Adult Contemporary Pop in Hip-Hop

Within days of each other, Cam’Ron and Kevin Gates released tracks with unlikely samples. Cam’Ron’s romantic “10,000 Miles” has him singing “Lookin’ up out my Benz” over the familiar twinkling piano riff from Vanessa Carlton’s massive 2001 hit “A Thousand Miles,” while Gates’ more reflective “What If” utilizes Joan Osborne’s “One Of Us” to inquire if God is “Just a thug like one of us.”

Adult contemporary pop is no stranger to hip-hop and it often lends itself to a variety of mood-setting styles. Rappers utilize its piano ballads and campfire-ready acoustic guitar lines, either reworking the lyrics or topping off familiar strums with harsher beats. The final product can yield some surprising results that often are friendly to radio.

Janet Jackson took advantage of the infectious guitar on America’s “Ventura Highway” to create the romantic pop jam “Someone To Call My Lover,” and also brought on Carly Simon herself to rework her “You’re So Vain” into the sassy, slam poetry-filled “Son Of A Gun (I Betcha Think This Song Is About You).” Dido’s “Thank You” turns ominous in Eminem’s iconic and gorgeously dark “Stan,” and Rihanna turned the dark and moody “I’m with You” by pop-punk princess Avril Lavigne into party anthem “Cheers (Drink To That).”

In some light-hearted, ridiculous moments, Elephant Man reimagines Nelly Furtado’s “I’m Like A Bird” for his single “Gal Bruk,” Project Pat toys with the haunting, atmospheric sound of Alanis Morissette’s “Uninvited” for his track “Sucks on Dick” featuring Juicy J, and Ice Cube reimagines the lyrics of No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak” for his bleak “War And Peace.”

Some samples are more subtle: Adele’s “Hometown Glory” just barely creeps up at the beginning of Childish Gambino’s “Heartbeat,” overshadowed by a rough, aggressive beat, and Nicki Minaj and Cassie’s reference to Train’s “Hey, Soul Sister” may go unnoticed because of how briefly they slip it into “The Boys.” No matter how small the contribution, the unlikely juxtaposition of adult contemporary pop and hip-hop can be enough to spark an unexpected musical idea.

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