Electronic music gets a shitty rep sometimes. When you use words like “DJ” or “dance music,” people expect raves, ecstasy, poundingly simple music and a lot of neon. Now, nothing against all that, but it’s very rarely my style. Paisley > Neon. Where a good portion of the electronic music scene slants heavily towards the fun, party music that so many people associate with it, there’s a lot more going on under the surface. At times, these productions sound less like a rave and more like a hip-hop beat.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been listening to something and thought, “man, [rapper's name] would really kill this track.” Confusion and I came up with list of experimental producers and paired them up with a rapper we thought could do some serious damage over a particular track. Listen to the beats, close your eyes, and use your imagination. Here are some collaborations that, in our heads, sound like pure gold.
Common x Star Slinger
Duo Name: Lonnie and The Astronomy
Common has a commanding voice. He really should be able to carry any track that comes his way, and he seems to anchor any track he really takes control of. However, whenever he’s tried to experiment with anyone outside his comfort zone (most notably with Pharrell on U.M.C.), the results have been abysmal. Finding a more experimental producer for Common was not something we set out to do. We’d be fine hearing him over Dilla and old-school Kanye until the end of time. However, listening to some of Star Slinger’s tracks, The Chicago MC couldn’t help but be brought to mind, with the warm soul samples and enough pizzazz to the percussion to make the beat really pop out over anything in hip-hop right now.
Star Slinger – “Mornin’”
For someone known for his contemplative, techno-meets-Dilla music, you’d be surprised at how hard Gold Panda can go at times. However, he never loses that experimental edge that makes his stuff so compelling to listen to. You’d need to be quite the rapper to keep up with something like that. Raekwon is quite the rapper, to say the least, and he’s got just the right balance of aggression and composure. We think he’d murder this track.
Gold Panda – “Greek Style”
Kingdom is one of the most original in the game right now. No one’s doing it quite like him. His catalog’s extremely diverse, so pinning him down to one genre is hard enough, let alone one rapper. So we gave him a posse. When he turns to more hip-hop influenced tracks the results are brutally catchy and just plain destructive. We think they’d be perfect for Dipset. Imagine Cam, Juelz and Jim rocking this one? Fucking crazy. Freekey Zekey can join in too, I suppose. And Hell Rell, if he’s around.
Win Win – “Interleave (Kingdom Remix)”
Girl Unit’s one of the most innovative producers coming out of London right now, and honestly, none of his songs need any extra elements. It’s almost blasphemous to suggest rapping over one of his gems. There just aren’t many rappers that could do this kind of beat justice. But seeing as this is completely hypothetical, and because no one could keep up, we decided to hand this over to the rappers that would make it their own – Gucci Mane and Waka Flocka Flame. We hope this would evolve into Gucci and Waka blurting out adlibs for five minutes. This could, in all seriousness, be an absolutely brilliant thing.
Girl Unit – “Wut”
Boys Noize x Wiz Khalifa
Duo Name: Amber’s Boys
Another producer I’m hesitant to suggest should have someone rap over their track is Boys Noize. However, the German mastermind has proven himself time and time again to have a uncanny ear for pop melodies. Someone else with an almost savant-like talent for ear-catching melodies? Wiz Khalifa. If Wiz could keep up, this would be huge.
Boys Noize – “Yeah”
T.I. x Lunice
Duo Name: Canadian King
T.I. is the kind of technically proficient rapper who demolishes tracks. He’s graced some of the best beats in the industry and just recycles all of them into T.I. gold. We think it’s time to hear him on something a little more off-kilter. Enter Lunice, the Canadian ex-B-Boy currently apprenticing Diplo and crafting some of the most high-energy, swagged out beats on Earth right now. I got too excited about this collab, so I made a mashup to make sure it would work.
Uh, “What You Know” over “Juice.” What You Know About Juice?
Avicii x Mac Miller
Duo Name: Thumbs Up, Bro
Pop overload. Avicii’s gaining huge buzz creating some of the catchiest house music….ever, really. This track is pretty trancey, but if it hits radio, it still has the potential to lure the masses in. What would help would be some rapping to make it more palatable to the people who might not realize they like it because they “don’t listen to techno.” The obvious choice would be someone like Pitbull, but we really, really don’t want to see that. Mac Miller can do the job. He sounds at home even over the poppiest of production, and if we want to see anyone get a mega-hit, we’d at least like it to be for someone who seems like a nice guy.
Avicii – “Levels”
Youth Lagoon x Kendrick Lamar
Duo Name: Kendrick’s Lagoon
Youth Lagoon is a bedroom pop act that borders on chillwave a lot of the time. However, listen to the album and tell me that the kid’s not putting in some serious MPC work in. Things are quiet and distant, then all of a sudden the beats kicks in hard. A good verse could really set something off. The problem? Youth Lagoon makes music that is painfully pretty and brazenly earnest and sincere. The solution? Kendrick Lamar, one of the best rappers doing it right now, who is also comfortable feeling like a real 23 year-old guy just trying to do something great. Jump into this track at about the 2:20 mark and tell me Kendrick couldn’t lay something over that. And then listen to the rest of The Year of Hibernation, and Section.80 while you’re at it, because they’re both great.
Youth Lagoon – “Posters”
Freddie Gibbs x Gold Panda
Duo Name: Golden Gangster
You didn’t think I’d leave Gold Panda with just one rapper, did you? Freddie Gibbs already proved he can rap over just about anything by taking on a Joker track, but we feel like his best song is still “National Anthem.” He sounds fucking phenomenal over a more laid-back beat, bringing out the starkness of his constant aggression and technically proficient flows. Some of GP’s more beautiful beats would make for one hell of a backdrop for Gibbs to sink his teeth into.
Gold Panda – “You.”
Caribou x Mos Def
Duo Name: Yasiinibou
Caribou is an amazingly talented producer, and one that has a penchant for constructing beats that make it hard to think of just music while you’re listening. The tracks have a way of drawing you in and taking you on a trip of visuals, colors, smells, and an overall experience that feels more like a drug and less like a song. While Caribou’s production takes a tight grip of your senses and drags you out for a journey, letting Mos Def help steer seems like a good call. He seems like a trustworthy dude.
Caribou – “Pelican Narrows”