During a time of oversaturation, these ten collaborative efforts were able to make a distinctive mark.
2018 has been quite a suffocating year for rap music - while nearly every major artist has delivered at least one project, the quality therein has been disappointingly sporadic. How many of these albums will be praised 20 years from now, the same way albums from ‘98 are still revered?
The violent shift from physical sales to streaming over this past decade has fostered a sort of crabs-in-a-barrel mentality within the music industry. On one hand, digital streaming platforms (DSPs) have allowed for new acts to break with increasing frequency, and with increasing autonomy, which can be considered a net positive. However, the popularization of DSPs has concurrently forced many existing acts to implement tighter album cycles in order to stay relevant. Only the most established of artists seemed to shirk the responsibility of remaining visible in the face of rampant dilution. Everyone else has been scrambling to assemble and deliver a retail mixtape, EP, single or album every quarter.
One admittedly exciting side-effect of the streaming era has been the return of the collab album. Although underground artists have always been prone to collaborative efforts, the return of this sort of creative experimentation has been a slow burn on the mainstream front. What had become a complicated venture during the heyday of music labels now seems to be more viable and, if done right, more lucrative than ever before. In some of these cases, it’s a clear cash grab. But in others, it’s genuine fan demand and natural chemistry that brings two parties together.
For all the projects that have breached our top 10, there’s an adherence to craftsmanship that has resulted in an impressive final product. Each and every one of these artists is in beautiful synchronization with their partner, and sparks of genius occasionally develop into lightning in a bottle. Unlike the increasingly bloated solo efforts we’ve been witnessing, these collabs are purposefully concise, upping their replay value while leaving us craving for more. And hey, with the way the industry moves nowadays, we might even get sequels for a handful of them by this time next year.
ICYMI, check out our Hottest Albums list here.
Editor's Note: We loved the PRHYME 2 album, however you will not find it on this list, as we are only looking at joint albums that are of the Artist x Artist variety.