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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 Previews: Reading & Leeds 2015

  • Published in Live

As ever, Reading and Leeds Festival(s) fall over the last bank holiday weekend of the year, and though fairly late in the festival calendar, both sites provide punters with one last weekend of hedonistic debauchery before the darker months and cold weather begins to take hold. Traditionally offering attendees a mixture of both nostalgia and the cutting edge, recent years have seen the festival's line-up diversify even further, bringing in top names from grime, electronica and hip-hop to share stages with the usual fare of punk, rock and indie. Such changes haven't been without their share of criticisms, with naysayers claiming that it waters down the alternative nature of the festival, but for those who like to taste a bit of everything, but would rather not sully themselves with the hyper-corporate V Festival the weekend before, Reading and Leeds tick all the boxes.

This year's line-up unsurprisingly boasts a host of bands and artists that you grew up listening to, whilst providing a platform for those on the up. Where else could you see Limp Bizkit on the same line up as folk troubadours Bear's Den? Or see Frank Turner headline what's arguably the smallest stage on site? The answer to that is, probably nowhere.

Headlining this year are the recently reformed Libertines,who last graced the stages of Reading & Leeds back in 2010, making for one of my most memorable live music experiences ever. Joining them will be Mumford & Sons and Metallica, who, after their headline slot at last year's Glastonbury, are bound to pull out the stops for their appearance across both sites. Elsewhere over the course of the weekend, revellers can expect to see the likes of Deadmau5 rubbing shoulders with American Football, and the Boy Better Know crew bringing their uncompromising grime to the Radio 1extra tent at the same time as post-hardcore legends Refused tear the Lock Up Stage a new one.

It's eclectic, nostalgic, and, regardless of your opinion on the line-ups diversification, it's one of the most talked about festivals of the year. What it's critics fail to realise, is that though not every act on the bill will be to your own tastes, you don't have to watch those acts you don't like. Unless of course you're the sort of person who takes pleasure in trying to heckle a stage that's half a kilometre away, then there's certainly going to be one band or artist you want to see, when everyone else wants to go and watch Bastille. And even on the off-chance that there isn't, the festival offers a wealth of non-musical (and sometimes non-alcoholic) entertainment across the weekend.

Grab your wellies, quit your bitchin' and try to conceal the smug fact that you always knew learning all the words to Limp Bizkit's 'Rollin'' would come in handy some day!

In the words of Fred Durst himself: “Are You Ready?”


Reading and Leeds takes place across the last weekend in August, and tickets and more information can be found at the official website here.

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