6 Hip-Hop Song Sans Verses for AC: Tupac, Eminem, Kanye West and More
Has your mother ever commented how much she enjoys the chorus to "See You Again" or "Monster," but that she really wishes Wiz Khalifa and Eminem (respectively) hadn't "ruined" the song with their raps? She's not the first. This week we found out that a revised version of the former song, featuring only Charlie Puth's hook, as well as new melodic verses in place of Khalifa's bars, has been on the rise at Adult Contemporary radio...occasionally known as "Adult Conservative." The only thing less likely to end up on AC than hip-hop is heavy metal, but as rappers frequently find themselves invited to guest on pop singles (such as Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood" featuring Kendrick Lamar), labels sometimes edit the "offending" portion out, resulting in a safer, frequently less exciting product.
Music Times came up with a list of hip-hop singles that are/were just waiting to break it big on AC radio...if only someone had edited that flimflam hip-hop out.
"How Do U Want It" by Tupac Shakur...featuring K-Ci & JoJo
It's tough to imagine a performer as Adult Contemporary as K-Ci & JoJo. We mean, sure, they were R&B, but while kids were getting jiggy to Will Smith on Top 40 radio during the '90s, parents were grooving to the sweet soul of K-Ci & JoJo...just look at chart toppers such as "All My Life" and "Tell me It's Real." Don't be fooled into thinking these guys didn't have gangsta connections however: They jumped onboard with the anti-AC rapper, Tupac Shakur, for his no. 1 hip-hop single "How Do U Want It" during 1996. Heck, they even tested censors, singing "comin' up as a n*gga in the cash game" as smoothly as they might croon "I will never find another lover, sweeter than you." That would make this edit tougher than most, requiring a new cut of the hook as well as new verses. It will all be worth when you laugh at the irony of your parents loving a single derived from All Eyez On It.
"I'll Be Missing You" by Puff Daddy...featuring Faith Evans
This, one of the most successful hip-hop singles of all time, should have been all Faith Evans from the beginning. Both she and Puff Daddy had a reason to be on this track in memory of the Notorious B.I.G.-Puffy had based Bad Boy Records around the emcee, while Evans was married to Biggie--but there's one glaring fact that many forget to point out regarding Puffy's tribute to his deceased friend: It was ghostwritten. You've seen recently how shocking it is when an emcee is accused of ghostwriting, and yet Diddy couldn't even write his own bars about one of his best friends, instead giving the responsibility to Sauce Money. That, and Evans obviously closeness to Biggie, makes us want to give her more attention. Add her clean vocals with a sample easily recognized by parents (The Police's "I'll Be Watching You") and you've got AC gold.
"Always on Time" by Ja Rule...featuring Ashanti
If you were like us, there was something bothering you as Ja Rule and Murder Inc.'s singles dominated the radio at the onset of the century. You found yourself largely disliking every single, but still found it oddly catchy. This is probably because you hated Rule's contributions...aka all of the verses...to his own singles. On the other hand, his frequent collaborator Ashanti was the sole redeeming factor, allowing this song to hold down the no. 1 spot for multiple weeks. The same applies to "Ain't It Funny," the single where Jennifer Lopez was forced to bail the headliner out. "Always On Time" comes across rather gently if you only take Ashanti's work into consideration.
"Love The Way You Lie" by Eminem...featuring Rihanna
When we came up with this short list of hip-hop songs that feature amazing hooks, it was tough not to just dedicate every slot to Rihanna, because no one has made a career out of great guest spots than the songstress. In short: "All The Lights" by Kanye West, "Run This Town" by Jay Z, "Live Your Life" by T.I. and more. She's done multiple showstoppers for Eminem, including the aforementioned "Monster," but we decided that "Love The Way You Lie" would work better as a RiRi solo spot because it mirrors her real life more. While "Monster" seems more tied into Em's painkiller problems, "Love The Way You Lie" grapples with bad relationships...and we all know that's more biographical in Rihanna's experience. And sorry Eminem...but once parents catch wind of controversy, it never dies down (hence why some people still find Alice Cooper scary). He could sing church songs and 50-somethings will flip the channel. Rihanna might get a listen however.
"Same Love" by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis...featuring Mary Lambert
If any hip-hop performer had a chance at being featured on Adult-anything radio, it may have been Macklemore. "Thrift Shop" was, after all, a somewhat humorous song about shopping at Goodwill, and not the typical fare of hip-hop music. Oh, and maybe because he's white. Granted, the pace of the aforementioned smash was too quick and urban for true Adult Contemporary, but there was potential in "Same Love," the most socially-motivated track on The Heist. Part of the appeal lay in Macklemore's sincere lyrics combatting homophobia, but the big draw was newcomer Mary Lambert, who belted the excellent hook on the single. Unfortunately she didn't have anything on par with that performance for her 2014 debut album...a solo version of "Same Love" would have gone a long way.
"Bound 2" by Kanye West...featuring Charlie Wilson
Kanye West has drawn so much attention, and occasional controversy, for his use of classic soul and R&B samples in his beats, that it's appropriate that he gives the occasional member of that era the chance to sing live. "Bound 2," the final track off of Yeezus, featured original vocals from iconic soul singer Charlie Wilson. It's tough to imagine a track where the content of the verses and the hook travel in such different directions, perhaps intentionally: West lingers on the themes of nasty sex and suggested misogyny, when all of the sudden Wilson jumps in with a desperate imploration for love. Although Yeezus was incredible overall, Wilson actually bailed West out on the last track and we'd love to hear him try his hand at a lengthier version.