To be honest…I don’t “get” covers. I like a few, like Al Green doing the Beatles, but I never think, “I need to hear a cover of this!” I did buy that album of John Legend covers the Roots were on, though. Honestly, I keep getting surprised by covers and maybe that’s why I don’t get it. I was listening to Puss’n’Boots, the secret country band that Norah Jones is in with three other ladies, and super into it, and it turns out 7 of the 12 tracks were covers so I guess I’m a fan of country songwriting now I guess. I was before, in the abstract, but now it’s like “where do you even find Neil Young mp3s” and a lot of sighing.
But really, I feel like the rap version of cover songs is a little better than regular cover songs. Why remake some other dude’s song when you can make it…better?
For instance, this is Bobby Shmurda’s Hot Nigga. This beat is bananas and so basic at the same time. Shmurda shows up mostly off confidence alone. He sounds kinda Un Kasa in terms of quality, or maybe even Hell Rell good, verging on a Dipset Anthem-era Juelz Santana. (I hope you know the Dipset scale!) But Shmurda’s got the dance and he’s first on the beat and I fux with it.
This is Cory Gunz’s version. Gunner’s rap royalty because his dad’s Peter Gunz and he’s technically on Lil Wayne’s label, so he’s no nobody. He’s talented, too. He would’ve snatched 6 Foot 7 Foot right out from under Wayne if not for “real Gs move in silence like lasagna,” coming with a verse like Beanie Sigel showing out on Adrenaline. But Cory didn’t show up. The video is way hotter than his verse and the video is just regular old hood verite. It’s mad generic.
But here’s Vado and Riq Bubz. Only the first dude matters for the purposes of this argument though, and that’s Vado. He’s like the epitome of his type of rapper, like an exceptional unexceptional dude. Not cool enough to cross over like a Jay-Z, but still lyrical enough to be mad listenable. I like Vado a lot, his Slime Flu tapes are good, and he shows up here. Good verse, he fits the song well, and the video is a new twist on basically the same thing Cory did. I think it’s mostly that Vado puts his personality front and center, with a bunch of ad-libs and jokes in his verse. Maybe it’s the swagger.
I guess jacking for beats is just a cover in reverse order, the music remaining the same while the words change, but I’m super into this. (At one point I had a couple dozen versions of “A Milli,” and now I don’t listen to “A Milli” ever.) I don’t think sampling killed the cover, though. Most samples aren’t used in a cover-y way, outside of egregious examples like Diddy in the ’90s or whoever. I honestly can’t think of a reason why they aren’t more common in rap. I’ve never really thought about it. This probably didn’t answer your question but now you have a lot of homework!
Hermanos always knows what’s up.