Music Mondays – 10 Inevitable Collaborations

Skateboarding, tatted-up Alabama rapper Yelawolf teaming up with hip-hop friendly, tatted-up ex-Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker was only really a matter of time. First appearing together on Barker’s Give The Drummer Some, it seemed natural hearing these two together. With Psycho White EP dropping tomorrow, here are 10 inevitable collaborations.

1. Jay-Z and Kanye West – Watch The Throne

Watch Jay-Z’s documentary Fade to Black and you will see how perfect these two were together. It’s also interesting to see how far Kanye has come since his time producing The Blueprint. He went from this Chicago kid loving soul samples to someone with just as much hip-hop credibility as Jay-Z himself.

Watch the Throne is almost Jay-Z’s way of saying, “look how far ‘Ye has come.” It’s not a backhanded compliment, since the duo shares “the throne,” which is especially rare in a genre that’s so competitive. The album is over-the-top and exuberant, but there are songs such as “New Day” that refer back to when the two first began their musical relationship.

2. Queen and David Bowie – “Under Pressure”

Maybe not so much inevitable as it was a pop rock dream. Feddie Mercury and David Bowie were some of the more flamboyant musicians of the 70s and 80s, so their interplay on “Under Pressure” was perfect. Mercury’s tenor and Bowie’s lower, deeper vocals created such a gorgeous harmony that there was practically no tug-of-war between the two legends. Part of why “Under Pressure” is such an amazing song is how it seamlessly the song goes from verse to verse, making the Mercury-Bowie collaboration perfect.

3.  Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston – “When You Believe”

Carey had to spend most of her career getting compared to Houston, which is certainly not a bad thing. Citing Houston as one of her major influences, Carey finally got on a track with the R&B diva on “When You Believe.”

Oddly enough, the song was not on a major album for either of the artists, but from The Prince of Egypt soundtrack. It actually garnered the singers an Academy Award and a Grammy nomination for “Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals.” The collaboration makes sense on paper, but unlike the first two, these are two artists who have such a similar style that they don’t blend too well together. However, it is nice at the end to see them both doing what they do best, absolutely belting out lyrics with some serious fire.

4. P. Diddy, Faith Evans, and 112 – “I’ll Be Missing You”

This collaboration was not inevitable because the artists seemed like they’d work well together, but because of the tragedy that surrounded them. Sean Combs, Faith Evans, and the members of 112 all had collaborated with The Notorious B.I.G. and following his death in 1997, they got together to remember the person that had been a major part of their lives in both a musical and personal sense. Unless you’re incredibly faithful to the Police’s “Every Breath You Take,” this is actually a pretty good song, and everyone involved doesn’t mess around with a song that has such serious content.

5. U2 and Green Day – “The Saints Are Coming ” 

Ugh. This one pains me to include just because I feel both groups are overplayed. Hey! Maybe that’s why this is included, they’re played out so much they could save everyone time by putting them into one song.

Like “I’ll Be Missing You,” “The Saints Are Coming” circled around a tragedy, which in this case is Hurricane Katrina. It also was a cover, with the original song of the same title coming from the Scottish punk band Skids. U2, in particular Bono, was no stranger to international issues, so their inclusion on this song made sense, and Greenday showing up alongside gave the issue a local-ish perspective. Exuding with Celtic Pride (somehow) this song sat at the top of Irish singles chart, as well as many countries’ top 100 lists. One of the lowest, of course, was its performance in the U.S., which is who the collaboration was targeted for in the first place. It’s certainly not a great song, but at least it’s for a good cause…?

6. Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong – Ella & Louis

What a perfect combination. Fitzgerald, a smooth soulful signer, and Louis, a raspy crooner, help show why opposites attract. Each song has pure beauty and can make anyone feel a bit classier while listening to it.

Fitzgerald grew up listening to Armstrong, who had been recording for 20 years before Fitzgerald was signed to a label. It took a too-long 15 years before the two got together on a full-length album, but Ella and Louis was so successful that it spawned two more collaborations via Ella and Louie Again and Porgy and Bess. This one’s for the old-timers and the hipster baristas. But really, this inclusion should be for everyone because this duo was so charming and perfect for each other…musically that is.

7. Eric Clapton and B.B. King – Riding with the King

Watch the Throne is to hip-hop as Riding with the King was to guitarists. The titular track basically says it all, these guys are two of the greatest musicians to pick up a pick. King and Clapton first played together when Clapton was a 20-something playing with Cream. Took them only 33 years to release an album together. It’s interesting to see Clapton’s rock and King’s blues in the album, but ultimately Clapton yielded to “the King,” eventually winning the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album. Really, based on names alone, no one else that year stood a chance in that category.

8. Busta Rhymes and Ol’ Dirty Bastard – “Woo-Hah!! Got You All in Check!”

Oh my lanta. If you had to pick two of the most aberrant, cartoonish rappers at the time this song came out, you could do no better than Busta and ODB. Busta was all about his flow and his goofy expressions during his performance, while ODB was all about his raw delivery. While the duo only appeared on the remix of the Busta Rhyme’s mega-hit, it was essentially a collaboration that needed to happen. The remix did get its own music video, which perfectly had the two rappers in a padded room chained in the same straightjacket. A perfect metaphor for their two styles and for this list.

9. Jay-Z and Nas – “Black Republican” & “Success”

“It’s what you expected ain’t it?” Perhaps the most well-known feud in hip-hop, this battle for New York provided fans with some great songs, from Jay-Z’s “Takeover” to Nas’ “Ether.” The feud began after Nas released Illmatic, which received praise from Jay-Z. When Jay’s Roc-A-Fella Records tried to sign Nas and The Firm, things went sour. Nas blew off the meeting and things got more and more heated from there.

When the feud ended in 2006, Nas and Jay-Z showed the hip-hop world that they had truly moved on, releasing “Black Republicans” off Nas’ Hip-Hop is Dead and “Success” off Jay-Z’s American Gangster together. Neither were particularly groundbreaking, but it provided fans with the collaboration they had been anticipating for years.

10. GZA and Neil deGrasse Tyson (???) – Dark Matter

One of the coolest rappers and the coolest astrophysicist joining forces? Makes sense. There have been long-speculated rumors that the Wu-Tang alum and GZA…oh wait, the Wu-Tang alum and Tyson, would collaborate to release a concept album about the stars. Granted, this doesn’t involve a rapping Neil deGrasse Tyson, but the astrophysicist has served as GZA’s muse during the album’s conception. Also cool: Dark Matter is produced by Marco Vitali, a Juilliard-trained violinist. GZA plans to record a later album about the oceans, and is providing more hipster/hip-hop head fodder by re-recording Liquid Swords with live bands. Whether or not all this comes to fruition, it certainly is an exciting bit of music to look forward to.

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