From Haim & A$AP Ferg to Teenage Fanclub & De La Soul, we take a look at some of the most successful collisions of these two worlds
Hip-hop and rock music are hardly strangers. Thrifty music execs have been trying to combine these two sounds (and, more importantly, their respective audiences) since the 80s with the likes of Aerosmith and Run-D.M.C’s ‘Walk This Way’. Then of course, acts such as The Beastie Boys took on both worlds for themselves, before nu metal came along to smash metal and rap together and up the ante even further by joining forces with rap superstars.
But the last couple of decades has seen a Coachella-esque confluence of indie (rock’s main protagonist in the 21st century) and a shape-shifting hip-hop. Lil Yachty‘s latest album, for instance, features songwriting credits from the likes of Mac DeMarco, Alex G and Unknown Mortal Orchestra.
All of this got us thinking, what have been some of the most fruitful collaborations between the worlds of indie rock and hip-hop? Here are nine of the best.
My Song – Haim & A$AP Ferg
To celebrate the seventh anniversary of their first show, the HAIM sisters re-released ‘My Song’ from Days Are Gone with their pal, NYC rapper A$AP Ferg, who gives the track even more clout and sass. The track’s great, but the video is even better.
Dear God 2.0 – The Roots & Monsters of Folk
Indie-folk supergroup Monsters of Folk, comprised of M.Ward, Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst and Mike Moggis, and My Morning Jacket‘s Jim James, were perhaps the last faces you might expect to jump on old skool hip-hop number, and yet this number with Questlove and co. is pretty addictive.
Pursuit of Happiness – Kid Cudi, MGMT & Ratatat
It might have been rinsed by TV syncs, but when this track first came out it was pretty special. Cudi had been a long admirer of indie music, and in 2009 MGMT were still riding the wave of Oracular Spectacular. It’s all about the last minute addition of Ratatat, though, whose trademark oozing and gliding synths imparted a sense of drama to the whole thing.
Fallin’ – Teenage Fanclub & De La Soul
Perhaps not all of the Judgement Night soundtrack has aged so well, but this meeting between Glasgow’s Teenage Fanclub and New York legends De La Soul still slaps. De La Soul were always a little left-field, but there’s a sense of humour to this that just makes the whole track really enjoyable.
drive ME crazy – Lil Yachty & Mac DeMarco
Though not publicly named on the track, this soulful disco number from Lil Yachty‘s latest album Let’s Start Here was co-written by none other than the indie slacker king himself, Mac Demarco. MGMT’s Ben Goldwasser also helped with its writing.
Right On – The Roots & Joanna Newsom
Questlove’s jazzy hip-hop outfit The Roots were so enamoured by Joanna Newsom’s 2004 track ‘The Book of Right-On’ that they asked her to record with them in their own reimagining of the track. It certainly helped that as part of the in-house band on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon they shared the same building as Saturday Night Live‘s Andy Samberg – Newsom’s partner.
Empty Vessels – The Maccabees & Roots Manuva
The worlds of indie and hip-hop weren’t just colliding Stateside. In 2010 (it was all happening then), London indie darlings The Macabees teamed up with the influential British rapper Roots Manuva on ‘Empty Vessels’. The hard-hitting drums pair perfectly with the grit and punch behind Manuva’s delivery, here. As DIY put it at the time, “The idea of such a collaboration is enough to wet the appetite itself.”
Palms – Gus Dapperton & Channel Tres
Bedroom indie-popper Gus Dapperton employed in-demand LA rapper Channel Tres in this gentle and dreamy indie-disco bop from 2020’s Orca. Tres normally features on more club-friendly tracks, but his cool drawl works perfectly on this breezy tune.
All Summer – Kid Cudi & Rostam Batmanglij & Best Coast
This one’s for the heads. Somehow forgotten about, this meeting between Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino, ex-Vampire Weekender Rostam Batmanglij and Kid Kudi is dripping with a youthful, dreamy punk rock feel that takes us straight back to 2010.