5 of the earliest Hip Hop / R&B Collaborations

These days in music it seems that every track has some sort of singing and rhyming in it, whether it’s a collaboration of some sort or the artist is doing both the singing and the emceeing (for better or for worse)
But where did it all begin?

Soon there will be a new list where we discuss the greatest Hip Hop/R&B collaborations but for now I wanted to shine some light on the origins of the sub-genre, there was a time when Hip Hop was viewed as a fad, passing fashion, and something that wouldn’t last; until the youth picked it up and used it as their voice
Mainstream media soon took a hold of it but not before “Real music” began to tap into it to sell more records

It didn’t happen overnight in fact, it was a slow process with only a few rare collaborations

This is four of the more significant early occasions when R&B met Hip Hop

1. I feel for you (1984)

One of the first songs that featured a Singer and an emcee happened in 1984 and of this list it is hands down the most popular. Everyone knows “I feel for you” by Chaka Khan and they know the video with Turbo and Ozone but most people do not know the song is a remake and written by and recorded by Prince in 1979
Even though Melle Mel’s contribution to the song came from his single “Step Off” it counts and it’s just as Hip Hop Relevant

The next three of the earliest Hip Hop / R&B Collaborations are widely slept on if not forgotten

2. Don’t Rock that Boat (1988)

Midnight Star is an R&B group who’s been recording since 1979 – 1980 and has hits such as: Freak-A-Zoid, Wet My Whistle, No Parking on The Dance Floor, and Midas Touch … you should really look those up if you’re unfamiliar.
In 1988 they released a song called “Don’t Rock the boat” which featured Ecstasy from the Hip Hop group Whodini, this type of collaboration was unheard of at the time because even with Chaka Khan’s single, Melle Mel didn’t perform his part in the video … Ecstasy was present in this particular clip

3. Loosey’s Rap (1988)

In 1988 Funk Legend Rick James teamed up with Juice Crew All Star Roxanne Shante and released “Loosey’s Rap” it made a little noise on the charts and was the first Hip Hop/R&B collaboration to feature a female emcee

4. Friends (1989)

Friends by Jody Watley is often slept on but it has significant Hip Hop History, not only it was one of the first songs that featured an R&B singer and emcee BUT it featured the God emcee and it was his first collaboration rhyming with ANYONE and his only for decades
The song was Watley’s second single from her “Larger than Life” album in 1989 and Ra’s verse included an interpolation of his classic “I aint no joke” single

5. Feels like another one (1991)

Not to be outdone, in 1991 one of the most celebrated singers of our Generation Patti Labelle ventured towards Hip Hop with the release of her single “Feels like another one” featuring King Asiatic Nobody’s Equal; Big Daddy Kane
At this point LaBelle was primed for a comeback and BDK was already loved by all of the women it was a match made in heaven and helped Patti go Gold, it probably would’ve been remembered better (if at all) if it were a younger artist however.




  • Do you remember these songs?
  • Any earlier memories?
  • Which had the best/Worst Emcee Performance?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

  • Keedo

    Great article. Now I have a question for you. All of these songs are from R&B artists and they feature hip hop artists. I would really like to know what was the first song by a hip hop artist to feature an ESTABLISHED R&B artist. I’ve received a plethra of responses to this question but none have been conclusive. Maybe you can help me out…

  • http://gravatar.com/kairorough Fury Evan’s

    They were the earliest, but the one that SKYROCKETED the trend WORLDWIDE was MARIAH CAREY’S “Fantasy” REMIX featuring Ol’ Dirty Bastard

  • chrisrock

    How about method man and mary j.blidge