After Drake and Future shook the internet with the release of their What a Time To Be Alive, it got us wondering what other hip-hop duos we’d like to see come together on a project. Finding the perfect balance between contrasting yet compatible styles is difficult, but a well-executed duo could propel the careers of both artists — or perhaps even forge a permanent alliance. Who has the best chance to be the next Run the Jewels?
A$AP Rocky & Schoolboy Q
These two have a documented chemistry, starting with A$AP’s appearance on Schoolboy Q’s first hit single, “Hands on the Wheel.” Q also recently appears on “Electric Body” from Rocky’s recent At.Long.Last.A$AP. This pair has the talent to cover all the bases: Schoolboy Q brings the energy and delivery, while Rocky slows it down and picks the perfect beats to ride on.
Kendrick Lamar & J. Cole
It takes some guts to go toe-to-toe with Kendrick Lamar for a song, let alone an entire record. These two “conscious” rappers have insisted that a project is on the way for some time now.
It would be tough for Cole to go bar-for-bar with Lamar, who has little to prove after dropping two spectacular records in To Pimp a Butterfly and good Kid, m.A.A.d city, but where he can mesh with the TDE superstar is behind the producer’s board. He is responsible for the legendary beat on “HiiiPoWer,” one of the singles from Lamar’s first studio album, Section .80. Nonetheless, this would be a huge career risk for Cole — but it could also put him into the elite tier of hip-hop artists if executed well.
Mac Miller & Vince Staples
These two already have a project together: Using his producer alter-ego Larry Fisherman, Mac Miller created the beats for Vince Staples’ 2013 mixtape Stolen Youth. Both have since dropped new albums that redefined their styles, so let’s get a full-on Mac/Staples album that puts both artists on the mic.
Action Bronson & Chance the Rapper
These two showed some chemistry with Chance’s verse on “Baby Blue” — one of the few memorable songs from Action Bronson’s Mr. Wonderful. Both rappers have a playful, cheeky vibe to their music. Where Bronson dominates with a strong delivery, however, Chance brings the off-kilter approach for a good mix of traditional and alternative rap.
Joey Bada$$ & Nas
Realistically, Nas likely wouldn’t be up for making a collaborative album with an artist still on the come-up at this stage in his career, but it would be compelling to see these two New York artists going back and forth. Joey Bada$$ is one of the few modern rappers to embrace the old-school sound (almost to a fault); it would be something else to see how he responds to trading bars with one of the genre’s great New York legends.
Big K.R.I.T. & Killer Mike
Killer Mike is already part of Run the Jewels, but while El-P is busy making cat-noise remixes of their music, why not combine with one of the top southern rappers and producers in the game? K.R.I.T. is the modern king of classic, southern-flavored beats. Killer Mike’s conscious, aggressive, take-no-prisoners style would mesh perfectly with K.R.I.T.’s content and style while filling any gaps when it comes to K.R.I.T.’s lyricism.
Ab-Soul & Danny Brown
Sure, these artists both share the same Easy-E “long hair, hat, and sunglasses” hook and nasal delivery, but that is not why they should join forces for a record. Danny’s Brown’s efforts to make “Terrorist Threats,” one of the best tracks in TDE’s entire catalogue, proves that these two artists have a similar mindset and have a lot of shared ideas and concepts to tap into.
Travis $cott & Kid Cudi
Travis Scott may consider Kid Cudi a major source of influence as a former G.O.O.D. Music member, but the struggling Man on the Moon creator needs all the help he can get to save his career from going defunct. Evidenced by the recent release of his debut album Rodeo, Scott has a knack for making obnoxious, heavily autotuned yet musically sound beats — something Cudi has failed to do since his own debut album.