Collaborations are without a doubt one of the biggest aspects of hip-hop. Some people will base their consideration of buying an album almost entirely on who they see on that tracklist after “feat.” Lots of folks been put on through such, etc., blah blah. This is hip-hop. Everyone has their own perspective on features, and the popular opinion shifts (or rather swings back and forth) from time to time. Some people think few, to no features are best, some people like seeing a plethora of their favorite emcees on an album. Well ya’ll know I’m bout to tell ya’ll my opinion on featuring artists.
Features should always complement (or supplement) a song. All artists have their own style, their own niche where if you put them in with a certain sound or concept they will make a song feel complete or have a powerful impact on the impressiveness of the song. A lot of artists just stuff features into songs randomly just to have them fill out a verse for them or just to force a collab.
Ya’ll can be cool with each other without forcing collaboration. Musicians should always keep that chemistry and that niche in mind when inviting someone onto their track or working together with them to make it.
Another big problem with grouping together on songs is having a business mind about it. Sure, if you trying to make it get a big single, etc. then maybe it’ll be smart to throw Birdman on your song. But if one is really trying to be a cold artist, then they gotta think about music… artistically. Art should never be allowed to be sullied for social status, money, or whatever else. A lot of these rappers sacrifice the quality of their music for these things. All respect to Trinidad James as a person, but he should have no musical role in a song for anything but a joke. You look at a lot of interviews, when the guy was first blowing up, and every rapper and their mother was saying “they wanted” to work on music with him.
Such a situation is only used as an example.
The way features are really supposed to be used, and generally how I personally judge them in say.. reviews and such, is how I said before. Posse cuts are kinda an exception because there is a competitive undertone to them 90% of the time. A good example is Kendrick Lamar’s magnum opus, “Cartoon & Cereal”.
In that song Gunplay’s voice and delivery blended in perfectly to the theme and sound of the song; additionally, it contrasted Kendrick’s in a good way. His life experiences also fell in line with Kendrick’s for that specific concept, so the song worked out perfectly. Another great example is “Tougher Colder Killer” by El-P.
With his maestro-esque production, he had this cipher-like cycling verses between him, Killer Mike, and Despot. That stuff keeps listeners hooked in and excited to hear the song.