We all know Madonna is an unparalleled pop — and, erm, falling — force. However, the “Living for Love” singer has dipped her toes in many other genres throughout her illustrious career: EDM, R&B, rock and (perhaps most surprisingly) hip-hop.
The #unapologeticbitch is quite a fan of hip-hop, proven through her own musical exploration (like 2008’s Hard Candy, which was almost exclusively produced by The Neptunes and Timbaland) and interactions with rap artists. (Remember the Gap video she made with Missy Elliott in 2003?) In fact, her 13th LP Rebel Heart — due out today — features both Nicki Minaj and Chance the Rapper on two very interesting tracks. Also, let’s not forget about the time she wore grillz. (Actually, maybe we should.)
Whether brilliant or awkward AF, Madge’s hip-hop experiments are nothing short of memorable. Here are 10 particularly noteworthy events.
1. The rap in “American Life” (2003)
Madonna’s politically-charged 2003 album American Life might be her strangest effort to date. Even weirder is the rap in the album’s title track, which has Madonna ranting that material items don’t bring happiness. (A little hypocritical coming from the Material Girl, but let’s just roll with it.) “I’m drinkin’ a soy latte, I get a double shoté,” M raps in the cringe-worthy 40-second rap. And it only gets worse from there: “I got a lawyer and a manager/An agent and a chef/Three nannies, an assistant/And a driver and a jet/A trainer and a butler/And a bodyguard or five/A gardener and a stylist/Do you think I’m satisfied?” Yes, all of this self-indulgent nonsense is rapped. We love Madonna, but we’d like to forget this song ever happened.
2. “Iconic” feat. Chance the Rapper and Mike Tyson (2015)
On a better note, “Iconic” (from Rebel Heart) is a rap-tinged collaboration that surprisingly works. The self-empowering electro jam features an inspiring lament from Tyson.”I’m the best the world has ever seen; I’m the best ever,” Tyson exclaims defiantly at the beginning of the track. Chance comes in around the three-minute mark and delivers an exciting few verses before Madge closes out the song. “Iconic” seems to be the answer to the 2014 Instagram-fueled speculation that Chance and Madonna were working together. Looks like that Razor scooter got the creative juices flowing.
3. The grillz (see above)
Madonna got everyone talking when she sported dental bling at the 2014 Grammy Awards. “Yeah, I’m grillin’. It pisses everybody off when I wear my grill, so that’s why I wear it,” Madonna told Ryan Seacrest on the red carpet. The toothy fashion statement became a household sensation after the 2005 song “Grillz” by Nelly.
4. Her Instagram shout-out to Drake
Drake shocked the Internet when he dropped his fourth mix-tape If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late last month with no notice. It contains a song called “Madonna,” where the rapper shows his respect for the Queen of Pop. (“You could be big as Madonna/Just get in the car and let’s touch the road,” Drake croons on the song.) Madonna showed her love for the tune in February by posting to Instagram, “@champagnepapi i love your new song about me! It’s my favorite! I’m still waiting for you to pick me up…..Ask D for my address! I knew you were a #rebelheart !” Maybe there will be a Drizzy collaboration in the future? (Fingers crossed!)
5. “Bitch I’m Madonna” feat. Nicki Minaj (2015)
Rebel Heart also features the hilarious and explosive trap song “Bitch I’m Madonna,” which goes so damn hard. The tune’s production is dripping with hip-hop influence and concludes with Minaj’s best rap for Madge to date. (“I’m Madonna, these hoes know,” Minaj squeals in this awesomely bizarre track.) Minaj has two more collaborations with Madonna on her 2012 album MDNA: “I Don’t Give A” and “Give Me All Your Luvin'” (also featuring M.I.A.).
6. When she briefly dated Tupac
According to Complex, Madonna and Tupac dated for a hot second in the ’90s. While there are rumors Madonna desperately wanted Tupac’s baby, we only know for sure the duo had a quick fling. “Madonna is real nice. She’s a good person. She helped me a lot,” Tupac once said in an interview.
7. “Human Nature” (1995)
The funky title track from her 1994 album actually samples hip-hop group Main Source’s song “What You Need.” Complex reports Madonna’s record label did not want her to make this hip-hop-heavy track a single, but alas, she does what she wants. “Human Nature” isn’t the first time Madge has sampled a hip-hop song; she pulls from Public Enemy’s “Security of the First World” in 1990’s “Justify My Love.”
8. When she featured rappers in her Sex book (1993)
Madonna’s most controversial move is still the Sex coffee table book she released in the early ’90s. The erotic page-turner includes a photo of Madge enjoying a threesome with supermodel Naomi Campbell and Big Daddy Kane plus a shot of Vanilla Ice getting pretty handsy. Check out the NSFW photos here.
9. “Illuminati” (2015)
In this slow-burner from Rebel Heart, Madonna addresses the idea she’s part of the satanic group of superstars who control world events. “It’s not triangles or stacks of cash/ Black magic or Gaga/ Gucci or Prada,” Madonna talk-sings on the track that sounds eerily similar to Kanye West’s “Love Lockdown.” And with good reason: West is actually one of the lead producers on “Illuminati.” The rapper also worked with Madonna on the 2008 song “Beat Goes On” from Hard Candy.
10. The music video for “Music” (2000).
Madonna’s wildly successful song “Music” comes with a video that has her poking fun at perceived hip-hop stereotypes. She plays an almost pimp-like figure drenched in gold jewelry who indulges in strip club naughtiness. “I thought it was hysterical that every hip-hop and R&B video that came out basically had the same scenario,” Madonna said in an interview. “Going out in a limousine, drinking champagne, going to strip clubs and lots of girls booty-shaking in their G-strings, blah, blah, blah. And I just thought, ’It’s weird only guys make those videos. How come girls never do it?’ Then, of course, I thought, ’Well, that’s a good idea. I think I’ll do it.'”
What other Madonna hip-hop moments make your list? Sound off in the comments below.
[Photo: Getty Images]