Many acts like N.E.R.D. have managed to master blending rock with hip-hop, and when it happens naturally, the results can be spectacular. However, things don’t always go according to plan, as shown below.
It’s a recipe for success when an act can authentically blur the lines between these two styles. However, the collaborations are usually cooked up by suits at the record labels, and the final result just comes across as extremely forced.
Obviously, there are multiple occasions when rappers have managed to jump across the barrier with ease and vice versa with rockstars. When Arctic Monkeys teamed up with Dizzee Rascal on ‘Temptation Greets You Like Your Naughty Friend’, it worked and didn’t feel like a marketing ploy.
Below we are looking at the occasions when the collaborations are more puzzling, and although some on the list were commercially successful, they were moments to forget for all involved.
Weirdest rap and rock crossovers
P Diddy and Jimmy Page
When Diddy had been selected to forge the soundtrack for Godzilla, he inexplicably decided to use Led Zeppelin‘s ‘Kashmir’ for the track, ‘Come with Me’. Bizarrely, Jimmy Page even agreed to perform the song live with the rapper on Saturday Night Live.
Both the hip-hop and the rock world didn’t greet the collaboration with warmth. Chuck D from Public Enemy commented: “What they did to ‘Kashmir’ was a debacle. They are giants in their own way – and you can print this – but that was a fucking travesty.”
On the other hand, the general public lapped it up, and it became a huge commercial hit which introduced the Led Zeppelin classic to a whole new generation.
Chris Cornell and Timbaland
The late Soundgarden frontman collaborated with Timbaland for his 2009 album Scream, a savvy attempt from Cornell to infiltrate the mainstream. He left behind the rock world for R&B infused pop which the producer had helped dominate the charts in the late noughties, and Timbaland even enlisted his friend Justin Timberlake to feature on ‘Take Me Alive’.
It was heavily criticised because Cornell didn’t bring enough of himself to the project and let Timbaland guide him. However, even though it was widely criticised, the singer defended the record. He said, “Timbaland told me to do,” adding they “didn’t really have that relationship” and “it wasn’t that type of a process. It was more, he would bring in a beat, an idea, I would write to it and sing it, and we would move on kind of to the next thing.”
Jay-Z and Linkin Park
There’s a strong case for Jay-Z being the number one rapper of all time, and Linkin Park also climbed their way to the top of their respective craft. However, when they combined for their collaborative EP, Collision Course, it was a cringe-fest.
For many people, ‘Numb/Encore’ is the first thing they think of when they hear the name Linkin Park and unfairly represents the band and Jay-Z. While the lead single from the EP was a monumental success, it was also an advert for why nu-metal and traditional hip-hop shouldn’t mix.
Busta Rhymes and Ozzy Osbourne
Busta Rhymes has always been one who doesn’t stick to the rules, and in 1998, he decided to make a sequel to the Black Sabbath song ‘Iron Man’. He should have left the song alone in hindsight, but Ozzy Osbourne was happy to work with him on the track, and both men thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
Ozzy quipped: “Busta Rhymes is a trip. The rap world is totally different, not very rock and roll. But, Busta Rhymes was nothing but a gentleman, a really good guy to be around.” Meanwhile, Busta said: “He (Ozzy) was great. I remember when I first heard the song ‘Iron Man.’ The lyrics like ‘Is he live or is he dead?’ just affected me. The power he puts behind it. The intensity, the effect – it’s the same way I approach my sh**, whether I’m recording or performing. To be able to do this on E.L.E. blew me away.”
Brian May and Dappy
If you’re a reader from outside the United Kingdom, you’ll be unaware of who Dappy is and why Queen guitarist Brian May worked with him on the 2012 track, ‘Rockstar’. He was formerly one-third of the pop-rap trio, N-Dubz, who enjoyed brief commercial success towards the tail end of the ’00s.
Dappy decided to secure May for the unlistenable ‘Rockstar’ to kickstart his solo career, and the unlikely union worked. It charted at two in the U.K. Official Chart and provided the rapper with the second most successful solo single of his career. Ten years on, and it’s even worse than you remember (if you remember it at all).