By Paul Cantor
The Tweethearts exchanged pleasantries, mutual admiration, and finally an idea for a potential collaboration. Said collabo’s now been confirmed by Raekwon the Chef, which leaves us excited, but also kinda just sitting here scratching our heads.
We love artists stepping outside of their comfort zone and mixing it up with seemingly random acts (and it may not get any more random than the aforementioned), but the results of those collabs are often hit or miss. Sometimes they’re magic, sometimes they’re, well, not. Either way, we get off on the sheer novelty of it all. So let’s take a walk down memory lane and explore some extremely awkward collaborations in hip-hop.
10. Twista and Sting – “Stolen Car Remix” (2004)
This song originally appeared as “Take You Dancing” on Sting’s 2003 LP Sacred Love. Then it got the super-duper remix treatment (there are literally 10 of them, one even including the almost equally as random Will.I.Am), and somehow, as seemingly drawing rappers out of a hat, Twista ended up paired with the ’80s reggae rock legend. Song’s not necessarily bad, it’s just… not good.
9. Nelly and Tim McGraw – “Over and Over” (2004)
Nelly thought he had a country song on his hands when he linked with Tim McGraw for this jam from his 2004 LP, Suit. Country grammar, country music, see the synergy? No? Damn. The song actually became a hit, reaching #3 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, but it definitely went over the heads of most rap fans, who were more used to seeing Nelly go “down down baby, your street in a Range Rover, street sweeper cocked, ready to let it go.”
8. Bone Thugs N Harmony and Phil Collins – “Home” (2002)
The thuggish ruggish Bone and Mr. Sussudio linked for what was an apparent attempt at a “Crossroads” redux. No dice though, as this one just comes off tame. Dig the message behind the music, but thugs and elderly bald guys just don’t go together. Unless it’s their dad.
7. Wyclef, Pharoah Monch and Kenny Rogers – “Dub Plate” (2000)
Before he was running for president of Haiti, Wyclef churned out a hit record or 10. A hit record “Dub Plate” was not. It was actually a mash-up of sorts, Pharoah Monch’s “Simon Says” mixed with the melody of Rogers’ famous tune, “The Gambler.” We’d like to think it was just an excuse for ‘Clef to jam with one of his favorite musicians, even if the outcome was kind of just a big mess.
6. New Kids on the Block and Nice-N-Smooth – “Dirty Dawg” (1993)
After NKOTB attained massive levels of fame and success in the late ’80s and early ’90s, music started changing, and naturally they tried to change with it, opting for a harder sound. The new jack swing of “Dirty Dawg” was a natural fit for Nice-N-Smooth, who were extremely hot at the time. But coming back after a two year layoff, it sounded more like old kids desperately trying to be down with the real new kids on their proverbial block.
Hit the jump to see who rounds out the top 5.
5. Korn and Nas – “Play Me” (2003)
Kudos to Nas for stepping into the metal arena on this track from Korn’s 6th LP, Take a Look in the Mirror. It’s just, Nas isn’t the most animated of characters in general. He’s someone that sounds better over a syrupy soul loop than thrashing guitars, and here he just sounds completely out of place. Too bad, the mosh pit looked forward to his arrival.
4. The Jonas Brothers and Common- “Don’t Charge Me for the Crime” (2009)
Similar to NKOTB almost 20 years earlier, the Jonas Brothers looked to expand their thematic scope on their 2009 LP Lines, Vines and Trying Times. Who better to help than rap’s poet laureate himself, Common? You might blink twice at this collab, but with a mature sound for the band, they at least hold their own next to the Chicago MC. I mean, we’ve heard worse (see entry above).
3. Brooke Hogan and Paul Wall – “About Us” (2006)
Brooke gets a bad rap. No, not that rap. Leave that to Paul Wall (I kid, I kid). This track premiered on “Hogan Knows Best,” and really, it’s on par with any other urban-influenced pop song from that year. Which is to say, Brooke can at least hold a note or two. Back then, Brooke was one of the hottest things on TV, so she and Paul Wall had the Internet going nuts for completely different reasons.
2. Run-DMC and Aerosmith – “Walk This Way” (1986)
Run-DMC didn’t even know who Aerosmith was back when their producer Rick Rubin pulled out the original version of the song (from the band’s 1975 album Toys in the Attic) and asked the group to rhyme on it. But they did it anyway, and a rap classic was born. Still, at the time, the pairing of a rock and rap group was strange enough to raise more than a few eyebrows.
1. Vanilla Ice and La the Darkman- “Unbreakable” (2001)
In the early 2000s, before he became a reality-TV mainstay, Robert Van Winkle’s career was in the toilet. Former Wu-Tang affiliate La the Darkman, who was an underground king but never a huge success, was also going through some … uh … dark times. The two got together on Vanilla’s 4th LP, Bi-Polar. Working with Ice got La creamed in the underground community, but in hindsight the song is actually all right. See, Wu-Tang’s loves down-ass pop acts!