Growing up as a classic rock kid, who later developed an ear for hip-hop, it’s always been exciting for me whenever rappers and rockers get together on songs. Songs like “Walk This Way,” a crossover between Run DMC and Aerosmith, were what got me into rap in the first place. Recently it’s become a more common practice, but it doesn’t mean it’s always done right. However, over the years there’s been some songs that are so flawlessly done, they overshadow the nonsense that other artists released. These are by no means the greatest collaborations of all time but here’s a list of my top 5 favorite hip-hop/rock crossovers that have been released in the recent years. (in no particular order of course.)
The first of these honorable mentions has to be “Ghetto Gospel.” A song off of Tupac’s album, “Loyal to the Game.” The song was produced by Eminem, so when it came time to add a hook, he reached out to his old friend Elton John. If you remember they performed “Stan” together back at the 2001 Grammys, which is another great crossover that won’t be featured in this article. Eminem sampled Elton’s song, “Indian Sunset” for the chorus of “Ghetto Gospel.” The title says it all. Tupac brings raw, visual verses, pleading to end the street violence. While Elton brings a soulful style that only he can do. Truly a Ghetto Gospel.
The next song that I have always kept close to my ears is The Gorillaz’, “Clint Eastwood.” A combination of the craziness of the Gorillaz (a fictional band based around cartoons) with the spacey, futuristic flow of Del Tha Funkee Homosapien (a underground rapper out of Oakland). The Gorillaz singer has an infectious, monotone voice. Which ironically matches his upbeat cheerful lyrics perfectly. The song was a listed number 38 in Rolling Stone’s Top 100 songs of the 2000s.
The song “Pursuit of Happiness” was so good that Kid Cudi is still trying to live up to it. Collaborating with Ratatat and MGMT, Cudi was able to sell two million downloads of the song. The song has been sampled, covered, and remixed more times that one could possibly list. Ratatat meets their status quo, delivering a laid back, drifting, instrumental that complements Cudi’s style of flow well. While MGMT adds their new age psychedelic flair to the chorus. The song has been featured in many different movies, commercials and video games.
The first time I saw this next collaboration was on MTV’s TRL (yeah old school), and it shook my world. The Collision Course album, a crossover of the best of Jay-Z and Linkin Park, was so good it hurt. The album is driven by the creative minds of Jay-Z and Mike Shinoda. The two took some of Jay’s and Linkin Park's biggest hits and mixed them together to create a brand new album. With the combination of heavy distorted guitars, hard drums, and Jay-Z’s unique rhythm, the songs had a strong Rick Ruben/Def Jam feel. Jay-Z isn’t known for making bad music so I guess this maintains his normal amount of awesome.
This last song might break the rules due to the fact that it is indeed a sample. Yet, B.O.B’s “The Kids” featuring Janelle Monae has to be on this list for me. The song samples a Vampire Weekend song, “The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance.” The collaboration with Vampire Weekend’s song, and Janelle Monae’s soulful, hip-hop/R&B, along with B.O.B’s story telling is priceless. The song is a clever and smooth look at B.O.B’s experiences as a student; followed by Janelle Monae’s contagious style of modern soul. This song is so well put together it’s hard to believe that it wasn’t a single and never got radio play or a music video. Still, it’s one of my favorite collaborations to listen too.
So maybe it’s not the top 5 greatest hip-hop/rock crossovers of all time, but it’s just a few that stood out to me over the years. Feel free to comment and let me know which songs should have made the list.