For a huge dose of hip-hop irony, these 10 best rock covers of rap songs should do the trick. Most of these covers are somewhat less than reverent. Some of them are slightly more mocking than others. They’re all quite entertaining, though, and provide new spins on old tunes.
- “Baby Got Back” by Jonathan Coulton. There have been a number of covers of “Baby Got Back” over the years. None have been better than the folksy version done by nerd rock icon Jonathan Coulton. It makes the song sound almost sweet. And really, what’s sweeter than a tribute to large asses?
- “Boyz-n-the-Hood” by Dynamite Hack. Dynamite Hack were somewhat of a one-hit wonder. Unfortunately, that hit was somebody else’s. They made the rounds on MTV for a while with their cover of Eazy-E’s “Boyz-n-the-Hood.” It became sort of a template for ironic rock covers of rap songs. It’s just too bad they couldn’t parlay that into a successful music career.
- “97 Bonnie and Clyde” by Tori Amos. Eminem’s lyrics are frequently misogynistic. His song “97 Bonnie and Clyde” is an extended fantasy in which he murders his ex-wife Kim and stuffs her in his trunk. Why would Tori Amos cover it, then? To subvert its meaning and make it sound even creepier than Eminem’s original version.
- “Gin and Juice” by The Gourds. This song leans a little more toward country than rock, but we’re going to split the difference and call it southern rock. At any rate, it is a silly, amusing cover of a seminal rap classic and one of the best rock covers of rap songs that we’ve heard.
- “Bitches Ain’t Sh*t” by Ben Folds. As you might have guessed, Ben Folds’s cover of this song by Dr. Dre is dripping with irony. Ben Folds is known for being ironic even with his original songs, so it wasn’t likely he was going to play a rap cover song straight. That being said, it’s still pretty funny.
- “Straight Outta Compton” by Nina Gordon. Nina Gordon has a very pretty voice, so the juxtaposition between her voice and the over-the-top gangsta rap lyrics of NWA’s “Straight Outta Compton” makes for a pretty amusing cover song. Never has Ice Cube being crazy as f**k sounded cuter.
- “Mama Said Knock You Out” by Street Sweeper Social Club. Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello has plenty of experience rocking to hip hop beats, so it’s not surprising he produced one of the best rock covers of rap songs with this cover of LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out” with Boots Riley of The Coup. “Try Twittering that, people.”
- “Stronger” by 30 Seconds to Mars. It’s a bit jarring hearing Jared Leto sing “Let’s get lost tonight / You could be my black Kate Moss tonight” in this cover of Kanye West’s “Stronger.” This song takes the Daft Punk-sampling original and makes it comically dark and brooding. It’s pretty silly, but it’s at the very least unique.
- “Baby I Got Your Money” by Say Anything. For the most part, the songs on this list have eschewed hip hop beats so far. Not so with this cover of ODB’s “Baby I Got Your Money” by mediocre pop punk band Say Anything. They attempt to retain some of the original’s funkiness and fail utterly, but the song is still has a sort of half-assed charm to it.
- “Still Fly” by The Devil Wears Prada. If you couldn’t tell, we’ve more or less reached the bottom of the barrel for best rock covers of rap songs by now. This “metalcore” interpretation of Big Tymers’ “Too Fly” does manage to rock pretty hard, though. Just sort of in a generic, metalcore sort of way.
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