In 2016, every genre is starting to blend into one another. You’ve got indie bands adopting electronic elements, you’ve got pop music incorporating blues, rock, rap, you’ve got hip-hop utilising jazz and gospel more than ever.
One of the best cross-genre blends comes from the marriage of hip-hop and electronic music. Solid rhymes can sound incredible atop slick production and collaboration between these artists can create something really remarkable.
Here’s some of our favourites.
1. Baauer – Kung Fu ft. Pusha T & Future
Harry Bauer Rodrigues, better known as Baauer, was always heavily influenced by hip-hop in many of his early works, including a Jay-Z feature on 2013’s Higher. His production skill and its applicability to rap is no secret, as his debut full-length album Aa (pronounced Double-A) has four rap tracks, including features by Pusha T, Future, M.I.A., G-Dragon, TT the Artist, Leikeli47 and Novelist. Kung Fu is one of the singles released prior to the album’s release, and it remained one of the album’s best moments. The sampling just serves to showcase the rappers’ verses, and it makes you feel as if every beat is in exactly the right place. Listen below:
2. RL Grime – Kingpin ft. Big Sean
As instrumental trap continues to rise in popularity, it’s no surprise that the genre, strongly rooted and based off of hip-hop production, would feature rap vocals. Much of the work that RL Grime has put out has had these roots, and some of his songs (Core, for example) have become iconic to the point where you just about can’t hear a trap set without his influence. Big Sean takes the spotlight on this one, and this eerie lead in leads us to verses brimming with power, and make it so you can’t help but feel like a kingpin.
The Mura Masa remix gets an honourable mention on this one. The subterranean bass and tropical feel mixed with Mura Masa’s unique sampling create a wholly new atmosphere.
3. THEY. – Motley Crue
This track is a bit different from the others, as THEY., a duo comprised of L.A. natives Drew and Dante, both vocalise and produce their own music. They blend electronic, R&B, hip-hop, soul, and whatever genre you can think up to realise their vision and create truly unique music. Motley Crue references classic rock and makes for a soulful and enchanting track that just makes you want to cruise down Sunset Boulevard.
4. Flume – Lose It ft. Vic Mensa
It’s definitely been Flume’s year, and he is definitely no stranger to hip-hop production. His debut album featured collaborators Freddie Gibbs and T-Shirt, and as Flume grows his following his list of collaborators for his 2016 album Skin he’s definitely broken into the popular scene, with collaborators like Vince Staples, Allan Kingdom, and Raekwon. Lose It has the wonky and captivating vibes that Flume is known for, and when Vic Mensa screams “Lose It,” you can’t help but to lose it right alongside him.
5. Zhu – Hold Up, Wait a Minute ft. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and Trombone Shawty
Zhu’s production is always top-notch, and this is absolutely no exception. This song from 2015’s Genesis Series EP utilizes electric guitars, saxophones, the epic trombone work from Trombone Shawty, and of course the vocals of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony coupled with Zhu himself create for a jazzy and utterly unique song that is sure to win you back the AUX cord. Read our more in-depth analysis here and listen below.
6. Moody Good – Hotplate ft. Knytro
Moody Good is a classic example of dubstep and how it can be utilised to convey completely different emotions and styles. The sampling on Hotplate creates for a classic environment with incredible verses, and an infectious vibe that transitions between the softer and harder sounds of this type of electronic music perfectly.
7. Clams Casino – All Nite ft. Vince Staples
We enter with these wobbly synths that make the whole song feel like its of a colder temperature. Michael Volpe, the man behind Clams Casino, utilises classic hip-hop production style while adding unconventional and compelling sampling to create unparalleled soundscapes. His debut album 32 Levels had many surprising features, and Vince Staples’ verses contribute to his created dark environment. The blending of styles is highly effective on this release that just isn’t quite like any other.
8. Rustie – Attak ft. Danny Brown
In a conversation about rap and electronic joining forces, this modern classic is often referenced, and has definitely made its impact for doing just that. This toy-like instrumental contrasts the unique grit of Brown’s voice, and when the bass hits, it’s hard to not get up and dance.
9. GTA & What So Not – Feel It ft. Tunji Ige
Australia native Chris Emerson, also known as What So Not, and American duo Julio Mejia and Matt Toth, also known as GTA, joined forces in creating a song that is oh-so summery with the perfect vibe for any situation. This absolutely cinematic song compels you from the first line, and Tunji Ige’s verses give the perfect edge that keep you hooked. The song is featured as a closing bonus track to What So Not’s Divide and Conquer EP, and will be featured on GTA’s upcoming EP.
10. Ty Dolla $ign – Stand For (prod. Diplo)
A shameless inclusion of one of my favourite songs. The samples create an experience that can best be described as ethereal. Ty Dolla $ign delivers verses in his signature style over globally renowned producer Diplo’s production, it creates something like magic. Diplo later utilised this beat for another song, titled Long Way Home, that was created to marry hip-hop production to create an alternative song, which features Grizzly Bear’s Edward Droste and Vampire Weekend’s Rostam. This same overall song structure was used to create two completely different soundscapes, and they both marry their respective genres effortlessly, which I will include as another honourable mention of sorts. Listen to both below:
This list is ever-expanding, and collaborations that cross genres are very prevalent in music now. In 2014, many producers were remixing alternative songs, and today it seems that hip-hop and rap is doing it’s time in the electronic and alternative spotlight. These collaborations all do what they promise, and marry genres for a wholly enjoyable experience.