Seven Rappers Who Should Work With Esperanza Spalding


By Kathy Iandoli

Right about now it’s all eyes on Esperanza Spalding. After beating artists like Drake, Justin Bieber and Florence and the Machine for Best New Artist at the Grammys, this is Miss Spalding’s shining moment.

The Jazz artist will undoubtedly have fellow artists vying to collaborate with her. With hip hop having roots in Jazz, rappers might just be a great fit to work with Esperanza. New Orleans Jazz trombonist Trombone Shorty – who also earned a Grammy nod for Best Contemporary Jazz Album (but lost to the Stanley Clarke Band) – has already taken a chance covering Lil Wayne tracks, so perhaps this is the shape of things to come.

In the meantime, we’ve picked seven rappers who should consider aligning themselves with Esperanza Spalding. The kids better buy her rookie card now, ‘cause after this year, the price ain’t coming down.

1. Mos Def
Why not mention the Mighty Mos after just quoting him? Mos Def is a fine wordsmith, and has already experimented with other genres. Still, Mos Def has just enough of a balance of hip hop and soul that his sound would be a perfect fit for Esperanza. Even if they don’t create new material, remaking Black On Both Sides would be worth the work involved. Imagine hearing songs like “Ms. Fat Booty” and “Climb” with a cello added?

2. Rick Ross
The Bawse has already been dabbling with cinematic production, thanks to J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League. With songs like “Maybach Music 2” and “Aston Martin Music,” Rick Ross knows how to move his smoky vocals over “epic” beats. If the instrumentation was in real time, with Esperanza playing one of the million instruments she knows how to play, then J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League may just have to sit this one out.

3. Lauryn Hill
While The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is approaching 13 years old, who can forget the live instruments L-Boogie used to craft some of the finest tracks in hip hop history? Now, with Ms. Hill making a revival (we hope), a collaboration between Hill and Spalding would be divine. The timing would be perfect as well, as Lauryn Hill is rumored to be working on her comeback album. Get Lauryn on the horn, Esperanza!

4. The Roots
This one is a total no brainer. The Roots lack two things: a female in the group and a cellist. Not saying Esperanza Spalding should become the newest member of the Roots (though that would be something to see), but a project with the legendary rap band would be amazing. ?uestlove on the drums, Black Thought on the mic, and Spalding on the cello. Who wouldn’t like the sound of that?

5. Kanye West
We’re surprised Kanye hasn’t already hopped in the studio with E.S., making a new track for a brand new G.O.O.D. Friday. There are still a few days left in the week, so who knows? Kanye’s abstract mind needs a good Jazz accompaniment. He’s already worked with the hip hop violinist, Miri Ben Ari, so he knows his way around some strings. Besides, if Kanye isn’t feeling the cello, Esperanza also plays the bass guitar, the clarinet, the oboe, the violin … We can keep going for days.

6. Pharrell Williams
Skateboard P is a total audiophile, and while most of his production with the Neptunes is technology-based, perhaps his beats with Esperanza’s vocals would make a nice collab. We’ve focused in on Miss Spalding’s ability to play any instrument, but one of her most adored instruments is her voice. It would be a challenge for her as well to sing over something that isn’t played with a bow. It’s all about pushing yourself, Esperanza.

7. Drake
If Drake isn’t upset that he lost to Esperanza in the Best New Artist category at the Grammys, maybe these two can join forces. Drake has just enough pop appeal and is just enough of a genre chameleon that he can spit over some jazziness without coming across as too soft. Plus, both Drake and Esperanza Spalding have something in common. They both performed with Alicia Keys (Spalding performed with Keys at the Prince tribute at the 2010 BET Awards not to mention Drake’s history with AK.)

Who do you think Esperanza Spalding should collaborate with? Tweet to us at @MTVRapFix or tell us in a comment below?