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Best Rock Covers of Rap and R&B Songs

Cross-genre song covers are always more interesting than regular cover songs. More times than not, the covering artist can perform a song only in the way they know how, giving it a whole new shape as opposed to some karaoke-esque interpretation fit for ‘American Idol.’ To illustrate this, The Boombox has compiled a list of favorite rock versions of hip-hop and R&B songs. While many of the artists who covered the songs on this list might not share the same fans as the tune’s originator, that’s what makes it fun. It’s a brand-new song by a brand-new artist.

‘Whatever You Like’
Original by T.I.; cover by Anya Marina
This cover version circulated around CW shows like ‘Gossip Girl’ and a handful of MTV reality series. Though T.I. crafted the 2008 original as an ode to his ride-or-die chick (hey, Tiny!) who can have whatever she wanted under the sun, Anya Marina gave it a twist a year later. With her tiny pixie voice, she’s singing to her love using T.I.’s OG lyricism, creating this wild contrast. It’s a little ironic and a little girly, but Anya Marina flipped the track properly.
‘Stronger’
Original by Kanye West; cover by 30 Seconds to Mars

With Jared Leto as the frontman of 30 Seconds to Mars, there should be no reason this band isn’t bigger. The actor turned singer’s close-knit cult following surely appreciated this cover of Kanye‘s 2007 electro-classic. The guitar licks are in sync with the Daft Punk sample, while Leto coos over the song till it sounds like he’s grinding on it. Maybe the fellas will want nothing to do with this version, but the ladies have a different idea. Kanye was so pleased with 30 Seconds to Mars’ version he hopped on their 2009 track ‘Hurricane.’
‘Umbrella’
Original by Rihanna; cover by Biffy Clyro
About 3 million ‘Umbrella’ covers have been floating around since it first hit in 2007, but Biffy Clyro from later that year nailed it. While many artists (sorry, Mandy Moore) got all breathy and tried to emphasize that whole “you can stand under my umbrella” message, these Scottish rockers got acoustic and indie on it, making it reminiscent of Plain White T’s’ ‘Hey There Delilah.’ The result is a song that sounds more like pining over unrequited love instead of Rihanna‘s declaration of love. Interesting how a few guitars and no Jay-Z cameo can totally change a song.
‘No Diggity’
Original by Blackstreet; cover by the Klaxons
First things first: Thank goodness the Klaxons didn’t try to rap like Dre or Queen Pen on this track. No dis to the 1996 original, but that pair’s verses were pretty much the red-headed stepchildren of that song to begin with. These Londoners have this electro-Beach Boys sound to them, but when they covered Blackstreet‘s ‘No Diggity’ in 2007, it was nothing but soul. Another win for the rock boys.
”97 Bonnie & Clyde’
Original by Eminem; cover by Tori Amos
When Tori Amos decided to craft this eerie 2001 rendition of Eminem‘s already terrifying 1999 song, she wanted to write it from the perspective of the woman in the trunk, i.e., Eminem’s estranged wife, Kim, singing as if she’s overhearing the conversation between Eminem and his daughter, Hailey. As you listen to Amos’ version, you can hear the fear in her voice. It’s a little hard to digest, but if you can handle the lyrics of early Slim Shady, you’ll be just fine.

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