One of America’s last true contributions to popular music, since jazz first emerged, rap music is unfiltered and emotional. As DJ Premier pointed out recently in Ice-T’s ‘Something From Nothing’ doco, which is well worth a look, some listeners have difficulty understanding the language and perspective of hip-hop. In this case he was referring to his 80 year old grandmother. To that end rappers have been working to ‘legitimise’ the genre in the eyes of the mainstream establishment and give it broader appeal dating back to the mid-80s.
Before hip-hop was the undisputed global movement of today, many pioneers were attempting to fuse raw rhymes with rock and pop rhythms to mixed results. Lovable obese rappers the Fat Boys were one of the first to get things rolling with two well meaning yet clunky collaborations, with 50s rocker Chubby Checker (The Twist) and surf pop icons the Beach Boys (Wipeout). You can’t help but find these collabos charming, as mind explodingly ridiculous as they may be today. Then there was Walk This Way, the epic union of Run-DMC and Aerosmith. It wasn’t until the 90s however that hip-hop and rock truly discovered their kinship thanks to the efforts of Public Enemy and Cypress Hill. Criminally overlooked band Smokin’ Suckaz Wit Logic also produced one of the finest rap-rock fusions with their single Mutha Made Em in 1993. That dirty whore of music known as nu-metal became an ally of hip hop in the 2000s, whether anyone wanted it to or not.
Today it seems that indie cred has become the desirable position for many of today’s rappers, just ask Kanye West and his pals Bon Iver. Then you’ve got odd collabos like Raekwon working with Justin Bieber and Lupe Fiasco teaming with Guy Sebastian, which throw everything out of whack. It’s a sordid tale but that won’t stop us from jumping into the history, as we look at the best and worst pop and rock collaborations in hip hop. Miss anything? Lets us know!