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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 2015 - Friday

  • Published in Live

Walking through the campsites at Leeds Festival, one would be forgiven for thinking they'd stumbled head-first in to a kind of post-modern Last Days of Caligula - the heady scent of perfumed Roman's replaced by piss and Lynx Africa; the Italian wine by Somersby Cider; the opium by some questionable MDMA bought from a bloke called 'Greg'. It's horrific. It's eye-opening. It's beautiful. After all, where else on the festival calendar could punks and metalheads camp in such close proximity to those who look like they appreciate both a 'cheeky Nandos' and the word banter? Answer: Nowhere. Of course, it's not all about the social side. And though there are handfuls of people that only venture out of Sodom (Yellow Camp) and Gomorrah (Red Camp) to watch the headliners and swing their jaws to the various DJs situated around the site, Leeds wouldn't attract the disparate crowd it does, if it wasn't for its eclectic line-ups.

The festival does still lean more towards the alternative side of things, but this year especially there seems to be a little more of a mainstream flavour populating the site's several stages. For us however the weekend starts on the BBC Introducing Stage and with Teeside's NARCS providing us with a weighty wake-up call that leaves us feeling dirty before the festival's even really began. And we mean that in the best way. Elsewhere The Gaslight Anthem are traditionally underwhelming, though 'The Patient Ferris Wheel' is a welcome inclusion in an otherwise lacklustre mid-afternoon set. 

Thankfully however The Cribs ('We're from Wakefield') are their usual oikish selves, providing the Main Stage with a smattering of their finest urchin pop. 'Mirror Kisses' and 'Another Number' make an appearance, as does 'Men's Needs', but we're a little surprised to see festival-favourite 'Hey Scenesters' left off the list. Though we had several gripes about the over-zealous festival security over the weekend, we didn't have it nearly half as bad as Evian Christ, the DJ, who may or may not have been detained for sounding like branded holy water, pulled out of his Reading set that weekend thanks to his experiences with the Leeds security. We hear he's still available for baptisms though.

We make our first excursion to the Lock-Up stage in order to catch home-grown pop-punks Moose Blood, whose short set pulls an impressive crowd for the middle of the afternoon. Unsurprisingly, the huge amount of guys in Boston Manor t-shirts that have littered the site seem to have congregated here, climbing over each other desperate to shout back the words to the likes of 'Boston' or 'Bukowski' as if their lives depended on it. Back on the Main Stage, Jamie T keeps both old and new fans happy with a set that takes in all three of his albums in equal measure. It's the older tracks that go down a storm however, with both 'Shelia' and final track 'Zombie' offering the most raucous of singalongs of the day thus far.

The weekend's first offering of an artist you're not likely to see anywhere else this summer comes in the form of Kendrick Lamar. Surprisingly, the backbone of his set comes from his second album Good Kid, mAAd city, and not this year's acclaimed To Pimp a Butterfly, even the latter's 'Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe' features entirely new verses, which does nothing to aid the slightly lacking crowd, most of whom are there to see The Libertines later. A lack of enthusiasm from the crowd shouldn't detract from his performance however, and covers from Tupac and A$AP Rocky do get the crowd going a little more than other tracks. It's 'King Kunta' that finally sees Lamar's energy transferred in to the crowd, his previous single and penultimate track finally getting everyone on their feet.

When the Libertines played Leeds in 2010, it should have been more than it was. It should have signified the start of something beautiful. It wasn't. And when the stage lights dimmed on the band that evening, they went back to their respective lives, respective bands and respective drugs. This year it feels different. There's a new album a little more than a week away and the band look healthier than they have in a decade. Is 2015 the year the band finally sail the Good Ship Albion back to Arcadia? It seems so.

 Taking to the stage to a deafening noise from the crowd, the band launch immediately in to 'Horrorshow' and from there on out there's little in the way of relent. New tracks are effortlessly merged with classics, as if the band have never truly been away. And in the hearts and heads of the hordes of adoring fans, they haven't. There's little in the way of crowd interaction from both Barat and Doherty, but with the newly lit fires beneath their feet it matters not. The sheer joy the band take from performing is evident, whilst their trademark sharing of the mic stand seems far more genuine than in recent years. Tracks such as 'Time for Heroes' and 'What Katie Did' are unsurprisingly early crowning points, but it's the lyrics of the newer material which provide the goosebumps; the chorus of 'Gunga Din' offering what is probably the most poignant of the night.

With the drugs behind them and the tabloids snapping at their heels, The Libertines are a band with their sights set solely on the future. What that future holds remains to be seen, but if tonight is anything to go by, it shows that demons can be conquered, irreconcilable relationships can be reconciled and that a band that everyone had more or less given up can rise from the ashes and ignite a passion in the chests of thousands. If this is the true sound of Albion, than I don't want to be anywhere else. 


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