Hip Hop and Industrial have had a rocky history of collaborations over the years. Despite having a lot of common ground historically (Afrika Bambattaa would spin Kraftwerk records at house parties in Brooklyn, Throbbing Gristle was influence by the dub and reggae coming out of the slums surrounding their studio) and a penchant for wanton sampling, most attempts to combine the genres are pretty underwhelming if not ouright awful. That doesn't stop us wondering though, what some team-ups between the lights of both scenes might yield. So without further ado Inner Ear Infection Presents: Industrial-Hip-Hop Collaborations We'd Like to See!
:Wumpscut: vs. The Wu-Tang Clan
Obvious one out of the way first. Rudy's productions are never short on atmosphere, and he's still capable of bringing some fly hooks now and again. The sampled guitar and breakbeat on his last real club hit 'Wreath of Barbs' even kind of sound like something the Rza might have tossed off for one of his much ballyhooed soundtrack joints. And if you check out the unforgettable 'Torture' skit from the Wu's debut album 'Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)' you know that Shaolin's Finest can bring the enzeit vibe if they want to. So say you get Pope Ratzinger to crank out a slow jam, get Ghost, Raekwon and Mef to spit a few roughneck bars a la 'Protect Ya Neck' and zing! A song which could in no way possibly be worse than FLA's ill-advised 'Victim of a Criminal'.
VNV Nation vs. Nas
Ronan and Mark seem to deal almost exclusively in their uplifting trance rip off business these days, but they had a few slower atmospheric jams on the first few albums which maintained an epic scope but had a darker, more forboding sound. 'Tempest' the B-Side off the Darkangel single might be the best example of this (and is a great track to boot). Meanwhile, Nas is the rapper most likely to make ill-advised religious allusions (check the cover to his bloated double-album 'Street's Disciple') and as evidenced by Puffy collab 'Hate Me Now' he can rock an epic number with the best of them. So yeah, get these guys in studio, let Ronan's just vague enough references to Christianity mix up with Nasir Jones' blatant Jesus swagger jacking come into effect and I'd wager you'd have a song of biblical proportions *rimshot*.
Cypress Hill vs. Cevin Key
Okay, this one is kind of obvious. Mr. Key's best material from the past couple of years has been what my friend Rob likes to call 'Stoner Techno', albums like Plateau's recent From the Vaults release and his two solo records from a few years back all sound best when your visiting with "The Green Guy". And Cypress Hill's weed smoking exploits need no introduction, they almost singlehandedly popularized rhyming about mary jane, mostly by rhyming about little else. It goes without saying that their music sounds best when you've burnt a few. So yeah, Get Muggs, Be Real, Sen Dog and Kevin Crompton into the studio, get them a few bags of primo chiba chiba and BAM. Guaranteed to be better than the Cypress Hill/Fear Factory team-up off that record where Burton Bell and company jumped the proverbial shark.
Jim Jones vs. Suicide Commando
Jones (aka The Dirt Angel) having deposed former Jay-Z weed carrier Cam'ron, is the erstwhile leader of New York's Dipset crew. He's not much of a rapper really, but as evidenced on last year's megahit 'We Fly High', he sounds pretty good over hard, simple synth beats. Enter Johann Van Roy, who as Suicide Commando has been producing tracks that rely on one repetitive synthline and some harsh drums for years. So get Johann to pound out a pre-set melody, get Jim to yell "Ballin'!" a bunch of times over it and I'm sure you'd have something that wouldn't be too far removed from either oeuvre. No matter what stupid shit Jones comes up with to rhyme about, it can't possibly be much dumber than anything Suicide Commando has done lyrically, ever.
Kanye West vs. Gary Numan
This one is kind of tenuous, but stick with me. Kanye is one of the most frustrating figures in hip hop, a critically beloved star of massive proportions who never seems to live up to his potential as an MC or as a Producer. Numan is a respected icon in the world of electronic music and post-post-punk, a guy who made several classic albums before a slide into mediocrity followed some years later by an unlikely resurrection doing the style of pop-industrial informed by his early records. It stands to reason that a confluence of Numan's paranoid post-human schtick and West's larger than life, flawed superstar persona would push and pull each of them in the right directions creatively speaking. If nothing else, Kanye could sample "Are Friends Electric" kinda like he sampled Daft Punk on his new single 'Stronger' and the results would be decent if not awesome.
All nonsensical skylarkings aside, there has actually been a pretty good genre crossover track this year. El-P had Trent Reznor guest on his album "I'll Sleep When You're Dead", yielding the quite excellent track 'Flyentology'. Worth a peep no matter what side of the fence you fall on.