The latest edition of my Red Bull Music Academy Radio program, "Across 135th Street," features a mighty healthy 1-hour playlist of rap cover versions - only without the rapping part. Listen below and read on for more insight into the inspiration for this show. And as per usual, in lieu of a regular playlist I've posted corresponding cover/label art in the image gallery above for you to peruse while you listen. Enjoy!
You may be familiar with the unfortunate YouTube-popularized phenomenon of the ironic rap cover version (e.g. acoustic guitar-accompanied singer-songwriter renditions of 2 Chainz songs, or Gucci Mane interpreted via pan flute). The latest edition of “Chairman” Jeff(erson) Mao’s “Across 135th Street” program seeks to cleanse these superfluous sounds from your consciousness. “Rap Cover Versions… Now With Less Rapping” features largely instrumental reinventions of hip-hop songs performed with affection and exuberance for the source material. (Because that’s traditionally why folks do covers in the first place.) Thus, Scandinavia’s And the Lefthanded heap extra helpings of icy space echo on Chris Stein 's Wild Style “Subway Theme,” Toronto’s BadBadNotGood shape-shifts Kanye ’s “Flashing Lights” into a tempo-jumping prog romp, Erimaj drafts a charming if slightly less ruff Dilla tribute, Four Tet recreates “Infinity” (as in “93 Til…”) via Casio, Chi-City’s Hypnotic Brass Ensemble make OutKast and Madvillain mad horn-y, and Barthel Revere does a lithe Digital Underground “Piano Man”-like interpretation of an A$AP Rocky favorite. Oh, and a brief detour out of Gang Starr into Joy Division (courtesy BBNG). Move over, rover, and let these covers take over.
CLICK THE THUMBNAILS ABOVE FOR IMAGES OF EVERY SONG PLAYED ON THE SHOW