Top 10 Hip-Hop Duos of All Time

Aug 9, 2010

The Bottom Line I separate duos from groups with at least 3 members, and here's my take on duos.

I've already made a list for my top 10 hip-hop groups of all time here and I clearly said that I only include groups with at least three members in their roster, and I did that for a reason. Mainly because I wanted to have more groups included and then take care of the duos in another essay and here I am with my top 10 list, the "duo" edition. Without taking much time to babbling, I'll just get on with the list. Also, to appear in the list, the duo must have made at least two albums.

Consisting of underground favorite, Pharoahe Monch and Prince Po, this duo never made much noise commercially but they remained consistently good for three albums and their short discography is one of the main reasons they are placed at number 10. Coming out with one of the most creative concepts, a gun personification ("Stray Bullet"), as well as several other great lyrical displays, they justify their existence here.
[Best album: Stress: The Extinction Agenda]

With one of the finest producers ever in Pete Rock and an alright lyricist in CL Smooth, it took what it was needed to make a fine hip-hop duo. This match more than worked and gave us one classic and a pretty good album. For whatever reason though, the two fell out and we were only blessed with two albums.
[Best album: Mecca and the Soul Brother]

8. M.O.P.
Coming straight out of Brownsville, Brooklyn, the hardcore duo of Lil Fame and Billy Danzer have kept going from 1994 all the way to this day and released several solid albums while having a few slow moments. They have a unique style where they scream their lyrics with lots of energy, the closest to them is Onyx and part of their appeal is also how good they execute this kind of style.
[Best album: Warriorz]

With one of, if not the best lyricist in the rap game, known as Kool G Rap and a skilled DJ named Polo, it took nothing more to make three back to back masterpieces. Despite their short discography, they left their place as a legendary duo with a consistently flawless discography.
[Best album: Live and Let Die]

Coming from the 41st Side of Queensbridge, the duo of Havoc and Prodigy have become the east coast's, perhaps, finest gangsta rap act. Havoc later established himself as one of New York's elite producers while Prodigy did just fine, they also have a classic under their belt with The Infamous as well as a solid follow-up, Hell on Earth. Unfortunately, consistency has not been a thing to think of as they never have made any albums as good as the aforementioned ones, nothing from their debut to the successors live up to either and that's what leaves them only at sixth spot, but their longevity has counted as a point for them.
[Best album: The Infamous]

Another MC/DJ duo that revolutionized the game like no other and are probably this list's most influential act. MC Rakim revolutionized rapping and took it to the next level while Eric B. had DJ skills that few could compete with back then, adding James Brown samples to his beats, something the whole east coast would do non-stop for several years. They broke up too soon, but left four pretty good albums with two of them being classics.
[Best album: Paid in Full]

One of the most unlucky duos ever. While southern rap had no big name back around the time these guys came around, the Port Arthur duo of Pimp C and Bun B did more than enough to impress the successful Jay-Z to give them mainstream exposure in his hit single "Big Pimpin'". These guys have lyrically been mostly gangsta rappers with very good, slowed down, southern production that is unique to them. Their lyrics being mostly ordinary gangsta rap has never meant that they were unable to be more thoughtful, something songs like "One Day" demonstrated. Sadly, Pimp C's release from jail didn't keep the group together for too long as he quickly died from drug overdose in the end of 2007, ending the group permanently.
[Best album: Underground Kingz]

One of hip-hop's most pure rap groups ever. Very few have had music that spells out hip-hop the same way Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith did. From the legendary Strictly Business to their mostly similar followups, these guys have never changed much while still being able to make good albums and being successful. But after their first break-up in 1992 following the excellent Business Never Personal, their reunions never brought out the same magic from the rappers the same way, neither did their solo albums.
[Best album: Strictly Business]

The DJ's name is Premier and the rapper's Guru. A consistently great duo that did a lot to the legacy of their music and pumped out pretty good albums after another but following 1994's Hard to Earn, only two more albums came out following them before the two broke-up and never reunited, until Guru's death made it fully clear. Guru proved that he could be a battle rapper while also very thoughtful and provocative with songs like "Moment of Truth". DJ Premier is without a doubt one of hip-hop's finest producers ever and the easiest way to find out why is to simply check out a Gang Starr album.
[Best album: Step in the Arena]

And we've finally come to hip-hop's greatest duo of all time, OutKast, housing Andre 3000 and Big Boi. Two amazing lyricists backed by the great production of Organized Noise, have proved that rappers can mature and experience new styles with each album while remaining consistently great. They have made three back to back classics (Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, ATLiens and Aquemini) while slowed down a little with 2000's Stankonia and the double-album Spearboxxx/The Love Below from 2003. Big Boi also proved that he still got it in him with the recent release and acclaimed solo debut, Sir Lucious Left Foot and Andre 3000 has done likewise with the numerous great guest appearances he's done. All we need now is another album by the two to prove that hip-hop is far from dead.
[Best album: Aquemini]

And this signals the end of my top 10 hip-hop duos list, I can't say for sure, but definitely stay tuned for another list that I might come out with later on. For now, enjoy this!

R.I.P. Pimp C & Guru.

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