This article showcases the most iconic and best rap duos of all time.
Great things come in pairs, and since the golden age of hip-hop in the 90s, some of the most iconic rap groups have been duos. Whether it’s a DJ and an MC or two MCs, it would seem that two is the magic number.
This list leaves to one side some of the more recent collaborations that have come from the trap scene, and tend to be limited to a couple of tracks or a mixtape at most. Instead we’ll focus on rap duos that collaborated over a number of years.
Let’s dive in and discover the iconic rap duos whose legacy lives on today.
30. Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg
What better way to kick this list off than with Dr.Dre and Snopp Dogg. Two of the biggest names in hip-hop, when this pair comes together it’s solid gold.
Dre and Snoop Dogg have not produced a whole album together, so they can’t rank high on this list. That said, the two friends have collaborated numerous times over the years. Their most famous collab is the 1999 hit ‘Still D.R.E’ on which Dre featured Snoop Dogg (with Snoop Dogg allegedly writing most of Dre’s lines.
As well as ‘Still D.R.E.’ Snoop Dogg appeared on three other tracks on Dr. Dre’s 2001 album.
29. Method Man & Redman
Method Man & Redman, aka Red & Mef, is comprised of Wu-Tang Clan’s Method Man and Def Squad’s Redman. Aside from their main projects and successful solo projects, the rap duo dropped two albums as a pair.
Their debut album Blackout! (1999) peaked at number three on the Billboard 200 album charts, going platinum in the US. A decade later, their follow-up album Blackout! 2 (2009) was another success, peaking at number seven on the Billboard 200.
The pair’s biggest hit was the 1995 ‘How High’ – which was the name given to the 2001 film in which they both starred.
28. Cannibal Ox
One of the lesser-known rap duos on this list, Harlem-based Cannibal Ox is composed of Vast Aire and Vordul Mega.
The pair’s 2001 debut album The Cold Vein was critically acclaimed, especially for its lyricism, with HipHopDX naming it amongst the best thirty underground hip-hop albums of the twenty-first century. They eventually dropped a second album, Blade of the Ronnin in 2015.
Cannibal Ox hardly broke into the mainstream, but The Cold Vein remains an all-time classic underground hip-hop album, giving the duo a well-deserved place on this list.
Named after the once popular jeans brand Trim, L’Trimm were a Florida-based female rap duo who were active at the end of the 80s and into the early 90s. The duo is composed of Bunny D and Lady Tigra.
Their debut 1988 album Grab It! peaked at one hundred and thirty-two on the Billboard 200 album charts. The album’s title was a reference to Salt-N-Pepa’s hit song ‘Push It.’
L’Trimm’s biggest single was ‘Cars with the Boom,’ which reached fifty-four on the Billboard Hot 100. The track had something of a resurgence in 2020 thanks to TikTok.
26. Organized Konfusion
Organized Konfusion is a rap duo from Queens, New York, comprising Prince Po and Pharoahe Monch. The pair were active in the late 80s and to the late 90s. After a spell pursuing solo careers, they reformed in 2009 for occasional shows.
The duo released three albums before their split – Organized Confusion (1991), Stress: The Extinction Agenda (1994), and The Equinox (1997). The latter two albums broke into the bottom half of the Billboard 200, making them a moderate commercial success. However, all three records are considered underground classics.
Their split, in a sense, was to quit while they were ahead. As Prince Po explained in an interview, ‘We wanted to preserve the name. I don’t think the records would have been the classics that they are if we kept on throwing records out there like it was nothing.’
This list would not be complete with the iconic 90s female rap duo, Salt-N-Pepa. Comprising New York City rappers Salt and Pepa, and supported by DJ Spinderella, Salt-N-Pepa were a cultural phenomenon, combining hip-hop and pop to massive success.
Known honorifically as ‘The First Ladies of Rap,’ the group is one of the best-selling rap acts of all time, having sold over 15 million records globally. The pair released five albums between 1986 and 1997, with their 1993 album Very Necessary going 5x platinum in the US, and peaking at number four on the Billboard 200 album chart.
Their hits include ‘Push It’ (1987), ‘Let’s Talk About Sex’ (1991), ‘Shoop’ (1993), and ‘Whatta Man’ (1994).
Formed in 1995 Capone-N-Noreaga, aka C-N-N hail from Queens, New York. The rap duo is composed of Capone and N.O.R.E (formerly known as Noreaga).
Capone-N-Noreaga represented the rivalry between East and West Coast hip-hop by responding to West Coast rap duo Tha Dogg Pound’s 1995 song ‘New York, New York,’ with their track ‘L.A., L.A.’
The hip-hop duo released five albums between 1997 and 2015, with their debut album The War Report arguably the most successful and best-remembered.
Their biggest singles were ‘L.A., L.A.’ featuring Mobb Deep and Tragedy Khadafi (1996), ‘T.O.N.Y. (Top of New York)’ (1997), and ‘Closer’ featuring Nneka (1997).
Smif-N-Wessun is a New York rap duo comprising Tekomin ‘Tek’ Williams and Darrell ‘Steele’ Yates.
They are known for their confessional tales of street life in Brooklyn, and their use of Jamaican patois in their bars. Their 2013 EP Born and Raised drew on Jamaican influences further, incorporating elements of reggae.
After the release of their classic 1995 album Dah Shinin’, the pair faced legal threats from the firearms company Smith & Wesson, switching their name to Cocoa Brovaz in 1996 to avoid the lawsuit.
Today, the duo are still at it, and back using their original Smif-N-Wessun name. In 2019 their dropped their fifth album, The All. Their signature track is the 1995 ‘Sound Bwoy Bureill.’
22. Jay-Z & Kanye West
The two biggest names in the history of rap music, Jay-Z and Kayne are frequent collaborators. In 2011, they rewarded fans with an epic collaborative album in the form of Watch the Throne.
The record is about as star-studded as it gets, with guest appearances from Frank Ocean, Beyoncé, and Kid Cudi amongst others. Ye led the production, also bringing in the likes of legendary producers Mike Dean, Jeff Bhasker, The Neptunes, Q-Tip, and others to build the tracks. The tracks showcase Ye’s characteristically epic, dramatic sound.
Needless to say, the record debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 album charts, reaching the top 10 in album charts around the world. The album featured seven singles.
A great record from two of the world’s most iconic rappers.
21. Camp Lo
Consisting of Sonny Cheeba and Geechi Suede, Camp Lo is a New York rap duo from the Bronx. The pair’s experimental sound introduces elements of jazz.
The pair have released nine albums between 1997 and 2021, and their debut album Uptown Saturday Night (1997) was by far the most successful, peaking at position twenty-seven on the BIllboard 200 album charts. A number of their albums have seen them collaborate with Pete Rock.
Their biggest hits came at the beginning of their career in the form of ‘Coolie High’ and ‘Luchini AKA This Is It’ – an all-time jazz-rap classic.
20. Blu & Exile
One of the more contemporary entrants on this list, Blu & Exile were formed in 2007 by rapper Blu and producer Exile.
Blu was a hype man for Slum Village, and Exile was working with Aloe Blacc on their project, Emanon. Aloe introduced the pair, leading to the start of their collaboration.
Their 2007 album Below the Heavens is an underground classic, and the duo’s most celebrated release. They followed up the record with albums Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them (2012), and Miles: From an Interlude Called Life (2020).
Their signature track is ‘Dancing in the Rain’ from their debut album.
19. Tha Dogg Pound
Tha Dogg Pound is the project of rappers Kurupt and Daz Dillinger. The legendary rap duo were founded in 1992, and after a hiatus in the early 00s, they continue releasing music as a duo.
The pair’s 1995 debut album Dogg Food was an enormous success, topping the Billboard 200 album charts, and going 2x platinum. Their later albums tended to chart, but did not reach the levels of success of Dogg Food.
The pair have collaborated variously with Snoop Dogg, and Snoop executive produced their 2006 reunion album Cali iz Active, as well as featuring on several of the tracks.
Their biggest hits all came from Dogg Food, and include ‘Respect’ (1995), ‘New York, New York’ (1995), and ‘Let’s Play House’ featuring Michel’le (1995).
18. Black Sheep
Hailing from Queens, New York, Black Sheep is a rap duo composed of Andres ‘Dres’ Vargas Titus and William ‘Mista Lawnge’ McLean. Formed in 1989, Dres and Mista Lawnge spent their childhoods in New York, before meeting in California when their families relocated there.
The pair have split and reformed numerous times, releasing five albums over the years. Their 1991 debut album A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing remains their definitive record. It peaked at number thirty on the Billboard 200 album chart, and was certified gold.
That album spawned several singles, with the biggest hit being ‘The Choice Is Yours (Revisited)’ which topped Billboard’s US Hot Rap Singles chart. ‘Flavour of the Month’ is another essential track.
17. The Beatnuts
The Beatnuts were a production duo comprised of Dominican American JuJu and Colombian American Psycho Les.
The group has featured other members at points, but JuJu and Psycho Les formed the core. The pair, formed in 1989, were peripherally associated with the Native Tongues collective.
The Beatnuts released six studio albums between 1994 and 2004, all of which charted in Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-hop Albums chart. Their 1999 album A Musical Massacre, was their biggest commercial success, peaking at number ten on the Top R&B/Hip-hop Albums chart and number thirty-five on the Billboard 200.
Their biggest hits include ‘Off the Books’ featuring Big Pun and Cuban Link (1997), ‘Watch Out Now’ featuring Yellaklaw (1999) and ‘Se Acabo’ featuring Swinger and Magic Juan (1999).
16. Run the Jewels
Run the Jewels, aka RTJ, is a rap duo formed of rapper and producer El-P and rapper Killer Mike. Since forming in 2013, they have released four albums – all of them available for free.
Both artists achieved some success as solo artists, but when they came together as Run the Jewels, the synergy was undeniable. Their hard-hitting sounds have won them fans within the worlds of both hip-hop and alternative rock.
Since the release of their debut album Run the Jewels (2013), the pair have gone from strength to strength. Their third album, Run the Jewels 3 (2016) topped the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, reaching number thirteen on the Billboard 200. Their fourth album, RTJ4 (2020) peaked at number ten on the Billboard 200.
The duo are Grammy nominated thanks to their feature on Danger Mouse’s 2018 track ‘Chase Me.’
Hailing from California, the iconic Blackalicious was composed of rapper Gift of Gab, and producer Chief Xcel. Gift of Gab is renowned as one of the most technically brilliant rappers of all time.
The hip-hop duo have released four albums since forming in 1994. Their 1999 debut album Nia peaked at twenty-nine on Billboard’s US Independent Albums chart, and fifty on the US Heatseekers Albums chart. Their next two albums Blazing Arrow (2002) and The Craft (2005) both entered the Billboard 200 album charts.
Their biggest hits include the tongue-twisting ‘Alphabet Aerobics’ (1999) and the soulful ‘Make You Feel That Way’ (2002).
14. Heltah Skeltah
Heltah Skeltah was a New York rap duo comprising rappers Jahmal ‘Rock’ Bush and Sean ‘Ruck’ Price. The pair first rose to recognition with their appearance on Smif-N-Wessun’s acclaimed 1995 album Dah Shinin’.
As well as Smif-N-Wessun, the pair were frequent collaborators with Buckshot and O.G.C of the Boot Camp Clik collective.
In the first chapter of their career, they released two albums – Nocturnal (1996) and Magnum Force (1998). After disbanding in the early 00s, they made a comeback with their album D.I.R.T. (Da Incredible Rap Team) (2008). All three albums charted on the Billboard 200.
Their signature track is ‘Leflaur Leflah Eshkoshka’ featuring O.C.G.
Ruck passed away in August 2015, aged 43.
M.O.P., standing for Mash Out Posse, is a New York rap duo consisting of Billy Danze and Lil’ Fame. The prolific duo have released six studio albums, and twenty-seven singles as a pair.
Their hard-hitting sound blends elements of rock with gangsta rap proved hugely popular in the underground scene, and they achieved quite some commercial success too, with all six of their albums charting on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-hop Albums chart, and three of them charting on the Billboard 200.
They are best known for their track ‘Ante Up,’ which comes from their acclaimed 2000 album Warriorz.
12. Pete Rock & CL Smooth
New York rap duo Pete Rock & CL Smooth are noted for their conscious lyricism and their soul, funk, and jazz samples thanks to Pete Rock’s production. Formed in 1989, their heyday fell in the early 90s.
The pair only released two albums in their time – Mecca and the Soul Brother (1992) and The Main Ingredient (1994).
Their biggest hit is the 1992 ‘They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)’ which topped Billboard’s’ Hot Rap Songs chart. Other hits include ‘Lots of Lovin’’ (1992) and ‘Take You There’ featuring Crystal Johnson (1994).
11. DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince
It doesn’t get more more iconic than DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince. Comprising Jeff Townes and Will Smith, the pair were responsible for several hits.
The pair won a 1989 Grammy award for Best Rap Performance for their single ‘Parents Just Don’t Understand,’ and a 1992 Grammy award for Best Rap Performance by a Group or Duo with their hit single ‘Summertime.’
The most successful of their five albums was the 1988 He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper, which peaked at number four on the Billboard 200, and went 3x platinum.
Other hits included ‘I Think I Can Beat Mike Tyson’ (1989), ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel Air’ (1992), and ‘Boom! Shake the Room’ (1993).
They duo continue to work together, but under Will Smith’s name, with Townes working in the background.
10. Black Star
Black Star is a hip-hop duo founded by the legendary Mos Def (now know as Yasiin Bey) and Talib Kweli. Formed out of Brooklyn, New York, the pair are undoubtedly one of the great rap duos from the ‘golden age of hip-hop.’
The duo dropped their classic album, Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star in 1998 to critical acclaim and commercial success. The record peaked at fifty-three on the Billboard 200 album chart, and thirteen on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-hop Albums chart.
Named after Marcus Garvey’s Black Star Line shipping company, the duo’s music is political, philosophical, and confessional.
After over twenty years without releasing a follow-up, they finally dropped No Fear of Time in 2022. Despite receiving relatively positive reviews, their debut album remains the pair’s definitive record, and is a touchstone of conscious rap.
9. Dead Prez
Dead Prez are a legendary socially conscious rap duo. As well as one of the most famous rap duos of all time, they are a key group in the conscious rap realm, noted for their political lyrics and opposition to exploitative record labels.
Formed of stic.man and M-1, the duo was formed in 1996 after meeting at university in Florida. They connected over their shared musical and political interests.
They have released three studio albums – Let’s Get Free (2000), Revolutionary But Gangsta (2004), and Information Age (2012).
Dead Prez’s biggest hit is their 1999 single ‘Hip-hop,’ the instrumental of which was used in the opening credits of Chappelle’s Show.
Clipse, aka The Clipse, is a rap duo formed of brothers Gene ‘No Malice’ and Terrence ‘Pusha T’ Thornton. Formed in 1992, their heyday ran from the 90s well into the 00s.
The pair have released four studio albums. Their sophomore 2002 album Lord Willin’ was their most commercially successful. It was certified gold, and peaked at number four on the BIllboard 200 album chart.
Their biggest hits, which both come from that album, are ‘Grindin’’ and ‘When the Last Time’ featuring Kelis and Pharrell.
The duo recently reformed to appear on Kanye’s 2019 song ‘Use this Gospel.’
Formed in Texas in 1987, UGK is composed of Chad ‘Pimp C’ Butler and Bernard ‘Bun B’ Freeman. The name UGK stands for Underground Kingz.
The pair released six studio albums over their career, achieving significant commercial success. Their most successful album Underground Kingz (2007), which features over a dozen high-profile guest rappers, topped the Billboard 200 album charts.
Pimp C died soon after this great achievement in December 2007.
Their biggest hit includes ‘Int’l Players Anthem (I Choose You)’ featuring Outkast. They are also known for their feature on the Jay-Z track ‘Big Pimpin’’ (2000), which topped Billboard’s Rhythmic chart.
New York rap duo EPMD is formed of Erick ‘E’ Sermon and Parrish ‘Parrish Mic Doc’ Smith aka PMD. The pair has been active, on-and-off, since 1987 in a career that has spanned four decades.
EPMD have released seven studio albums, the first five of which were all certified gold. Their debut album Strictly Business (1988) and their sophomore album Unfinished Business (1989) both topped the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.
They are best known for their songs ‘You Gots To Chill’ (1988) and ‘Da Joint’ (1997).
5. 8Ball & MJG
Formed in 1991 in Memphis, Tennessee, 8Ball & MJG is the project of rappers Premro ‘8Ball’ Smith and Marlon Jermaine ‘MJG’ Goodwin. The legendary rap duo released ten studio albums together between 1993 and 2010.
8Ball & MJG earned massive respect in the underground scene, and went on to significant commercial success. Their most successful album came in the form of 2004’s Living Legends, which topped the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, and reached number three on the Billboard 200.
Their hits include ‘Space Age Pimpin’’ featuring Nina Creque (1995), ‘You Don’t Want Drama’ featuring P Diddy (2004) and ‘Forever’ featuring Lloyd (2004).
4. Eric B. & Rakim
Eric B. & Rakim are an iconic New York hip-hop duo composed of DJ Eric B and MC Rakim. Formed in 1986, they were arguably the most influential DJ and MC duo of hip-hop’s golden age, earning significant critical acclaim in their day and ever since.
Rakim was known for his loose and experimental approach to rap bars, earning him comparisons with jazz legends. His lyrics often saw him post about his rapping style, and rightly so.
The duo released four studio albums, with their iconic 1987 debut album Paid in Full getting certified platinum.
Their hits include ‘I Ain’t No Joke’ (1987), ‘Paid in Full’ (1988), ‘Follow the Leader’ (1988), and ‘Don’t Sweat the Technique’ (1992) which topped the Billboard Hot Rap Songs chart.
3. Gang Starr
Based in Brooklyn, New York, Gang Starr was a hip-hop duo composed of DJ Premier and rapper Guru. Pioneers of jazz rap, the pair are widely acknowledged amongst the most famous and best DJ and MC duos of all time.
The pair formed in 1986 and were active until the early 00s. They reformed in 2019 to release their final album One of the Best Yet. Their 1998 album Moment of Truth is their most successful and arguably best album. It was certified gold, topping the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-hop Albums chart, and peaking at number six on the Billboard 200 album chart.
Their hits include ‘Take It Personal’ (1992), ‘Mass Appeal’ (1994), and ‘Full Clip’ (1999).
2. Mobb Deep
Mobb Deep was a New York rap duo consisting of rappers Prodigy and Havoc. The pair spearheaded the sound of East Coast hip-hop, and became one of the most-commercially successful rap duos ever.
The pair first met as students at the High School of Art and Design in Manhattan – a school that has produced its fair share of creative luminaries.
The pair released eight studio albums, selling over 3 million copies. Their 1995 sophomore album The Infamous was hugely successful, going platinum and peaking at number three on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-hop Albums chart.
Their iconic 1999 album Murda Muzik was also certified platinum, and peaked at number three on the Billboard 200 album chart.
Their biggest hits include ‘Shook Ones, Pt. II’ and ‘Survival of the Fittest’ – both from The Infamous.
Outkast was a rap duo that truly stood the test of time. Formed out of Atlanta, the pair was comprised of André 3000 and Antwan ‘Big Boi’ Patton. The iconic duo reinvented themselves over the years, experimenting with styles from jazz to funk to psychedelia.
After spending the best part of a decade bubbling on the underground in the 90s, the pair burst into the mainstream with their 2000 album Stankonia. This was followed by the hugely successful Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, which featured the unforgettable ‘Hey Ya!’ and debuted at number one of the Billboard 200 album chart. It was certified 11x platinum.
The pair are undoubtedly amongst the most successful and best-selling rap duos of all time, with over 20 million record sales to their name. They have won six Grammy awards, including Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for ‘Ms. Jackson’ and Best Rap Album for Stankonia in 2001.
The duo’s biggest hits include ‘Ms. Jackson’ (2000), ‘So Fresh, So Clean’ (2001), ‘Hey Ya!’ (2003), and ‘Roses’ (2004).
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