No, not actors who think they can rap . . . Although that would be cool.
Two of the most popular posts in my storied career are “Rockers Who Think They Can Rap” and “More Rockers Who Think They Can Rap.” I get a lot of requests for reposts after links die, and no posts get more requests than these. But I don’t do reposts. My view is, I’ve been around for a long time and if you’re a new fan, enjoy what I’m into now. But in this case, I’m making an exception.
The main reason for this is that I’ve gotten some new rock covers of rap songs that I’ve been eager to post, so I figured I could repost some of the stuff from the original posts (just the good stuff), and some new, and make a big production out of it.
The original idea for the post was that rockers can’t rap. That’s still true. But lots of these songs are fun to hear anyway.
Here’s the intro to the post that started all, followed by the tunes.
Sometime in the mid-1970s, Afrika Bambaataa was kicking out a brand new sound up in the Bronx, while down at CBGBs punk was being created by Richard Hell, Blondie, The Ramones, and The Talking Heads. Although they were scared, a few of the white folks were taken across to the Bronx, to see what the black and brown folks were doing. Soon after, Debbie Harry came out with Rapture. And Raprock was born. Subsequently, Aerosmith would help break black rappers to a mainstream (suburban) market theretofore accessible only by The Beastie Boys. The Brooklyn trio helped break rap into a moneymaking art form. And because one good turn deserves another, Run DMC would revive the careers of Aerosmith who had previously managed to snort up, shoot up, and dry up all their cred.
The worm then turned as Limp Bizkit, Sugar Ray, and Linkin Park all tried to write original crossover tunes. Mostly, their efforts were suckcesspool.
The art of the crossover goes hand in hand with the art of the cover, but it is even trickier. A bad cover can be cheesy (or Richard Cheesey), but bad raprock is just Crazy Town.
Then when you marry the two, covers and rap . . . You get . . . Mixed results. Dynamite Hack famously did it with Boyz in the Hood. So famously, that I’m not even gonna post it here. Instead, below, you’ll find . . .
. . . Over the course this week, an A to Z of my favorite indie rockers rapping. At the end, you’ll find a zip file with all the songs listed here, including those that have individual links. Dig it.
ROCKERS WHO (THINK THEY) CAN RAP, PART ONE: A to C
A is for . . .
Around the Way Girl-Travis Morrison. A good way to begin this post: With a cover of one of the few old schoolers who was able to successfully do New Jack Swing and modern club bangers. If you’ve ever seen Krushgoove, L.L. Cool J is great in it. At just 16 years old, he has more swagger than MC Ren, Paris and The D.O.C. combined. Even better, Travis does a great version of this by staying true to himself–not trying to sound like LL.
A is for Antony and the Johnsons’ cover of Beyonce and Jay-Z’s summer smash Crazy in Love. Great song. Decent cover.
Lastly, A is also for an EZ-E song that, frankly, I was surprised to find not one but two covers of. Strange, because it’s not even that great a tune.
Automobile (Eazy-E)-Stillwater Pioneers.
Somebody needs to cover “I Can’t Live Without My Radio.”
B is for . . .
Bitches Ain’t Shit-Ben Folds (NWA cover). A sad and meditative take. Clearly an attempt to be ironic. It works.
Bad Boy For Life (Puff Daddy)-Clem Snide. I love me some Clem Snide.
B is also for Jonathan Coulton’s cover of Baby Got Back (Sir Mix-A-Lot). This is one of the greatest covers of all time. It takes a crude, and kind of stupid, banger and turns into something that almost feels meaningful. It’s rare that a cover artist makes a song his own. Even rarer that this is done with rap covers.
C is for . . .
6 covers of Crazy!
Crazy (Gnarls Barkley)-Cat Power. Here’s what I said about this song in my “More Rockers Who Think They Can Rap” post: Maybe Gnarls isn’t rap, I dunno, but Cee-Lo is definitely a rapper, and Cat definitely isn’t. So it fits this bill.
And C is also for C U Tomorrow, for more! And don’t forget, at the end of this series, there WILL be a zip file.