The idea of a supergroup is simple: a few popular artists get together, make some music, realize they like each other, and if they can combine their audiences, $$$. We see it happen all the time in rock ‘n’ roll, but the dynamic of a rock band can make it difficult for rock supergroups to succeed as anything other than a cash grab. But hip-hop is a different story.
Posse cuts, in which a handful of rappers — often with some sort of crew affiliation — jump on the same beat, competing with and driving each other, often make for the best records and illest verses. When they gel to the point where they (and their fans) want to collaborate further, the supergroup is born. And often those groups end up equaling more than the sum of their parts.
The supergroup is still going strong; we can’t wait for new music from the newly formed WOKE, a collaboration between Flying Lotus, Shabazz Palaces and Thundercat. But to give the latest hip-hop collaborations a little context, let’s take a look back at some of the illest hip-hop supergroups of all time. For the purposes of this list, we avoided loosely based collectives like Hieroglyphics, Dungeon Family, Native Tongues, Soulquarians, Juice Crew, OFWGKTA, and the Diplomats, defining “supergroup” as a group comprised of rappers that had solo careers (at least one LP) before joining forces like Voltron to create something bigger, badder, weirder, or more marketable. They also had to release at least one album. There’s likely an East Coast bias, because let’s be real: “If I got to choose a coast, I got to choose the East/ I live out there, so don’t go there.” And don’t even get me started on CRU or the Hot Boys. Be sure to tell us who we missed in the comments.