Blame Kanye West. As ‘Ye tells it on “Big Brother,” it was his decision to collaborate with Coldplay that pushed Jay-Z to do the same and, in turn, grant Chris Martin hip-hop legitimacy. All of a sudden, Coldplay was every rapper’s favorite soft-rock band, popping up on random mixtape tracks and Swizz Beats’s Oprah odes. The logical next step: Hip-hop went indie rock, again taking Kanye’s cue and bear-hugging Peter Bjorn and John (Drake’s “Let’s Call It Off,” Mick Boogie’s Re-Living Thing). On deck was MGMT, who did Kid Cudi’s “Pursuit of Happiness,” got reworked for Chiddy Bang’s Internet hit, and almost made Blueprint 3. But with last week’s release of their non-catchy, brave/stupid new album Congratulations, MGMT’s reign as hip-hop’s indie-rock darling is over. So, who’s next? Vulture ranks the top contenders, from least to most likely.
SXSW champion Best Coast, a.k.a. Bethany Cosentino, writes compact, fuzzy, sad love songs. A big tip of the hat to the intrepid emcee bold enough to try rapping over that!
Another festival breakthrough act (this one from CMJ), Florida’s Surfer Blood are also fairly fuzzy and sad. Still, their gritty name suggests more crossover opportunities. Perhaps a full-length collaboration with Young Jeezy affiliate Blood Raw?
Again, the band’s music is a problem: Yelpy four-part harmonies don’t usually sound that good over drum machines.
These San Franciscans have broken out with their sophomore album, Big Echo, co-produced by Grizzly Bear’s Chris Taylor. That means Grizzly Bear superfan Jay-Z is probably rocking them in the Maybach right now.
We’re actually shocked Kanye hasn’t yet unleashed an all-caps rant about Newsom: HER HARP SOUND CRAZY! SO BEAUTIFUL! REAL ARTISTS PLAY WHATEVER RANDOM ASS INSTRUMENT THEY WANT!
Sure, why not: Everyone’s always talking about how they sound like Mariah Carey, right? Bonus: Solange has shown that reworking Dirty Projectors can be a pretty good career move.
Their funky electro-pop single “Deadbeat Summer” is actually screaming out for a slightly sped-up hip-hop makeover. Also: The rap community has ignored chillwave for far too long.
These dudes don’t need any tweaking to become hip-hop beat fodder. One listen to the bass line on “O.N.E.” should convince you as much.
The mopey minimalist Brits have already backed Biggie and DMX to great effect. Are any relevant and alive rappers paying attention?
The clear front-runner. Kid Cudi got it started with “Ottoman”–sampling “cudderisback,” and B.o.B. is about to blow up the technique with “The Kids.” Seeing as Ezra Koenig used to drop rhymes himself, we’re sure he’d approve. Hip-Hop Loves Indie Rockers