There’s no bond quite like the bond brothers share. Well, except for sisters, probably, but I’ve never been a sister to anyone so I can’t speak with authority on that... but I digress.
There are few people on this planet who understand me as well as my brother, and for as much as we used to be at each other's throats as kids, as adults, it’s been incredibly comforting to have that bond in the face of life’s never-ending confusion.
After hearing Taylor Bennett’s heartfelt ode to his brother Chance The Rapper on Sunday (April 16), I was reminded of my own brotherly bond, and thought of how soothing and motivating it must be to have a same sex sibling that shares the same passion for your craft.
The competition inherent in brotherhood has to make for some great music, right? And in the midst of the music industry’s boundless fuckery, you'll always have your brother by your side to help navigate and keep your spirits high.
With that in mind, we decided to highlight 10 sets of brothers in the hip-hop world, as an ode to the unbreakable bond of brotherhood.
Chance The Rapper & Taylor Bennett
We may as well begin with the duo that inspired my entire train of thought. While the whole world has had Chance fever for the past year, 2016 was also a banner campaign for his brother Taylor, who has been rapping for nearly as long as his brother.
Taylor’s debut mixtape The Taylor Bennett Show was released just a few months after Chance dropped Acid Rap, the mixtape that would go on to fuel the skyrocketing of Chance’s profile. The two have collaborated on multiple occasions, most recently on “Grown Up Fairy Tales” from Taylor’s latest album Restoration of an American Idol.
Though they sound (and look) somewhat similar—pretty tough to avoid when you share both genetic makeup and regional upbringing—Taylor and Chance’s styles are both complementary and wildly different. Watching their respective careers take off has almost been like watching parallel universes unfold.
Pusha T & No Malice
Before Pusha T’s solo run with G.O.O.D. Music, he and his brother were better known as the hugely influential duo Clipse.
Hailing from Virginia, the two broke through to the mainstream with their debut album Lord Willin’ and solidified their place as one of the most influential hip-hop groups of the 2000s with Hell Hath No Fury in 2006. The way the two emcees would play off one another, and in the process, deliver the best coke raps ever recorded, made Clipse an absolute force to be reckoned with before they would go their separate ways in 2010.
With the help of outstanding production from The Neptunes, Pusha and Malice (now known as No Malice) created a brand of street-inspired rap that still influences the sounds of new artists to this day. Intense pressure surrounding a federal investigation of their operation that landed their manager in jail on trafficking charges caused Malice to leave the group, later converting to Christianity and assuming the pen name No Malice.
Project Pat & Juicy J
Long before he made a comeback as a solo artist signed to Taylor Gang, Juicy J was the co-founder of Three 6 Mafia, the Memphis crew that arguably started the sounds that birthed what we now know as trap music.
Juicy's older brother, Project Pat, has also had a solid solo career, which began with countless guest appearances on Three 6's first few albums. In fact, Pat became an unofficial member of the group and gained much of his initial notoriety from providing the hook on the group’s legendary hit “Sippin’ On Some Syrup” in 2000.
The two have collaborated extensively throughout their careers, and while Pat hasn’t experienced the same resurgence as his brother, his influence on Juicy’s artistry and Tennessee hip-hop is undeniable. Also, "Chicken Head" is still a sure-fire way to make me lose my shit.
Master P, Silkk The Shocker & C-Murder
Talk about talent running in the family. Master P is the founder of No Limit Records, one of the most influential labels in hip-hop, and his brothers Silkk The Shocker and C-Murder played no small part in the success of the imprint.
Before the inclusion of higher-profile artists like 504 Boyz and Mystikal, Silkk and C-Murder were heavily featured on No Limit releases, their distinctive styles helping to drive the sounds that would eventually bleed into the New Orleans scene. And though the group originally included many other members, TRU eventually became the triple-headed monster of brothers we most closely associate with the group's name.
While neither Silkk nor C-Murder—who is currently serving a life sentence for murder—had the sustained success of their brother Percy, their contributions were paramount to the label’s early successes and the definition of No Limit’s signature sounds.
Layzie Bone & Flesh-N-Bone
Both founding members of the legendary group Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Layzie and Flesh both played crucial roles in the group.
While Flesh’s legal and personal troubles kept his involvement with the group sporadic, his presence on the group’s seminal album E. 1999 Eternal undoubtedly played a role in the album's and group’s success.
The two brothers are also the cousins of fellow Bone Thugs member Wish Bone, making Bizzy Bone and Krayzie Bone the only two members somehow not related by blood.
Rev Run & Russell Simmons
One of the most influential sets of brothers in music, period. Rev Run is best known as one-third of Run-D.M.C., the group that changed the genre of hip-hop forever.
While Rev’s contributions to hip-hop are rooted in direct musical creation, his brother Russell went on to found Def Jam Records with Rick Rubin and is now a bona fide multimedia mogul whose contributions to the business and development ends of hip-hop are countless.
It’s also worth noting that Rev and Russell’s older brother Danny Simmons is a successful abstract expressionist painter, and was instrumental in the development of Def Jam Poetry, another of the family’s many invaluable contributions to hip-hop culture.
Slim Jxmmi & Swae Lee (Rae Sremmurd)
Better known by the world as Rae Sremmurd, brothers Slim Jxmmi and Swae Lee have spent the last two years taking the world by storm with their infectious brand of party-centric hip-hop.
As children, Slim and Swae were constantly on the move due to their mother’s employment in the army, circumstances that surely fostered a close relationship between the two. After years of making self-produced music as the group Dem Outta St8 Boyz, the pair focused their efforts and eventually signed with Mike WiLL Made-It’s Ear Drummers imprint, reversing the name to become Rae Sremmurd.
Aside from looking like they may as well be twins, Slim and Swae have similar vocal styles while maintaining distinctive sounds (Swae leans toward the more melodic side of the spectrum, while Jxmmi makes up the more aggressive half), which will likely matter more in the future as both young men plan to develop their own solo albums.
MadeinTYO & 24hrs
24hrs, formally known as Royce Rizzy or Rolls Royce Rizzy, has been rapping for years and was at one point signed with Jermaine Dupri’s So So Def Recordings. Label difficulties and legal troubles kept Royce from becoming a household name, but he has found new life through the success of his brother and protégé MadeinTYO, who garnered a swath of attention for his hit single “Uber Everywhere” (and to a lesser extent “Skateboard P”).
While managing MadeinTYO, a technical slip-up led to Royce's vocals accidentally being pitched up in the studio and 24hrs was born. Though 24hrs no longer manages his little brother, he's still serving as his mentor, attempting to help TYO avoid the same pitfalls that stunted the beginning of his career.
The two released a collaborative EP last year titled 24hrs in Tokyo.
Milk Dee & Gizmo (Audio Two)
If you weren’t alive or listening to hip-hop in the late '80s, you might not immediately be familiar with Milk Dee and Gizmo or their group Audio Two, but I guarantee you’re familiar with their contributions to the culture.
The two brothers—who are also the brothers of the legendary MC Lyte—are best known for their smash hit “Top Billin’,” which is arguably the most sampled song in hip-hop history.
The song’s instrumental and lyrics have influenced material by the likes of Jay Z and MF DOOM, and although the duo’s career dwindled after the success of “Top Billin’,” they’re still fondly remembered as one of the most influential acts based solely on the strength of their most notable hit record.
Kaytranada & Lou Phelps
If you’ve been paying attention to hip-hop production at all over the last several years, you’re surely familiar with KAYTRANADA.
Not only has the Canadian producer been behind the boards for the likes of Anderson .Paak, Talib Kweli, Mick Jenkins and plenty others, his eclectic 2016 album 99.9% is widely regarded as one of the year’s best releases.
While you may be less familiar with his brother, rapper Lou Phelps, his latest release 001: Experiments deserves your attention. His style is fresh, his wordplay is sharp and several production features from his brother don’t hurt the project’s listenability one bit.