The List: 10 greatest hip-hop duos

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

From the reflective, conscious rhymes of Black Star to the phonky and southern-fried melodies of OutKast, so many great hip-hop duos have touched the mic and changed the landscape of music. In honor of Method Man & Redman's trip to the Newport (and Monday's today's release of Killer Mike and El-P's Run the Jewels 2), we've ranked the 10 greatest rap duos (who were both emcees). Sorry, Gang Starr and Pete Rock & CL Smooth.

10. Capone-N-Noreaga

CNN was the last major wave of Queensbridge. The duo created music that was both collaboratively successful (The War Report) and on the solo tip (N.O.R.E.'s self-titled debut saw heavy commercial success). "T-O-N-Y, invade N-Y! Multiply!"

9. 8Ball & MJG

Memphis' 8Ball & MJG may not have achieved the recognition of their hometown peers Three 6 Mafia, but their catalog is undeniable. Consistently releasing albums over a 20-year period, the duo helped define the laid-back melodies of the South and the lifestyle that accompanied it.

8. Clipse

Everyone knows the table-slapping, beat-boxing favorite "Grindin'" but Clipse created so much more. Both Lord Willin' and Hell Hath No Fury are widely regarded as important hip-hop albums for the new millennium.

7. Black Star

It's sad we only got one joint LP from Mos Def and Talib Kweli, but the one we got is timeless.

6. Method Man & Redman

Who would've thought two goofy, outlandish, weed-puffing MCs would make one of the greatest hip-hop duos of all time?

5. UGK

Nothing screams Cadillac-pushing and trunk-bumping quite like UGK. The Texas group's potential wasn't fulfilled, though, since Pimp C passed in 2007. What we did experience was nothing short of legendary. Or, as Pimp would put it, "trill."


Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith made dollars during the late '80s and early '90s, becoming legends in the process. Everything the duo did involved "business."

3. Mobb Deep

Perhaps hip-hop's most infamous duo ever, Mobb Deep took rap to the dark side. Need a taste? Just listen to The Infamous.

2. Eric B & Rakim

Few, if any, MCs are greater than Rakim. Even fewer could collaborate as flawlessly as Eric B and Ra did. Paid in Full, Follow the Leader … there are so many reasons to place them among the G.O.A.T.s, but our space is limited.

1. OutKast

The phonky melodies and "playalistic" vibe of this Atlanta duo shaped southern hip-hop forever. Releasing four classic albums in succession, Big Boi and Andre 3000 created a catalog of music hard to compete with. Oh, and their 2003 goliath Speakerboxxx/The Love Below was the highest-selling hip-hop album ever. No biggie.