In hip-hop, beats get passed around like colds.
A record might be sent to several artists before it finds a home and finally gets heard by the masses. There are dozens of stories of rappers passing up on beats that turned out to be hits or classic cuts. 50 Cent’s demonstrative single “Many Man” was once a Nas record before it fatefully fell into Fif’s lap. Kendrick Lamar's Mike Will Made-It-produced hit “Humble,” which earned a Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 position, was originally scored for Gucci Mane. Diddy had the Boi-1da, Vinylz and Frank Dukes-produced “0-100/The Catch Up” track before Drake got hands on it and turned it into a hit, which caused friction between the two artists.
Even after a record is out, there is nothing stopping other artists from rapping over the instrumental in a non-monetary fashion. Lil Wayne’s “A Milli,” Desiigner’s “Panda” and, more recently, Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” serve as examples of tracks that everyone and their mama hopped on.
There are a bunch of iconic beats that it would be dope to hear other artist spit on that we haven’t gotten the opportunity to hear thus far. Imagine if Jay-Z was given Clipse’s “Grindin” beat, as was almost the case, or how Tupac Shakur and Dr. Dre’s “California Love” would slap harder than angry grandmothers with a fresh verse from The Golden State’s golden boy, Kendrick Lamar. We can wish, can’t we?
So, XXL highlights 15 classic beats we’d like to hear someone other than the original artist rhyme over.
Clipse's "Grindin'"Artist That Should Rap: Jay-Z
Word is, Clipse's breakout single "Grindin'" was once almost given to Hov. With that in mind, hearing Jigga spit dope boy magic over Pharrell's iconic hustler's anthem in the present day is the stuff street dreams are made of.
Tupac Shakur's "California Love" Featuring Dr. DreArtist That Should Rap: Kendrick Lamar
2Pac's "California Love" is one of hip-hop's most beloved anthems, from one of the genre's most lauded producers. Kendrick Lamar's uncanny energy on the classic cut would be just what the Dr. ordered. Keep it rockin'.
Mobb Deep's "Quiet Storm"Artist That Should Rap: XXXTentacion
Unfortunately, we'll never get to see this happen no matter how bad we want it. But the late XXXTentacion's gloomy yet charged-up style would have fit perfect with Havoc's dark stylings on the instrumental for "Quiet Storm."
Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth's "They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y)"Artist That Should Rap: YBN Cordae
By now, you should know that YBN Cordae is illy with the wordplay, as he spits like a top-notch lyricist of day's past. Hearing the throwback spitta weave bars on a classic joint like Pete Rock's jazz-infused "T.R.O.Y" record needs to happen.
Wu-Tang Clan's "Triumph"Artist That Should Rap: Odd Future
Back when all the members of OFWGKTA were still gang, gang, it would have been fire to get the crew of musical misfits to rap over Wu-Tang Clan's ultimate posse cut. Tyler, The Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, Hodgy, Left Brain, Domo Genesis and others bombing atomically over RZA magic. Yes, please.
Twista's "Adrenaline Rush"Artist That Should Rap: Busta Rhymes
Twista has proven time and time again that his rhymes do not follow the speed limit. While his catalog of tongue-twisting raps is not as prolific, Busta Rhymes can definitely shift into the fast and keep pace with the best of them. There are a few spittas that might be up to the task of tackling Twista's magnum opus, but Bussa Buss gets our vote.
Wu-Tang Clan's "C.R.E.A.M."Artist That Should Rap: Westside Gunn, Conway The Machine and Benny The Butcher
Those Buffalo Boys get busy. With a hardbody throwback style many compare to 1990's-era Empire State MCs, Griselda Records and Wu-Tang Clan are stylistic cousins. Westside Gunn, Conway The Machine and Benny The Butcher catching wreck over "C.R.E.A.M" is a match made in navy blue and cream Wallabees heaven.
Black Moon's "I Got Cha Opin"Artist That Should Rap: Joey Bada$$
Joey Bada$$ deserves a salute for staying true to his roots in an industry full of clones. A natural on boom bap production, Bad Mon Joey would go bonkers on fellow BK artists' Black Moon's classic banger.
Jay-Z's "Dead Presidents"Artist That Should Rap: Nas
It's only right. Hov sampled Nas for his early breakout track (which led to some interesting bars during their beef). But that's all behind us now. Nas would definitely go in on the classic Ski-produced track.
Public Enemy's "Rebel Without a Pause"Artist That Should Rap: Run The Jewels
The seed that MCs like Chuck D planted in Killer Mike is evident. Both are good for a poignant anti-establishment anthem that will shake things up. Killer Kill and El-P should be up to the task of dropping bomb's on Public Enemy's "Rebel Without a Pause."
The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Who Shot Ya?”Artist That Should Rap: Rick Ross
Can you imagine what an official Rozay and Biggie collab would have sounded like? Unfortunately, we’ll never get to hear the lyrical titans on wax together, but the next best thing would be for Ross to hop on a Frank White classic. The biggest Bawse painting pictures over the menacing “Who Shot Ya?” beat would the consummate coupling.
Jay-Z’s “U Don’t Know”Artist That Should Rap: Pusha-T
Since Jigga turned the Just Blaze-produced “U Don’t Know” beat into an instant classic, not many people have messed with it. Probably because not many people properly can. One thing King Push definitely knows how to do is murder a track. If anyone can match Hov’s hustler’s spirit its Blowbama.
Kanye West's "So Appalled"Artist That Should Rap: Kendrick Lamar
Kanye West's "So Appalled" beat got shot, stabbed, murdered and left for dead by Yeezy, Pusha-T, CyHi The Prynce and Jay-Z. In our twisted fantasy, Kendrick Lamar would put his foot in it, too. Kung-Fu Kenny in "Control" mode over that instrumental? We're totally here for it.
Lil' Kim's "Queen Bitch"Artist That Should Rap: Megan Thee Stallion
Lil' Kim is the original savage and many have followed in her footsteps. She came out swinging on the memorable cut "Queen Bitch" off her debut album Hard Core. With Megan Thee Stallion currently eyeing the throne, she would be the perfect fit to hop on the bombastic banger.
Snoop Dogg's "Gin & Juice"Artist That Should Rap: Wiz Khalifa
We are honestly surprised this hasn't happened yet, with Wiz's love for gin and Uncle Snoop. It almost seems mando that Khalifa give us his kushed-out bars over Dr. Dre's G-Funk magnum opus.