NORTH HOLLYWOOD, Calif. Sugar Ray vocalist Mark McGrath has wanted to record "Make Room," by West Coast rappers Tha Alkaholiks, for six years.
So he didn't think twice when the opportunity came for his band to team with the group and remake the party song for the upcoming compilation Loud Rocks. The CD, due Tuesday, pairs rock and hip-hop acts on songs by Loud Records artists.
"We wanted this song on our record back in 1994," McGrath said Tuesday. "So when the Loud people approached us and asked if we'd like to do a track, I said, 'Will we? We already got one in mind.' "
"Make Room" (RealAudio excerpt of original) first appeared on Tha Alkaholiks' 1993 album, 21 & Over. The new version juxtaposes rapped verses and McGrath's sung chorus over a funky soundscape of hard-rock guitars and hip-hop beats.
Sugar Ray's DJ Homicide, who makes his debut as a producer with the track, said he reworked the song with the intention of keeping the rock and rap aspects equally prominent.
"I tried not to f--- up what they created but still make it progressive and add our appeal to it," said the DJ (born Craig Bullock).
McGrath, DJ Homicide and Tha Alkaholiks grouped at a North Hollywood recording studio Tuesday afternoon to discuss their collaboration with reporters. In between breaks, they joked around with each other and, at one point, chatted with Korn singer Jonathan Davis, who stopped by the studio for a visit.
Though he was set on recording "Make Room," McGrath said a Sugar Ray track could have worked just as well for the collaboration. "These guys [Tha Alkaholiks] could rap 'Mary Had a Little Lamb' and make it interesting and new," he said.
But Alkaholiks rapper Tash wasn't so optimistic that things could have gone as smoothly the other way around. "We couldn't do a Sugar Ray song because we can't sing and we can't play no instruments," said the MC (born Rico Smith), with a laugh. "We really stink on the rock 'n' roll tip."
The Sugar Ray-Alkaholiks pairing on "Make Room" appears on Loud Rocks alongside such collaborations as Wu-Tang Clan with Ozzy Osbourne and Tommy Iommi; Everlast with Mobb Deep; Sevendust with Xzibit; and Static-X with Dead Prez.
The teaming of hard-rockers Incubus and late rapper Big Punisher on the latter's "Still Not a Player" (RealAudio excerpt) is already garnering radio airplay.
"[Loud] sent us a list of songs to cover, and as soon as we saw 'Still Not A Player,' we jumped on that like ants on sh--," Incubus singer Brandon Boyd said in a prior interview.
"We love that song. So they sent us a vocal of Big Punisher, and we just kind of made a song around that with me singing and rapping and being goofy. It turned out pretty cool."
McGrath said he was blown away by the Incubus-Big Pun collaboration. "Sonically, it just sounds so radical," he said.
Tash said he thought the CD would "bridge a big-ass gap between the hip-hop and the real hard rock 'n' roll crowd. A lot of times, the person pushing these things together is some behind-the-scenes guy. But when you hear this record, you can tell we're good friends off the mic."
DJ Homicide said he was impressed with how each track on the LP stays true to its hip-hop origins while incorporating new rock elements. "When there's rhymes, the rhymes are dope," he said. "The hip-hop elements are respected. What rock elements were added were real rock. So knuckleheads get the best of both worlds."
The track listing for Loud Rocks is:
"Shame" (System of a Down, Rick Rubin and Wu-Tang Clan); "Make Room" (Sugar Ray and Tha Alkaholiks); "Hip Hop" (Static-X and Dead Prez); "Los Angeles Times" (Endo and Xzibit); "Shook Ones Part II" (Everlast and Mobb Deep); "Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nuthing Ta F*** Wit?" (Tom Morello, Chad Smith and Wu-Tang Clan); "Only When I'm Drunk" (Crazytown and Tha Alkaholiks); "What U See Is What You Get" (Sevendust and Xzibit); "How 'Bout Some Hardcore?" (Grunge Is Dead, a.k.a. Butch Vig and M.O.P.); "For Heaven's Sake 2000" (Ozzy Osbourne, Tommy Iommi and Wu-Tang Clan); "Caribbean Connection" (Shootyz Groove and Big Pun); "Survival of the Fittest" (Sick of It All and Mobb Deep); "Still Not a Player" (Incubus and Big Pun).
(Contributing Editor Corey Moss contributed to this story.)