Top 7 Country-Rap Collaborations
In recent years, country artists have become more adventurous when it comes to finding duet partners. The most unlikely pairings are country-rap collaborations that match Nashville with hip-hop. Sonically speaking, country and rap couldn’t be much further apart, but the genres do share some important traits. Both rely heavily on storytelling and demand a certain level of authenticity from their performers.
Inspired at first by Jason Aldean‘s “Dirt Road Anthem” performance with Ludacris, we’ve assembled — then updated — this list of the best country-rap collaborations of all time. There are more and more every year, plus straight-up covers of country hits (Did you hear Nelly‘s version of “Die a Happy Man“?) Here are our Top 7 collabs. Let us know which you like best in the comments section below!
“Try Harder Than That”
In 2009, Taylor Swift brought hip-hop to the CMT Awards with a novelty video featuring Auto-Tune-loving rapper T-Pain. On “Thug Story,” the young singer hilariously tries to sound gangsta: “No, I never really been in a club / Still live with my parents / But I’m still a thug!” The Los Angeles Times called “Thug Story” “a certain iTunes hit if it gets released,” but no official single was ever issued. Fans can find the video on the DVD of the platinum edition of Swift’s Fearless album.
“Justified and Ancient”
Some people thought Tammy Wynette was crazy when she agreed to sing on a dance-rap track by British group the KLF in 1991, but it turns out the legendary vocalist was just way ahead of the country-rap curve. On this unusual tune, Wynette sings ridiculous lyrics about driving an ice cream van and promises to “stand by the jams.” The must-see music video features Wynette seated on a throne while a scrolling ticker lists her various music accomplishments and cape-wearing onlookers dance around in some sort of tribal ritual.
Willie Nelson and Snoop Dogg share a well-known love of marijuana, so it makes sense that they’d hook up eventually and sing about the green stuff. “Too many pain pills, too much pot / Tryin’ to be something that I’m not, Superman,” Nelson sings on this bluesy number featuring acoustic guitar and harmonica. Snoop even ditches the rapping for actual singing, as the guys commiserate about being less than invincible. Short but entertaining, ‘Superman’ appears on Snoop’s Doggumentary album.
“Dirt Road Anthem (Remix)”
Ludacris’ guest verse on Jason Aldean’s “Dirt Road Anthem” didn’t feel a bit out of place. Both he and Aldean know what it’s like growing up in Georgia, hanging out with friends and chasing girls on long summer days. The two men think back on the memories of their younger years, which for Ludacris include “Water balloons, super soakers / Wet T-shirts, women in bikinis / Kenny Rogers, penny loafers.” Aldean’s solo recording of the song reached the Top 10, but his playful duet version with Ludacris deserves some love, too.
“Over and Over”
In 2004, St. Louis native Nelly was one of the biggest rappers in the world, and Tim McGraw was arguably country music’s biggest star. Heartbreak is a universal theme, so when Nelly wanted a male voice to sing the hook on his mournful ballad “Over and Over,” he didn’t hesitate to turn to McGraw. The odd couple discovered they had a great personal rapport, and they sounded so alike on the track that at times it was difficult to figure out who was singing. The unpredictable team-up rocketed to No. 3 on the pop chart and No. 2 on our list of the best country-rap collaborations of all-time.
Nelly’s cover of Thomas Rhett‘s “Die a Happy Man” solidifies him as the king of country / hip-hop covers, but “Cruise” laid the frame work. The megahit was certified nine times Platinum, and set records for weeks at No. 1 on country charts. Florida Georgia Line’s original was already a smash before Nelly put his spin on it in 2013. The artists would later tour together.