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The Top 20 Best UK Rapper & Vocalist Collaborations of the 2000’s

At the turn of the millennium, UK hip-hop began to carve out its niche, pulling from the influences of its transatlantic counterpart while unmistakably branding its own sonic fingerprint. The 2000s was the era of gritty instrumentals and boundary-pushing bars, setting streets ablaze and nightclubs on a new wave. It was during this time that collaborations between rappers and vocalists emerged not just as a mere trend, but as the backbone of the UK hip-hop and grime movement. This was where “Dance Wiv Me” by Dizzee Rascal met the shimmering beats of Calvin Harris, and Amy Winehouse’s soulful timbre flawlessly combined with Mark Ronson’s production on “Valerie”.

Heavyweights like Wiley, Kano, and Dizzee Rascal weren’t just spitting bars; they were constructing the very foundation on which future UK hip-hop artists would build their empires. The fusion of grime’s raw energy with the smooth undertones of R&B or soulful hooks made tracks infectious, becoming the anthems of a generation. Street tales, personal struggles, and tales of aspiration found their voice, with artists mixing their flows, flipping the script, and even occasionally clashing on the mic, driving the culture forward.

Then there were the unsung heroes – the producers, DJs, and record label execs who took this underground sound and amplified it. Producers like Skepta, JME, and the entirety of BBK played pivotal roles in pushing the sound, innovating, and maintaining its authenticity. Fast forward to today, and you’ll find that the UK hip-hop and grime scene has evolved, integrating with mainstream music while still retaining its grassroots energy. Artists such as Stormzy, AJ Tracey, and Lady Leshurr owe much to the foundational years of the 2000s.

So let’s get into it. From “Dance with Me” and “Bonkers” by Dizzee Rascal, through to Ghetto, here are the top 25 best UK Rapper & Vocalist Collaborations of the 2000s.

20. Roots Manuva ft. Riddla – “UK Warriors” (2002)

Bow down to the true “UK Warriors” – Roots Manuva featuring Riddla, the legends who’ve been spitting bars since when some of you were toddlers. Released in 2002, this track is an emblem of UK hip hop, effortlessly blending patois-inflected rhymes with quintessentially British perspective. Rodney P’s street level philosophising contrasts perfectly with Black Twang’s more narrative-driven lines, while Roots holds the fort down with his signature gruff delivery. It’s a fiery testament to the UK hip hop scene that keeps the grime and garage movement at its roots, an absolute essential for anyone who reckons themselves a fan. This track ain’t just music, mate – it’s history, culture and life all rolled into one head-nodding masterpiece. Painfully underrated, massively influential.

19. Blak Twang ft. Estelle – “Trixstar” (2002)

“Trixtar” – now that’s a tune both sublime and significant in early 2000s UK hip hop. A golden collab between Blak Twang, an emcee known for his introspective lyricism, and the prodigious Estelle. With her celestial voice, Estelle supports Twang’s narratives of street conflict and resolution. Their lyrical synchronicity is a testament to their shared South London origins. A distinctive feature of the 2002 track is its unabashed British inflections – we ain’t trying to be Yanks here, mate! A vintage track that laid the foundation for the cross-pollination we now see rampant in UK hip hop and R&B. A classic, no two ways about it. “Trixtar” broke barriers, creating a space for our UK artists to be authentic and proud. Massive respect.

18. Dizzee Rascal ft. Calvin Harris & Chrome – “Dance Wiv Me” (2008)

“Dance Wiv Me”, a collaboration between Dizzee Rascal, Calvin Harris, and Chrome, is a certified banger that smashed charts in 2008. A brilliant merge of Dizzee’s gritty flow, Harris’s electro-pop production, and Chrome’s haunting vocals, this track illumined UK’s grime scene like battersea bonfire night, mate. But the nub of this piece ain’t just its stonking success; it’s the genre-blending, the proof that UK hip hop could be a chinwag with electro, a flirt with dance music. And yet, the lyrics were pure Dizzee, proving he could keep his Bow E3 roots while evolving into new spaces. Not every purist was chuffed, but no denying, Dizzee struck gold.

17. Lethal Bizzle ft. Kate Nash – “Look What You Done” (2007)

Aight, let’s dive deep into this one. In 2007, Lethal Bizzle, one of the godfathers of grime, took a flight from E3 to the indie-pop scene with Kate Nash, and, bruv, did it bang. “Look What You Done” was a bit of a curveball in the UK hip hop scene, blending Nash’s cheeky vocals and piano riffs with Bizzle’s unapologetic East London grit. Some said it was a ploy for the mainstream charts, but they missed the point. This was Bizzle showing the versatility of UK hip hop, breaking down boundaries and proving Grime could step beyond its post code. Was it a commercial success? Not massive. But was it influential and a sign of what was to come? Absolutely, fam.

16. Klashnekoff ft. Kira – “Son of Niya” (2004)

“Son of Niya” is a heart-rendering jewel from Klashnekoff’s ‘The Sagas Of…’. Dropping in 2004, this track is a masterclass in storytelling; the Hackney lyricist doesn’t just spit bars, he constructs vivid narratives. Klash raps about the vicious cycle of inner-city life with rawness, seasoned with his trademark Patois-inflected delivery. Now onto Kira. Blimey, this lass can sing! Her vocals are like a soothing balm over the gritty landscapes painted by Klashnekoff’s lyrics. To call it a collaboration doesn’t quite do it justice. It’s a seamless fusion of raw, heartfelt lyricism and melodic brilliance. Yes, the track’s subject matter is heavier than a dubstep drop but it’s delivered with such finesse and authenticity that it never feels preachy. More like a wakeup call. One of the best from the 2000s, hands down.

15. Wiley ft. Emeli Sandé – “Never Be Your Woman” (2009)

Alright mate, let’s chat about “Never Be Your Woman” (2009), a banger of a track, an alliance between grime legend Wiley, and the sensational Emeli Sandé. Wiley, also known as the ‘Godfather of Grime,’ brought his quick-fire bars and streetwise lyrical prowess, while Sandé added a killer hook and emotive depth with her soulful strains. Dusting off White Town’s ’90s hit with fresh urban style, the track tested the boundaries of grime, blending in a pop sensibility that was both laudable and controversial. The combo of Wiley’s grime credibility and Sandé’s vocal power was a bit like adding hot sauce to your chips – unexpected but totally game-changing. It may not be every grime purist’s cuppa, but without a doubt, it’s a standout collab of the 2000s.

14. Roll Deep ft. Jodie Connor – “Good Times” (2010)

“Good Times” – a banger that hit the charts hard in 2010, an audacious effort by Roll Deep featuring a killer vocal hook from Jodie Connor. This tune took grime to the mainstream, hitting No.1 in the UK Singles Chart. Borrowing elements of electro house, it was a departure from Roll Deep’s earlier, grittier work, proof of their innovation and willingness to adapt to the evolving scene. Jodie Connor’s pitch-perfect vocals were the icing on top, delivering a breath of fresh air to the male-dominated landscape. However, amidst this success and wider appeal, some critics argued it was a dilution of the raw, street-etched sound of UK hip-hop. Love it or loathe it, “Good Times” marked a pivotal moment in the UK’s grime history.

13. Ghetto (Ghetts) ft. Kano & Demon – “Darkside Freestyle” (2007)

“Ghetto (Ghetts) ft. Kano & Demon – ‘Darkside Freestyle’ (2007),” Now let’s have a chit-chat about this legendary collab’. Ghetts, Kano, Demon, all three major powerhouses, collided, and the result was a lyrical cataclysm louder than the London tube at peak hours, mate. It’s raw, it’s unapologetically gritty, it embodied the angst-ridden narrative of the streets, taking us deep into the dark side of the city. Kano’s baritone hits like a sledgehammer, while Ghetts’ quick-fire flow proved why he’s a mic controller to be reckoned with. Demon ain’t no sidekick either, bringing his own weight to the track. Critics might’ve labelled it too raw, too real, but us? We say it’s the pulse of UK hip hop in the 2000s. A masterful moment where rap met grime.

12. Bashy ft. H-Boogie – “Your Wish Is My Command” (2007)

“Bashy ft. H-Boogie – ‘Your Wish Is My Command’ (2007)”. Straight outta North West London, this one’s from Bashy, the grime icon known for his no-nonsense lyricism. But on ‘Your Wish Is My Command’, he switches things up by teaming with H-Boogie to craft a tune that’s just as much a R&B banger as it is a hip hop flex. H-Boogie’s vocals are silk, sliding beautifully over Bashy’s gritty bars. It’s a gorgeous contrast that highlights the depth of his versatility. It was a moment that showcased UK hip hop’s capacity for unexpected fusions, redefining boundaries. Career defining for Bashy, this one solidified his place in UK hip hop history. Set the levels, Bashy!

11. Plan B ft. Holly Willoughby – “Mama (Loves a Crackhead)” (2006)

“Mama (Loves a Crackhead)” – a heart-wrenching anthem from East London prodigy Plan B, featuring none other than Holly Willoughby on the hook – is a stone-cold classic of the noughties UK hip hop scene. Released in 2006, this tune is a stark depiction of the drug epidemic coursing through Britain’s veins at the time. Plan B – real name Ben Drew – channels his inner Eminem, painting a vivid (if brutal) picture of addiction’s grip on a loved one, while Willoughby’s ethereal vocals provide a melodically haunting counterpoint. Sure, the track’s heavy, but it hits home – showcasing Plan B’s knack for capturing the gritty underbelly of London life. The success of this song helped catapult Plan B to national stardom, solidifying his spot at the top of the UK’s hip hop roll call.

10. Sway ft. Akon – “Silver & Gold” (2008)

“Sway ft. Akon – “Silver & Gold” (2008) – Here’s a sick combination: London-born emcee Sway Dasafo and Senegalese-American heavyweight Akon. This track, dropped in 2008, is pure gold. Built on an infectious melody and heavy drum beats, it sees Sway nimbly navigate verses with his signature wit while Akon adds a sweet layer of vocal tension with the hook. Yet, whilst it banked on Akon’s mainstream appeal, “Silver & Gold” limited Sway’s lyrical prowess to simple rhymes about material possessions. Some say an opportunity missed for Sway to showcase his typically clever wordplay. Regardless, the track was a chart-climber and affirmed the pivotal role of UK artists in global hip hop. It’s a bop, yeah, but Sway’s shown he can and does spit deeper lines elsewhere.

9. Tinchy Stryder ft. N-Dubz – “Number 1” (2009)

Aye, let’s take a step back to the end of the noughties, when Tinchy Stryder linked up with N-Dubz to drop “Number 1”. A chart-topper, this tune! The Garage scene was on a mad one at the time, and this collab was like a fresh breeze cutting through, bringing UK hip hop and pop together. Tinchy, always brimming with East London authenticity, bounced off N-Dubz’s hybrid sound like a boss – all catchy hooks and slick bars. Critically, some may argue it felt a touch too polished for the gritty streets the music originated from, but I’m telling ya, the influence of this track was massive. It’s one for the books, showing the mainstream potential of UK hip hop in an undeniable way. Just a banger, innit?

8. Mark Ronson ft. Amy Winehouse – “Valerie” (2007)

“Valerie,” a banger from 2007, sees Mark Ronson joining forces with the late, great Amy Winehouse on the mic. Transporting UK hip hop to new heights, Winehouse’s raw and soulful vocals blend with Ronson’s versatile beats in a way that’s pure magic. The song showcased Amy’s unique talent and versatility, proving that she could adapt to any music style, including hip hop. Ronson’s top-notch production adds depth, defining its timeless sound. While this pairing might have left some scratching their heads initially, the result proved the doubters wrong, proving a classic case of ‘opposites attract’. Those iconic lyrics “Why don’t you come on over, Valerie?” are forever etched in UK hip hop lore. While it’s no straight banger, it’s an irreplaceable diamond in the rough.

7. Dizzee Rascal ft. Lily Allen – “Wanna Be” (2007)

Kick off your Air Max ’97s and tune in to a real game-changer, “Wanna Be” from Dizzee Rascal, featuring the distinct tones of Lily Allen. When Dizzee shell down on that Adrock beat, he’ll spin your Nikes backwards. Always one for a genre-merging manoeuvre, Rascal enlists the pop starlet Allen, who brings a sweet-neat edge to this slick grime baseline. Refined and cheeky, it’s her Chablis to Dizzee’s corner shop off-license brew. This ain’t no casual link-up; this tune signs, seals, and represents a pivotal moment in Rascal’s career, a time when UK hip hop started breaking into mainstream consciousness. Still, it’s an East London tale, pure and simple, that keeps the culture alive. Dun know the ting.

6. Streets (Mike Skinner) ft. Kano, Demon, Bruza & D Double E – “Get Out of My House” (2004)

When Mike Skinner, the mastermind of The Streets, stitched together “Get Out of My House” with Kano, Demon, Bruza and D Double E back in 2004, it was nothing short of revolutionary. Skinner’s quirky storytelling matched with the fierce lyricism of Kano, the raw energy of Demon, Bruza’s hard-hitting bars, and the distinct flow of D Double E, made for a seriously ladened grime banger. This tune was a defining moment in bridging the gap between garage and grime, with Skinner ‘s spoken word flow giving the grime MCs a platform to showcase their talents. It’s an eloquent, bold statement of the time, embodying the spirit of council estate life, an influential collaboration that showcased UK’s ripe hip hop talent. If you ask me, it’s concrete proof that grime was ready to bust down the mainstream door.

5. Wiley ft. Daniel Merriweather – “Cash in My Pocket” (2008)

Wiley – a Godfather of grime – linking up with Daniel Merriweather on a track was big. “Cash In My Pocket” was a banger in ’08, no questions asked. Wiley, known for his bare knuckle lyrical prowess, and Merriweather, an R&B vocalist with a silky smooth voice, created a South-East London sound snapshot that rocked the charts. The track’s witty, hard-hitting reflections on consumerism and the financial crisis proved that UK hip hop could chart while still packing a social punch. A monumental moment for Wiley as it opened up grime to new listeners in droves, proving true the saying: ‘Money talks, but Wiley spits bars’. A seminal track indeed, fam!

4. Chipmunk ft. Talay Riley – “Look For Me” (2009)

Oh, “Look For Me” – now this one’s a proper history maker, ain’t it? When young Chipmunk linked up with Talay Riley back in ’09, it was a marriage of lyricism and vocals that sent shockwaves through the UK hip hop scene. Chipmunk’s fire-spitting bars met Riley’s smooth vocals for an anthem that was as versatile as it was catchy. But let’s not forget, this wasn’t just about flash. Chip’s use of local idiom and street-level narrative showed a geezer who was keeping it real, while Riley’s soulful crooning was a nod to the rich R&B influences in UK music. Truth be told, the pair showed us that rapper-vocalist collaborations needn’t be a compromise – they can bring out the best in both worlds. Proper game changer, this one.

3. Sway ft. Lemar – “Saturday Night Hustle” (2008)

Aye, let’s get into it. Sway Dasafo teaming up with Lemar for the “Saturday Night Hustle” in ’08 was a game changer! Sway was already making waves in the UK hip hop scene with his multi-faceted bars, and Lemar, with his silky smooth vocals, had everyone’s aunties and sisters swooning. Then they smashed the grime and R&B worlds together with this track – proper revolutionary. Sure, the chorus is catchier than the flu in Winter, but it’s the lyrics, mate. They’re chatting about the gritty reality of life in London’s ends – the struggle, the grind, it’s all there. A raw slice of life from the British underbelly, served on a platter of head-nodding beats. Top job, you two.

2. Kano ft. Damon Albarn – “Feel Free” (2007)

“Feel Free,” a 2007 banger by Kano featuring the always-enigmatic Damon Albarn, can be best described as a love song to London Town. Kano’s bars, sharp and poignant, pay ode to the city’s struggles, triumphs and its relentless pace. Albarn’s earthy vocals on the chorus create a mesmerising contrast, akin to the mixing pot that is London. This ain’t just a tune – it’s a cultural statement, showing how UK Hip Hop isn’t afraid to merge the gritty with the sublime. Kano’s delivery was a precursor to the grime explosion, proving his knack for not just lyrics, but understanding music’s pulse. Overlook this track at your risk. This collaboration paved way for the fusion of UK hip hop and indie, a union still supplying choonz till date.

1. Dizzee Rascal ft. Armand Van Helden – “Bonkers” (2009)

“Dizzee Rascal and Armand Van Helden’s “Bonkers” is an audacious collision of grime, hip hop and house, a bold step away from Dizzee’s gritty Bow E3 roots to the electro dancefloor. Released in 2009, it delivered a punchy flow that had UK’s youth hollering lyrics in playgrounds and raves alike. Detractors complained it was a departure from Rascal’s initial grime brilliance, branding it sell-out- a clear misstep in their eyes. But, let’s not get it twisted, Dizzee’s ability to morph and remain relevant is a testament to his genius. In fact, “Bonkers” solidified his crossover appeal and set a precedent for grime artists to push boundaries. An unapologetic risk that paid dividends!”

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