AHH ALTERNATIVES YEAR IN REVIEW 2007:R&B/Hip-Hop Collabo Commandments

When it comes to duets between rappers and singers, there is a formula that I believe undoubtedly leads to success. Straying from this formula often leads to very bad things – i.e. embarrassment, poor record sales, and sparse airplay just to name a few. ’07 definitely saw its share of winners and losers when it came to putting together hot rap/sung collaborations. Losers, do not fret, as I am here to give you the guidelines to prevent you from making a complete ass of yourself again in ’08:

Rule Number 1: When you are a singer or rapper selecting someone for your song, please take a moment and assess your status in the industry as well as that of your potential collaborator. Ask yourself: Have I had any hit records lately? Has my potential collaborator had any hit records lately? If the answer is no to both questions, do not pass go! If yes can be answered to at least one of these questions, then the collaboration is worth a shot.

Loser: Kelly Rowland’s “Like This” featuring Eve. Had they paid attention to rule number one, they both could have saved themselves some embarrassment.

Winner: Fabolous’ “Make Me Better” featuring Ne-Yo. This song is a perfect example of people who followed rule number one and were successful.

Rule Number 2: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If you have worked with someone a lot and have managed to churn out hit records, then keep working with them. Furthermore, if your collaborations with someone have still yet to yield a hit record, then stop immediately.

Winner: Beyonce’s “Upgrade U” featuring Jay-Z. Hot Chick with crazy pipes + iconic rapper = Score!!!!

Loser: Kelis’ “Blindfold Me” featuring Nas. I like these two, just not on a song together. Downgrade…

Rule Number 3: Each party must bring an equal amount to the song regardless of who is the bigger star. Think of the song as a date where one of the artists is buying lobster. If this is the case, then the other artist better put out for sure or the partnership won’t work! Do not expect your counterpart to carry the song!

Winner: Lloyd’s “You” Featuring Lil Wayne. This was perhaps one of the best songs of ’07. Each party came to the table ready to work, and the result was a classic collaboration that will be remembered for years to come.

Loser: Nicole Scherzinger’s “Whatever You Like” featuring T.I. T.I as usual gave a nice performance. Ms. Scherzinger however said some things we didn’t understand in a sexy whisper that perhaps she thought would entice us. We did get enticed, but not by the song. It sucked, making this collaboration a loser.

Rule Number 4: Do not OD on the white boy R&B crooners! One is fine. Anything after that is simply annoying.

Winner: 50 Cent’s “Ayo Technology” featuring Justin Timberlake. This was actually a really good song and helped generate interest in an album, which at the time was failing to get anyone’s attention due to the release of lack luster lead singles.

Loser: 50 Cent’s “Follow My Lead” featuring Robin Thicke. Ok, there are really only two white R&B dudes in the game right now and 50 did a song with both of them. This is unacceptable. Up and coming rappers take note: only one white R&B guy per album, per year. Thanks!

Rule Number 5: Last but not least, when crafting your rap/sung collaboration, please make sure that the song is somewhat light-hearted. This is not to say you cannot have heavy content, but like recreational drug use, everything should be in moderation. Rappers, we do not need to know how gangster you are on a rap/sung collaboration.

Winner: Fat Joe’s “I Won’t Tell” featuring J. Holiday. This song is a winner. It is very easy to listen to and enjoyable as a rap/sung collaboration should be. Likely to be a hit going into ’08.

Loser: 50 Cent’s “All of Me” featuring R&B diva Mary J. Blige. This song is definitely in violation of Rule Number 5. At one point in the song Mary sings, “Your body is calling me. Got me feeling like a fiend on crack.” Hmmmmmm. I’m going to go out on a limb and say drug usage and references to such should not be mentioned in successful rap/sung collaborations. If you need strong metaphors, get a dictionary or thesaurus