Posted: August 27, 2007 by dillion in Covers, Hip Hop, MP3, Rap, Uncategorized

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 . . .

A is for E-Z E’s tune, Automobile. These aren’t great covers, but they’re fine for the curious.

Automobile (Eazy-E)-Bushwalla.

Automobile (Eazy-E)-Stillwater Pioneers.

B is for Black Sheep (Black Sheep cover)-Trick Turner.

C is for Jonathan Coulton’s cover of Baby Got Back (Sir Mix-A-Lot). This is the first cover of the day that I think is truly great. 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.

D is for Diddy! Bad Boy For Life (Puff Daddy)-Clem Snide.

E is for Get UR Freak On (Missy Elliot)-eels.

F is for Feel Good, Inc. (Gorillaz)-The Editors. Technically, I’m not sure if the original qualifies as a rap song, but it had a rap break by Del Tha Funkee Homosapien (who’s Ice Cube’s cousin or something like that), so I’m counting it.

G is for Grandmaster Flash! The Message (Grandmaster Flash)-Keller Williams.

H is for How I Could Just Kill a Man (Cypress Hill)-Rage Against the Machine

I is for Ignition (R Kelly)-Bonnie Prince Paul and Matt Sweeney. R Kelly is more R&B than rap, but I had to put this up anyway.

J is for Christmas in Hollis (Run DMC)-Jungl Ed. Y’know how some songs remind you of movies? This song always makes me think of Die Hard. Specifically, the part where Bruce drops heavy shit on the hood of the car of the dad from Family Matters. Priceless.

K is for KT Tunstall-Get UR Freak On (Missy). KT is fast becoming one of my favorite cover artists. If you’ve heard her cover of the J5’s I Want You Back, you know why.

L is for Ludacris’ What’s Your Fantasy, as covered by Travis Morrison.

M is for Miss Jackson (OutKast)-The Vines.

N is for Nina Gordon-St8 Outta Compton (NWA). Simply one of the greatest rap covers ever.

O is for OutKast. Come back soon for a big Hey Ya post.

P is for The Popguns-Can I Kick It? (Tribe Called Quest)

Q is for this quick version of Doo Wop (That Thing) (Lauryn Hil)-Mr. Bungle. Way too short. So check out this version: Doo Wop (That Thing) (Lauryn Hill)-Devendra Banhart

R is for Richard Cheese-Milkshake (Kelis).

S is for Snow Patrol-Crazy in Love (Jay-Z and Beyonce).

T is for Tech Lo-Southern Hospitality (Ludacris).

U is for Gin and Juice (Snoop)/Smoke 2 Joints (Sublime)-The Under Ground Groovement.

V is for Vanilla Ice.

Ice Ice Baby-A Dead Heart.

Ben Kweller Baby-Ben Kweller.

W is for Wu Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthin to Fuck With-Rage Against the Machine. Ragers are the experts at this, fer sure.

X is for the ones I didn’t upload here. Pour a little out for The Gourds’ minor hit, the bluegrass version of Snoop’s Gin N Juice. And pour another for Travis Morrison’s cover of LL’s Around the Way Girl. And pour–No. There are others, but drink the rest yourself.

Y is for the person getting knocked out! Mama Said Knock You Out (LL Cool J)-Lagwagon.

Z is for Zero. The number of times I’ll post Duran Duran’s massacre of the great, White Lines (Grandmaster Flash). True connoisseurs of this genre should also be aware of DuranX2’s cover of Public Enemy’s 911 is a Joke. Their experiences with the pain of racial discrimination add a unique expressiveness to the song.

  1. Dave says:

    where does the RATM/Wu-Tang track come from?

  2. ekko says:

    Dave-A rarities bootleg.

    Ass Hat-Why?

    Gregor-Yes. See “O is for . . .” above.

  3. lance says:

    “smoke 2 joints” is actually a cover of a song by The Toyes.

  4. ekko says:

    well i guess u all now know how big a gorillaz fan i am.

  5. Tom says:

    You forgot B is for Ben Fold’s cover of Bitches Ain’t Shit.

  6. Mead says:

    sublime didn’t write smoke 2 joints. On the album 40oz to freedom Bradley speciffically says on the last track that they got the song from a group called the toys, whom I suspect is regee. It shouldn’t be listed as a rap cover, since it it is odviousily a regee song.

  7. The Purveyor says:

    What about Ben Fold’s doing Dr. Dre’s Bitches Ain’t Shit? Absolute gold!

  8. Erm says:

    Seeing as RATM is just about as hip-hop as rock can get, I’m not so sure I agree with the theme “rockers who *think* they can rap”.

  9. LaazRakit says:

    Phish did a pretty swell version of “Gin & Juice”….. Very countrified.

  10. frank says:

    what about ben folds bitches aint shit? and dynamite hacks cover of boyz in the hood by eazy e?

  11. Gearshock says:

    Ever heard the cover of “Hey Ya” by Obadiah Parker? VERY good cover. I have the file if you are interested. 😀 I Assume you have my e-mail since I put it in here. Drop me a line if you would like a copy. Or use other means to obtain it. It’s a great cover though.

  12. brian says:

    Matt Weddle’s cover of Hey Ya

  13. ekko says:

    Oh, well I mentioned the Gourds in the post, above, under “X”

  14. hngkong says:

    Richard Cheese should be exempt, because all he does it make cheesy lounge style covers to songs.

  15. James says:


    I’m not really an expert but are you sure that the Wu Tang cover is Rage? That does not soud like Mr. De La Rocha to me…

  16. 0justlooking says:

    How has Dee Dee King (AKA Dee Dee Ramone) slipped through the net on here?

    The epitome of a Rocker who THINKS he can Rap. His LP STANDING IN THE SPOTLIGHT is a complete (& unintentional) pisser!

  17. Idetrorce says:

    very interesting, but I don’t agree with you

  18. therenovator says:

    you fucking suck you moron. rage aren’t rapping./

  19. Scott says:

    I noticed that you kept referring to rap cuts as “songs”. I think this belies a basic understanding. While I’ll freely admit that rap is an art form and, thus, it’s performers are artists in every sense of the word, they…are…not…singers. So, if there is a piece of work one could describe as rap, it cannot be described as a song because the performer is not a singer, he is a rapper. There are hybrids aplenty, to be sure. But, it would more accurately be described as a rap cut that has singing in it or a song with a rap break or chorus.

    Further, to beat this dead horse ever more dead, can someone explain to me why rap acts are finding their way into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, while not a single rock act has be welcomed into the Rap Hall Of Fame? Consider this…take any successful rap group and any successful rock group. Give them 30 days to duplicate one of the other’s single pieces of work (song or rap cut). I would be willing to bet that the rock group would be able to figure out a way to at least approximate the rap piece, while I doubt the rap group could learn how to play an array of musical instruments in 30 days time.

  20. ekko says:

    It doesn’t “belie” a misunderstanding, but it may reflect one. As for rappers not singing, I disagree. 50 Cent frequently sings, and many other do. If rap is not singing, then Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett don’t sing, either.

    But I mostly refer to rap cuts as “songs” because you try to think of synonyms for “song.” There ain’t that many. And writing the word “cut” over and over gets boring.

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