• A guy dancing in a jungle.

The other day I was walking around listening to the new Future & Freeband Gang mixtape* and thinking about how artists these days (especially in hip-hop and dance music) are pretty much expected to collaborate with other musicians—and how cool that phenomenon is. On one hand it’s produced a lot of good music, either by uncovering synergy between the artists or by introducing an element of head-to-head competition. (I will never tire of listening to Missy Elliott, Ludacris, and Jay-Z trying to one-up each other on the remix to Missy’s “One Minute Man.”) There’s also an aspect to team-ups that taps into the comic book geek part of my brain and offers the same sort of appeal as seeing Wolverine pop up in a Hulk comic.

One of the side effects of the craze for collaborations is that when a rapper starts blowing up they can be inescapable, showing up on tracks alongside possibly dozens of producers and rappers looking to catch some of their reflected shine. For a particularly popular rapper with a robust work ethic this can mean way too many tracks for anyone but the most obsessive fan to keep up with.