When I was younger, I was the kind of person who would look down on rap and hip hop. I’d discount its validity in the realm of music, and would say things like, “rap sucks! hip hop blows!” (something that I stole from a sticker on a stop sign). You could say that I was kind of an asshole about the whole thing. Today, I’m still not the biggest fan of rap, but I can recognize the artistry behind the genre and enjoy a fair amount of it, particularly when it’s combined with something a little better-suited to my tastes. Here are three songs that combine some of my favorite voices from elsewhere in the musical spectrum with a few rap verses.
1. “Become My Life” – Mod Sun (Ft. Jonny Craig)
If you’d told me three years ago that the drummer from Four Letter Lie would go on to quit the band to start making “hippy-hop” and record a soul-based track with the singer from Emarosa, I probably would have laughed it off as some sort of joke. Recorded before Jonny Craig’s recent scandal and the pair’s falling out, the song’s beat definitely gives off a relaxing vibe, despite the hook’s lyrical content. For the first half of the song, it might as well be a Jonny Craig solo track, though the balance shifts almost completely towards Mod Sun after the first verse. It’s definitely got a lot of soul influence, which is never a bad thing. Jonny’s voice is, as always, incredible, and Mod Sun’s verses perfectly complement those melodies, while his beat creates a comforting atmosphere. This is the type of song that makes me want to listen to Mod Sun more and more.
2. “Homecoming” – Kanye West (Ft. Chris Martin)
I’d estimate that I’ve listened to this song leaving work almost half of the days this summer. The beat is perfect to walk to, and Chris Martin’s hook is great to sing along to, while Kanye is at the top of his game on this track with spot-on rhythms and a mixture of witty and really personal lines. The lyrics are a nice reminiscence on Kanye’s relationship with a girl back home, and as Martin sings “do you think about me now and then,” it makes you look back on your own relationships with people you might not have seen for a while. Their voices work very well together, much like how Jay-Z‘s verse on Coldplay‘s “Lost+” is a great fit. This is definitely up there for me in terms of Kanye West songs.
3. “This City” – Patrick Stump (Ft. Lupe Fiasco)
Right now, this song is a strong contender for my favorite of the year. Stump’s voice is as flawless as ever, and the music behind it is rather dancey, letting the combination of the two definitely live up to the first half of Stump’s forthcoming solo album’s title. His lyrics are perfectly suited to be a huge hit, while the accents by Lupe Fiasco provide exactly the right amount of hype. Though his rap verse isn’t quite as positive about Chicago as Kanye’s were, “despite all of the above” he still loves it. While I prefer his smaller parts in the track, on the whole, he still adds a good touch. I really look forward to hearing what the rest of the album sounds like, because this and the rest of the sampler I’ve received have me itching to hear more (be on the lookout for a review of it in the near future).