January 17, 2014 via Pepsi
Slashies: Five Rappers Who Can Sing Their Own Hooks
Just as hip-hop continues to expand its reach from a musical standpoint, so too do the artists. Sure, it’s still exciting to hear your favorite rapper spit an impressive verse and do it on a consistent basis. But what about versatility? Hip-hop is now in a position where it celebrates an artist who brings something unique to the table as much as it does a lyrical savant like Kendrick Lamar. And one of these unique attributes that is starting to show up often is singing. Not many rappers can do it. And those who can are already a leg up on the competition. We’ve spotlighted five incredible artists who have made a name for themselves by balancing their ability to rap and sing. It doesn’t get more hip-hop than this.
1. Mac Miller
Mac Miller may come off as a fun and rowdy young rapper that knows how to have a good time. And you know what, that would be a pretty fair assessment of the 21-year-old Pittsburgh native. But as of late Miller has also shown a more mature side, one that displays his unexpected yet convincing ability to sing. He started flirting with singing last year on his EP You. For that specific project he went by the alias Larry Lovestein, and it was a fitting moniker for the kind of music he was creating. “Life Can Wait” is the epitome of You with Miller crooning over jazzy backdrops and describing his affections for a woman. His sophomore album Watching Movies with the Sound Off upped the ante with songs like “Youforia” and “Objects in the Mirror.” On the latter record Miller gets a bit more emotional as he offers words of wisdom. It’s the type of performance that you couldn’t have imagined from him a just a few years back.
At just 25 years of age B.o.B is one of the most exciting artists in hip-hop. The Decatur, Georgia rapper has earned this recognition through a number of releases that highlight his progression as well as a dynamic approach in making music. He’s rarely, if ever, disappointed with his lyrical skills. But then there’s his capacity to sing. It’s something that pops up from time to time, and whenever it does listeners are treated to a remarkable performance. Armed with an acoustic guitar “Lovelier Than You” is a light ballad that captures B.o.B’s elated vocals. “Ghost in the Machine” from his debut album B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray takes a heavier approach, but what remains unchanged is his smooth voice. Also, it would be hard to forget “So Good,” his hit single from last year. The chorus on this song is incredibly catchy. Who sang it? B.o.B, of course.
Future is a unique artist in that he uses the Auto-Tune effect whenever he raps or sings. While some may initially view this enhancement as an unfair advantage, it’s really proof that Future has the vocal range and discipline to use it in the proper manner. It’s clear he’s been successful with it, too, as the Atlanta artist has delivered a number of hits by singing his way through love songs. Take for instance “Turn On the Lights” off his debut album Pluto. The record features Future crooning a syrupy ode about finding Mrs. Right. His duet with Kelly Rowland “Neva End” is just as impressive as they both describe a steady relationship that’s coming to an end. You can feel the pain in Future’s voice. It’s almost as if you’re experiencing it with him. His talents have subsequently led others to request his services. One listen to Tyga’s latest single “Show You” and it’s understandable why this song is so infectious.
4. Nicki Minaj
Hip-hop is predominantly a male genre, but that hasn’t stopped Nicki Minaj’s ascension into rap supremacy. The platinum-selling artist has climbed her way to the top by staying consistent while also switching up her style when necessary. Singing has become a way for Nicki to do just that. “Your Love” from her debut album Pink Friday was the perfect blend for the then-recent Young Money signee. It allowed her to crossover as a pop act out without losing her appeal as a rapper. She continued that formula on her second album with the vibrant song “Starships” and the more lyrically potent “Freedom.” The latter record was a clear standout with Nicki singing a sweet chorus that was as inspiring as it was entertaining.
Pharrell has worn many hats throughout his music career and has been successful in each venture. As a producer he’s received a number of Grammy Awards alongside his close friend and partner Chad Hugo as The Neptunes. Pharrell has also proven to be a go-to individual when it comes to rapping. But when Pharrell’s behind a microphone singing with his falsetto vocals he takes his artistry to another level. In 2006 he released his debut solo album In My Mind which included “That Girl,” a record that finds him splitting his time between impactful lyricism and delightful crooning. More recently Pharrell linked up with French house legends Daft Punk on “Lose Yourself to Dance” and “Get Lucky.” In both instances he not only supplemented the funky grooves, but arguably stole the spotlight. Talking about Pharrell’s singing abilities wouldn’t be complete without including his charmful song “Just a Cloud Away” from the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack.