7 Unforgettable Genre-Bending Songs
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Some genres of music don't seem like they'd blend well, but occasionally, weird style mashups work out.
From rap and country to pop and metal, there’s no shortage of cross-genre collaborations to be had. Though many of the ventures are a matter of trial and error, sometimes two great artists come together, transcend the lines of classification, and create great music.
Love them or hate them, here are some of the most interesting musical tag teams to collectively enter the studio.
Run-D.M.C. featuring Aerosmith
“Walk This Way”
Depending on who you ask, Run-D.M.C’s decision to cover of Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” was either one of the greatest songs to emerge from the ‘80s music scene or the single worst decision ever made. Not only did the unexpected 1986 collaboration make the Queens-based rap outfit a crossover hit, but it also helped revive Aerosmith’s dwindling career, opening new doors and allowing them the opportunity to introduce their sound (and another seven albums) to a younger generation.
Jay Z featuring Linkin Park
Just when everyone thought that rap metal was on its way out the door, Linkin Park managed to grab a hold of Jay Z’s coattails and rode out the success of The Beatles/Jay Z mashup The Grey Album into the studio for their experimental venture, a.k.a 2004’s Collision Course. The project was a creative way for Linkin Park to stay relevant and for Jay Z to make even more money, and it became only the second EP to ever top the Billboard 200 chart and sell over 300,000 copies in its first week. The six-track album had one single, “Numb/Encore,” and it went on to win a Grammy in 2006 for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. Although Collision Course may have been one of the most groundbreaking projects to come from Linkin Park, we refuse to “move the fuck on” from Hybrid Theory. It’s just too good. Sorry, Chester.
Taylor Swift featuring Kendrick Lamar
In one of the most high-profile collaborations to go down in the last decade, Kendrick Lamar lent his vocals to one of pop music’s biggest throw-down songs of recent memory. If any rapper was going to offer up a sick verse for Taylor Swift’s 2014 single and retain their street cred, it was Lamar. Thankfully, she didn’t offer to return the favor with an appearance on DAMN. While the song is sort of catchy, it’s been overshadowed by Swift’s real-life drama with Katy Perry, the supposed subject of the song.
Katy Perry featuring Juicy J
No modern pop star’s career is complete until they’ve joined forces with at least one driving force in hip-hop. Often, it results in a watered-down blend of urban and suburban culture, but sometimes it happens to work out better than others. “Dark Horse” is among few exceptions, but it's still very random. Guest vocals from rap veteran Juicy J and the sultry, almost sinister instrumentals give Katy Perry an edgier, sexier vibe — a far cry from her typical bubblegum vibe. Consequence of Sound dubbed it “trap for soccer moms.”
Will.I.Am. featuring Britney Spears, Diddy, Hit Boy, Waka Flocka Flame, and Lil Wayne
“Scream and Shout Remix”
“It’s ghetto Britney, bitch!” At least that’s what we’d like to Spears was thinking when she hopped on the mic for 2013’s remix of “Scream and Shout.” The calm, calculated flows of Will.I.Am are basically hijacked by the much more energetic personalities of Diddy, Lil Wayne, Hit Boy, and Waka Flocka Flame, and it’s pretty spectacular. No one knows why Spears decided to try on a British accent for the second version, but we don’t hate it. In fact, it kind of works.
Anthrax featuring Public Enemy
“Bring the Noise”
Anthrax’s Scott Ian is more than just a glorious goatee. He also happens to be a pretty huge Public Enemy fan. When word got out that the thrash metal band's guitarist wore Public Enemy shirts to his own performances, Chuck D. decided to pay it forward by giving him a shout out on the 1987 version of “Bring the Noise.” The two groups ultimately hooked up to release a joint version of the track, which was featured on both Public Enemy’s Apocalypse ‘91... The Enemy Strikes Black and Anthrax’s Attack of the Killer B's. It only made sense for them to embark on a tour together and perform the hit track together at the end of every show. If you’ve ever wondered how rap metal became a genre, now you know.
Brad Paisley featuring LL Cool J
Every once in a while, a song comes along that that is so lyrically obscure or offensive, you find yourself wondering how it even came to be. This is one of them. In their best attempt to combat modern-day racism and portray on a united front, country crooner Brad Paisley and hip-hop pioneer LL Cool J did their best to justify racial stereotypes and excuse the some of history’s worst offenses with lines like “If you don't judge my gold chains / I'll forget the iron chains,” or, “If you don't judge my do-rag / I won't judge your red flag.” Yikes. Their intentions were good (apparently), but the two failed to deliver a logical message or relevant solution to the problem at hand.
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