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Timberlake, Fallon and the Roots Present 'A History of Rap'

Late Night with Jimmy Fallon' takes a hilarious journey through the past three decades of hip-hop

September 30, 2010 4:08 PM ET

Justin Timberlake, no stranger to viral videos ("Dick in a Box," "Motherlover," etc.) last night joined Late Night host Jimmy Fallon and house band the Roots for the above clip: "A History of Rap." Timberlake and Fallon turn an innocuous conversation about the Sugar Hill Gang into a full-blown medley touching on the past 30 years of hip-hop, including the Beastie Boys, Digital Underground, The Chronic, and "Empire State of Mind." (The Roots' "The Seed 2.0" makes a brief appearance, too.) Perhaps most impressive: Timberlake and Fallon's abilities at imitating Notorious B.I.G., Eminem and Snoop Dogg. Still, "A History of Rap" has a long way to go before it closes in on the 153 million views garnered by the similar "Evolution of Dance" video on YouTube.

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Song Stories

“Bird on a Wire”

Leonard Cohen | 1969

While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

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