9 reasons why rappers start singing

By 11.16.10  •  3 Comments
Rappers Singing

Adam Glanzman, Flickr


Hate it or love it, rappers are singing! From the underground to mainstream, many emcees are infusing their lyricism with melodies. Some of them can barely hold a note while others have a legit stab at American Idol. While there’s no right answer to whether rappers should ‘stay in their lane’ or not, here is a list of reasons why they decide to go from spitters to songbirds.

Photo credit: Adam Glanzman, Flickr

9 Emotions are man’s worst enemy
If you’re feeling feelings and can’t seem to bury them deep down where they belong, the next best thing to do is make sure you’re not a rapper. Ja Rule fell victim to the kind of ennui that comes from living the gangster lifestyle and used his gruff rapper voice to express love. Things took a turn for the worst when he recorded “I Cry”.

Example: “Pain is Love”

Other cases: Kanye West, Kid Cudi

8 Purple drank
It’s a concoction popularized by the late DJ Screw and consists of soda and prescription cough syrups (codeine and promethazine). Being ‘on lean’ usually causes users to become sluggish and slur their words. Notice singing is not a common side effect of being ‘on lean’ but when you listen to Lil Wayne’s singing, its obvious what is fueling it.

Example: “Prostitute Flange”

Other cases: Pimp C, Z-Ro

7 Because they can or the why-not factor
Early on in his career, Phonte of Little Brother would lace releases with bonus CDs of singing, usually of the comedic variety. Gradually, he took his ‘side’ talents more seriously; guest featuring without rapping and recording whole albums with Dutch producer Nicolay as The Foreign Exchange. Now The Foreign Exchange is three albums deep and their sophomore effort received a Grammy nomination. All because of, why not?

Example: “Daykeeper”

Other cases: Pharoah Monch, Black Thought, Ol Dirty Bastard, Q-Tip

6 Erykah Badu’s vagina
When John Mayer sang about bodies being wonderlands, he was referring to Erykah Badu’s vagina. You can’t just date the neo-soul artist without preparing yourself for a drastic lifestyle and career change. Before Erykah, Andre 3000 wore basketball jerseys and rapped about being a gangster slash pimp. After Erykah, he acquired a taste for boots that look like fur pom-poms and fans can never be sure whether or not he’ll be singing or rapping on his records.

Example: “Hey Ya”

Other cases: Common

5 Hip-hop music often borrows from other musical styles
Legendary group Bone Thugs-n-Harmony is proof that the barbershop quartet made its mark. Not only do they command great pacing, the group has everything from the bass (Krayzie) to the tenor (Bizzy). If they were born a few generations earlier, there is no doubt the notorious thugs would have worn skimmer hats and sleeve garters instead of New Era fitteds and baggy jeans.

Example: “Lil Love”

Other cases: None, the Brothers Bone are truly unique.

4 Many of them grew up in church
Despite the negative stigma tied to rappers’ lifestyles, many of them grew up in church; some even realized their musical talent as part of a choir. Cee Lo Green, whose mostly known for Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” and his current hit single “F–k You”, had two ordained ministers for parents and sang in a choir before joining rap group Goodie Mob. That doesn’t mean he was a goodie-two-shoes (he’s admitted to mugging pedestrians and abusing the homeless without reason) but it does mean there is a foundation for all his soul-powered vocals.

Example: “F–k You”

Other cases: Devin the Dude, Lauryn Hill

3 Some things are best expressed through song
When Eminem went to record his third album The Eminem Show, he realized all his past tributes to his daughter were horrorcore stories about killing her mother Kim. So he went into the lab and took a different approach with “Hailies Song”. He bears his soul to his daughter, singing sweetly over guitar strings for a proper dedication. He does end up veering into rap during the song and unsurprisingly that’s where the Kim bashing begins again.

Example: “Hailie’s Song”

Other cases: Mos Def, Everlast, Lyrics Born, Aloe Blacc

2 Innovation is one of the main principles hip-hop was founded on
Today, it has become grounds to some of the most rampant trend humping in the history of music. In the last few years, Auto-Tune transformed from trade secret into the music industry’s neighborhood bike. Thankfully, Jay-Z did what Jay-Z does best and killed the fad with “DOA (Death of Autotune)”, except the damage was already done. Many of our favorite rappers already put out their mechanized jingles and in the worst-case scenario, some still hold on. Diddy is nobody’s favorite rapper so his forthcoming offering is especially unforgivable.

Example: “Loving You No More”

Other cases: Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent

1 Why do rappers or men in general do anything? Women
And women love singing. The new generation rappers are uninhibited by machismo standards (thank Kanye) and they no longer have to adhere to the rules of street credibility (thank Rick Ross). Geeks are cool and sensitivity rules. Drake is the one who benefited most by this shift in the rap landscape. The melodies on his albums are less like gunshots and more like warm vaginal flatulence. Things done changed.

Example: “Karaoke”

Other cases: Bobby Ray, J Cole


TAGSAndre 3000Arbitrary RankingsBone Thugs-n-HarmonyCee Lo GreenDiddyDrakeEminemErykah BadufeaturedJa RuleJay ZLil WayneListsMusicrap musicRappers

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