Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon is getting together a new hip hop project with Minneapolis rapper Astronautalis along with Bon Iver drummer S. Carey and producer Ryan Olson. Betcha didn’t see that one coming. Sure, he’s collaborated with Yeezy, but this is still one artistic curveball hurled straight outta left field.
This change of direction got me thinking about musicians who’ve tried their hand at the hip hop game at one point or another. Some flew, others stumbled. Here are some of my favourites.
Run DMC & Areosmith - ‘Walk This Way’
The original and probably still the best rock/rap mash-up. Areosmith had a hit on their hands to begin with, but when Run DMC got involved, the song soared to a whole other level of awesomeness. It’s got that riff. It’s got groove. And when Steve Tyler’s head busts through the wall in the video, it’s like watching the birth of rap rock in all its glory.
Damon Albarn & Gorillaz
Damon Albarn is the voice of Britpop. He fronted Blur. Fact. But when they went on hiatus he did what so many great artists do: completely reinvented himself with the animated, hip hop project Gorillaz. Unfortunately, he’s recently let slip that new material from the primates is ’unlikely’. But don’t shed a tear he’s putting together a whole new side-project in Doctor Dee. In the meantime, let’s remember the good times.
Everyone thought a dishevelled Joaquin Phoenix had lost the plot when he showed up on Letterman claiming he was throwing in acting for a hip hop career. Turned out it was a media stunt for the mockumentary I’m Still Here. Well played Joaquin, well played.
Madonna – ‘American Life’
Madge has even tried her hand at hip hop on occasions. Check the old lass have a crack at rapping around the 2:40 mark (“I’m drinkin’ a soy latte/I get a double shottie /It goes right through my body/And you know I’m satisfied”). LOL. She ain’t no Deborah Harry.
All Time Low – ‘Umbrella’ (Rihanna Cover)
A cut from the Punk Goes Crump compilation. American pop punks All Time Low injecting a little teen angst into the RiRi hit. Check out the album for more questionable covers including My American Heart’s take on Tupac, Say Anything laying down Ol’ Dirty Bastard and Hot Rod Circuit dropping some Snoop Dogg.