Considering the impressive runs of Run-D.M.C, Beastie Boys, and D.M.X., it might be easy to think that the genre blending between hip-hop and rock peaked years ago. Though artists like Kanye West and Kid Cudi sampled and toyed with the sounds of rock, there are many notable artists like Run the Jewels and
Danny Brown who in recent years pushed the concept of sampling to create fresh, innovative sounds
rooted in the elements of rock.

In this list, we will look at some of their work, along with some older songs that were less than Billboard Top 100 charting to get a taste of how influential rock has been in creating the modern concept of hip-hop.

#1 “We The People” – A Tribe Called Quest

In 2016, Tribe Called Quest made a much-anticipated reappearance after an 18-year hiatus from music. Though the limelight was dominated by albums like Views and TLOP, these guys put out one of the best albums of the year: it’s politically relevant, innovative, and an instant classic. This album deserves all the attention in the world, and rock fans can certainly get behind the prominent drumline and guitar work on “We The People.”

#2 “Giving Good People Bad Ideas” – Death Grips

**Bloody Ear Warning** Death Grips, an interesting group to say the least, puts out music
that defies all bounds of what it means to be commercial or easy to listen to. This track might
grow on you, it might not, but what does go without saying is that you probably won’t hear
anything else like it.

#3 “Step” – Vampire Weekend (Danny Brown Remix)

Danny Brown lends his legendary versatility to remix this classic Vampire Weekend piece. If
you’re a fan of either artist or either genre you will find something you like on this track.

#4 “Banished” – JJ Doom ft. Beck

It might sound like an oxymoron to call someone a legendary underground artist but MF Doom
has been known to break stereotypes. This guy is one of the wittiest rhymers out there; he
blends intense Shakespeare references alongside hilarious bars about bodily functions.

#5 “Bust” – Outkast ft. Killer Mike

Considering the unrivalled discography this group put out, there were bound to be a number of
fantastic tracks that got shoved under the rug. On Bust, Killer Mike makes a guest appearance
and you know he goes hard.

#6 “Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck)” – Run the Jewels ft. Zack De La Rocha

Killer Mike + Zack De la Rocha=An absolutely banger of a track. Though this group is on the rise
and this is one of their more popular songs, the feature by the Rage Against the Machine front
man is something special and needs mentioning if you’re a rock fan. This track has everything
you need in a genre-bender: vocal distortion, epic bars, a howling guitar riff, and resident rock
icon venturing outside of his comfort zone to rap like the best of them. Look, you I’m not telling
you that you can singlehandedly fight four dragons with one hand tied behind your back, but
this track makes you feel like you can.

#7 “Formidable” – Stromae

French rapper/singer/fashion icon Stromae lends his craft to an interesting piece. This guy got
some traction abroad but whether he can truly make it in non-French speaking countries
remains to be seen.

#8 “Hasta la Vista Mi Amor”- Mc Solaar

Huge in 1990’s France but only limited in his global projection, Mc Solaar actually flexes his
Spanish on this track. A seductive guitar ballad accompanies Solaar’s vocals and adds mystery
and allure to his silky-smooth vocals

#9 “Oh Dis My Side” – Travis Scott, Quavo

If you’re a hip hop fan there’s a decent chance you’ve heard this song.
It combines Travis Scott’s trademark vocal effects, a Schoolboy Q feature, and a simple-yet-so-
goddam-good guitar melody to create a banger of a track.

#10 “Willing to Die” – Gin Wigmore, Suffa, Logic

Alternative meets rap on this track from New Zealand’s own Gin Wigmore. This track predates
Logic’s explosion on to mainstream rap and features simple key, guitar, and vocal elements that
underscore Logic’s flow and versatility.

Certainly I missed a ton of tracks on this list, my shortlist had about 30 songs (linked here). If there’s
anything you think should be included comment below!

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Harvard Rock Review