17 Rappers Who Crossed Over To Other Genres
Hip-hop has endured a tricky relationship with artists who straddle different musical genres. In many cases, rap purists reject cross-over attempts as acts of betrayal, while music aficionados outside of the hip-hop community tend to view them with a skeptical eye.
Still, not every cross-over act has been a flop. Now, XXL has put together a list of 17 hip-hop acts who successfully managed to experiment with other genres of music.
New Genre: Dance-Pop
At the outset of his career, Pitbull was the reigning king of Miami's rap scene, cutting monster jams like "Culo" and the Fat Joe-assisted "That's Nasty." But starting around 2009, Pit ventured off from traditional rap and quickly embraced the fist-bump-friendly dance-pop trend.
New Genre: Dance-Pop
Pitbull isn't the only Miami native who eschewed his hip-hop roots for more dance-friendly club jams. Although he initially emerged as a rap affilate of Florida natives Rick Ross and Trina, Flo soon transformed into an EDM-sampling dance-pop icon with songs like "Wild Ones" and "Club Can't Handle Me."
Black Eyed Peas
New Genre(s): Pop/EDM
Out of every act on this list, the Black Eyed Peas' transformations over the years are likely the most dramatic. The group began as a conscious, neo soul-inflected alternative trio, but eventually took on more pop underpinnings with the addition of Fergie to the group in 2003. However, the BEP's made yet another sonic 180 when they adopted the EDM stylings of David Guetta.
New Genre: R&B
Although fans may best remember T-Pain as the go-to Auto Tune hook man in hip-hop, the Tallahasee native actually started out as a rapper—he isn't called a "rappa-ternt-sanga" for nothing. Although T-Pain's clearly kept close to the world of hip-hop, "Buy U A Drank" is a far-cry from his old group's Da Nappy Headz's single "I'm Happy," which adheres closer to Goodie Mob's sonics.
New Genre: Dance-Pop
While it's somewhat of a misnomer to call Lil Jon "a rapper"—he was primarily a producer and reigning King Of Ad-Libs—he did play an important part in one of hip-hop's shortest lived modern era movements with Crunk. However, as Crunk died out, Lil Jon moved on and transitioned to making dance-pop jams with the likes of Pitbull and LMFAO.
New Genre: Reggae
Although Snoop will forever have a place in hip-hop given his classic releases like Doggystyle, the past year has witnessed the Long Beach all-star transform into a full-blown reggae singer. His transformation shouldn't come as much of a surprise, given his later-career proclivity to break genre constrictions with songs like "Sexual Eruption."
New Genre: Neo-Soul
Even though he cut his teeth with one of the most acclaimed sub-factions of Atlanta's Dungeon Family collective, Goodie Mob, Cee-Lo Green has reinvented himself as a pop-leaning soul singer in recent years with breakout solo album The Lady Killer. However, with Goodie Mob readying a new album in Age Against The Machine for this year, we may soon witness Cee-Lo return to his rap roots.
New Genre: Rock
Although he first gained national exposure for his fusion of rap and rock on songs like "Cowboy," Kid Rock got his start in 1990 with his decidedly hip-hop debut Grits Sandwiches For Breakfast. However, as rap-rock's popularity waned in the mid-2000's, Kid Rock exclusively pursued his rock roots with releases like Rock N Roll Jesus.
New Genre: Pop
When Nelly first emerged on the national scene in 2000, the St. Louis representative brought a bounce-heavy sound armed with bling-bling lyrics and catchy hooks. In 2010, however, Nelly reemerged after a two year reprieve with a decidedly pop-oriented sound—a sonic transition further confirmed by his recent dance-ready single "Hey Porsche."
New Sound: Dance-Pop
Although Nicki is still decidedly a rapper—her and Lil Wayne's latest single "High School" incontrovertibly proves that—the Queens raptress dabbled in the dance-pop realm to significant commercial success. Songs like "Starships" finds Minaj opting for a more dance-driven sound instead of a straight rap.
New Genre: Indie Rock
Danger Mouse broke through the ranks of underground hip-hop in the early 2000's as one of the most acclaimed producers, garnering fame with his controversial The Beatles/Jay-Z remix album The Grey Album. As of late, however, Mouse has focused primarily on indie rock, producing albums for bands like The Black Keys and Broken Bells.
New Genre: Reggae Fusion
In the mid-1990's, Wyclef Jean established himself as one of the most skilled lyricists alongside his Fugees partners Lauryn Hill and Pras. As his solo career progressed, however, Clef's sound evolved from straight hip-hop to become a fusion of reggae, folk and rock music.
New Genre: Jazz
Queen Latifah's early career in the 1980's and 1990's witnessed her become of hip-hop's strongest female rhymers, going toe-to-toe with her Native Tongues contemporaries. However, after earning an Academy Awards nomination for her role in Chicago, Latifah began focusing on her jazz singing career.
New Genre: Punk
It's fairly well known that among hip-hop heads that the Beastie Boys actually got their musical start as a New York hardcore punk band—the above song comes from their solitary punk project Polly Wog Stew in 1982. However, even after the trio became internationally known as hip-hop stars, the Beasties kept including punk cuts on their later albums.
New Genre: Pop
When B.o.B first burst on the scene in the late 2000's, he was touted by fans and critics alike as the heir to the sonically-eclectic OutKast throne. Yet when he released his debut album B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray in 2010, Bobby Ray's sound had shifted to more pop-oriented fare with songs like "Airplanes" and "Nothin' On You."
New Genre: Blues-Rock
After finding success as a member of House of Pain in the early 1990's, Everlast flipped the script on fans by releasing a bluesy rock album Whitey Ford Sings The Blues. Although Everlast found immense success and critical acclaim in this new genre, he later returned to hip-hop in the underground super-group La Coka Nostra.
DJ Mighty Mi (Of The High & Mighty)
New Genre: EDM
In the laste 1990's, Philadelphia underground duo The High & Mighty put underground hip-hop on smash with their cult Mos Def and Skillz-assisted single "B-Boy Document '99." However, some years after the duo disbanded, producer/DJ Mighty Mi resurfaced in Las Vegas as a respected and successful EDM DJ.