We all love a good cover song—when it’s done right. Come correct or don’t come at all, as they say. So when an artist steps out of their comfort zone by embracing a different genre entirely and then absolutely smashes it, they deserve our utmost respect.
Here are eight of the best rock versions of hip-hop tunes:
Limp Bizkit – “Jump Around” (House of Pain)
During the first edition of Korn’s Family Values Tour in 1998, the Bizkit put their very own spin on what’s arguably the biggest feel-good rap anthem of all time: “Jump Around.” Perhaps DJ Lethal, formerly of House Of Pain and Limp Bizkit, had something to do with that.
Rage Against The Machine – “How I Could Just Kill A Man” (Cypress Hill)
It’s said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Rage Against The Machine had already been friends with Cypress Hill for over a decade when they paid a huge compliment to their brothers by including the adrenaline-charged “How I Could Just Kill A Man” on their 2000 covers record, Renegades.
Framing Hanley – “Lollipop” (Lil Wayne)
The term “ballsy” is an understatement when describing Framing Hanley’s decision to include a bonus version of Lil Wayne’s “Lollipop” on their debut album, The Moment. But it also was an incredibly clever move by the emo pop-punkers, as this track successfully propelled them into the Billboard singles chart for the first time ever.
Cancer Bats – “Sabotage” (Beastie Boys)
It doesn’t get much more ambitious than this. “Sabotage” is a stone-cold hip-hop classic, and the Beastie Boys are practically untouchable. But the Cancer Bats dared to remake it, and the risk paid off. The band even humbly paid homage to the prolific trio with a music video that is an obvious tongue-in-cheek tribute to the original.
Far – “Pony” (Ginuwine)
This rendition of Ginuwine’s “Pony” is enough to leave anyone speechless at first. It’s full-on sleazy and even cringe-worthy at times, but Far’s subtly comedic interpretation of somewhat ridiculously inappropriate lyrics allows it to be amusing and enjoyable. It had so much potential to be terrible that it went full circle and became brilliant.
The Word Alive – “Heartless” (Kanye West)
Lyrically, “Heartless” is actually a seriously angry tune, yet rapper Kanye West doesn’t deliver the vocals with much vehemence at all. This is a pinch hitter angle for the Word Alive, who channel their rage through the words of this number and combine it with killer melodic harmonies.
Falling In Reverse – “Gangsta’s Paradise” (Coolio)
For most people, “Gangsta’s Paradise” is recognizable within its first few seconds. It was the lead single from the 1994 Dangerous Minds OST and a No. 1 smash hit around the world. Two decades later, Falling In Reverse decided to try it on for size. The result split the alternative community practically down the middle, with some hailing it as genius and others bashing it as nauseating. Whatever you think of it, they got Coolio to star in the video—that’s pretty badass.
Crest Fallen – “Trap Queen” (Fetty Wap)
Is it ever “too soon” to reproduce another artist’s work? Although it actually dropped at the very end of 2014, “Trap Queen” was one of the biggest bangers of last year and certainly put Fetty Wap on the map of popular music. There’s not much publicized about the band Crest Fallen, but if they’re capable of this, we’d very much like to hear more from them.