20 Covers of Hip-Hop Songs Using Instruments
There’s nothing more hip-hop than taking the remnants of something, re-purposing it and putting your own unique spin on it, a concept that has powered the culture since its inception. What began as disc jockeys spinning obscure records in the park and looping the more scintillating sections of a composition has turned into a full-blown genre, effectively popularizing the art of sampling, which has infiltrated all of music and resulted in some of the more memorable songs of the past few decades.
Although the rules that govern sampling have become more stringent over time, it’s still a regular occurrence to hear instruments lifted from an old song and placed into a new rap track. The practice is acceptable to many, but is also looked down upon by a sizable contingent who argue that the art plays a role in diminishing musicality. Sampling and drum machines were thought to have replaced live instrumentation, with many decrying the dwindling number of musicians in the urban community and beyond, leading to the debate as to what constitutes artistry and merits musicianship.
However, as time has progressed and hip-hop culture has evolved, it’s clear that those notions were misguided, as hip-hop has always valued the role that musicians and instruments play. In 2017, it can be argued that hip-hop is more musically vibrant as ever, with grandiose live instrumentation being as prominent as its been in years, and the culture’s most popular artists are as likely to rhyme over a piano solo as they are digitized drums. One example of rap’s relationship with musicians and live musical instruments is the recent “Mask Off” challenge that took social media by storm, which featured a multitude of musicians doing their own unique covers of the flute solo that is prominent on Future‘s track “Mask Off.”
With the growing attention on live instrumentation and how musicality is as en vogue in the hip-hop community as its ever been, we’ve highlighted 20 covers of rap songs in which varying instruments, from guitars to trombones and everything in between, are used to capture the vibe. Check out everyone from Drake to Kanye West to Desiigner to D.R.A.M. and more getting the instrumental treatment.