Phil Collins' legacy indisputably transcends both genre and generation alike. While the iconic singer was at the prime of his glory days back in the 1980s, scoring more top 40 singles than any other artist throughout the entire decade, the mark he’s made on music holds a universal influence and is ever-present in 2016, even in hip-hop.
The England-born musician got his start playing drums and singing in the commercially successful rock group Genesis before going on to explore making music in his own lane as a solo artist. Ever since his music first infiltrated the airwaves across the world in 1968, the singer, songwriter, record producer and instrumentalist has been nonchalantly inspiring artists for ages, especially the most unlikely of rappers.
While the reason so many hip-hop artists gravitate towards Collins and his classics may remain up for various speculation and debate, there is no denying he's got something special since his tunes have been sampled by rappers countless times. Plus, they've paid homage to his humble personality or even created original work in his honor. The man himself once famously said, “Beyond a certain point, the music isn’t mine anymore. It’s yours.” Collins has no problem sharing the wealth.
Rappers such as 2Pac, Nas, Kanye West, Lil' Kim and Eminem, to name a few, have all indulged in toasting to the magic of British hit maker at one point or another, with some artists, such as OG Maco going as far as naming an entire project after him. Whether citing him as inspiration or being intrigued to interview him, such as Action Bronson did earlier this year, the multifaceted musician curiously has become somewhat of an inspirational fixture in hip-hop history throughout the years.
Needless to say, while we shine a light on the different occasions rappers toasting the blessing that is Phil Collins, nothing but the music itself is to blame if an epic sing-a-long of “In the Air Tonight” breaks out along the way. Check out 20 Times Rappers Showed Love to Phil Collins.
Blvk Phil Collins Mixtape
OG Maco’s new mixtape is an inevitable nod to Phil Collins, at least as far as the title goes. Naming his project, Blvk Phil Collins, the rapper delivers seven tracks with zero guest features, and his cover art is a trippy portrait merging his face with Collins’ own. The project is smooth and melodic, making for an effort that perhaps Collins himself would have on rotation -- or at least he would appreciate the artistry Maco displays here.
"Feel It in the Air"
Beanie Sigel draws directly from Phil Collins on his track, “Feel It in the Air.” The production on the track draws directly from the singer’s classic 1981 song “In the Air Tonight.” He uses the sample well, and gives it his own Beanie Sigel lyrical treatment. With this song just under a decade old, Sigel definitely has a hit that still bangs today.
“Starin' Through My Rear View”
2Pac Featuring Outlawz
Even 2Pac was inspired by the great Phil Collins, sampling “In the Air Tonight,” on his track, “Starin' Through My Rear View,” featuring the Outlawz. The rapper opens the track with a small monologue and goes on to recount a very real reflection of the life that ‘Pac himself lived. The song was released posthumously, originally appearing on the Gang Related soundtrack in 1997.
“One Mic” comes off of Nas’ 2001 record, Stillmatic, and samples a portion of Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight.” The single became Nas’ third top 50 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. The rapper himself acknowledged his use of the classic sample from Collins. “I’m a huge fan and just wanted to take the vibe,” the Queens native shared. He clearly made it his own, with the song building from the sample into the epic production it showcases. This is cinematic Nas at his finest.
"I Can Feel It"
DMX’s take on flipping the infamous sample from Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” is quite possibly the most well known. From featuring the MC howling at a full moon and barking, to spitting bars over the slow groove of the beat and borrowing directly from the chorus, the song is an interesting nod to Collins. The track originally came out in 1998 and still gets airplay today.
Paying homage to Phil Collins in 2012, Fabolous chose to sample his track “Easy Lover” on the song, “B.I.T.E.” which appears at the very beginning of the song. The song comes from Fab's Soul Tape 2, so it’s only right to include a little Collins in the mix.
Jim Jones also decided to sample Phil Collins’ “Easy Lover” on his 2007 track “Intro” off of the Hustler’s P.O.M.E. album. With a hook of “Take a journey wit ya boy and lets ride,” one can’t help but visualize Jimmy and his crew blasting a little Phil Collins for some guilty pleasure listening while riding through the streets.
In addition to sampling George Constanza as the song’s introduction, Wale also chose to sample Phil Collins’ “Easy Lover” for his Mixtape About Nothing, making for one of the most interesting sampling decisions in the past decade. His song, “Artistic Integrity,” is motivational by nature, and weaves in other Seinfeld references throughout. This is one we think Phil Collins could get behind.
This track is full of samples, including two from Phil Collins. With Action Bronson being vocal about his feelings for Collins (he’s a big, big fan), the rapper samples both “Sussidio” and “Another Day in Paradise,” on his song “Contemporary Man.” The 2012 track comes off the mixtape, Blue Chips 2, and was one of the projects that helped put Bronson on the map.
Berner Featuring Wiz Khalifa
Drawing the name of his song from Phil Collins’ “Another Day in Paradise,” Berner recruits Wiz Khalifa for this feel-good anthem, released in 2013. He fittingly samples “Another Day in Paradise,” for this one, and the track has the two going back and forth about living the good life. This also was an early reference to Wiz Khalifa’s infamous “KK” strain of weed, something that fans living in areas where marijuana is legally available can now indulge in.
"Just Another Case"
CRU Featuring Slick Rick
This track was the debut single from the group Cru and was released as the lead track off of their debut album, Da Dirty 30, in 1997. Phil Collins’ “Sussudio” is shouted out at the 1:11-mark, with the lyrics, “Called up Cru/Yo, they probably in the studio/Phil Collins in the background/Suss-Sussudio.” The song made it to No. 68 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, finding some mild commercial success.
Ol' Dirty Bastard
This track by Ol’ Dirty Bastard shares the name of Phil Collins’ “Sussudio,” and acts as a cover, which was featured on the tribute album, Urban Renewal. The track was released in 2001, and features ODB doing his thing over a synthesized version of the song.
Bone Thugs-N-Harmony Featuring Phil Collins
The song “Home” by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony features Phil Collins himself singing the chorus from his original song, “Take Me Home,” in between the group’s five members offering their own verses. The group shared that Collins’ No Jacket Required album was one of their favorite projects and influences, so collaborating with Collins brought things full circle.
"In the Air Tonite"
Lil' Kim Featuring Phil Collins
Lil' Kim covered “In the Air Tonight” for the 2001 tribute album, Urban Renewal. Her version is exactly what you think a Queen Bee version would sound like, and that’s the best part. With Collins’ sampled voice as the hook, Kim brings the song into her Brooklyn sound and somehow it all flows smoothly.
"Gist and Penz"
Cam'ron Featuring Penz and Tom Gist
Cam’ron samples Phil Collins’ “Long Long Way to Go” at the beginning of his track, “Gist and Penz.” The song features the singer's melodic vibe throughout the entire duration, as Cam layers his vocals on top. It makes for a somewhat relaxing and laid-back soundscape as the rapper details his trials and tribulations alongside PENZ and Tom Gist.
Eminem gave Phil Collins a historical shout out on his song “Stan,” naming the iconic musician’s best-known song incorrectly, asking, “You know that song by Phil Collins, 'In the Air of the Night?'" The song details a fan obsession cleverly, and in a way, misnaming the Phil Collins tune was simply brilliant.
Kanye West Names Phil Collins as an Artistic Influence
Kanye West gave Phil Collins the nod of a lifetime, naming him as a direct influence for his 808s & Heartbreak album. “I’m trying to put on those Phil Collins melodies,” West shared in an interview detailing the project’s use of Auto-Tune vocals and synths, as well as the production drawing inspiration from Collins’ distinctive drums. West has also covered “In the Air Tonight” in the past, showing that the love is real.
Fredro Starr Featuring Jill Scott
The song, “Shining Through,” by Fredro Starr, of Onyx, and Jill Scott samples Phil Collins, drawing inspiration from the song “True Colors.” The duet was featured on the Save the Last Dance soundtrack, and its lyrics pay homage to Collins in addition to sampling his song. The song was originally released by Cyndi Lauper in 1986, but Collins helped to popularize the track in 1997, and three years later it was given the hip-hop treatment.
Urban Renewal Album
Phil Collins was the centerpiece of this tribute album, Urban Renewal, with R&B singers and rappers taking a stab at covering and flipping his songs. The 15-track collection was not the biggest commercial success, but stands strongly as proof of exactly how the hip-hop community feels about Phil Collins. Ol' Dirty Bastard, Lil' Kim, Kelis, Ray J and Montell Jordan are just some of the names to take part in this project.
Action Bronson Interviews Phil Collins
In an interesting turn of events, Action Bronson has had the opportunity to interview one of his heroes, Phil Collins. The conversation was transcribed in full, and featured the two going back and forth on music and cuisine -- something Bronson has built his entire career off of. By the end of their discussion, it feels like Collins was won over as a fan of Bronson himself.