In a recent profile with GQ, Drake divulged the details of his forthcoming third album to writer Michael Paterniti. In the time they spent together at Drake’s California home, Drizzy touched on his working relationship with his longtime producer 40 – who’s overseen every project Drake’s put out – and went on to mention, “At this point, I can’t have anyone but 40.” While the two are certainly creatively in-sync, the working bond they have as rapper and producer is nothing new in hip-hop.
While groups from the Golden Era (Tribe, Gang Starr, Eric B. & Rakim) were often comprised of MCs and producers, as artists have embraced solo careers it’s become common for them to repeatedly team with go-to producers who both understand their sound and can help them reach their full sonic potential. So far, this year in hip-hop has spawned some classic hits from frequent collaborators who are constantly on the same wavelength. As the saying goes: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
We were inspired to take a look at some of the best pairings making music now. From 40 and Drake to Kendrick and Sounwave to Harry Fraud and Action Bronson, they have a clear chemistry that’s yielded some incredible music. Read on to find out the 15 best producer/rapper combos right now.—Eric Diep, Dan Buyanovsky, Chisom Uzosike, Chris Mench, and Raven Irabor
Sounwave & Kendrick Lamar
Best Known Song: “B*tch, Don’t Kill My Vibe”
Why They Work Well Together: Kendrick Lamar has branched out to a variety of producers from the West Coast since his popularity soared after good kid, m.A.A.d city. However, the TDE member sounds best with his in-house guys, especially Sounwave who serves as one-third of Digi+Phonics. He and Kendrick work well together because they are both versatile on their records. It’s highly noticeable in club cuts like “Michael Jordan,” “Hol’ Up,” and “B*tch Don’t Kill My Vibe.”
Chuck Strangers & Joey Bada$$
Best Known Song: “FromdaTomb$”
Why They Work Well Together: Since Pro Era burst onto the scene in 2012, Joey Bada$$ and Chuck Strangers have become known as a formidable duo in New York’s underground hip-hop scene. Chuck’s Golden Age-inspired, sample-heavy production featured prominently in Joey’s critically-acclaimed debut mixtape, 1999. Expect more soulful collaborations between the two on Joey Bada$$ upcoming debut album B4.Da.$$.
The Alchemist & Prodigy
Best Known Song: “Hold You Down”
Why They Work Well Together: In the mid ’90s, Prodigy and Havoc formed Mobb Deep, one of hip-hop’s most revered duos. A decade later, Prodigy found another beatsmith who brought out the best in him as an MC – The Alchemist. Judging from background alone, one would not expect The Alchemist and Prodigy to form one of hip-hop’s best combinations. The Alchemist was born to Jewish parents in Beverly Hills, Cali., while Prodigy was raised in the notorious Queensbridge projects. Despite their background differences, The Alchemist’s soulful-yet-street sound has served as a perfect companion for Prodigy’s street-smart, gritty lyricism. Their second collaborative album, Albert Einstein, dropped on June 11.
Young Chop & Chief Keef
Best Known Song: “I Don’t Like”
Why They Work Well Together: Young Chop and Chief Keef are best known for hit collaborations such as “I Don’t Like” and “Hate Being Sober” off Keef’s 2012 debut Finally Rich. Young Chop’s hard-hitting trap beats have become the defining sound behind Keef’s street style rhymes. Their work together has propelled several songs to viral success (“I Don’t Like” has been viewed more than 27 million times on YouTube), and helped establish Sosa as a big ne
El-P & Killer Mike
Best Known Song: “Big Beast”
Why They Work Well Together: El-P & Killer Mike first came together for last year’s R.A.P. Music. Mike’s sixth studio album—and one of his most critically acclaimed to date—the LP brought him back into the limelight, thanks in part to El-P’s monster beats. Blending Mike’s signature brand of southern rap with his storied production, El-P managed to elevate the album to one of the year’s best. The duo continues to record together, releasing their collaborative free album Run the Jewels recently.
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Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Best Known Song: “Thrift Shop”
Why They Work Well Together: Ryan Lewis and Macklemore stunned the industry when their independently released album The Heist topped the charts last October. Since then, propelled by multi-platinum singles “Can’t Hold Us” and “Thrift Shop,” the album has become wildly successful, currently hovering just under platinum status. Lewis’ jazzy, instrumental sound has defined Macklemore’s work since he first came on the scene with The VS EP. The longtime friends work in a highly collaborative manner, with Lewis directing Macklemore’s videos and designing his visual media in addition to producing all his music.
J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League & Rick Ross
Best Known Song: “Aston Martin Music”/”Maybach Music” Series
Why They Work Well Together: Whenever Florida-born rapper Rick Ross teamed up with the production team J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, the results have been extraordinary. Their first collaborations appeared on Rick Ross’ sophomore album, Trilla. The standout track “Maybach Music” (which featured Jay-Z) became the first of the four-part “Maybach Music” series – a series which inspired the name of Ross’ label, Maybach Music Group. Since Trilla, the combination of Ross and the League has resulted in hits such as “Magnificent,” and “Aston Martin Music.” The juxtaposition between J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League’s lush, soulful compositions and Ross’ “Mafia Don” persona makes this one of hip-hop’s favorite combinations.
Harry Fraud & Action Bronson
Best Known Song: “Strictly 4 My Jeeps”
Why They Work Well Together: “La musica de Harry Fraud…” Lovers of today’s underground hip-hop scene get excited when they hear these words at the beginning of a track. Brooklyn producer Harry Fraud has broken out of obscurity and created a reputation as on of hip-hop’s illest beatmakers. Action Bronson, hailing from Flushing, Queens, has also made a name for himself – as one of the genre’s most unique and talented MCs. It’s only right that two of New York’s rising stars collaborate. Harry Fraud’s hard-hitting, sample-based style of production provides a perfect fit for Bronson’s sharp, quick-witted delivery. The duo’s collaborative EP, Saab Stories, was released on June 11.
Clams Casino & A$AP Rocky
Best Known Song: “Wassup”
Why They Work Well Together: The young Harlem rapper, whose style resembles Texas-based trill music combined with the grimy sound of New York City, came together with New Jersey-based producer, Clams Casino, to further develop the notable A$AP Rocky image. Starting from their collaboration for Rocky’s debut mixtape Live. Love. A$AP to his debut album Long. Live A$AP, this duo creates ambient soundscapes with an Harlem edge for all the pretty flackos across the globe.
Noah “40″ Shebib & Drake
Best Known Song: “Successful”
Why They Work Well Together: With their roots both as child actors, Drake and 40 both left the television screen to get in the recording studio. After working together on Drake’s highly successful mixtape So Far Gone, the two began to develop the smooth, thought-provoking sound that Drake is known to have. Drake is the master of painting pictures through his words which are supported by the images developed by 40′s beats. This duo proves time and time again that great music starts from resonating with the audience by striking an emotional chord.
DJ Premier & Bumpy Knuckles
Best Known Song: “P.A.I.N.E.”
Why They Work Well Together: For fans of underground hip-hop, Premo has built his legacy working with legendary acts such as Talib Kweli, Common and more. Still, the New York mainstay continues to expand his horizons by casting a wider net for talent. Bumpy Knuckles, who first started working with Premier in 2003, have joined forces again for their recent album, The Kolexxion. Executed in a classic style, the pair makes us wish they made more music together. Brash, unapologetic and packed with ferocious rhymes, Freddie Foxxx over Premo beats is hip-hop at its finest.
Zaytoven & Gucci Mane
Best Known Song: “Icy”
Why They Work Well Together: Known for his ice cream beats, it would only make sense for Zaytoven to work with the ice cream man himself, Gucci Mane. With over 30 mixtapes, Gucci’s trap-star orchestrated beats produced by Zaytoven contributes to his success as a southern rapper. Their relationship, starting with his work on Gucci’s 2005 mixtape Trap House, has only continued to grow and secure Gucci’s place in hip-hop.
Mike Will & Future
Best Known Song: “Turn On The Lights”
Why They Work Well Together: A combination of 808 beats and catchy hooks, Future and Mike Will is a force to be reckoned with. Mike Will was behind Future’s hit records “Neva End” and “Turn On the Lights.” Future utilizing Auto-Tune alongside the strip-club sound of Mike has created a whole new turn in the hip-hop world, inspiring top Billboard songs such as “Bandz A Make Her Dance” by Juicy J, “Pour It Up” by Rihanna and “Love Me” by Lil Wayne. This duo is turning into the future of hip-hop.
Madlib & Freddie Gibbs
Best Known Song: “Thuggin’”
Why They Work Well Together: When word got out that Freddie Gibbs and Madlib were working together, fans couldn’t wait until their inevitable full-length album. After a pair of EPs (Thuggin’ and Shame), MadGibbs has been busy finishing up the long-awaited Cocaine Pinata album. From their previous efforts, the ambitious, soulful production of Madlib combined with Gibbs’ gangster persona is some of their best releases yet. They are on their way to making a cult classic sooner than you think.
Pharrell & Jay-Z
Best Known Song: “Excuse Me Miss”
Why They Work Well Together: This duo is a force to be reckoned with. Pharrell has an eye for art and Jay-Z has an ear for music, the combination of these two and their keen senses have been responsible for providing the hip-hop world with classic hits. From fun youthful songs like “Give it To Me” to grown and sexy songs like “Excuse Me Miss,” this duo has withstood the test of time by constantly growing and reinventing themselves. Now, with the upcoming release of Hov’s twelfth studio album Magna Carta Holy Grail, he and Skateb