Dr. Dre and Eminem’s “I Need a Doctor” made me realize something. No, it wasn’t that Eminem is a brilliant rapper. I realized that a long time ago. It was that the bond between Marshall and Andre is not some sensationalized gimmick that Eminem uses to add emotion and depth to his music. Their friendship may have started with music, but it goes much deeper than that. Then it hit me; there are many great friendships born from hip-hop. While the media often focuses on rap “beefs,” the truth is that far more friendships exist within hip-hop than many may realize. So, I did a good bit of digging and came up with a list of the ten greatest friendships in hip-hop history. These bonds either pre-date the music the subjects have made together or go beyond it. They may collaborate as rappers and producers, but they associate as friends. Without further ado, I give you the 10 greatest friendships in hip-hop.
10. Method Man and Redman
These two ganja-loving goofballs have had a blast together over the years, entertaining reporters with colorful interviews and collaborating frequently in the studio. Besides two full-length LPs, they have also acted together onscreen in the stoner-comedy How High. Throughout their time together, they have always seemed to fully enjoy each other’s company. Next up for the two is the rumored Blackout! 3.
9. Jay-Z and Kanye West
“You a real soulful dude” were the first words that Shawn said to then up-and-coming producer Kanye when they met (at least according to Kanye’s College Dropout outro, “Last Call”). After several years of providing Shawn with masterful production, Kanye was finally signed to Roc-a-Fella. The results were stunning collaborations between the two and a tribute to Shawn by Kanye called “Big Brother”, on which ‘Ye shows love for Shawn and also apologizes for a past mistake regarding their friendship. Even through Kanye’s numerous incidents over the years, Shawn has always stuck up for and supported him. Here’s to another decade of the two going H.A.M.
8. Chuck D and Flavor Flav
If there ever was an odd-couple in hip-hop, it would be the friendship of the socially-conscious, militant Carlton Ridenhour and the fun-loving, eccentric William Drayton, Jr. After meeting in college, the two eventually formed Public Enemy. William’s wild hype-calls wonderfully complemented Carlton’s dead-up lyricism and delivery. While they have endured occasional bumps in the road, Carlton and William remain good friends, with the former recently standing up for his friend’s business venture into the restaurant business.
7. Eminem and Dr. Dre
Dre took the risk of a lifetime when he signed to his label a (gasp) white emcee who specialized in zany, graphically-violent lyricism. The result was nothing short of historic, with Dre mentoring Marshall to greatness. The two have collaborated often over the years and show no signs of stopping. Although their friendship may have been born of music, it goes much deeper than that. In fact, on the aforementioned “I Need a Doctor”, Dre laments “fareweather friends” while showing appreciation to Marshall for sticking by him in times of need. Marshall, for his part, gives Dre some tough love in order to keep him going. Now that’s friendship.
6. Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff
Childhood friends who met through hip-hop, Will and Jeff became the first Grammy-Winning act in hip-hop as DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. After several years of topping the charts with family-friendly tunes, Will hit it big on the NBC sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. However, he never forgot about Jeff, who frequented the show as Will’s best friend, Jazz. Even after Will became a solo artist, the two remained friends. Jeff maintains that Will is still the same person he was when they first met, and they still perform at shows together from time to time.
5. ?uestlove and Black Thought
According to a Rolling Stone article, Ahmir first caught sight of Tariq on his first day as a new student at the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts. Ahmir first saw him as a freshman being dragged to the principal’s office for sexual activity with a co-ed student in one of the school’s bathrooms. By graduation, the two had already formed the hip-hop band now known as the The Roots. Although several band members have come and gone, Ahmir and Tariq have remained. What’s more, they have never let success or increasing popularity drive a wedge between them, and they continue to make groundbreaking music together.
4. Havoc and Prodigy
Childhood friends Kejuan and Albert both attended the High School of Art and Design in New York City, and subsequently formed the hardcore duo Mobb Deep. The two made some great music over the years, and Kejuan has always stuck by Albert through his complications with sickle-cell anemia and time in prison. Albert has also always stayed loyal Kejuan, never abandoning him as many other rapping-halves of duos have done.
3. Bun B and Pimp C
Bernard and Chad found each other through music, with the latter pushing the former to make hip-hop a full-time gig. They eventually formed UGK, and recorded classic music over the years. When Chad was locked up in 2002, Bernard repped him everywhere he went. The two made their comeback as a duo with 2007’s sprawlingly brilliant Underground Kingz, but Chad tragically passed just months afterward. Bernard has since done multiple tributes to his deceased friend, making sure Chad’s memory lives on through hip-hop.
2. Eminem and Proof
Even stronger than Marshall’s bond with Dre was his friendship with Deshaun. Marshall practically went into shock after Deshaun was murdered, and if one were to look at their history together, Marshall’s reaction would be understandable. According to Marshall, Deshaun jump-started his career and refused to let him give up. Deshaun also never resented Marshall for his success, and the two remained best friends until Deshaun’s tragic demise. Since then, Marshall has shared some of his most intimate feelings he’s ever released on wax about how much he loved his friend.
1. Andre 3000 and Big Boi
The two met at Georgia’s Tri-Cities High School, where according to Andre, “This ol’ sucka MC stepped up to me.” The “sucka MC” Andre was referring to was Antwan. The two started out as rival rappers before joining forces to become the greatest duo in hip-hop history. After cutting a string of classics together for nearly a decade, the two have since gone their separate paths career-wise. Still, despite an onslaught of rumors over the years that the two are no longer close, they have always remained great friends, with Antwan having referred multiple times to Andre as his brother. Now, about that next Outkast album…