Nowadays, music is all about the big collab; the bigger and more relevant to the cause, the better.
The formula seems to be getting as many noteworthy features on a project as possible, with name recognition being the sole determining factor. The blueprint is rarely broken, but when it is, it can make for an interesting alliance.
2019 has featured a number of surprising collabs. Most notably, Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road (Remix)” which got an assist from country music legend Billy Ray Cyrus.
Cyrus hopped on the track after giving the rapper props following the fallout from Nas X’s single being shunned by the country music charts.
“Been watching everything going on with OTR,” Cyrus tweeted back in March. “When I got thrown off the charts, Waylon Jennings said to me ‘Take this as a compliment’ means you’re doing something great! Only Outlaws are outlawed. Welcome to the club!”
Their duet wound up becoming the biggest single in Billboard Hot 100 history, after sitting at No. 1 on the chart for a record-breaking 19 weeks. While that is an outlier success-wise, there have been more fire collabs to drop from artists who probably wouldn’t typically be seen in a room together.
With the year shortly coming to a close, XXL compiles some of the most surprising rap collabs of 2019.
“Hatshepsut”Rapsody Featuring Queen Latifah
Rapsody was surprisingly able to bring rap royalty Queen Latifah out of retirement to bless the Eve cut “Hatshepsut.”
“Make It Better”Anderson .Paak Featuring Smokey Robinson
Anderson .Paak has soul. He linked up with one of soul music’s greats on the Ventura track "Make It Better.”
“Mixed Personalities"YNW Melly Featuring Kanye West
It's wild how an underground rapper on the cusp of stardom landed a feature from one of the biggest artists on the planet.
“Old Town Road”Lil Nas X Featuring Billy Ray Cyrus
The Atlanta rapper and country music icon team up on the biggest song of the year.
“Rapapapa”Rich Brian Featuring RZA
Rich Brian and RZA? Tell us you saw this coming during the “Dat Stick” days.
“Remember the Name”Ed Sheeran Featuring Eminem and 50 Cent
Of all people, English pop star Ed Sheeran reunited Eminem and 50 Cent on a track for the first time since 2012's "My Life" (another unexpected collab with Adam Levine).
“Say About Me”Chris Janson Featuring Offset
Offset stepped out the box this year by hopping on country star Chris Janson’s “Say About Me” single.
“Take What You Want”Post Malone Featuring Ozzy Osbourne and Travis Scott
Post Malone was able to nab a feature from OG rocker Ozzy Osbourne on Hollywood’s Bleeeding.
“Use This Gospel”Kanye West Featuring Clipse and Kenny G
Kanye did the seemingly impossible by reuniting Clipse members Pusha-T and No Malice, throwing in jazz legend Kenny G for good measure. It's a standout cut on his gospel rap album, Jesus Is King.