Since debuting in 2001, Gorillaz, the animated band created by Blur frontman Damon Albarn and artist Jamie Hewlett, have frequently collaborated with hip-hop artists such as Snoop Dogg, Vince Staples and De La Soul.

Gorillaz started out as a side project for Albarn, an opportunity to explore different musical ideas than the Britpop and alternative rock for which his other band Blur are well-known. (That "whoo-hoo" song you may have heard at sporting events is their "Song 2.") But Gorillaz have become more successful in the U.S. than Blur, who haven't broken up but have only released two albums since Albarn started Gorillaz, in 2003 and 2015. Gorillaz' sixth effort, The Now Now, arrives today (June 29).

The "band" consists of 2-D (vocals, keyboards), Murdoc Niccals (bass), Noodle (guitar, keyboards), and Russel Hobbs (drums), with Hewlett creating videos and animated shorts based on the songs that Albarn and his collaborators write, which draw upon hip-hop, rock, world music, electronic music and trip-hop influences. In addition to American and British rappers, they've also used R&B legends like Bobby Womack and Mavis Staples. The Now Now's first single, "Humility," even features guitar and backing vocals from jazz great George Benson. Check them all out below.

"Clint Eastwood" and "Rock the House"
Artist: Del the Funky Homosapien
From: Gorillaz (2001)

Gorillaz established their hip-hop cred on their first single, "Clint Eastwood," by bringing in Del the Funky Homosapien, and he made another appearance on their third single, "Rock the House." In both, he played Del tha Ghost Rapper, a friend of Russel Hobbs who was killed in a drive-by shooting. "Clint Eastwood" became Del's biggest hit, even though he said it only took him 15 minutes to do his part. "[Producer Dan the Automator] had the song already, and he had other motherfuckers rapping on it, but he didn’t like their raps. So he was like, 'Okay, I know Del can do it better.' ... Dan putting me on Gorillaz is probably the one thing that kept me floating. That introduced me to a lot of people who heard the rest of my shit. That’s my only platinum record."

 

"911"
Artists: D12
From: Single (2001)

Gorillaz invited D12, without Eminem, to a session that took place the day after Sept. 11, 2001, when they were unable to return to the U.S. The song, whose lyrics were inspired by the attacks, also features vocals from Terry Hall of the Specials, who said of it, "When I first heard what D12 did I was amazed, such unedited emotion. The track is all about opening your heart and your mind." Both Gorillaz and D12 offered "911" as a free download on their websites.

 

"Kids with Guns"
Artist: Neneh Cherry
From: Demon Days (2005)

Gorillaz' second record, 2005's Demon Days, was their biggest-seller, going double-platinum in the U.S. Neneh Cherry, best known for her No. 3 hit from 1988 "Buffalo Stance," sings the "Push it, push it, real, push it" hook in the chorus of "Kids With Guns." The song was reportedly inspired by an incident at Albarn's daughter's school. "A nice boy just decided to pick up a knife and show it to his friends at lunchtime," Albarn said. "It's a very real problem, but I'm not treating it as a problem. It's part of the brutalization of a generation that's going on at the moment."

 

"Dirty Harry"
Artist: Bootie Brown
From: Demon Days (2005)

Gorillaz again referenced Clint Eastwood, but this time one of his most famous characters. The video takes place after a helicopter crash in the desert, where, at 2:45, Bootie Brown of the Pharcyde emerges out of the sand in a military outfit and spits a verse.

 

"Feel Good Inc."
Artist: De La Soul
From: Demon Days (2005)

A good portion of Demon Days' success can be attributed to the success of "Feel Good Inc.," which reached No. 14 in the U.S. and is their biggest hit single to date. It was also the first of three times Gorillaz worked with De La Soul. They show up in the video on screens as the band plays in front of them. The song won a Grammy for Best Pop Collaboration in 2006.

 

"Every Planet We Reach Is Dead"
Featuring: Ike Turner
From Demon Days (2005)

Ike Turner doesn't rap or sing in "Every Planet We Reach Is Dead." Instead, the former husband of Tina Turner played the piano solo.

 

"November Has Come"
Artist: DOOM
From: Demon Days (2005)

Because if you're going to have a song about the decline of hip-hop, who better to get than a guy named "DOOM?"

 

"All Alone"
Artist: Roots Manuva
From: Demon Days (2005)

At the time Gorillaz brought in Roots Manuva to rap on "All Alone," the London-based rapper was enjoying his biggest hit in his home country with Awfully Deep, which featured the hit single "Colossal Insight."

 

"Welcome to the World of the Plastic Beach"
Artist: Snoop Dogg
From: Plastic Beach (2010)

After a brief overture, listeners were welcomed to Plastic Beach by the Doggfather himself. "Snoop’s the grandaddy, isn’t he?" Albarn, as Murdoc Niccals, told NME in a track-by-track commentary. "Doggystyle was for many people the record that got them into rap and G-funk. ... This is a proper soundtrack: brass-laden, pimped out, plastic funk, mixing the organic with the plastic to form something new and shiny. And who better to open up this world than Snoop?"

 

"White Flag"
Artist: Bashy and Kano
From: Plastic Beach (2010)

Gorillaz went to Beirut to record the National Orchestra for Oriental Arabic Music's contribution to "White Flag," and hearing Israeli jets flying very low over the city had an effect on the composition. To recreate the "faintly surreal experience," as Murdoc called it, they brought in Bashy and Kano, who are stars in the world of grime, a British hip-hop subgenre.

 

"Stylo"
Artists: Mos Def and Bobby Womack
From: Plastic Beach (2010)

2D gets help from the future Yasiin Bey, who raps the intro, and the legendary Bobby Womack, who sings the hook and the third verse. Womack, who had barely recorded since the late '70s, didn't know anything about Gorillaz until they contacted him. "Gorillaz called me and asked me if I'd join them on their next single," he said. "I'd never heard of Gorillaz. I said, 'I've heard of the Monkees!'" But after his grandaughter said they were cool, he recorded his part. They asked him to go on tour, an experience he enjoyed so much that he wound up writing 20 songs while on the road with them.

 

"Superfast Jellyfish"
Artist: De La Soul
From: Plastic Beach (2010)

Posdnuos and Trugoy from De La Soul return for this Plastic Beach track, a satire of fast food and the on-demand culture. Gruff Rhys from the Britpop band Super Furry Animals sings on the chorus.

 

"Cloud of Unknowing"
Artist: Bobby Womack
From: Plastic Beach (2010)

Womack sings the entirety of "Cloud of Unknowing," his second cameo on Plastic Beach and the album's second-to-last song. Murdoc said that Womack's performance "can still bring tears to my eyes. That mixture of hope and uncertainty in his voice – the age and the experience, the fear and the joy." He compared it to "Love Reign O'er Me" the closing track from the Who's 1973 rock opera Quadrophenia: "[It's] the moment that gathers together the events of the album – and pauses for reflection."

 

"DoYaThing"
Artist: Andre 3000
From: Single (2012)

In 2012, Gorillaz teamed up with Converse to create their own line of Chuck Taylors designed by Hewlett. For it, they wrote "DoYaThing" and got Andre 3000 of Outkast and LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy, who has a history of working with sneaker companies, to help out. It was released as both in a 13-minute explicit version and a single edit. Albarn said the long take "evolved out of just a drum beat and a guitar, and then André just started going, and there was no sense that he was ever gonna stop. [laughs] It was a very exhilarating ride. It's live: I'm playing guitar, the drum machine is going, James is playing bass, and André just goes off. And what he's saying just gets more and more ridiculous. It finished on its own will, we really had nothing to do with it."

 

"Ascension"
Artist: Vince Staples
From: Humanz (2017)

Released in 2017, Humanz was Gorillaz' deepest dive into hip-hop to date, with eight of its 20 tracks featuring rappers, and more found on the Deluxe and Super Deluxe Editions. Vince Staples kicks things off on "Ascension," rapping about racism and inequality. “He’s great,” Albarn told HipHopDX. “He’s doing something different. He’s kind of anti-hip hop, isn’t he? I like that style. I like that not buying into more of the distractive aspects of the culture.”

 

"Momentz"
Artist: De La Soul
From: Humanz (2017)

De La Soul's third cameo for Gorillaz features Pos, but Albarn had someone else in mind. "I didn't hear De La Soul for that," he told Rolling Stone. "Posdnous shows up. He said, 'I want to do something.' We were trying to get Dave Chappelle to do that. But he knows Pos, and somehow, that's how that happened."

 

"Submission"
Artists: Danny Brown and Kelela
From: Humanz (2017)

Albarn doesn't sing at all on "Submission." Instead, he gives Kalela the spotlight. Then, for the third verse, Danny Brown comes in to wrap things up.

 

"Charger"
Artist: Grace Jones
From: Humanz (2017)

While "Submission" found Kalela and Danny Brown blending smoothly, it didn't work out so well when Albarn brought in Grace Jones for "Charger." "She was like, 'Hmm, there's something not right about this,'" he told Rolling Stone. "I said, 'What is it? Do you want me to take out the keyboards?' 'No, it's this noise on here.' 'What noise? That guitar?' 'No, I love that.' She wouldn't say it was this other person's voice. Clearly, once the voice had been taken off, the track was ready to work on."

 

"Andromeda"
Artist: D.R.A.M.
From: Humanz (2017)

D.R.A.M. barely contributed to "Andromeda," but a remix on which he features prominently was included on the Super Deluxe Edition of Humanz. It picked up a Grammy nomination for Best Dance Recording in 2018.

 

"Let Me Out"
Artist: Mavis Staples and Pusha T
From: Humanz (2017)

"Let Me Out" is a piece of social commentary, with Mavis Staples and 2-D predicting a terrifying change ahead. Pusha T's opening verse references Donald Trump, Barack Obama and the massacre at Orlando's Pulse nightclub. But Albarn bleeped out the references to make it relevant for future generations. "Those who tried, you can hear the bleeps on the record where their names were," Albarn said. "I didn't want names, because this is not about that moment."

 

"Sex Murder Party," "The Apprentice" and "Out of Body"
Artist: Zebra Katz
From: Humanz (2017)

Ojay Morgan, a self-described "black, queer and 'other'" rapper from New York using the name Zebra Katz, helps out on the intro and second verse of "Sex Murder Party." According to co-producer Anthony Khan, the song was inspired by "a headline in a newspaper that we read and we all thought it was insane and Damon and I made the beat right there. So there was stuff based on Albarn’s demos, but also original tracks that we created in the studio in the moment.” "The Apprentice" and "Out of Body" were released on the Super Deluxe Edition of Humanz.

 

"Garage Palace"
Artist: Little Simz
From: Humanz Super Deluxe Edition (2017)

"Garage Palace" was the b-side to the "Sex Murder Party" single and also found on Humanz' Super Deluxe Edition. The song is about trying to find strength in dark times, and is sung entirely by British rapper Little Simz.

 

"Humility"

Artist: George Benson
From: The Now Now (2018)

The opening track and lead single from The Now Now, "Humility," has a summery, smooth-jazz vibe to it, so Gorillaz called up one of that genre's legends. George Benson of "Breezin'" and "Give Me the Night" fame puts his signature guitar tone all over the track, whose video features Jack Black hanging on the beach with the members of Gorillaz.

 

"Hollywood"
Artist: Snoop Dogg
From: The Now Now (2018)

Eight years after welcoming us to Plastic Beach, Snoop Dogg takes us to "Hollywood." It's the fifth single from The Now Now, all of which came out in a four-week span leading up to the album's release. Gorillaz also contributed to “Sumthin Like This Night,” which was found on Snoop's 2011 album Doggumentary.