans might disagree with the latter, bottom line this track showcases Mary J. Blige as a featured performer in its most supremely executed form.



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