While MF DOOM (born Daniel Dumile) is highly regarded as one of the most inimitable figures in hip-hop, part of his legacy also lies within his collaborative work and in his eccentric half-dozen alter egos. Of those experimental projects, his partnership with Danger Mouse (born Brian Burton) is one of the most celebrated. Their debut project, The Mouse and the Mask, was released to critical acclaim in 2005, utilizing the collective moniker DANGER DOOM. The project was released in the UK through Lex Records, as well as in the United States through punk label Epitaph Records, marking the latter imprint’s third foray into hip-hop. Best known for his work with the Gorillaz, Beck, the Black Keys, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Grammy Award-winning producer Danger Mouse handled the instrumentation, while DOOM focused on the animated vocals and eccentric lyrical direction.

For DANGER DOOM‘s debut, Danger Mouse chose to sample exclusively from various animated shows airing on Adult Swim, Cartoon Network’s late-night programming block—with a handful of cartoon characters from Aqua Teen Hunger Force making appearances on the album, in addition to the likes of Cee-Lo Green, Talib Kweli, and Ghostface Killah. With support from the network and famed comedian Dave Chappelle alike, the project was released in October 2005 and quickly became a cult fan favorite. While the album sparked several noteworthy talking points, MF DOOM’s diss against his former collaborator, MF Grimm, undeniably stood out. The Monsta Island Czars (M.I.C.) member later responded with the track “Book of Daniel,” during which he accused DOOM of selling out.

With many hailing the seemingly unlikely pairing of MF DOOM and Danger Mouse as an undeniable success, DANGER DOOM delivered once again the following year, releasing their 2006 EP, Occult Hymn, exclusively though AdultSwim.com. Although DANGER DOOM has not reunited since 2006, their small-but-impactful body of work remains heralded as one of the most experimental and pleasantly absurdist collaborations to come out of the 2000s.

Madvillain is an esteemed hip-hop group comprised of New York-based emcee MF DOOM (born Daniel Dumille) and Los Angeles’ Madlib (born Otis Jackson). The pair joined forces in 2002 when they first began recording what would become their critically acclaimed debut, Madvillainy. Madlib, Stones Throw’s prized producer, worked on the instrumentals for the project during a trip to Brazil—infamously utilizing minimal amounts of equipment and sampling from distinctively obscure vinyl. All the while, DOOM—the enigmatic emcee reputed for wearing a mask—happily occupied his Madvillain counterpart’s studio in Mount Washington. As the two were working remotely, the unfinished demo was stolen and leaked online, roughly 14 months before its slated release. Understandably frustrated, both artists chose to focus on individual endeavors, with Madlib releasing 2003’s Champion Sound with J. Dilla (as Jaylib) and DOOM releasing two solo projects: Take Me To Your Leader (as King Geedorah) and Vaudeville Villain (as Viktor Vaughn) that same year.

Fortunately, the pair decided to revisit Madvillainy later on, with DOOM drastically altering his voice to be more mellow and relaxed, while Madlib got out of changing some of the beats by convincing the label he forgot which samples he used. The album saw a proper release in 2004, and was met with rave reviews, later becoming one of Stones Throw’s best-selling albums. After becoming an underground phenomenon, the album was given the official remix treatment, with Fourtet and Koushnik both reworking the project in 2005 for two separate EPs. The album’s original creators later remixed the project as well, releasing Madvillainy 2: The Madlib Remix in 2008. The next year, it was announced that the pair were working on a second release together. However, as diehard fans can sadly attest, the project has yet to see the light of day, with Madlib explaining during a 2014 interview that it is up to DOOM whether or not they ever finish it. Despite only releasing one studio album and several loose singles, Madvillain’s legacy influenced a generation of artists and remains one of the most beloved partnerships in hip-hop history to date.

The musical pairing of Blu (born Johnson Barnes) and Exile (born Aleksander Manfred) has become a quintessential asset to West Coast hip-hop ever since they first joined forces in 2007. The Los Angeles-based pair first met in the mid-2000s, while Blu, a rapper beginning to cut his chops in the underground hip-hop scene, was acting as a hype man for a handful of groups, including Slum Village, Platinum Pied Pipers, and Exile’s group, Emanon. Blu was soon connected to Exile, through a personal introduction from Emanon’s other member, Aloe Blacc, and the rest soon became history. Exile—a producer/DJ known for his laid-back soulful beats, as well as for his work with Jurassic 5, Mobb Deep, and Kardinal Offishall—was a perfect fit with Blu, whose style as a rapper has been praised for his flawless delivery, his conscious rhymes and his ability to resonate with a diverse audience.

The duo earned widespread recognition and acclaim with the release of their 2007 debut studio album, Below the Heavens, with the group quickly garnering the attention of the alternative hip-hop scene and finding themselves at the center of articles discussing the year’s best releases. Their highly anticipated follow-up, Give Me Flowers While I Can Smell Them, arrived in 2012, with the project’s release being delayed so that Blu & Exile could make sure they were happy with the audio quality. Although the duo has only blessed fans with two formal releases to date, they remain a beloved fixture in underground hip-hop, as well as have furthered their legacies with their own respective solo careers.

Producer Pete Rock (Peter Phillips) and rapper CL Smooth (Corey Penn) are a group from Mount Vernon, NY, known for their legendary use of jazz and soul samples mixed with pensive rhymes. They first met in the early ‘90s while attending Mount Vernon High, establishing themselves early on as a duo destined to make the hip-hop history books. Pete Rock was taken under the wing of DJ Marley Marl at New York City’s WBLS, eventually earning his own airtime and catching the attention of Heavy D’s DJ Eddie, who introduced the pair to various record labels in New York City. Following Pete Rock’s co-produced four tracks off Heavy D & the Boyz’s sophomore album Big Tyme (1989), he and CL Smooth used that momentum to release their debut EP All Souled Out in 1991. From jump, the duo carved their own lane by juxtaposing Pete Rock’s signature horn blares and renowned ear for obscure soul and jazz samples with CL Smooth’s knack for waxing philosophical yet effortlessly profanity-free lyrical delivery.

The duo’s 1992 debut album, Mecca & the Soul Brother, gave the world their best-known single, “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.).” Met with rave reviews, the project was praised as one of the greatest rap records of all time. Following critical acclaim, the pair scored placements on soundtracks for films Menace II Society, Who’s the Man?, and Poetic Justice, as well as collaborated with Mary J. Blige for a remix of her track “Reminisce.” In 1994, Pete Rock & CL Smooth reunited for The Main Ingredient, a project that would later become the legendary duo’s last album together. After splitting in 1995, both artists went on to nurture solo careers and would later reconnect for occasional tour runs and public appearances. The year 2003 saw the release of their compilation record, Good Life: The Best of Pete Rock & CL Smooth, further fueling the demand for a proper reunion. In 2010, the death of hip-hop pioneer Guru acted as a catalyst for them to reconcile their creative differences in a new way, with the duo promising fans new music was in the works. The group promises a new project by the end of 2017.

Freddie Gibbs and Madlib are the rapper/producer supergroup that go by the name MadGibbs. Since releasing their first EP in 2011, they’ve gone on to release two more EPs and one full-length album titled Piñata in 2014.

Gibbs was born in Gary, Indiana on June 14, 1982, as Frederick Tipton. There, the rapper grew up in the industrial community, but still made it to college playing football. He was later kicked out of college, which led him to briefly join the military. He would eventually turn to pimping and selling crack. Through all this, Gibbs was rapping and recording mixtapes.

In 2006, he signed with Interscope Records; soon after the label released him from his contract without releasing a debut album. Three years later, he released a round of free records via the Internet. Finally, in 2013, his official debut ESGN was released.

Before the release of that debut album, Gibbs teamed up with California producer Madlib to form a duo that went by MadGibbs. During this time they released three EP’s: Thuggin’ in 2011, Shame in 2012, and Deeper in 2013.

In 2014, the pair released their first full-length album, Piñata, to critical acclaim and making it to various end-of-year lists. The album featured collaborations with Scarface, Raekwon, Danny Brown, BJ the Chicago Kid, and others.

The future of a new MadGibbs project was teased in 2016, when Freddie sent out an update on his Twitter account that said, “Bandana.” No word on when the project will be released.

Ghostface Killah and Adrian Younge are the rapper-slash-composer/music producer supergroup who have worked together on two Ghostface Killah albums: Twelve Reasons to Die and Twelve Reasons to Die II. Upon the release of the collaborations, they garnered praise for their originality and vivid cinematic depictions.

Ghostface (born Dennis Coles) got his start as a member of the legendary Wu-Tang Clan. During his solo career, he has amassed a total of 12 solo albums and six collaboration albums outside of his work with Wu-Tang.

For Ghostface’s tenth studio album Twelve Reasons to Die, the rapper teamed up with famed producer, composer, and film scorer Adrian Younge. The music producer is a multi-instrumentalist who has released various albums under many names including the band Venice Dawn. Inspired by funk and soul, his projects are nostalgic and innovative at the same time. Common, Jay-Z, Royce da 5’9”, and other rappers have sampled the composer’s work.

For their first full-length collaboration, Twelve Reasons to Die, Ghostface and Adrian collaborated with Wu members Masta Killa, Cappadonna, and RZA. The album was also slated to serve as the score to a vintage Italian horror film. Publications like XXL and The Source critically praised the collaboration.

The follow-up to the 2013 album was the sequel titled: Twelve Reasons to Die II. This time around, Ghostface and Adrian tightened up their production and brought on more collaborations. Those included Raekwon, RZA, Vince Staples, and Bilal.

From becoming the second rap act to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame to being revered as cultural icons—with their signature bulky gold chains, fedoras. and laceless shell-toe Adidas sneakers—Run-DMC is heralded as one of the most influential hip-hop groups of all time.

Founded in 1981 by DMC (Darryl McDaniels), Reverend Run (Joseph Simmons, brother of music mogul Russell Simmons) and the late Jam Master Jay (Jason Mizell), the Queens-bred trio is largely credited with helping the genre of hip-hop crossover into the mainstream, inevitably changing the landscape of popular music. Widely regarded as the first hardcore rap outfit, Run-DMC’s first single, 1983’s “It’s Like That”/”Sucker M.C.’s,” set the precedent early that they were destined to be pioneers of the culture—influencing a generation of acts such as N.W.A., Public Enemy, Boogie Down Productions, Wu-Tang Clan, Cypress Hill and more.

Throughout the course of their two decades’ worth of accolades, the New York natives released seven total studio albums, with their self-titled debut arriving in 1984. Their third record, 1986’s Raising Hell, solidified their reputation as household names, with their fusion of rock and rap cemented by the group’s biggest hit single to date, a cover of Aerosmith’s 1973 hit single “Walk This Way” that evolved into a groundbreaking rap/rock collaboration. As Run-DMC crafted their discography, the group became the first rap act to achieve certain milestones, including one of the first hip-hop acts to receive a Grammy Award nomination, land a Rolling Stone cover, appear on MTV and sign a major product endorsement deal (with Adidas), to name a few.

Jam Master Jay was fatally shot at his recording studio in New York in 2002, a year after Run-DMC released their seventh album, Crown Royal. In the aftermath of the still-unsolved murder, Run-DMC officially disbanded. In recent years, Rev Run and DMC have selectively reunited on stage, including at Jay Z’s Made in America festival in 2012. A big-screen biopic detailing the legacy of the revolutionary group has reportedly been in production since 2009.

Queen Latifah (born Dana Elaine Owens) has covered an iconic amount of creative and entrepreneurial ground, spending majority of the last three decades in the spotlight. Long hailed as one of hip-hop’s pioneer feminists, she began singing, beat boxing and rapping while attending Catholic school in New Jersey, even going on to form her first hip-hop group, Ladies Fresh. With the blessing of her mother, she connected with Mark James, a local DJ known as The 45 King, who, along with Latifah, created the Flavor Unit. After The 45 King recorded Latifah’s first solo demo, the record was given to Fab 5 Freddy, the host of Yo! MTV Raps—leading the aspiring emcee to ink her first record deal with Tommy Boy Records.

After Latifah’s first single, “Wrath of My Madness,” was well received in 1988, she toured Europe and performed at Harlem’s Apollo Theater. At age 19, her debut studio album All Hail The Queen (1989) was released, selling more than one million copies, fueled by the legendary anthem “Ladies First” with Monie Love. Latifah released her final album on Tommy Boy Nature of a Sista in 1991. She became CEO of her first company Flavor Unit Records and Management, as well as first tried her hand at acting, scoring her debut role in Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever. Latifah’s third studio album, Black Reign, was released via Motown Records in 1993, with the single “U.N.I.T.Y.” earning her a Grammy Award. At this time, her company had signed 17 rap groups, including Naughty by Nature—all while she landed a starring role on Living Single, appearing on the sitcom from 1993 to 1998. After releasing her fourth album Order in the Court (1998), Latifah shifted her focus on acting and singing. She released two all-singing jazz standard albums, The Dana Owens Album (2004) and Trav’lin’ Light (2007) before returning to hip-hop with 2009’s Persona. Of her many accolades, Queen Latifah became the first female hip-hop recording artist to be nominated for an Oscar. While her solo music career currently remains in hiatus, her acting career often incorporates her talents as a vocalist, such as her critically acclaimed role in Chicago and equally acclaimed portrayal of blues singer Bessie Smith in the 2015 HBO film, Bessie.

Hailing from Snow Hill, North Carolina, Rapsody (born Marlanna Evans) is an emcee best known for her intricate rhyme patterns, clever wordplay and uncompromising dedication to her own hip-hop philosophy, “Culture Over Everything.” She first got her start as part of the North Carolina-based hip-hop group, Kooley High, later becoming the protégé of producer 9th Wonder. In 2008, she signed as a solo artist to the Grammy Award-winning producer’s own Jamla Records imprint, It’s A Wonderful World Music Group. After being featured on projects from 9th Wonder and Skyzoo, Rapsody made her solo debut with 2010’s Return of the B-Girl. Her first project boasted production from the likes of 9th Wonder and DJ Premier, as well as featured guests such as Big Daddy Kane, Mac Miller, Rah Digga, Phil Ade and Skyzoo.

As she established her reputation as an incredible live performer and storyteller, Rapsody added to her catalog, both as a solo artist and with Kooley High. In 2011, she landed an opening slot on Mac Miller’s Incredibly Dope tour, as well as released two mixtapes, Thank H.E.R. and Now and For Everything. 2012 saw her debut studio album, The Idea of Beautiful, released via Jamla. The 16-track project featured in-house production handled by the 9th Wonder-led Soul Council, with guest appearances from The Cool Kids, Ab-Soul, Childish Gambino, BJ The Chicago Kid, Mac Miller and more. After releasing her 2013 mixtape She Got Game and her 2014 EP Beauty and the Beast, Rapsody landed a feature on Kendrick Lamar’s 2015 sophomore album, To Pimp a Butterfly. After her memorable contribution on the track “Complexion (A Zulu Love),” Rapsody began garnering mainstream recognition and inked a deal with Jay Z’s Roc Nation in 2016. With her career a decade deep and continuing to thrive, Rapsody is a testament to perseverance, hard work and staying true to one’s vision.

Onika “Nicki Minaj” Maraj is a Grammy-nominated, Platinum selling artist and actress, and the highest selling female hip-hop artist of all time.

Born in Trinidad, Minaj’s family moved to New York when she was young, and she grew up in the South Jamaica section of Queens. Upon graduating famed arts school LaGuardia High, Minaj was cast in a few small roles, but she eventually turned her interests to music. Starting out in a group called The Hoodstars with then-boyfriend Safaree “Scaff Beezy” Samuels and two others, Minaj decided to turn solo when the group failed to gain traction after a couple of years.

Minaj’s rapping soon caught the attention of Fendi, the owner of a popular street DVD series. He signed her to a management contract and featured Minaj on the next installment of his DVD, which caught the attention of Lil Wayne. Wayne reached out to Fendi to begin working with Minaj, and she made her debut on his 2007 mixtape, The Drought 3.

Minaj would release three mixtapes: 2007’s Playtime Is Over, 2008’s Sucka Free and 2009’s Beam Me Up Scotty, before officially signing with Young Money/Universal in 2010 and releasing her debut album, Pink Friday. By then, she’d parted ways with Fendi. After being managed by Debra Antney and living in Atlanta for the Beam Me Up Scotty period, Minaj relocated back to NY with new management. To date, Nicki Minaj has released three studio albums.

Aside from music, Minaj has made a successful lipstick release with MAC Cosmetics, a nail polish line with OPI, a clothing line with K-Mart and a popular line of fragrances. She has also had roles in the films Ice Age: Continental Drift, The Other Woman and Barbershop: The Next Cut.