Phil Collins, the Genesis drummer turned solo artist, has retired from making music. This is sad news for his army of worldwide fans, most of whom presumably have sizable classic rock collections. But it's also news that will devastate a demographic one might not automatically associate with songs like "In The Air Tonight" and "Sussudio": Rappers.
For some never properly explained reason, hip-hop artists have enthusiastically gravitated towards Collins' catalog of work. Brooklyn's fire-arm-infatuated M.O.P. once described Collins in interview as "dope." (Lil' Fame also said, "Kenny G, he makes music for black people," in the same session, although that's probably a whole other listicle). And along with the many rappers who've been unable to resist sampling Collins' classics, there was even a rap and R&B tribute album released in his honor back in 2001. Here, then, are five stand-out examples of Phil Collins' unlikely hip-hop army.
5. Ol' Dirty Bastard, "Sussudio"
In theory, the idea of Ol' Dirt Dog covering any iconic pop song from the '80s has the potential to be riotously entertaining. And technically, ODB was still roaming the Earth when his cover of Collins' "Sussudio" was released in 2001, as part of the Urban Renewal project. Sadly, the finished song sounds like another case of a few cobbled-together ODB verses of dubious heritage, this time over a limp dance and R&B hybrid beat. It's a shame, as the idea of ODB re-creating the original song's video, set in a dour and dank English pub, would have been a recipe for major comedy.
4. Eminem, "Stan"
The suicidal climax to Eminem's cleverly-wrought take on fan obsession back in the old-fashioned pen-and-paper days sees Em buying into the urban myth that Collins was inspired to write his best-known song, "In The Air Tonight," after witnessing someone drown. Not only has Collins debunked the myth, but Em's fictional mentalist fan flunks the title, mistakenly writing, "You know that song by Phil Collins, "In The Air Of The Night"?" Still, it's all far more palatable than when Em invokes Aerosmith in his music.
3. Cru feat. Slick Rick, "Just Another Case"
Bronx trio Cru made a wildly entertaining album for Def Jam back in the late '90s that took in references to Hunts Point hookers, infamously rowdy rap club The Tunnel, and a lady called Lisa Lipps who apparently excelled in the oral arts. "Just Another Case," a semi-update of Slick Rick's cautionary tale "Children's Story," details the unlikely background that inspired such lyrical shenanigans: "Called up Cru/ Yo, they probably in the studio/ Phil Collins in the background/ Suss-Sussudio."
2. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony feat. Phil Collins, "Take Me Home"
Common accounts of Cleveland, Ohio's tongue-twisting hip-hop troop portray the members as growing up listening to a soundtrack of West Coast gangsta rap before going on to catch a big break by signing to Eazy-E's Ruthless Records label. Alas, it transpires that the five young Bones were really bumping Collins' No Jacket Required album all the time -- an influence they carried with them throughout their career and managed to cement with 2002's "Take Me Home." The song sees Collins singing the hook from his original song of the same name and, er, appearing to largely blank Bone Thugs in the video. Somewhere, there's a suburban shopping mall where this song is considered the sound of cross-generational harmony.
1. DMX, "I Can Feel It"
Of the list of hip-hop artists who've sampled Collins' "In The Air Tonight" -- and that list includes 2Pac ("Staring Through My Rearview"), Doug E Fresh ("Everybody Loves A Star"), Lil Kim ("In The Air Tonight"), and Nas snatching a snippet of the song for "One Mic" -- it's DMX's Dame Grease-produced "I Can Feel It" that's the most bizarre in principle, but the most effective in outcome. After DMX goes through his usual tortured soul routine, he's so struck by the redemptive power of Collins' groove that he not only airs out his trademark dog barking sound but also howls at a full moon. Arooo!