We live in a world in which Kanye West, who can’t sing worth a damn, can create an album than encompasses mostly singing (assisted by Autotune, inspired by T-Pain) and be celebrated. Similarly, we have allowed other vocally-challenged emcees like 50 Cent, Future, Lil Wayne and numerous others score hits while deviating from their day job. And yet, when I bring up Brandy’s rapping alter ego, Bran’Nu, a sea of boo hisses await me. It’s not right, it’s not okay, and I think it’s time we all took a stand.
My dramatic delivery notwithstanding, there are plenty of singers who actually make very solid rappers. Some are obvious, others not so much. Wherever the fall, they can flow. Respect that and bow down, bitches.
While recently engaging in one of my favorite pastimes – a personal Mariah Carey concert, performed by me – I was listening to “Crybaby” and had an epiphany: so many singsong rappers are closet Lambs. Mariah’s love of hip-hop is not a shock to anyone paying attention. This is the woman who not only worked with ODB, but flipped songs from rappers like Snoop Dogg and Mystical into R&B tracks. However, what’s not mentioned enough is how she provided a template on how a lot of rappers and singers offer a flow-like delivery in their songs. My favorite example is the aforementioned collaboration with Snoop Dogg, but “Breakdown” is actually the finest example of this.
A lot of your favorites – including Future – owe her a thank you. Not to mention a duet. I would really like a Mariah x Future duet. I can’t believe that hasn’t happened yet.
When you listen to tracks like her remake of 50 Cent’s “In Da Club,” you realize that Houston’s finest is essentially basically rapping with melody. However, when you listen to her remix of “***Flawless” with Nicki Minaj, it hits you that she’s actually out rapping one of the hottest rappers ever on her song. The same goes for her hubby on “Drunk In Love.” I would not at all object to an album of Beyoncé just rapping. I’m surprised her hood ass (this is said with love and admiration) hasn’t thought to do this already. I can already hear her collaborations with Bun B, Pimp C (via séance), Slim Thug, Lil’ KeKe, and probably Juvenile because she’s a purist. Yoncé’s got bars. Don’t be a hater.
As a writer, there was no way I was not going to have an emotional connection to “Bitch Better Have My Money.” But, Rih-Rih spit much harder and more fluidly on “Fresh Out the Runway.” I don’t know where the hell her eighth studio album is, but I do know Rihanna has the spirit of rapper and can rap convincingly when she feels the itch to. More please.
So, Monica gave audiences a little tease of her rapping on the glorious “So Gone” from her After The Storm album, but she flexed more of her skills as a rapper on her 2006 underappreciated offering, The Makings of Me. Monica has a gorgeous voice, but she is a better rapper than Ja Rule, 50 Cent, or Kanye West are singers. She can also rap better than a lot of the people your lil’ cousins now shout out about for the sole reason that she can actually enunciate. Plus, Monica loves a glock, will very much knock the hell out of you if you try her, and will give God the glory while doing all of the above. That’s a southern rapper to me.
Folks were not ready for Brandy’s rapping alter ego, Bran’Nu, and the singer-actress has since abandoned all ties to her rapping other half. She shouldn’t have cowered so quickly, though, because she was not at all bad at it. She sounded a little bit like Foxy Brown, but she had just started. I wish she had given it a little more time. There was something there. Oh well.
I do not like it when Usher tries to rap. I do not like it when Trey Songz tries to rap. I never really liked it when Bobby Brown would try to spit hot fire. However, I’ve never minded me Chris Brown rapping given he’s quite good at it. I know he started out as a rapper, but that doesn’t mean anything. I could sing at 12 and then puberty’s hating ass stripped me away from my potential to be the next Jerome or Sammie. Anyway, Chris Brown can rap well. He can dance well. He can sing a lil’ something. He needs a Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis-like team to help him finesse all of these good traits into a cohesive sound. Finally.
I know many of you will challenge me on this, but I don’t care. Bieber can spit. Take that, take that.
Okay, so “I Love This Way” slaps, the song I really wanted to refer y’all to is called “F**k You,” but you know, that’s crass. She goes off on that track, though, and let me just say, it’s the perfect song to rap along to on the stair master and/or bench press. Don’t worry about others staring at you. They need to mind their business.
HONORABLE MENTION: Erykah Badu
I suppose this falls more so into the category of melodic talking, but Badu spit a lil’ something on her Live album as well as “Love Of My Life.” Doesn’t matter since I am obsessed with this song, so she gets an honorable mention and everyone will deal.