Rap in 2017 was unprecedented in its breadth and depth. More than practically any other year before, you could find something to suit just about any taste. Many artists embraced the frankly ridiculous number of options of sounds, flows, samples, streaming services, subject matter, and perhaps most intriguingly, rhyme partners available thanks to the wonders of our increasingly connected, social media-addicted world.
Whereas in previous years, rappers collaborations were limited to label partners or close friends, in the modern era, anyone can collaborate with anyone else via the internet. While your opinion on this practice may vary, there’s no denying that it opened up an entire world of possibilities with regard to rappers bouncing their skills off of their lyrically-inclined foils. In 2017, not only did this result in a bewildering buffet of collaborative albums, it also bridged generation gaps and revealed new layers of the rappers involved.
Some surprised with unexpected levels of skill, while others generated a magnetism that created a perfect equilibrium with their temporary partners. Others demonstrated that rap still has an astonishing amount of room to grow and evolve, giving us a sneak peek into the ways it may do so in the future. In one case — Migos’ late-year “Motor Sport” collaboration with both Nicki Minaj and Cardi B — the song somehow both ameliorated and exacerbated rumors of beef between the participants when fans began analyzing possible double meanings for every bar.
With so many options to choose from, it was no easy task narrowing down the best collaborative songs of the year. Some worthy additions had to be cut, like Yo Gotti’s monstrous single “Rake It Up” with Nicki Minaj. However, the remaining ten are not just the cream of the crop, they represent everything that hip-hop was in 2017, and provide the groundwork for 2018’s forthcoming evolution.