In another one of his brilliant hip hop essays, KNL looks at some of the best rap duos to have graced our stereos. The duo has been a typical formation for many rap groups, and often the individuals have not been able to re-create the same magic via solo efforts...there's something special in two emcees sharing verses and hooks. So have a read and let us know what you think!
I don't really need to justify why these two deserve to be on this list. Their sales figures and worldwide mass appeal speaks for itself. Trust me on this one, finding an Outkast hater is for the most part only possible amongst KKK Rallys and related events.
The simple fact is that Big Boi and Andre 3000 are so great because if we knew them individually; we would never have imagined putting them together. Big Boi is known for more of a conventional quick and witty flow with a typical southern slant on things. Three Stacks is rather known for his eccentricity, ability to step out the box, and a flow which is able to adapt for all genres. What Outkast do so well however, is attract more than just hip hop fans to the frey...all you have to do is check out their SpeakerBoxx/Love Below albums to see that on their own they were able to get clubs pumping with tracks like 'I like the way you move' and then start a frenzie with 'Hey Ya'.
Simply put, Outkast are one of the most diverse and adaptable Rap Duos anywhere who are able to stay with the times and if need be, start a new trend. With the amount of bullshit coming outta the South, it seems a shame we forget about one of the most talented groups in MUSIC let alone Hip Hop period. What's more, they managed to keep their relevance high at all times - definitely contenders for that number one spot!
Redman and Method Man
Affectionately referred to as 'Red & Meth', these two were tight way before Blackout! and this relationship shines when it comes to their performance on and off the mic. As well as their successful ventures on the small and big screen; Red & Meth have kept it real on the mic.
What's so special about these two is that both seem to bring out the best in each other; Redman is a controversial, humerous and laid back figure whilst Method Man brings in the classic Wu Tang swagger and slightly more aggressive rhymeplay into the scheme. Both artists are superstars in their own right despite not being able to hold down equally successful solo careers; their work has been solid if not spectacular yet when together the creativity and magic seems to come out as if from nowhere. What does that tell me? That tells me that this is one of hip hops truest duos, two super heros who only have their magic powers when used together...like some hip hop Power Rangers. Or some shit (editor's note - umm, yeah, power rangers).
At one point or another, any aspiring MC of the era was infront of his mirror mimicking the Infamous and lip-syncing Shook Ones (...what only me??) With a viscious flow and a tag-team rota on the mic, Mobb Deep bought gangster lyrics and hardcore beats to the forefront of Hip Hop. Prodigy and Havoc had a winning formula, and as small a niche it might have been, these two have milked it accordingly. Whilst they will never be awarded for their creativity when compared to acts like Outkast, what they do have is a now infamous chemistry which had many of your favourite rappers shaking in their boots at one time or another.
So why do Mobb Deep get my vote; well check your gangster rappers now (what's left of them) and tell me who's still bringing it how they did in the mid-90s...Snoop is rocking a turban and flying around on magic carpets...Prodigy and Havoc are still keeping it 100% QB, and even if their recent efforts haven't hit the mark, their lifelong consistency speaks for itself. You heard it from the TheRapBuzz, the infamous, you heard of us!
Boogie Down Productions for me laid down the benchmark, the perfect formula of which many would follow for years to come. KRS-One was the lyrical don whilst Scott La Rock bought the notes and melodies...leaving you with a perfect combination. Many cite the birth of Gangster Rap with Dr. Dre, NWA, Death Row and the West Coast....yes Gangster Rap started there. But Gangster Hip-Hop started with KRS grabbing a gun on his album cover when Dre was rocking a silver suit. But it takes more than being gangster to grace my list...KRS One bought us infamously simple yet catchy hooks combined with compelling story-telling lyrics and a clear delivery.
Criminal Minded was an incredible album which still influences your favourite artist today, the fact remains that BDP birthed what the rich white men are marketing now - and show us what it would be like without ever increasing commercial influence. Let us not forget those battle tracks (see The Bridge is Over and South Bronx) which had even Queen's natives chanting 'Queens keeps on faking it'...because whether you liked it or not, BDP was cold. Unfortunately Scott La Rock was murdered just before Criminal Minded's release in 1987...it is obvious that BDP would have been incredibly huge had he lived on to carry on the magic.
Now Southern Rap is everywhere you look and hear, infact it's become an irritation and constantly pointed to as the 'hip hop killer'. However when Southern Rap was merely a spec on the radar, Pimp C and Bun B bombarded the industry with a unique swag and use of slang unheard in hip hop prior to their arrival.
Pimp C was particularly potent with his production style which made them stand out from the crowd before they even graced the microphone. Known for being more melodic and featuring what would become typical Southern traits of hip hop production style, Bun B accompanied him perfectly with a decent flow capable of switching tempo but still maintaining constantly sound lyricalism and the odd rewind-worthy metaphor too. They were accepted all over and furthermore became widely acknowledged and respected; Jay-Z's Big Pimpin is a briliant example of the duo adding their unique flow to a super-mainstream hit, and shows their versatility. It's a shame that the South been f***ing up the scene recently, but all it does is highlight UGK's legacy even more. RIP Pimp C
Part 2 on its' way...