With the announcement that rapper Lil Wayne is following up the biggest record of 2008 with his first rock album, all eyes have been watching his tattooed hands and how they tap a fretboard. Can he play? Will it be good? Will it even come out? The history of rappers promising to make rock albums is littered with botched ideas, abandoned projects and occasionally (but not frequently) bouts of genius. Here’s a survey:
We’re still waiting for …
Project: His first rock album Rebirth
Release: Due April 7
The Word: The world got its first taste of wheedlin’ Weezy when the “Prom Queen” single leaked. The track is a mix of System Of A Down, Bad Brains and Auto Tuned lyrics about fancy underpants. Since the leak, opinions on the track and Wayne’s guitar skills have been decidedly mixed, with rap blog Nah Right pointing out, “Lil Wayne’s people are stepping the fuck away from this… saying it has nothing to do with the previous Carters.”
Project: Crunk Rock
Release: Summer 2009
The Word: The long-awaited solo debut from the King Of Crunk has been delayed and re-delayed since its crunktacular first single “Snap Yo Fingers” dropped in the beginning of 2006. For the rock half of the album, Jon says he has hooked up with Kid Rock, members of P.O.D. and Floridian punk rock band Whole Wheat Bread. His MySpace boats a release date of summer 2009, just in time for most people to forget what crunk was.
Release: Release date unknown
The Word: Wu-Tang Clan’s head-nodding beatmaster RZA and System Of A Down’s head-banging baldy bassist Shavo Odadjian have finished recording their “heavy hip-hop” collaboration Achozen, according to Billboard. The record is reported to have contributions from George Clinton, John Frusciante and Wu-Tangers GZA and Killah Priest.
The Word: In 2007, the Southern rap kingpin told RapGodfathers.com that he was going to drop a rock album starring a “rock character” named Mavado. Since then, dancehall artist Mavado ruined the chance of him using that name.
Project: The Onslaught
The Word: After the “Never Scared” rapper was juiced from losing almost 50 pounds on Celebrity Fit Club, he announced plans to release a rock album from his rock band the Onslaught. He’s since released tons more beefy crunk, but no word of the impending Onslaught has come down the pipe. However, his third album, Free, did include some pretty peppy new wave-inspired jams.
Project: Mash Out Posse
The Word: Blaring Brooklyn hip-hop duo M.O.P. already screamed like they were auditioning for Minor Threat, so why not a whole album of spirited rap-rock reworkings of their hardcore rap classics? With some help from the not-very-heavy-sounding Shiner Massive, Billy Danze and Lil’ Fame screamed their way through13 tracks, including a new version of the Beastie Boys’ “No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn”
Chuck D and Professor Griff of Public Enemy
Project: Confrontation Camp, Objects In The Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear
The Word: Chuck D has been booming and pounding over hard rock riffs since the Vernon Reid guest solos and Slayer samples on the earliest Public Enemy releases. But in 2000, Chuck and Professor Griff launched Confrontation Camp, a bona fide rap-rock band in the middle of Limp Bizkit season. While some people were weirded out by the name (Griff was booted from P.E. in 1989 for allegedly anti-Semitic remarks), Rolling Stone gave the record three stars, adding “D hasn’t sounded this passionate in years.”
Project: Body Count, Body Count
The Word: So much more than the incendiary “Cop Killer” (a track denounced by President Bush himself), the first record from Ice T’s thrash band Body Count was a heavy metal Molotov tossed at racist parents, Klansmen, drug abuse, police brutality and oppressive morality. Body Count still tours and records releasing their fourth album, Murder For Hire in 2006. Also, you may have noticed Ice T playing a cop on TV.
Sen Dog of Cypress Hill Project: SX-10, Mad Dog American
The Word: Hot on the heels of Cypress Hill’s platinum-selling rock-influenced Skull And Bones, gravelly voiced MC Sen Dog dropped an album from his own rap-rock band SX-10 which — at the very least — was better than the rap album that Korn bassist Fieldy released around the same time.
Project: Hard To Swallow
The Word: The less said about this, the better.