Rap and R&B have always been intertwined. As both prominent Black arts, many rappers and singers from both genres were taking off and occupying the same space in the 1990s, which carried on tradition of the two jumping on each other’s tracks. That relationship has only strengthened over time, with rap and R&B beginning to mirror each other with sound in various ways, along with ramping up the collaborations between the two musical styles. Over the last five years, there have been plenty of strong rap verses on quality R&B songs. As time goes on, it’s only become more popular. Here, XXL highlights some of the best of those verses, from a varied group of artists.
Some of the most popular singers in music have collaborated with rappers to excellent results. The Weeknd, no stranger to hip-hop after getting his start with Drake’s OVO camp, has leaned more towards pop these days, a turn from his hazy R&B roots. Still, he has those sensibilities from his career beginnings. “I Heard You’re Married,” The Weeknd’s 2022 collaboration with living legend Lil Wayne, from the singer’s latest album Dawn FM, is an upbeat pop song with funk blended in. Weezy’s verse is excellent, and shows he’s still very motivated this late in his career. He weaves a story about a relationship that isn’t quite what he wants it to be, and shows vulnerability, anger and acceptance in one precise verse.
There are also R&B singers who are more underground, who craft excellent collabs with rappers. Brent Faiyaz has been a popular act for years now, and it feels as if he gets significantly more popular with each release. As an indie act, getting a lengthy Drake verse on “Wasting Time,” over a Neptunes beat no less, is quite an accomplishment, which is proof of how big Brent’s reach is. The song as a whole is good, and Drake enters as if he has something to prove, digging deep into the kind of subject matter that made him a star: the tortured romantic trying to balance success with desires. He still has any flow he wants in the bag, and that is showcased, too. This unlikely duo really came with one here.