Even as a true hip hop head, I can absolutely respect it when you see two completely different artists link up to create something unique. The roots of hip hop have always been about expression. Expression about life, love, loss and most importantly, creativity. Over the years, we’ve seen some pretty creative mashups.
The first major mashup I remember seeing was Run DMC and Aerosmith in Walk This Way. You’re talking about a time when hip hop was just starting to gain some mainstream notoriety. Walk This Way was released back in 1986 off of, what was one of my favorite albums by Run DMC, Raising Hell. Funny story, I was 9 at the time and this was one of the first albums I managed to get my hands on. I spent weeks hiding it from my parents who, eventually, found it and threw it away. Probably not that appropriate for a 9 year old anyways looking back on it. Anyways, this was the first fusion of rock and rap that I had been introduced to. This was also the time of MTV, back when they actually showed music videos and almost exclusively, music videos. Ah, the good old days. Hip hop was always talked about in the early years as being a fad that would eventually go away and be taken over by rock. Those that loved it, knew that was never going to be the case. This song, I feel, helped legitimize rap music in popular culture. It helped bring hip hop to some new audiences that would never have really paid any attention to it. Now, Aerosmith was a massive success story in the 80’s and 90’s so working with Run DMC in such an early stage of acceptance, was a bold move by both groups. Both groups were able to garner some attention of an audience that normally may not have been exposed to their music.
Linkin Park and Jay-Z hooked up to do a Numb/Encore song. If you aren’t familiar with Linkin Park, they were an interesting rock group. They, essentially, had two lead singers. One was Chester Bennington and the other was Mike Shinoda. Chester was more known for the traditional heavy metal vocals while Mike Shinoda laid down some hip hop inspiring lyrics. Their sound, by itself, is a pretty amazing mixture of rock and rap. Now, couple those beats and lyrics with those of Hova and you’ve got something pretty astounding. This song rolled out in 2004 and turned heads due to the impact that it made on the genre. This song took two of their respectively popular songs and managed to mesh them together and flow.
When you think of rap songs, you tend to think of drum beats. This next mashup, or multiple mashups, were all driven off of that founding principle. Travis Barker started off as the drummer for a punk rock band called Blink-182. He is an amazing artist in his own right. While his first solo album Give the Drummer Some in 2011 was not his first collaboration with hip hop, to me, it stood out the most. On this album, he teamed up with artists such as Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Swizz Beatz, The Game, Lupe Fiasco, RZA, Snoop Dogg, Ludacris and a whole slew of other huge names in the hip hop biz. What’s nice about this whole album is that the beats are not being driven by loops or drum machines. They are all him. Even if you’re not a big rock fan, you can still feel it and appreciate it when someone is doing their thing better than most.
Props to any artist to step away from the norm of their usual comfort zone and try and do something big. Something bold and unique is what all forms of music should be aspiring to do. Without pushing the boundaries a bit, there is no growth and who wants to be stagnant? Big ups to all that have done it in the past and all that will push forward in the future. You’ve got my respect and attention.