So I’m stealing a page from Jemele Hill here. Was driving home from Boston last night, listening to that Kelly Rowland song, “Daylight.” An average jam in every sense of the wordâ€”save for a killer rap breakout by Travis of Gym Class Heroes. So I was thinking: What are the five best rap breakouts in the middle of a song. Here’s my list …
1. Friends, by Jody Watley (featuring Eric B. and Rakim): A very mediocre tune by a very mediocre singerâ€”but Rakim was almost always off-the-charts dazzling, and here is no exception. Credited on the song as “Eric B. and Rakim,” I question whether Eric B. showed up for anything but the video. By this point in their careers, I believe the two were on pretty bad terms.
* 2. Jam, by Michael Jackson (featuring Heavy D): I’ve long thought Heavy D has caught a bad rapâ€”sort of Kid ‘N’ Play-ish, when the man truly could rap. This isn’t Jackson’s best tune, but it’s pretty damn good. Overlooked in his crazy collection of hits. Heavy D’s add is great, but the videoâ€”featuring Michael Jordan and the two kids from Kris Krossâ€”is laughably terrible.
4. Daylight, by Kelly Rowland (featuring Travis McCoy): Again, a pretty blah song. But the rap absolutely makes it work. McCoy is an intriguing guy. Oozing with talent, but at a crossroads. Could turn into MC Hammer (bad) or Wyclef (goof). Worth watching.
5. Smack That, by Akon (featuring Eminem): Admittedly, watching Eminem these days (when he shows up) is sorta like paying to see Franco Harris as a Seahawk. But this song is infectious, and Eminem brings his B gameâ€”which is still better than the As of most.
* SIDE NOTE: I just watched the Jam video again. So weird. Sort of a homo-erotic basketball/dance lesson between the two MJsâ€”one at the top of his career, the other about to leap off the cliff into a pit of humiliation. Also makes one wonder what would happen if now, in 2008, Jackson called Jordan and said, I’m doing a Jam II video and want you to star in it again …”
“Uh, Michael. Michael?”