The best collab albums, picked by THE FACE team

As Kaytranada and Aminé drop their joint album Kaytraminé, THE FACE team picks out some of our favourite collab albums of all time.

When Kaytranada and Aminé announced their collab project Kaytraminé last month, it made perfect sense. The Canadian producer and the LA-via-Portland rapper have flirted with bromance for almost a decade now. Back in 2014, Aminé dropped a remix of Kaytranada’s track Not At All, and Kay returned the favour with a bunch of beats for Amine’s 2015 mixtape Calling Brio.

The duo’s first proper single as Kaytraminé, 4EVA, is exactly what you’d expect: bouncy beats and whimsical flows, with a Pharrell sample thrown in for good measure. There’s more starry appearances on their self-titled album, too, which dropped today. Featuring everyone from Snoop Dogg to Amaarae, Kaytraminé is packed with wonky rhythms, unpredictable samples and summery synths.

Of course, Kaytranada and Aminé are not the first artists to buddy up and work on an album together. The music industry is propped up by collaboration, whether it’s a close partnership between producer and artist, or a superstar linkup between heavyweight rappers. So, as we patiently await the release of Kaytraminé, THE FACE team picked out some of our favourite collab albums of all time. Volume up.

Jay-Z and Kanye West – Watch The Throne (2011)

In December 2011, Jay‑Z and Kanye West had a three-night stand at Los Angeles’ Staples Center. They were rounding off the American leg of a tour that would go on to become, at the time, the highest grossing tour in rap history. Watching the first of those gigs, I was struck by how brilliantly the staging captured the essence, and the magic, of Watch The Throne, the collaborative album they were performing. As the lights snapped off, Jay and Ye stood at opposite ends of the arena on square mini-stages. They tore into operatic two-hander H.A.M., batting bars back and forth across the cavernous space, then barely let up for almost 36 tracks. No Church In The Wild, Ni**as In Paris, Lift Off (with Beyoncé!) – this was an epic album with bangers by the bucketload, the songwriting and production simultaneously nuanced and capacious enough to contain (just) these titanic talents. Isolated but united, distant but together, Watch The Throne was two super-heavyweights at the top of a game that only they could play. CM

Yussef Kamaal – Black Focus (2016)

For a long time, it wasn’t very cool to like jazz. The genre was too closely associated with smug chin-strokers of a certain age – probably The Fast Shows fault. But during the 2010s, a fresh wave of UK jazz musicians rescued its image. Black Focus, the 2016 collaborative album by drummer Yussef Kamaal and keys player Kamaal Williams, was arguably the scene’s crucial crossover record. As a DJ and producer, Williams had been advocating for jazz-inflected house tracks at South London club nights under his birth name Henry Wu, which might explain the all danceable grooves on Black Focus. The album is beautifully psychedelic, but relentless and frenetic, capturing the chaotic buzz of London on a scorching summer’s day. Black Focus had too much swagger and grit to be dismissed as winebar music. It’s up there with the best UK albums of the 21st century. DR

Madvillain – Madvillainy (2004)

Whether there’s ever been a greater MC/​producer link-up than MF Doom and Madlib (AKA Madvillain) is, honestly, barely up for debate. Their 2004 album Madvillainy inspired an entire generation of leftfield rap artists – Earl Sweatshirt once compared its cultural ripple effect to Wu-Tang Clan’s influential 1993 album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). Dripping in raw energy, genius lyricism and eccentric sampling, Madvillainys 22 tracks don’t include any hooks – just chaotic and unbridled hip-hop innovation. A highlight, of course, is Accordion, where melancholic production is paired with Doom’s playful braggadocio (“Got more lyrics than the church got Ooh Lord”s). A stone cold classic. JW

Dua Lipa and The Blessed Madonna – Club Future Nostalgia (2020)

Dua Lipa didn’t need to release a club mix of her critically-acclaimed second album Future Nostalgia in the summer of 2020 – the record had already hit number one. But perhaps she knew we needed it. At a time when we all craved a good night out, she enlisted DJ The Blessed Madonna to level up an album that was already destined for the dancefloor. TBM didn’t simply up the tempo and mix Dua’s original tracks together. The pair also called in remixes and new verses from a varied cast of collaborators including Madonna, Yaeji, Jamiroquai, Moodymann and Missy Elliot. With 18 tracks, at times the album can feel overstuffed, but when it reaches peak club euphoria on tracks such as Mr Fingers’ Hallucinate remix and Horse Meat Disco’s take on Love Again, Dua Lipa reaffirms her superior ear for a banger. The icing on the cake came four months after Club Future Nostalgias release, when the pop star and The Blessed Madonna live-streamed Dua Lipa: Studio 2054 from Printworks, bringing the party to our living rooms while we all watched at home in pyjamas. OP

Method Man & Redman – Blackout! (1999)

After linking up to record guest verses on Tupac’s 96 track Got My Mind Up and then dropping How High, their debut single as a duo, in the same year, Meth and Red’s first full-length album didn’t disappoint. The Wu-Tang star and the New Jersey MC had both made a name for themselves in the 90s with their hardcore styles of rap. Together they bonded over playful, weed-inspired lyricism (the album’s initial title was Amerikaz Most Blunted) and a killer knack for freestyling. Blackout! – which is packed with hard-hitting, funky production – went platinum in 2000 and reached number three in the Billboard Hot 100. They capitalised on their chemistry by taking it to the big screen, and their stoner comedy classic How High hit cinemas the following year. TS

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