Hard rock and hip-hop/R&B have co-existed since the early ’80s, when Eddie Van Halen contributed a blistering guitar solo to Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” in 1982 and Run DMC rapped over guitars on “Rock Box,” on their 1984 self-titled debut album. And while it reached its oversaturation point in the late ’90s with Kid Rock, Limp Bizkit (hed) p.e. and more, it seems like the two forms of music might be co-existing again. We’d already reported that Van Halen himself is appearing on the forthcoming LL Cool J album, due out on April 30. Now comes word that another rap/rock collaboration is happening, this one between System of a Down’s Serj Tankian and rapper Tech N9ne.
But now 90 seconds of the track, “We’re the Greatest,” has surfaced, via Van Halen News Desk. The song might win over a few Van Halen fans, in that unlike the songs on last year’s A Different Kind of Truth, it’s a new song. Also, LL shouts out Eddie, saying “I got Van Halen, I don’t need a bass line,” which is kinda cool. The album is a star-studded affair, with Tom Morello, Fitz and the Tantrums, Blink 182’s Travis Barker (who drums on “We’re the Greatest”), Brad Paisley, Chuck D, Bootsy Collins and more appearing on it.
Meanwhile, Tankian will be appearing on the album-opening track from Tech N9ne’s forthcoming album, Something Else. The Kansas City rapper is no stranger to rock, having collaborated with deftones in 2011 for the song “If I Could.” Apparently, his love for metal extends beyond that, as he tells Rolling Stone that he reached to Tankian:
“I think he is fucking insane lyrically, musically, spiritually . . . Totally cluster-fuck-ish like myself – you never know what’s going to happen in the music. If you talk to Serj, he’ll probably tell you he knew nothing about Tech N9ne until the song was sent to him, and after listening to it he went and got all my music, and it makes him run faster on the treadmill.”
Rolling Stone did just that, reaching out to Tankian, who confirmed his newfound appreciation for the rapper.
“I had not heard of Tech N9ne when we were sent the track. I checked out a bunch of his songs and really got into his flow, intensity and dynamics, and I agreed to sing on it. Originality in hip-hop and rock are hard to come by.”
Another guest on the album, which will be released on June 25th, is Cee Lo Green, but Tech had other heavier (music wise, not weight) artists in mind for collaborations. He’d also reached out to Slipknot/Stone Sour’s Corey Taylor, but the timing didn’t work out. But that’s not stopping him from aiming even higher for possible collaborators on the still-unfinished album. “I might send it to James Hetfield,” he tells the magazine. “I heard he was a fan. I heard they [Metallica] warm up to my song ‘Einstein.'”