Rihanna's 10 Best Hip-Hop Collaborations

The world's biggest pop star is a favorite in the rap community.

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Complex Original

Image via Complex Original

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Rihanna is hip-hop. She's also a pop star/entrepreneur/actress/hottie/celebrity, but don't get it twisted—Rihanna is most definitely hip-hop. She floats over a Mike Will Made It beat as well as any rapper. Her Twitter and Instagram feeds are littered with rap lyrics relevant to her life because, quite frankly: SHE LIVES THIS SHIT. She's BFFs with Jay-Z and Kanye West. She had Drake throwing bottles at her R&B ex-boyfriend. And, she's made awesome songs with all three of those guys, and a lot more folks who work in the genre. Rihanna is so important to the rap game that it's not even funny. Check out this list of her 10 Best Hip-Hop Collaborations and try to say otherwise.

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10. Rihanna f/ Young Jeezy "Hard" (2009)

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Album: Rated R
Producer: Tricky Stewart, The-Dream

A pop star of Rihanna's magnitude can't and won't bounce back from controversy looking vulnerable. After a rough year, Rihanna re-emerged with a darker image and an impenetrable exterior. To stress the point, she hooked up with Young Jeezy for "Hard." His tough attitude gave RiRi's new mantra all the street cred it needed.

9. Nicki Minaj f/ Rihanna "Fly" (2010)

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Album: Pink Friday
Producer: J. R. Rotem

As two of the biggest female musicians on the planet, Rihanna and Nicki Minaj have an unspoken chemistry, and it's never been more apparent than on "Fly." The narratives of ambition and success are so fitting for both of them, but it's how Rihanna navigates the sparkly soundscape of this record that truly kills. Already versed in performing over production absent of the grime and thud of hip-hop, you get the impression that Rihanna almost orchestrates Minaj's equally apt delivery over the pop-friendly number.

8. Rihanna f/ Jay-Z "Talk That Talk" (2011)

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Album: Talk That Talk
Producer: StarGate

By this point in their respective careers, Rihanna and Jay-Z could sleepwalk through crafting a smash, and it seems like that's what happened on the title track to her 2011 album. The song isn't overwrought and doesn't contain too many embellishments. It's simply a precise communication of ideas—Jay-Z's pointed verses, Ri's succinct chorus—by a couple of professionals. This was textbook hit-making and further proved that "ain't nobody fucking with the clique."

7. Drake f/ Rihanna "Take Care" (2011)

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Album: Take Care
Producer: Jamie xx, 40

Drake prides himself on being transparent in his music, so when it came time to find a collaborator for this tale of complicated romance, he called on the girl with whom he's assumed to share a comparable history. Never one to back away from a challenge, Rihanna throws her heart into the chorus with some of her best vocal work to date. The crux of the record is held within her lines and she delivers them with an efficiency and honesty that makes "Take Care" a standout in both her and Drake's catalogs.

6. Eminem f/ Rihanna "Love The Way You Lie" (2010)

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Album: Recovery
Producer: Alex Da Kid

There's one reason why Eminem's comeback from drug addiction will go down as a massive, colossal success: Rihanna. Her piercing chorus does more to define the second leg of Eminem's career than most of his raps have. "Love The Way You Lie" was inescapable in every way, notching record-breaking chart and sales performances over the course of its summer 2010 run. The content seemed like something Rihanna had the authority to speak on, and the public loved every note of it.

5. Rihanna f/ Jay-Z "Umbrella" (2007)

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Album: Good Girl Gone Bad
Producer: Tricky Stewart

This is the moment when Rihanna made the switch from "cute girl with some nice songs" to the titanic pop figure we know her as today. "Umbrella" was anchored by a strong concept, propelled by catchy songwriting, and sold by the dynamic personalities on the bill. Ever since its release to an overwhelmingly positive reception, seeing Rihanna hit No. 1 on the charts has never come as a surprise again.

4. T.I. f/ Rihanna "Live Your Life" (2008)

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Album: Paper Trail
Producer: Just Blaze

T.I. had just scored a No. 1 hit with previous single "Whatever You Like," but his comeback from prison wasn't fully realized until his collab with Rihanna, "Live Your Life," did the same. That's when it became clear that T.I. was making a legitimate run at being the most popular rapper in the game. Rihanna's chorus was omnipresent by the end of 2008, an undeniable asset to the record, and no doubt part of what helped it stay on top of the Hot 100 for another five weeks.

3. Rihanna f/ Drake "What's My Name?" (2010)

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Album: Loud
Producer: StarGate

How do you capitalize on highly publicized rumors of romance between you and the biggest new rapper in the game? Release the hottest relationship anthem of the year together. That's exactly what Rihanna and Drake did and it paid off to great extent. The song itself was an irrefutable banger thanks to the bouncy productions of Stargate, but the palpable sexual tension in the video carried it over into tabloid-baiting, meme-ready cultural masterwork of a song.

2. Kanye West f/ Rihanna and Kid Cudi "All of the Lights" (2010)

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Album: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Producer: Kanye West

The album version of "All of the Lights" features 14 A-list artists, but only Rihanna and Kid Cudi made the cut for the single version. Ri talks about how "you can get it for the rest of your life" and it just goes so well with the beat and everything is great. Rihanna's voice is such a constant in the today's music climate, and it's on sonically massive records like "All of the Lights" where it's truly clear just how much attention she commands.

1. Jay-Z f/ Rihanna and Kanye West "Run This Town" (2009)

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Album: The Blueprint 3
Producer: Kanye West, No I.D.

It's arguable that Rihanna, Jay-Z, and Kanye West are the three most influential musicians of our day, and "Run This Town" found all of them on the same track at the same damn time. The song delivered: reliable bars from Hov, the requisite perfectly written Rihanna chorus, and a scene-stealing, extra long guest verse from 'Ye. The success of the track quieted any doubt over the third entry in Jay's Blueprint series. Incorporating so many elements of the current zeitgeist in one place, "Run This Town" will ultimately go down as a finer example of rap music in the modern era.

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