Monday 17 April 2017

Who's your A&R?

aka Rap thangs that shouldn'ta done happened.

In the week that Kendrick Lamar became the first person in history to think that a rap album could benefit from Bono appearing on it (in place of the likes of Q Tip if rumours are to be believed) I thought I'd revist some terrible collaborations from the past. Obviously there's a lot so I put some restrictions in place:

- No cross genre collabs. That's a whole 'nother list - the Blade 2 soundtrack, that bizarre Brand Nubian dubstep album, Inspectah Deck and Coolio with Blondie. There's too many to consider.
 - No dead rappers. They're dead. They can't help it if their mum thought it would be nice to hear them on a song with Elton John.
 - No Wyclef records. He's worked with Tom Jones, Brian Harvey and The Rock ffs. He clearly doesn't care.
 - Nothing featuring Mr Hudson. He's another level of terrible and the song inevitably goes beyond being mildy disappointing to something more traumatic and offensive, albeit one that's strangely suitable for sub-par bars and high street retail outlets.

So, here's 5 times when rappers collaborating with other rappers fails to live to up to the sum of it's parts...

First up, the all-star collab:

LL was still very much a big deal when this came out. Phenomenon had done pretty well and despite his trademark of dropping decent rap records alongside fairly corny jams for the ladies the whole beef wih Canibus and Wyclef had extended his lease of life in hip hop circles. Dre was in that weird period of his career after he left Death Row when Aftermath 1.0 hadn't exactly set the world alight. Still, they were both marquee names who should have been able to conjure up a banger but this song is a complete dud. Not sure what's going on in the video but presumably Dre wanted to get a bit more use out of the gear he had lying around from the California Love shoot. The tune itself is pretty dull, and was thoroughly upstaged on the Bullworth soundtrack (from whence it came) by Ghetto Superstar. LL must've been pissed he didn't hold out for a couple of years and get some of that Next Episode or Still DRE magic. If Dre hadn't have come across Eminem this track might've explained why everyone forgot about him.
The rap internet got very excited when it was recently reported that LL and Dre had been recording together again but I can only assume they had forgotten about or never heard Zoom.

Next, the unexpected collab:

Rap soundtracks are both a source of slept on gems and a gravevard for ill conceived collabs . You know when you used to get hold of some 96kbps mp3 that was probably ripped from streaming audio on Myspace, and it sounded like it was played underwater? That's what this beat sounds like. A random collab and something of an anomally in Teddy Riley's generally stellar catalogue. Method Man's career trajectory needs a whole seperate post but this definitely isn't a highlight. I once owned this song on 12" but I'm pretty sure it sounded dated within about 3 weeks of being released. Teddy Riley only going by 'TR' on the label suggests he wasn't massively keen on it either. How good would Meth have sounded on that No Diggity beat in '96 though?

The too many cooks collab:

KRS featuring Buckshot, Redman, Run, Cam'ron, Prodigy, Keith Murray and Killah Priest. I don't massively dislike this but trying to squeeze that many rappers into under 5 minutes is never going to be smooth sailing. It's the rap equivalent of a football testimonial that looks great on paper - Zidane and Maradonna on the same side! Viera squaring off against Roy Keane! - but then you remember there's unlimited substitutions, no one is really taking it seriously, and someone's mate who has no business being on the pitch with this lot (in this case Vigilante) is getting a run out.
See also: The Points, which would've disappeared from people's memories completely if it didn't feature Biggie.

The attempt at duplicating a proven success collab:

The original Bad Boy For Life is generally considered a competent effort. A banger of it's time. Hearing it probably didn't change anyone's life but if MTV were going to be playing a video every hour I think we can agree that we'd prefer it if it was one featuring a Black Rob verse. Someone decided it would benefit from getting MOP and Busta Rhymes to do LOADS OF SHOUTING which would automatically make it a #tunnelbanger. Turns out it's just a bit annoying and Ante Up couldn't be duplicated.

The possibly non-consensual collab:

The original Grand Finale with Meth, DMX and Nas rapping over a beat Irv Gotti straight jacked from the Efil4Zaggin intro is a good song. Irv then thought he would try his luck with a remix to showcase his new artist Hot Totti - who would very sensibly change her name to Vita almost immediately - over another NWA beat, in this case the somewhat overlooked If It Ain't Ruff. Ja Rule is promoted from chorus duties on the original to getting a whole verse of his own, which is then stapled onto the verses from the original track. I heard this the other day on an old Westwood tape and thought it was one of those multi verse pro-tools mash ups you used to find online (eg SNOOP, NAS, BIGGIE & JAY Z - G THANG REMIX). Collabs where half the people on the track aren't aware of it's existence means things rarely end well.


  1. Wyclef's & The Rock's It Doesn't Matter is better than anything by The Fugues, imho.

  2. It wasn't the worst thing he did by any means but Clef took quirky collabs to a new level