Dance music and hip-hop have always coexisted in a healthy cultural cross-pollination since way back in the early ‘80s, when pioneering acts like Afrika Bambaataa & the Soulsonic Force were sampling first-generation electronic artists like Kraftwerk. Oftentimes, fans, artists, and the music industry itself tend to separate the two genres as completely detached sounds and worlds, forcing listeners to pick one side or the other. Here at Insomniac HQ, we say, why not both!?
In today’s industry, we’re seeing more genre crossovers than ever before and hybrids we never thought possible: emo rap, classical crossover, orchestral EDM. And with the rise of hip-hop and R&B as the biggest music genre in the US, all eyes are on rap music and hip-hop culture.
It’s no surprise, then, that hip-hop and electronic music continue to mix and mesh together on the dancefloor these days. This year alone, we saw collabs from Borgore with Gucci Mane and Thirty Rack (“MOP”); Yellow Claw with A$AP Ferg and Creek Boyz (“Fake Chanel”); and Marshmello with Logic (“Everyday”). It all continues the long history and deep bond the two genres have shared for decades.
Here at Insomniac, we’ve hosted our fair share of hip-hop giants across our many stages, including Drake’s bassPOD takeover at EDC Las Vegas 2017 and Post Malone’s massive set at cosmicMEADOW at this year’s EDC Las Vegas.
This month, we’re taking things to a new level at Audiotistic SoCal 2018, which takes place Saturday, December 29, at NOS Events Center in San Bernardino, CA. As Insomniac’s genre-blending festival destination, Audiotistic combines the worlds of hip-hop, dubstep, and dance music to create a unity of sound and culture. This year’s lineup, which continues Audiotistic’s long EDM-meets-hip-hop history, features heavy hitters from across both genres, including Porter Robinson (DJ set), Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Xan, Flosstradamus b2b 4B, and many others.
Audiotistic SoCal 2018 tickets are on sale now.
Ahead of Audiotistic SoCal 2018, we’re revisiting the hybrid classics and modern hits that brought hip-hop to the dancefloor and left an impact on the rave.
Afrika Bambaataa & the Soulsonic Force “Planet Rock”
There’s no other place to kick off this list than with “Planet Rock,” the 1982 classic from producer/DJ and hip-hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa and his group, the Soulsonic Force. Mixing genres far and wide, “Planet Rock” pulls cues from synthpop, funk, and new wave and features a masterful yet subtle sample of Kraftwerk’s 1977 track “Trans-Europe Express.” Ranked by Rolling Stone as one of the greatest hip-hop songs of all time and one of the greatest songs ever, “Planet Rock” is considered a foundational track in both hip-hop and electronic music, one of the few songs to leave such a lasting impact on both genres. It helped define and pioneer the electro genre and later paved the way for other electronic scenes like techno, house, and trance.
Missy Elliott ft. Ciara and Fatman Scoop “Lose Control”
True techno-heads will be able to pinpoint the clear (pun intended) sample here. Always a musical futurist, Missy Elliott can predict and initiate trends before everyone jumps on the bandwagon. For her iconic “Lose Control,” she lifts the scaling synth loop from “Clear,” the 1983 electro single from pioneering Detroit techno duo Cybotron, aka Juan Atkins and Richard “3070” Davis. “Lose Control,” featured on Elliott’s 2005 album, The Cookbook, is essentially an electronic/dance track mixed with rap elements, care of Elliott and Fatman Scoop, and soothing R&B vocals from Ciara. The track, which also features a vocal sample of the 1983 electro-funk song “Body Work” from Hot Streak, saw Elliott digging deep in the techno crates for long-lost electronic gold, long before everyone was riding on the Daft Punk sample wave. “Lose Control” was an early indicator of the crossover potential between hip-hop and electronic music: It reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the US and was ultimately certified gold.
Kanye West “Stronger”
A master of the sample, Kanye West did the impossible when he successfully tackled Daft Punk‘s much-beloved “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.” Featured on West’s 2007 album Graduation, “Stronger” is built on a heavy sample of the Daft Punk classic; it almost feels like a cover, TBH. “Stronger” became a breakout success, topping the Billboard Hot 100 chart and becoming a Top 10 single around the world. The track also notched West a Grammy for Best Rap Solo Performance in 2008; Daft Punk would later make a surprise appearance during West’s performance of the track on the Grammy telecast that same year. The track’s ultimate legacy is threefold: “Stronger” is largely credited for launching hip-hop’s EDM rush, reviving disco and electro sounds in popular music, and initiating Daft Punk’s path to the mainstream limelight.
DJ Snake, Lil Jon “Turn Down for What”
The aftermath of this massive international hit is still prevalent across the North American festival circuit. When was the last time you went to a rave and did not hear this track or see a totem emblazoned with the song’s iconic lyrics? “Turn Down for What,” from French producer DJ Snake and rapper/producer Lil Jon, is the behemoth that infiltrated all facets of pop culture: commercials, late-night TV, films. Even former First Lady Michelle Obama got in on the action! Released in late 2013, “Turn Down for What” charted around the world and became DJ Snake’s first Top 10 hit; it has since gone platinum six times in the US and Canada. Its ridiculous and hilarious music video, which was nominated for a Best Music Video Grammy in 2015, launched “Turn Down for What” to viral fame and kicked off DJ Snake’s highly successful artist career.
Skrillex & Rick Ross “Purple Lamborghini”
A true music lover, Skrillex has always had a penchant for experimenting far outside of his genre comfort zones. A former emo kid—he was the frontman of the post-hardcore band From First to Last—he’s collaborated with rock icons the Doors (“Breakn’ a Sweat”), reggae legend Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley (“Make It Bun Dem”), and K-pop all-stars G-Dragon and CL (“Dirty Vibe” with Diplo). He’s no stranger to hip-hop collabs, either: Skrillex has released tracks with Pusha T (“Burial”), the Game (“El Chapo”), and Vic Mensa (“No Chill”), among others.
“Purple Lamborghini,” his 2016 team-up with rap star Rick Ross, is perhaps his most commercially ambitious crossover to date. Released as a featured single off the official soundtrack for the DC Comics film Suicide Squad, “Purple Lamborghini” is the sonic equivalent of a summer blockbuster movie. The music video, which features actor Jared Leto reprising his role as the Joker, matches the big-budget vibes of the film itself via epic shots of lowriders, strip clubs, and baller boats. The song would go on to receive a nomination for Best Song Written for Visual Media at the 2017 Grammys and reach platinum status in the US.