Putting on the whole team is the protocol: If you can kick the door down, why not bring the whole crew with you? While some rappers prove to be adept A&Rs, finding and propelling new talent, other rappers have, since time immemorial, just helped the homies. Although you’ll find plenty of people who say that one is better than the other, either one can have its advantages.
Rappers who chase talent end up with a stronger bench, and, in some ways, they really do put the music first; there’s no sense of trying to pull one over on the music-buying public. On the other hand, in these strategic, diplomatic times, it can also seem inorganic—a product of synergy rather than true crew love.
Rappers who bring the whole team on board, meanwhile, have the advantage of true chemistry. As in, not everybody in the crew may be the most talented, but if they play their roles and know their strengths, they can contribute to a great product overall. Just don’t expect too many great solo projects on the horizon.
Then, of course, there are the crews that couldn’t hold it together. At one time or another, this has pretty much been experienced by everyone. The fact is that the pressures of money and fame will divide, and it doesn’t matter if you’re talking about the Wu-Tang Clan or GBE. Crews that seemed, at one time, the tightest will eventually break apart. Some of the groups in this list are prime examples; after all, family can’t always get along. But though these groups didn’t always last, there was a sense from day one that their partnership meant more than money.
Here are the hip-hop collectives who proved family comes first—even if they couldn’t make it last forever.