On New Year’s Eve Brooklyn’s Barclays Center will be alive with the monster double-bill of Coldplay and Jay-Z. Two titanic musical entities that have spent the past decade being the epicenter of their genres, their alignment for one night is sure to be a colossal way to bring in the new year. But despite their public relationship dating back to musical collaborations six years ago, some are still having a hard time wrapping their head around Coldplay and Jay-Z being musical BFFs. To assist with the acceptance, we decided to rundown a list of even-weirder cross-genre collaborations in years past that make the Play-Z Connection look mild by comparison.
R.E.M. and KRS-ONE
“Radio Song,” 1990
Blastmaster KRS-ONE has spent the past quarter-century as one of the genre’s foremost educators. By the early ’90s, his name was synonymous with the concept of “music with a message.” Perhaps it’s the combination of this quest to better society and raw talent that drew Michael Stipe to him when the R.E.M. frontman invited him to essentially be a hypeman on the group’s “Radio Song.” A weird, sarcastic take on the disc-jockey, KRS’s bombastic voice sounds downright unsettling in the group’s soundscape.
Henry Rollins and 3rd Bass
“Pop Goes the Weasel,” 1991
What’s the most underrated random celebrity cameo in a rap video? Is it Patrick Swayze in Ja Rule’s “The Reign?” Is it Gheorghe Muresan in Eminem’s “My Name Is?” Or is it punk rocker Henry Rollins’ turn as Vanilla Ice in 3rd Bass’ monumental dis record “Pop Goes the Weasel?” We choose the latter as the Black Flag singer perfectly mimics MC Serch and Pete Nice’s target to the point where Serch once remarked he really thought at times that he was looking at “the weasel” himself. According to legend, Serch at one point, blinded by rage, legit cracked Rollins/Ice with the bat during the beatdown scene in a take that can be seen in the video to this day.
Mudhoney and Sir Mix-A-Lot
“Freak Momma,” 1993
The soundtrack to the 1993 film Judgment Night was a landmark release for cross-genre creations. Along with featuring familiar collaborators like Biohazard and Onyx reuniting after their “Bionyx” remix of “Slam” for the title track, and matches made in rap-rock Heaven like Teenage Fanclub and De La Soul, there were a few bizarre entries. While grunge rockers Mudhoney and rapper/butt connoisseur Sir Mix-A-Lot do share a hometown (which is more than most of the disc’s participants had in common), their styles on “Freak Momma” form almost a unique anti-mesh.
3 Ring Circus Tour – Lordz of Brooklyn, Sublime & Wesley Willis 1995
Part of the appeal of certain genres of live music is the promise that anything can happen. In the early ’90s, punk and hip-hop both hit an innovative hot streak, occasionally winning fans over who would usually shop on the other side of Sam Goody stores. While many major rock festivals would just have one token rap group, Skunk Records’ 1995 3 Ring Circus tour went beyond the limits of genre uniformity. Boasting New York rappers Lordz of Brooklyn, Chicago punk rock outsider Wesley Willis and Sublime from Long Beach, the 20-plus date tour successfully broke the rules, selling out dates all over the West Coast.
Ozzy Osbourne featuring DMX, Ol’ Dirty Bastard and the Crystal Method
“Nowhere to Run,” 1998
Here’s a noodle-scratcher: what do Black Sabbath’s Ozzy Osbourne, DMX, Ol’ Dirty Bastard and electronic favorites the Crystal Method have in common? If you said a shared love of South Park, you would be right. Off the show’s Chef Aid compilation, released on rap-rock pioneer Rick Rubin’s label American Recordings, “Nowhere to Hide” sounds like a bizarre tour-van collision with some of the most recognizable and occasionally incoherent voices in music history screaming at each other over a techno beat. With all the Surge being sipped in ’98, it was only a matter of time before a record like this happened. Still, it’s aged much better than the pieced together Ozzy/Tony Iommi and Wu-Tang Clan “For Heavens Sake 2000” from the Loud Rocks compilation.