Four Times When Hip Hop and House Collided

Nov 10, 2022

Alexander Dias

5 min read

While house and hip hop were born from similar threads and hold their roots in Black culture, how they were historically expressed couldn't be more different. House music became a refuge for the Black and brown LGBTQ community and created a safe space where sexual freedom, hedonism, and radical inclusion were the norm. Conversely, hip-hop's hyper-masculine blustering made it a strong outlet for understanding the struggles of the inner city and  a powerful socio-political statement. At times this seems to put them at odds creating an invisible chasm between the two divergent genres.

Despite their differences, mutual respect has long existed between them. Both skillfully exploited sampling technology to borrow from the past and make groundbreaking music. They exist as a means to express inner struggle, the need for freedom, and form a foundation for community and counter culture. And so it should be no surprise that hip-hop and house have a long history of crossing over.

We pulled together a short list of our favorite hip-hop and house crossovers.

1. Jungle Brothers - I'll House You

The Jungle Brothers were part of Native Tongues, a New York collective of conscious MCs that included De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, and Queen Latifah. They were well known for jazz-sampling boom-bap offerings, so the 4/4 thump of "I'll House You" appearing on a vinyl reissue of their 1988 album Straight Out The Jungle may have seemed a bit leftfield.

The Todd Terry produced record came about when the Brothers were in the studio with Idlers record label owner Tony D who suggested they make a house record to capitalize on New York's then-growing fascination with the Chicago sound.

Todd Terry's "Can You Party" provided the perfect backing track, and within a few takes, the song was born. Others at the label laughed it off and, instead of a legit release, only offered it on vinyl. Nevertheless, it became a hit in the clubs, and later that year, Warlock Records re-released the album with "I'll House You" included. Over 30 years later, it remains one of their most popular songs.

2. Kid Cudi - Day N Nite (Crookers Remix)

The Crookers remix of Kid Cudi's "Day N Nite" is one of those tunes whose popularity almost eclipses that of the original. Its ubiquity in 2008 was unprecedented. The Italian duo made up of Andrea "Bot" Fratangelo and Francesco "Phra" Barbaglia was asked to remix the song by A-Trak for his then-fledgling record label, Fool's Gold. Initially released as a free download, it made the rounds on blogs before getting signed to Ministry of Sound, where it caught fire and peaked at number two in the UK Singles chart, tailing Lady Gaga's "Just Dance."

Despite its upbeat tones, “Day N Nite” was originally born from a dark period in Cudi’s life. And the Crookers dingy club vibes elevated the juxtaposition between tragedy and triumph.

In 2021 Bot recounted that when they first played it in Italy, it seemed like a dancefloor flop, and they vowed never to play it again. Yet, somehow they had caught the beginning of a movement. Its grungy wobbling bassline defined the early sounds of the blog house era, helping pave the way for the dance music explosion of the following decade.

3. Wax Motif & Diddy - Divided Souls

"I hate when a motherfucker play a four-minute version. You can't even get into your thing. You know? You can't even get into your thing on a four-minute version. You know what I'm sayin'?"

Diddy's passionate profanity-laced plea for DJs to take a chance on the extended mix punctuates a dark, bouncing beat courtesy of Aussie-born G house stalwart Wax Motif. The 2019 release marked the start of his Divided Souls label, which pulls its name from Diddy's speech. For Wax, who masterfully blends the swagger of hip-hop with the shuffling groove of house, it was a fitting proclamation.

This Diddy speech has been making the rounds in dance music for years. A shortened version originally appeared in a collaboration Felix Da Housecat did with Diddy in 2005 called "Jack U." And much to Felix's ire, DJ Hell used the acapella for "The DJ" in 2009.

Wax told Billboard in 2019 that he'd had the acapella sitting on his computer for years. After creating a loop for it, he sent it to Diddy via a mutual friend, and Diddy loved it. Diddy's plea for DJs to play a 20-minute version for "the two motherfuckers that understand it" went ignored for nearly two decades until Wax caved and released an ultra-extended version of "Divided Souls." It stretches just long enough for the DJ to put it on, use the bathroom, have a smoke outside, and still have time to spare to watch the dancefloor lose it before mixing in the next tune.

4. LION BABE - Harder (Shermanology Remix)

LION BABE's 2021 collab with Busta Rhyme's starts with a sneaky vocal interpolation of his 1998 track "Gimme Some More" over a sultry deep house beat before ripping into a duet that features the quickfire MC dropping a hot 16m that's punchy yet more romantic than for what most know him.

Brother/sister duo, Shermanology's penchant for lacing up tech house beats with soulful swagger made them the perfect choice to flip "Harder" for the peak hour dancefloor. They masterfully retain that Chicago-infused deep house aesthetic, building it into a dark, warbling bassline-fueled club monster that pulses beneath Busta's flow. It's a blissful modern clash of genres.

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