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The Outsiders: 12 Rappers Who Collaborated Memorably With Rock Artists

Ever since Aerosmith and Run-D.M.C. hooked up for a different take on the rock band's  ‘Walk This Way’ in 1986, there have, as recently as the 2017 unleashing of U2’s songs with Kendrick Lamar, been many marriages of rock and rap. Subgenres such as metal were irreversibly altered by such fusion that progressed through the Nineties and onwards, with many surprises and fruitful collaborations along the way. Some didn’t just push the envelope -- they tore it apart. Jump aboard with reckless disregard for boundaries. This is an eclectic brew containing major and influential players from the two titanic genres. As the rap-metal crew Limp Bizkit once declared, Results May Vary.


One of the godfathers of the beat-backed wordsmith’s game, Queensbridge emcee Rakim rose to prominence in a duo with his DJ, Eric B., back in 1987 with the excellent album Paid In Full, where his words adorned bare-bones instrumentals with impressive flows. Such ability is showcased on the weighty ‘Guilty All the Same’, a metallic track from Linkin Park’s self-produced, rough-around-the-edges LP The Hunting Party, during which Rakim declares, ”I’m still me.”

Q-Tip and KRS-One

One of the most laidback songs referenced herein, ‘The Outsiders’ (from 2004’s Around The Sun album) sees the coming together of two hugely influential standard-bearers for their respective genres: rock band R.E.M. and A Tribe Called Quest’s main man Q-Tip, both of whom had mixed up genres in their music prior to joining forces. Tip had Korn (who also collaborated with Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst) on his album Amplified. As early as 1991, Tip’s pioneering peer K.R.S. One (Boogie Down Productions’ emcee and the subject of a song by the reggae/rock group Sublime) opened Out of Time’s ‘Radio Song’ with R.E.M.


The man they call Marshall Mathers (A.K.A. Slim Shady) possessed at the turn of the century much crossover appeal to fans of rock and rap. Consequently there beckoned a remix of ‘The Way I Am’ featuring fellow offender of the masses, Marilyn Manson, as well as a performance of the hit ‘Stan’ at the Grammy Awards with the Seventies rocker and evergreen songwriter, Sir Elton John. Later, Eminem created The Marshall Mathers LP2 with celebrated rock and rap producer, genre-blender Rick Rubin who worked with Run-D.M.C. and Aerosmith on the ‘Walk This Way’ remake and acquainted Public Enemy and their producers with the music of thrash outfit Slayer.

Chuck D and B-Real

The lyrical talisman for Public Enemy, Chuck D, has also appeared alongside members of Rage Against The Machine, three of whom who also form the instrumental backbone of Audioslave. Chuck was heard with them not only in the Nineties, but additionally as part of another group, Prophets Of Rage, also featuring B-Real. The latter emcee’s group Cypress Hill have collaborated with several rock artists including Prophets Of Rage guitarist Tom Morello, Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda and System Of A Down’s Daron Malakian, all of whom are on the 2010 LP Rise Up.

Method Man and RZA

A strange, Portishead-esque remix of Texas’ pop/rock hit ‘Say What You Want’— produced by Wu-Tang’s wizardly beatmaker and rapper, the RZA (AKA Prince Rakeem), and featuring Method Man’s vocals — can be found on Texas’ Greatest Hits. That song stands in stark contrast to the skull-bashing takes on classic Wu – featuring such rock royalty as Tom Morello, Chad Smith, Incubus and System Of A Down – that are showcased on the compilation Loud Rocks (alongside heavy interpretations of hip-hop tracks including Mobb Deep’s ‘Survival Of The Fittest’ and Big Pun’s ‘Still Not A Player’).

Kanye West

Having worked, as a rapper, with Chris Martin on a single from Graduation, ‘Homecoming’, West has also collaborated with Paul McCartney (on ‘The Only One’ and ‘FourFive Seconds’, the latter with Rihanna as well). In addition to collaborating with 30 Seconds To Mars, singing on ‘Hurricane 2.0’, West has also joined forces with Mr. Hudson and Bon Iver, two acts that arguably played a kind of ‘soft rock’ earlier in their respective careers.


“I told Jay[-Z] I did a song with Coldplay. Next thing I know, he got a song with Coldplay,” says Kanye West on 2007’s ‘Big Brother’. In fact, eventually Jay remixed one song by the pop/rock band, with results showcased on ‘Lost+’, after crafting a new composition with the British quartet’s frontman Chris Martin entitled ‘Beach Chair’. However, these adventures were not Jay-Hova’s first foray into rock circles. In 2004 he appeared on the Collision Course mashup project with Linkin Park, an excursion that yielded ‘Numb/Encore’ amongst other tracks.


Pop/rock band OneRepublic, fronted by the great songwriter Ryan Tedder, got their big break as a collective thanks to the massive exposure given to Timbaland’s remix of their song ‘Apologize’. But OneRepublic were not the only rock band to work with Timbaland. On the same album from which their debut smash was taken appeared a shedload of guest stars, amongst them Fall Out Boy, The Hives, Elton John. The producer would go on to work with the frontman of both Soundgarden and Audioslave, the late Chris Cornell, as well as The Fray.

Wyclef Jean

Jean could well be a contender for the title, Most Eclectic Hip-Hopper Prior to Kendrick Lamar. As a member of the Fugees, he takes the lead on a cover of ‘No Woman, No Cry’, its live version by Bob Marley And The Wailers’ being as much a contender for greatest ever soft rock song as it is a reggae classic. Surely the most unexpected element in hip-hop history, Kenny Rogers, the country and rock artist, appears on Jean’s The Ecleftic album singing a sample from ‘The Gambler’.


Festival Coverage: Leeds Festival 2017 - Sunday

  • Published in Live

Despite getting little sleep thanks to the very public break-up that happened in the tent behind ours on Saturday night, Sunday morning arrives with the campsite in good spirits and the weather continuing its rare good form, as rumours begin to circulate about a ‘secret’ set over on the Festival Republic Stage from London’s Wolf Alice.

Much like QOTSA’s not-so-secret set two days prior, anyone with battery and the festival app would have found out about it a couple of hours before stage time, but even still, as midday rolls around and the four piece appear on stage the tent is less busy than expected. That said, as they launch open with their most recent single ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were watching a headline act, given the modest crowd’s huge reaction.

With a setlist comprised of nothing but singles, every track aired evokes a similar reaction to the first. And when the band finally finish with a rousing rendition of ‘Giant Peach’, the crowd loses it. Having already made their stake on headline glory in 2015 with a blistering performance on the NME stage, you can guarantee that following this morning’s set, they’re well on their way to the realms of indie royalty.

At a somewhat more emo end of the spectrum, Moose Blood’s over on the Main Stage were a perfectly inoffensive way to ease any lingering hangovers. And while the older members of the crowd offer little more than ambivalence towards the Canterbury four-piece, the fans at the front hang on to front-man Eddy Brewerton’s every word.

Flipping that scene on its head, it’s little more than three hours later, and the older crowd, all too aware of the post-hardcore royalty that stand on stage before them, are hanging on to every crunch and scream of At The Drive-In, while those younger members of the audience look on bemused, or opt to head elsewhere.

It’s something that continues for nu-metallers Korn, whose set, though plagued by a thunderous low-end that drowns everything out. That said, the band slam through  an impressive fifteen song set, airing classics such as ‘Falling Away From You and ‘Blind’ while ‘Freak on Leash’ signals numerous circle pits and ends their set on a high.

It’s a direct contrast to the sun-kissed indie-pop of Macclesfield’s Cassia, who draw a modest but devoted crowd over on the BBC introducing Stage just before hand. Having just released their latest single ‘Sink’ the trio are riding an impressive wave at present, and while their tireless work ethic must be taking its toll by now, they show no signs of fatigue as they liberally scatter their set with fan favourites such as ‘Moana’, ‘Paradise Beach’ and the massive ‘100 Times Over’. With a set that feels short but sweet, you can expect to see them rise through the R&L ranks over the next couple of years.

With the sun now set for the final time on this year’s festival, and the anarchic and somewhat over the top bass of Major Lazer finally finished, swarms of people head towards the Main Stage for this weekend’s final headliner.

No stranger to the fields of Bramham Park, this is Eminem’s third time headlining the festival; his appeal no less diminished despite the recent lack of new material. Undertaking a mammoth 33 song set that takes in tracks from over the course of his career as well a smattering of covers by the likes of Lil Wayne, Drake and B.O.B, the latter’s ‘Airplanes Part II’ a particular highlight, allowing for Eminem’s nasally vocal delivery to cut through the track’s polished production exquisitely.

Of course, the tracks from later in his career offer up a different aesthetic entirely from those early cuts, and while the likes of ‘Love the Way You Lie’ and ‘The Monster’ benefit from Ebony taking on Rhianna’s vocal parts, it’s the earlier offerings, from The Marshall Mathers LP or The Slim Shady LP that showcase just how far Eminem has come. And though tracks such as ‘Stan’, ‘The Way I Am’ or ‘My Name Is’ elicit some of the weekend’s biggest reactions, there’s much more time spent on the more recent, ‘serious’ material, that which has gone on to prove Eminem’s career encompasses much more than quick flow and controversy.  

Despite the huge set-list, his encore comes around all too soon and somewhat fittingly, ‘Lose Yourself’ garners the biggest reaction of the day. As Eminem tells the crowd that “We’ll always remember this show”, it feels like anything but a cliché. 

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