Great Rap Combos…That Failed

The anticipation of hearing that your favorite beat mechanic is in the studio with your current #1 MC can lead to impossibly high expectations. More often than not, you end being bitterly disappointed with the results, thinking of what ‘could have been’ or ‘why bother?’ Sure, there have been some great team-ups as well…but that’s for another post.

OC & Ras Kass

Back when fuckers cared about lyrical shit, the thought of these two verbal terrorists was mind-blowing. Picturing O.C. delivering an ‘O-Zone’ style performance, countered by the best in the west on the ‘Sonset’ tip was almost too good to be true – a “lyric fiends wet dream” some might say. What did we get? A song about scooping dames, over a lame post-sampling Shawn J. Period track and an off-key sung hook? Fail. Actually, I felt this way about 85% of the Lyricist Lounge LP.

OC & Ras Kass - ‘Action Guaranteed’

Nas & Dr. Dre

“Nas is making a record with the diggy-diggy doctor? Say word?” If you actually said those exact words in 1996, slap yourself. Nah, but what seemed like a sure-fire winner (or at least big radio hit) on paper turned out to be the most over-produced, anti-climactic song on an album that tried too hard to please too many.

Nas - ‘Nas Is Coming’

Just-Ice & Grandmaster Flash

Following on from classic projects helmed by Mantronik and KRS-One, it seemed like Sir Vicious had scored a coup by convincing the legendary GM Flash to produce 1990’s Masterpiece from start to finish. Pity it sounded like something made in 1985 with a $10 drum machine.

Just-Ice - ‘I Write This In The Dark’

Terminator X & Kool Herc

The godfather of hip-hop makes his official vocal debut on record after twenty years…for a couple of rambling skits on Norm’s instantly forgettable sophomore record.

Terminator X - ‘Make Room For Thunder’

Nas & Jay-Z

Admittedly, ‘Success’ was ill (Jay’s part at least), but the first time these two characters recorded a duet was fairly underwhelming considering the history they shared. They could have at least done some funny shit, like a song about bangin’ the same broad.

Nas feat. Jay-Z - ‘Black Republican’

The Firm

Smarten up, Nas. Letting ‘Commissioner’ Steve Stoute fuck over Mega like that was bad enough, but making records like ‘Firm Biz’ is straight sell-out shit. Sounds like some ‘Blue Oyster Bar’ rap.

The Firm - ‘Firm Biz’

What have I missed?

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31 Comments so far
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Dre & LL ‘Zoom’ springs to mind.
one reason that lots of collabos disappoint is because everyone expects it to be the best of both artists at their peak when usually it comes about years later. EG:

– Paris & Public Enemy in 92 wouldve been dope, in 2005, not so much.
– RZA & MF Doom on that Think Differently comp wasnt that good.
– Nas & Jay Z in 96 wouldve murdered the corn-fests that were ‘Success’ and ‘Black Republican’

Comment by step one 05.19.09 @

Yeah, definitely LL – Zoom prod. by Dr. Dre. Also, DJ Muggs – Puppet Master feat. Dr. Dre & B-Real. S’funny how many of these disappointments feature Dr. Dre in some capacity. Does not bode well for Detox!

Comment by ian 05.19.09 @

haha, brilliant article, on the money…
agree with some of the ill timed collabs happening way beyond the moment when cats wanted to hear them…
the PE/Paris example is perfect.

Comment by Arkitek 05.19.09 @

Yeah! Zoom sucked. Snoop’s version was way better … !

“Should’ve made a track about banging the same broad!!!” LMAO!!! That would’ve been dope!!!

Comment by brock 05.19.09 @

shit fuckin’ sucks bruh
makes you commend rick’s ability to pull it off so well on art of storytelling

Comment by DANKWEED 05.19.09 @

multiple times

Comment by DANKWEED 05.19.09 @

One collab album that will probably be a winner is Masta Ace and Edo-G’s A&E lp. These two cats have gotten better with age, which is a major rarity in hip-hop, and the work they have done together thus far has been stellar.

Comment by HipHipHistorian 05.19.09 @

the shawn j. period beat is pretty tight. drums are a little flat, otherwise this post was dead on.

Comment by x7an 05.20.09 @

That Ed OG & Pete Rock one was a big disappointment too.

Comment by Krisch 05.20.09 @

what about kool moe dee, chuck d and krs for rise n shine? That was pretty underwhelming from what i can remember…

Comment by tareq 05.20.09 @

It is cheesy, but I like “Firm Biz.” The song they used, Teena Marie’s “Square Biz,” is something everybody partied to in the early ’80s, and you still hear Red Alert and people play. Ain’t nothing gay about it.

Comment by Jesse S 05.20.09 @

Dre and Rakim-
Iono bout yall but when I heard the Dre was gonna do some tracks for the Microphone Fiend Rakim’s comeback, I was amped. Those little cameos on Truth Hurt’s Addictive and The Watcher fueled the fire. But this has been/never was collabo left a God MC fan wondering…

Comment by Qrush 05.20.09 @

you know what sucks? “Rollin’ Dolo” w/ Krumbsnatcha, Guru, EdOG, and Big Shug… I think that’s the song Method Man was making fun of in Belly when he was actin’ like a herb down south to scheme on Crucial Conflict and dude from Menace with the banana on his lips… Method had the head band of his kangol inverted like a retard, singin’ “I rolls dolo from state to state…” because the director told him to act like a herb so he thought of the herb-est song he’d heard that week to sing… good thing i think the only place you can find that song is on the Krumbsnatcha classics on Ill Kid

Comment by zues 05.20.09 @

“Renegade” is weak, but then again, Eminem is weak.

The Common/Canibus song on Com’s 3rd album sucks, but then again, Canibus sucks. The chorus went:

“I’m you worst nightmare squared/ that’s double for niggas who aint mathematically aware.”

Wack and bad at math.

Comment by gordon gartrelle 05.20.09 @

Ohhhh yeah…

Jay-Z and Dre also fell way short on everything they’ve done together thus far. You figure- a guy who’s considered one of if not the greatest MCs, and a guy who’s considered one of if not the greatest producer. How bad could it be? ALL them shits fell short. And the only one that didn’t was the one Jay wrote for Dre to perform. Who woulda thought?

Remember how insane and potentially great the idea of a Busta Rhymes and Ol’ Dirty collab was? Remember when it actually happened? Yeah.

Em and Redman was far less hot than I thought it was gonna be. Those two are cut from the same crazy-ass cloth, so you figure in 2000, you put them together and they were gonna shut it down. Not hardly.

People have always for some reason wanted to hear Redman over Primo… I don’t know why, because that sounds like a combo that wouldn’t come together right for shit. And anyone who’s heard that Biggie ‘Born Again’ album already knows that the Red/Primo record so far is 0-1.

Comment by DANJAMANIA 05.20.09 @

Would the Symphony II count? i mean the first was a classic, and there was heavy anticipation for the second symphony. Kane, G-rap, Ace and Craig G killed the first Symphony with classic verses over a hype Marley beat, but that second one on In Control Vol. 2? Straight TRASH. The beat was wack. Plus, wy did Kane have his brother Lil Daddy Shane rhyme on it? He was dumb triple WACK!

Comment by Doc Samson 05.21.09 @

The Firm album was a bad idea from start to finish. Nas and AZ should have done an album together and had it produced by DJ Premier.

Comment by E The Kid 05.21.09 @

I personally liked black republican, one of the bettter tracks off of hip hop is dead. Success is far better though.

I wasnt blown away by the AZ premo collabo tbh.

Comment by Victor 05.21.09 @

fast life sucked….even though i luv surface…east orange represent!!!!

Comment by Mercilesz 05.21.09 @

whoooooa @ Mercilesz… really? “Fast Life” was crazy.

Comment by DANJAMANIA 05.21.09 @

Scarface ft. Too Short, Dr. Dre & Ice Cube – “Game Over” from Face’s 1997’s The Untouchable:
Short Dog only talks over the beat, Cube only does the chorus. Complete waste of some immense talent.

Comment by Question Marc 05.25.09 @

Go suck a dick you stupid faggots Frim Biz was the shit!!! Go eat the shit out of your ass you cuntz!!

Comment by HipHopGiant 05.25.09 @

90% of the songs mentioned here are dope as hell. Heads just seem too jaded to enjoy shit.

Comment by Horse Daddy 05.26.09 @

Gotta agree with Mercilesz on the Fast Life sucking. The remixes were great. But, I mean, at the time you got Nas and G Rap doing their first joint together and it’s on some gambino flossin bullshit over a soft batch commercial beat?! That shit was such a disappointment to me back then.Thank Salaam Remi and Vinyl Reanimators for the remixes. In retrospect, the og was ok, it was just so disappointing to see two greats go out on some fantasy gangster shit for their first collabo.They looked like such fuckin clowns in the video. It was embarrassing.
Great article by the way.
I agree on all of ‘em.
The Ras Kass and OC especially disappointed.

Comment by verge 05.27.09 @

Oh shit, I didn’t realize that Hiphopmidget guy randomly pops shit on this blog for no reason, too.
I wanted to say I didn’t think the Edo G PR collab was as much of an epic failure as the ones posted.
There was definitely some heaters on there.

Comment by verge 05.27.09 @

“Headz Ain’t Ready” by the Boot Camp Clik was awesome but the follow up by the great eight “Headz Are Ready” was pretty under-whelming as was the majority of the For the People album.

Comment by Brooklyn 'Lo 05.29.09 @

I should have known that Just-Ice album was gonna be bad. I believe that’s the one with no photos on the sleeve. Barely listened to it. The $7.99 I spent on the vinyl could have bought extra slices of pizza on Fulton Street.

Comment by Brooklyn 'Lo 05.29.09 @

picked up the 12″ of firm biz at a $2 record sale..It’s not all bad, however the B side ‘executive decision’ is what I got it for.

Comment by Lexicon 06.01.09 @

I thought Kool Herc skits on Terminater X album were so DOPE!

Agree with the rest.Nas is a dull MC now.

Comment by llcoolbrenn 08.20.09 @

ah jeah true, dat nas is omin song was deep, dre killed it wit a real east coast vibe… ah papa dem good ol dayz…

Comment by donaleski 11.02.09 @

the redman em collab was wack sauce..this article should be named after dre especially after no rakim album, no raekwon album no joell album no bishop album…FOH DRE!…the one that shoulda happened is the nas az preemo collab somebody mentioned..that cant fail!

Comment by stevep 03.20.10 @



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