Ah, the hip-hop supergroup. It's a mythical hybrid beast, like a chimera or a gryphon, whose whole is greater than the sum of its constituent parts (at least ideally). But for all the planned and discussed supergroups out there, few come to fruition, and those that do are often doomed to travel the decimated rap landscape like so many zeebroids and beefalos, toiling in obscurity.
But lo! What's that? This week is a banner week for hip-hop supergroups, you say? Slaughterhouse dropped a video on Monday, and grafted-devil saviors La Coka Nostra released an album yesterday? Well, lordy be! That must mean it's time for another exhaustive Complex compendium! Read on to travel back in time and relive 21 of the greatest and not-so-greatest supergroups (planned and real) to bless our tape decks (yes, tape decks), presented in alphabetical order to forestall any squabbling between Cuban Link and MC Eiht.
But first, a few ground rules. It's only a supergroup if the members came together AFTER they attained some prominence as an act in their own right (sorry, Wu and Boyz in the Hood). Pre-existing crews and label rosters aren't supergroups, even if they all get together to make a song (sorry, DITC, Disturbin' Tha Peace, and Fab Five). You get the idea. If we missed someone significant, let us know in the comments. And if you're THAT burned up about Special Teamz (Edo G, Jaysaun, and Slaine) not being on this list, then keep it to yourself.
MEMBERS: Nate Dogg, Snoop, Warren G. The group actually existed before they got famous, but they released a 213 album later, so we'll let it stand.
BEST KNOWN SONG: "Ain't No Fun (If the Homies Can't Have None)" (with Kurupt) off Snoop's 1994 album Doggystyle (not officially a 213 song, but c'mon!)
DID THEY RELEASE AN ALBUM?: Yup! 2004's The Hard Way (ayo!).
BANG BANG BOOGIE
MEMBERS: Cuban Link, Hocus, Lord Tariq, Mysonne, S One (aka The We Hate Fat Joe Gang)
BEST KNOWN SONG: "Bang Bang Boogie Anthem"
DID THEY RELEASE AN ALBUM?: Kinda! Just mixtapes so far.
RATING (IF YOU LIVE NORTH OF THE HARLEM RIVER DRIVE):
MEMBERS: Two official iterations: (Buckshot, Masta Ace, Special Ed produced by ATCQ/Chubb Rock, Jeru, O.C. produced by Premier) and a weird bootleg third one (Jean Grae, Mos Def, Memphis Bleek produced by 9th Wonder).
BEST KNOWN SONG: "Crooklyn," off 1994's Crooklyn soundtrack
DID THEY RELEASE AN ALBUM?: Nope!
RATING (FIRST VERSION):
RATING (SECOND VERSION):
RATING (THIRD VERSION):
CRS (Child Rebel Soldiers)
MEMBERS: Kanye, Lupe Fiasco, Pharrell
BEST KNOWN SONG: "Us Placers"
DID THEY RELEASE AN ALBUM?: Nope!
RATING (IF YOU HAVE NO INDIVIDUAL SENSE OF STYLE):
MEMBERS: Masta Ace, Punchline, Wordsworth, Stricklin (who?)
BEST KNOWN SONG: "Block Episode," off Masta Ace's 2001 album Disposable Arts
DID THEY RELEASE AN ALBUM?: Yup! 2008's The Show
MEMBERS: Black Thought, Common, Pharoahe Monch, Talib Kweli (rumors also abounded about Psychic Friends, which swapped out Talib for Jeru da Damaja)
BEST KNOWN SONG: A freestyle on Rawkus' backpacker classic Lyricist Lounge Vol. 1 (minus Talib and plus Absolute from House of Reps)
DID THEY RELEASE AN ALBUM?: Hahahahahah! We mean, nope!
MEMBERS: AZ, Foxy Brown, Nas, Cormega/Nature
BEST KNOWN SONG: "Phone Tap"/"Firm Biz"
DID THEY RELEASE AN ALBUM?: Yup! The Album (1997)
RATING (NAS + DRE AND STILL GARBAGE!):
MEMBERS: Ras Kass, Saafir, Xzibit
BEST KNOWN SONG: "Come Widdit," off the Street Fighter soundtrack—even though it lacked Xzibit and featured Ahmad (yes, "Back in the Days" Ahmad)
DID THEY RELEASE AN ALBUM?: Nope! Just a collection of not-that-well-mixed tracks that you'll have to scour the Internet for.
MEMBERS: Fruitkwan, Prince Paul, RZA, Too Poetic--except all with horrorcore aliases (The Gatekeeper, The Undertaker, The Rzarector, and The Grym Reaper, respectively). Cannibalistic mass murder raps FTW!
BEST KNOWN SONG: "Nowhere to Run, Nowhere to Hide" (Which also marks the last time the word "ock" was used on record)/"1-800-SUICIDE"
ALBUM?: Yup! Believe it or not, they had four albums (even though 1994's Six Feet Deep was the only decent one).
MEMBERS: BG, Juvenile, Lil Wayne, Turk
BEST KNOWN SONG: 2003's "Project Bitch." CLASSIC!
DID THEY RELEASE AN ALBUM?: Yup! Three of 'em, the most famous of which was 1999's Guerilla Warfare.
RATING (IF YOU LOVE SYRUP & STRIPPERS):
HRSMN (ORIG. THE FOUR HORSEMEN)
MEMBERS: Canibus, Killah Priest, Kurupt, Ras Kass
BEST KNOWN SONG: "Horsementality," off Canibus' 2000 B.C. (Before Canibus)
DID THEY RELEASE AN ALBUM?: Kinda! 2003's The Horsemen Project, released by Dreddy Kruger, but good luck finding that one.
RATING (IF YOU'RE INTO CONSPIRACY THEORIES):
MEMBERS: Company Flow (El-P and Big Juss), J-Treds, and Juggaknots (Breeze Brewin, Buddy Slim, Queen Herawin)
BEST KNOWN SONG: "The Fire In Which You Burn," off Co Flow's 1997 Funcrusher Plus
DID THEY RELEASE AN ALBUM?: Nope!
RATING (FOR THE "INDEPENDENT AS FUCK" MINDSET ALONE):
LA COKA NOSTRA
MEMBERS: House of Pain (Everlast, Danny Boy, DJ Lethal), Ill Bill, Slaine
BEST KNOWN SONG: 2006's "Get Outta My Way"
DID THEY RELEASE AN ALBUM?: Yup! A Brand You Can Trust came out this week on, uh, Suburban Noize Records.
RATING (IF YOU HANG OUT IN BARS FESTOONED WITH SHAMROCKS):
MEMBERS: A.L.T., Kid Frost, Mellow Man Ace, and a bunch of people we've never heard of.
BEST KNOWN SONG: "Lowrider (On the Boulevard)," featuring War. Which is cheating, if you ask us.
DID THEY RELEASE AN ALBUM?: Yup! 1991's Latin Alliance
MEMBERS: DMX, Ja Rule, Jay-Z
BEST KNOWN SONG: "It's Murda," from Ja Rule's unbelievably poorly spelled Venni Vetti Vecci
DID THEY RELEASE AN ALBUM?: Nope! Fame and ego (and possibly crack) split the collective apart before anything could pop off.
MEMBERS: Black Milk, Guilty Simpson, Sean Price
BEST KNOWN SONG: "Monster Babies"
DID THEY RELEASE AN ALBUM?: Not yet! But they're going to--we swear. You need something to listen to while eating turkey bacon and doing pull-ups on the stoplight, right?
OHP (OFFICIAL HARDBODY POTENTIAL) RATING:
MEMBERS: Crooked I, Joe Budden, Joell Ortiz, Royce da 5'9"
BEST KNOWN SONG: "The One"
DID THEY RELEASE AN ALBUM?: About to! August 11 is the supposed day. Better, uh, get in line now.
RATING (IF YOU ONLY CARE ABOUT PUNCHLINES):
MEMBERS: C-Murder, Master P, Silkk the Shocker (though it originally included everyone from Mia X to someone named Daniel Fry, who we're guessing was their accountant)
BEST KNOWN SONG: "I Always Feel Like (Somebody's Watching Me)," off 1997's Tru 2 da Game
DID THEY RELEASE AN ALBUM?: Yup! Almost as many as they had original members, in fact: 6, including indie releases and a 2005 comeback on Koch.
MEMBERS: Goldie Loc, Kam, MC Eiht
BEST KNOWN SONG: "Shackled Up" off Snoop's 2006 album Tha Blue Carpet Treatment
DID THEY RELEASE AN ALBUM?: Nope! They're reportedly looking for distribution. In related news, they might want to look into getting a Delorean.
MEMBERS: Aesop Rock, Breeze Brewin, Cage, El-P, Tame One, Yak Ballz (Former members include the late Camu Tao, the lumped-up Copywrite, the enormous Vast Aire, and the loquacious Jakki da Motormouth)
BEST KNOWN SONG: "Left It To Us," off Cage's emotastic 2005 album Hell's Winter
DID THEY RELEASE AN ALBUM?: Kinda! There was the 2003 mixtape The Conspiracy, and rumors continue to circulate in frighteningly earnest corners of the Internet about a Def Jux release for the backpackers, but nothing yet.
RATING (IF YOU'RE WHITE):
MEMBERS: Ice Cube, Mack 10, WC
BEST KNOWN SONG: "Bow Down," which featured Cube's immortal line "Everybody freeze, on your knees—butt naked, please!" Such a polite young man.
DID THEY RELEASE AN ALBUM?: Yup! Two, in fact: The platinum Bow Down (1996) and '03's Terrorist Threats
RATING (IF YOU KNOW WHERE SLAUSON):