Can Hip-Hop Pop Rock?

It’s been called “post-rap,” it’s been called “hip pop” and it’s been called “hey why won’t that OutKast guy just shut up and rap?” But no matter how you file it at the record store, it’s a relatively new genre of music that finds hip hop artists singing and experimenting with polished pop/soul/rock music, often (though not always) over hip hop beats. Examples include Gnarls Barkley, André 3000, N.E.R.D., k-os, Mos Def, Kanye West, Lyrics Born and more. Though they’re not rappers, I’d also lump in Santigold, Janelle Monáe, Gorillaz and maybe even Nelly Furtado, since the sonic qualities of their work share many elements with the singing rappers.

Though we’ve always had rappers who could also sing (Lauryn Hill immediately comes to mind), the movement in question probably started with the release of André 3000’s The Love Below in 2003. Here was a rapper singing, but it wasn’t so much traditional soul music (like Lauryn’s) as it was hyper-glossy pop music with hip hop undertones. Songs like “Hey Ya” and “She Lives in My Lap,” weren’t just different, they were extremely catchy, radio-friendly pop jams written with an emcee’s edge and approach to lyricism. The album was also ridiculously successful, which set the stage for other rappers’ projects.

Kyle “Guante” Myher explores the emerging trend of “Hip Hop Pop” aka rappers who sing (well kinda) over at Culture Bully. If u ask me, I think that Pharrell is personally responsible for T-Pain. A great lunchtime read.

ok ok ok, I just really wanted to publish this picture. Andre’s fur is awesome!

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