Search the Site

Pop Culture Introspection, Part II: What Do Hip-Hop/Pop Song Mash-ups Teach Us?

(Photo: Matthew Harrison)

Every once in a while, there is a mash-up that combines a pop-type song with a hip-hop add-on.  I’m not talking about songs like the odd new B.O.B./Taylor Swift duet, but rather, songs that exist on their own, and then get a hip-hop upgrade.

I’m sure there are many examples, but there are only two that I can think of off the top of my head.

The first is “Numb/Encore“, in which a popular Linkin Park song (“Numb”) gets Jay-Z lyrics laid over it.  Here are they lyrics from the original Linkin Park song “Numb”:

I’m tired of being what you want me to be
Feeling so faithless lost under the surface
Don’t know what you’re expecting of me
Put under the pressure of walking in your shoes
(Caught in the undertow just caught in the undertow)
Every step that I take is another mistake to you
(Caught in the undertow just caught in the undertow)
And every second I waste is more than I can take

I’ve become so numb I can’t feel you there
I’ve become so tired so much more aware
I’m becoming this all I want to do
Is be more like me and be less like you

Compare the adolescent angst of those lyrics with the words that Jay-Z lays over it such as:

Yeah hearin me rap is like hearin G. Rap in his prime
I’m, young H.O., rap’s Grateful Dead
Back to take over the globe, now break bread
I’m in, Boeing jets, Global Express
Out the country but the blueberry still connect
On the low but the yacht got a triple deck

And then later:

I came, I saw, I conquered
From record sales, to sold out concerts
So muh’fucker if you want this encore
I need you to scream, ’til your lungs get sore

Another example is the new smash hit “Payphone” by Maroon 5.  Here are some of the lyrics to that song:

Yeah, I, I know it’s hard to remember
The people we used to be

It’s even harder to picture
That you’re not here next to me

You say it’s too late to make it
But is it too late to try?

And in that time that you wasted
All of our bridges burnt down

I’ve wasted my nights
You turned out the lights
Now I’m paralyzed
Still stuck in that time when we called it love

But even the sun sets in paradise

You turned your back on tomorrow
Cause you forgot yesterday

I gave you my love to borrow
But you just gave it away

You can’t expect me to be fine
I don’t expect you to care
I know I said it before
But all of our bridges burnt down

There is a version of this song that adds in a verse by hip-hop artist Wiz Khalifa. Right in the middle of the heartbroken lament above, here is what Wiz has to say:

Man, fuck that shit
I’ll be out spending all this money
While you sitting around wondering
Why it wasn’t you who came up from nothing

Made it from the bottom
Now when you see me I’m stuntin’

And all of my cars start with the push of a button
Telling me I changed since I blew up or whatever you call it
Switched the number to my phone so you never could call it
Don’t need my name on my shirt, you can tell that I’m ballin’
Swish, what a shame, coulda got picked
Had a really good game but you missed your last shot
So you talk about who you see at the top
Or what you could’ve saw

But sad to say it’s over for
Phantom pull up, valet open doors
Wiz like go away, got what you was looking for
Now it’s me who they want
So you can go take that little piece of shit with you

What does it say about our society that Adam Levine of Maroon 5 willingly plays the jilted lover, but Wiz Khalifa’s take on the events are so different? And I presume it is not coincidence that Jay-Z and Wiz hit on many of the same themes.  Do hip-hop artists ever admit to being dumped in their songs?  If not, what would happen if a new sensitive Adam Levine-like rapper came around?