Ten rap features that stole the show
Features have a long history in hip-hop, one that's now frequently used in other musical forms, as well. It can serve several purposes: A well-placed feature can present you to a whole new pocket of possible fans. It can also take advantage of another rapper's current popularity, or it can give the listener another style or a distinct style to chew on, possibly showcasing an already strong chemistry.
There is one rule that always stays the same, however: Don't get bodied on your own track! Unfortunately, sometimes it's unavoidable, as in these cases, where, for the most part, the primary rapper wasn't bad (usually even quite good), but the featured rapper was just in the zone. Here are the top ten cases.
10. Jay Rock featured by Kendrick Lamar on "Money Trees"
After Kendrick delivers two strong opening verses with a sort of lazy stoicism, Jay Rock takes the tone of the song in a totally different direction, ramping up the song's intensity to the point of paranoid anxiety. Jay blends violence and crime with nostalgic childhood images and humor, creating an environment where life and duress seem inextricable. It's as if Jay Rock is delivering a funny and sentimental verse where violence is a given, and it ends up being one of the best verses on Kendrick's album.
9. Andre3000 featured by T.I. on "Sorry"
T.I., when he wants to be, is a really good lyricist, and he got meditative as shit on "Sorry" and probably figured, "Who's a nice Southern boy I can meditate with?" So he called on Andre 3000, the consummate lyricist. As it turns out, nobody meditates like Andre 3000, and he makes T.I.'s musings seem like a teenager's diary in comparison.
8. AZ featured by Nas on "Life's a Bitch"
The only guest verse on probably the greatest, most beloved album in all of hip-hop, and it's arguably one of the best verses -- definitely the best on the song. It's hard to figure out how AZ, on an album that changed how people rapped, seemed to already have adapted and even mastered the new style of rhyming. Beyond that, AZ's content is gripping, touching on the sin that creeps into a person as they are forced to grow up.
7. Nas featured by Rick Ross on "Triple Beam Dreams"
Both Nas and Rozay are speaking on, very generally, the same subject, but this track illustrates perhaps like no other the wide range of depth in so-called "sex, money, drugs" songs, and that even when the subject matter is indeed sex, drugs and money, the implications can touch on so much more. While Ross is content being the boss of the fuck boys, Nas paints a detailed picture of a young black man in a crappy circumstance with a chip on his shoulder. One is believable; one is not.