Top 15 R&B-Rap Collaborations

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Over the years, R&B and hip-hop artists have joined forces to produce some amazing songs. Even though the line between the two styles is often blurred today, the gritty, urban feel of hip-hop and the smooth melodies of R&B can come together on a single track with incredible results.

Artists from both genres often collaborate with one another, but some duos simply work out better than others. These are the memorable hits, the songs we will never forget, and the matchups that transformed modern music. 

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'I'll Be There for You,' Method Man/Mary J. Blige (1995)

Mary J. Blige and Method Man perform at The Conglomerate
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"I'll Be There For You/You're All I Need to Get By" is the best of the best when it comes to a collaboration. It brings together two shining stars, Method Man, who made his name with the Wu-Tang Clan, and the one and only Mary J. Blige.

The song was released in 1995 on Method Man's debut studio album, "Tical." It quickly rose in the charts, hitting No. 3 in the  Billboard Hot 100 within the first few months. At the 1996 Grammys, it took top honors for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group.​

Why is this still the hottest duo after so many years? There's no doubting the talent of either artist and bringing the two together was simply ingenious. Blige's smooth voice that mixes the 1968 hit "You're All I Need to Get By" with Method Man's lyrical rhythms is as timeless as it gets.

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'No Diggity,' Blackstreet feat. Dr. Dre & Queen Pen (1996)

"No Diggity" is another classic in this genre, and it set the stage for countless collaborations that would follow. How can you pass up a tune that brings together Blackstreet, Queen Pen, and the iconic Dr. Dre?

From the Blackstreet album "Another Level," this was also an instant hit, topping the Billboard Hot 100 and countless other charts worldwide. It took the Grammy, this time in 1997, for R&B Duo and came in at No. 32 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the '90s.

This mix of styles could not have been done better. Dr. Dre's signature rap style is intertwined with Blackstreet's smooth R&B melody. Toss in a few lines by Queen Pen, and a hit is born that will remain a favorite for decades to come.

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'Let's Get Down,' Tony! Toni! Toné! feat. DJ Quik (1996)

Another gem from 1996, "Let's Get Down" is full of funk. This one comes from the "House of Music" album by Tony! Toni! Toné! and features DJ Quik. The combo certainly brought the funk to the track, and there's even a little riff from Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit."

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'If I Ruled the World (Imagine That),' Nas feat. Lauryn Hill (1996)

Nas and Lauryn Hill perform at HOT 97's Summer Jam 2012
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You might notice a pattern here: The best rap-R&B duos came out of the late '90s. With the background beat and sultry opening "ohs" of Lauryn Hill, another fine example of rap/R&B collaboration is found in "If I Ruled the World (Imagine That)." Released in 1996 on Nas' "It Was Written" album, the groove of this song will hit anyone right where it counts.

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'Home Alone,' R. Kelly feat. Keith Murray (1998)

One of the best house party songs, "Home Alone" from the R. Kelly album "R." is a song that will get stuck in your head, and that's a very good thing. This hit has that signature smooth and sexy R. Kelly style, and Keith Murray's rap has an excellent beat. Yet, let's not forget that sultry background vocal coming from Kelly Price. She keeps the flow moving and reminds us to "dance the night away."

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'You Got Me,' The Roots feat. Erykah Badu and Eve (1999)

Erykah Badu and The Roots music group
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Smooth does not even begin to describe "You Got Me" from The Roots' album "Things Fall Apart." It's a mellow song for rap but so well done, just like everything The Roots have produced over the years. The group's style is a natural fit for an R&B collaboration, and adding Erykah Badu and Eve into the mix worked out perfectly. Plus, you have to appreciate any song with an Ethiopian queen in the story.

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'Fantasy (Remix),' Mariah Carey feat. Ol' Dirty Bastard (1995)

Ol' Dirty Bastard and Roc-A-Fella CEO, Damon Dash Press Conference
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Mariah Carey's original "Fantasy" has nothing on the remix featuring Ol' Dirty Bastard (O.D.B.). Bringing him into the mix made a world of difference and added raw style to the pop singer's hit song. There is another remix, the "Bad Boy Mix" produced by Sean Combs, but it has nowhere near the funk of the O.D.B. version, which is why people like this one best.

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'I'll Be Missing U,' Puff Daddy and Faith Evans (1997)

Puff Daddy And Bad Boy Family Reunion Tour At The Forum In Inglewood, CA
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If "I'll Be Missing U" doesn't pull at your heartstrings, check your pulse. He was "Puff Daddy" at the time, but this is signature Sean Combs. The tribute to his friend Christopher "The Notorious B.I.G." Wallace just months after his murder makes it unforgettable.

This hit from Combs' "No Way Out" album uses lyrics from the 1983 hit "Every Breath You Take" by The Police. The gospel-like vocals by Faith Evans set it off flawlessly with a height of emotion found in few other songs. It's no wonder this has become a tribute to so many others who were also tragically lost in the years since.

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'Can't Deny It,' Fabolous feat. Nate Dogg (2001)

If you're looking for a beat, "Can't Deny It" has just what you need. This debut hit from Fabolous was on his "Ghetto Fabolous" album and, even though he was a newcomer at the time, it rivals any of the veterans' tracks on this list. This one is notable because it's a mix of Fabolous' East Coast hip-hop with Nate Dogg's West Coast vibe, and it works incredibly well, possibly better than any other duo of its kind.

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'All That I Got Is You,' Ghostface Killah feat. Mary J. Blige (1995)

Another Wu-Tang Clan veteran, Ghostface Killah's solo debut "All That I Got Is You" was an instant success. Bringing Mary J. Blige into this emotional, things-were-tough rap with an ultra-smooth background track was simply brilliant. It may have been released in 1995 (the "Ironman" album), but it's timeless and a story that so many people can relate to. The struggle continues for many, and this song still speaks volumes.

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'Break You Off,' The Roots feat. Musiq Soulchild (2002)

musiq performs with the roots
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The Roots do love to show off other artists. This time it's the funk-gospel–hip-hop artist Musiq Soulchild. From the "Phrenology" album, "Break You Off" is the sexiest song on this list, with The Roots' classy raps backed by sweet R&B vocals. It's fantastic and unforgettable.

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'Can't Knock the Hustle,' Jay-Z feat. Mary J. Blige (1996)

Jay-Z and Mary J Blige perform at Yankee Stadium
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Jay-Z instantly became a star with the release of his debut album "Reasonable Doubt," and this song helped make it a winner. It probably didn't hurt that he brought in the Queen of R&B, Mary J. Blige, to sing the chorus, either. This one has that hard rap style that Jay-Z became known for, and the sensuous backup from the "Queen" takes it over the top.

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'The Way You Move,' OutKast feat. Sleepy Brown (2003)

Big Boi and Andre 3000 of Outkast perform onstage with Sleepy Brown
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Big Boi from Outkast took his portion of the "Speakerboxxx" album to the big time when he ripped out "The Way You Move" with Sleepy Brown. It's fun, it's hot, and it's often noted as one of the best songs of this century's first decade. Sleepy Brown brings in a Motown-like vocal that is a contrast to Big Boi's fast-paced rap, and that makes this song both hypnotizing and unlike any other on the list.

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'Why?' Jadakiss feat. Anthony Hamilton (2004)

Anthony Hamilton and Jadakiss during 2004 MTV Video Music Awards
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A controversial song, it's hard to forget Jadakiss' "Why?" which was released on his "Kiss of Death" album. The questions he asks in his old-school hip-hop style are definitely political and span everything from drugs to race to the September 11 attacks. Although other artists have taken on the chorus in various remixes, the original featuring the soulful Anthony Hamilton is arguably the best.

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'The Seed (2.0),' The Roots feat. Cody Chestnutt (2002)

Also from their "Phrenology" album, The Roots brought Cody Chestnutt in for the funky single "The Seed (2.0)." It's a hybrid of styles that ​rely on Chestnutt's rock 'n' roll and soul background, and it is fabulous. Unlike almost every other song you've heard from The Roots, "The Seed 2.0" is often described as psychedelic soul, and it's a hip-hop experiment that could only be pulled off by this group of talented artists.