Sade And Jay-Z Are The Latest In A Long Line Of Awkward Hip-Hop Collaborations

By Paul Cantor

So it’s finally happening. Sade is collaborating with a rapper. But if you’re going to do it, might as well do it right. None other than Jay-Z will add a verse to the official remix of “Moon & Sky,” a song from Sade’s forthcoming greatest hits compilation, Ultimate Collection, due in stores May 3rd.

Sade and Jay-Z does seem like an awkward pairing, however. While we don’t doubt that he’s a fan, Jay-Z has never struck us as the smooth jazz/soft rock type of guy. When we think of Hov, we think horns blaring, big drum rolls and anthemic hooks, a la that classic Roc-A-Fella sound. Sade’s mellow grooves, perfect for the “quiet storm” hours on late night radio, those would fall in line with someone like Drake, who despite requesting a collaboration with the band last year, was subsequently denied.

That leads us to our new list of awkward collaborations in Hip-Hop. Because sometimes, despite how good or bad they are, some song pairings just don’t make much sense.

1) Eminem and Elton John “Stan” (Live At The Grammys, 2001) — Though they never collaborated on a song that was officially released, Em’s “Stan” duet with Elton John at the 2001 Grammy Awards was a pure “WTF?” moment. At the time, Em was being bashed in the media for the anti-gay rhetoric his first two albums— The Slim Shady LP, and The Marshall Mathers LP, respectively— seemed to champion. And Elton, well, he was gay. The two joined hands in solidarity at the end of the performance, though, and all was right with the world. For one night, at least.

2) Public Enemy and Anthrax “Bring The Noize” (Apocalypse 91 … The Enemy Strikes Black, 1991) — Originally titled “Bring The Noise,” and appearing on PE’s 1988 album It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back, the group’s lead vocalist, Chuck D, was reportedly surprised by thrash metal band Anthrax’s request to cover the song and have Chuck featured on it. Chuck eventually acquiesced, and the two bands toured together, opening up metal audiences to hip-hop, and vice versa.

3) Swizz Beatz ft. Metallica and Ja Rule “We Did It Again” (Swizz Beatz Presents G.H.E.T.T.O. Stories, 2002) — Following the success he found producing for Ruff Ryders, Swizz Beatz ventured out on his own to form Full Surface Records and release his first compilation album. The project mostly stuck to his bread and butter— Hip-Hop. But in an adventurous twist, he paired Metallica with Ja Rule on a heavy metal jam that completely fell flat. Rule’s entire career would fall flat soon thereafter.

4) LFO ft MOP “Life Is Good” (Life Is Good, 2001)
— What do a three-man pop group from Fall River, MA and a two-man angry rap group straight out of Brownsville, BK, have in common? Nothing, except for the fact that they somehow found time to collaborate for the lead single from LFO’s second LP. In theory, it probably wasn’t the most awkward pairing at the time, because MOP had been championing a more rock-edged sound for some time. But LFO was hardly a hard rock band, so the song came and went without much fanfare other than questioning, “Did that just really happen?”

5) Methods Of Mayhem ft. Lil Kim, Fred Durst and George Clinton “Get Naked” (Methods Of Mayhem, 1999) — Methods Of Mayhem was a band started by a post-Motley Crue Tommy Lee. At the time, Lil Kim and Fred Durst were both at the height of their respective careers, and George Clinton, well, he’s always been something of a classic figure in music. The song was incredibly raunchy and played off of Lee’s hypersexualized reputation following the 1997 internet leak of his homemade porn film with then wife Pamela Anderson. In hindsight, the song tried to capitalize on the rap rock/nu metal sound that was gaining popularity at the time (think: Limp Bizkit), but it never really caught on.