Music

Meet The Musicians You Didn’t Know Were Hip-Hop Double-Threats

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Since 1986’s “Walk This Way,” rap has been the secondary stomping grounds for some of music’s more eclectic acts. From EDM to rock to pop to R&B, rap has held hands with a variety of genres. While this isn’t an exhaustive list of all of the pairings of rap with other styles, these are the times that said couplings have providing some worthy tunes. Here are some of the musicians who have crossed over into rap and made something of their time there.

Damon Albarn

Track: “Clint Eastwood” featuring Del the Funky Homosapien

English alt-rock enthusiast and frontman of Blur, Damon Albarn, made waves when he crossed over to create the synth-hoppy Gorillaz that featured the lyrical stylings of Del the Homosapien. Albarn proved that he could make some incredible alternative hip-hop tracks as well as provide fodder for some of the best animated music videos of all-time.

Aerosmith

Track: “Walk This Way” featuring Run-DMC

What would a crossover rap list be without the Godfather of the genre making an appearance? Two of the biggest music acts of all-time, Run-DMC and Aerosmith made heads explode when they collided to create one of the best rap/rock collabos ever. On paper it seemed like it would be a tight fit, but somehow these two behemoths merged their sounds into a rebelliously sweet sound that’s sharp enough to split hair fibers.

Skrillex

Track: “Coast is Clear” featuring Chance the Rapper & Social Experiment

Using his intrepid synth bass sounds as well as an excellent boom bap combo, Skrillex was able to translate his talents into the hip-hop world with this Chance The Rapper track that was one of the best rap songs of 2014. A fusion of EDM, rap, and some jazz elements never sounded punchier with Chance’s syrupy lyrics providing the sexually charged energy.

Anthrax

Track: “Bring The Noize” featuring Public Enemy

“Bring The Noize” is a rambunctious and infectious piece of pop-art. With Chuck D’s socially conscious baritone providing the “BASS”(!) and Anthrax bringing their hard-edged sound, the two seemed like a match made in heaven back in 1987, just one year removed from the Run-DMC/Aerosmith collaboration. Which one do you think is better?

Trent Reznor

Track: “Flyentology” featuring EL-P

Who would have ever thought that Trent Reznor would sound pretty damn decent over an EL-P collaboration? No one, I bet. With electrical odes to the Nine Inch Nails frontman, Reznor, Atticus Ross, and EL-P created a synthetic backdrop of noise that’s both polished and muddled at the same time.

Linkin Park

Track: “Numb/Encore” featuring Jay Z

More of a mash-up than anything else, the Jay Z/Linkin Park collaborative album spoke volumes of the lengths in which hip-hop can blend into other genres. Linkin Park’s hard drum and bass sounds are a nice sonic pillow for Jay to lay his complex rhyme structures on.

Mark Ronson

Track: “Ooh Wee” featuring Ghostface & Nate Dogg

Ronson can usually be seen manning the boards for a slew of pop hits — including the monstrous new single “Uptown Funk” — but he also crosses over from time to time to let some real MC’s spit over his work. This party track has Ronson’s big band style backing one of the best lyricists of all-time, Ghostface.

Sia

Tracks: “Wolves” featuring Kanye West & Vic Mensa, “Guts Over Fear” & “Beautiful Pain” featuring Eminem

Sia seems firmly embedded within the hip-hop culture these days, but if you take the rap elements out of her tracks, what’s left is a booming, soulful voice with a unique quality that’s hard to match. Her vocal chops are the perfect side course to some of the finest hip-hop acts, as evidenced by these tracks with Eminem and Kanye.

Boots

Track: “Early” featuring Run the Jewels

One of the best tracks — all the tracks are great — on Run the Jewels’ second album is this melodic banger featuring Boots, also known as Jordan Asher. When the final act of this track kicks in, the melding of EL-P’s production and Boots’ guitar and vocals makes such a sweet pairing that an immediate rewind is required.

Monsters of Folk

Track: “Dear God” 2.0 featuring The Roots

The simple keys, the melancholic guitars and strings, Black Thought’s cutting rhymes… it all equals a beautiful track to sit back and spark one to (what you smoke is your choice). The chorus is a nice break in melody with MOF’s angelic harmonies and ghostly voices. It’s a song that makes you think while nodding your head.

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