When it comes to creative career moves, the rapper Lil B usually blazes his own distinct and often quirky path. But his decision to re-up the cover art of Marvin Gaye's I Want You album for his own I'm Gay project taps into hip-hop's long and lustrous admiration for the music of Marvin. So overlooking the sizable row of rappers who have nabbed samples from What's Going On? and the Trouble Man soundtrack -- and erasing from memory that time Master P crooned his way through a few bars of "Let's Get It On" -- here are five of the most convincing hip-hop homages to Marvin Gaye.
Camp Lo, "Uptown Saturday Night"
Years before the Based God discovered the sultry grooves of Marvin's I Want You album -- or more likely, stumbled across it on someone's Tumblr account -- the Blaxploitation-obsessed duo of Sonny Cheeba and Geechi Suede flipped Ernie Barnes' cover illustration for their 1997 debut, Uptown Saturday Night. Despite the album usually being dragged up only to be heralded as one of hip-hop's great overlooked classics, the lead single, "Luchini aka This Is It," is about as joyous a hip-hop anthem as you'll find -- although good luck trying to decipher the duo's '70s slang-saturated lyrics.
Drake, "Marvin's Room"
Hip-hop's latest all-rapping, all-warbling superstar's sophomore album is one of 2011's most anticipated releases. Despite not being slated for release until October, Drake himself leaked "Marvin's Room" earlier this month -- although he then promptly cast doubt about whether it would appear on the album. Whatever the song's ultimate discographical destiny, the title alludes to it being recorded in the same Hollywood studio that Gaye helped to build. No idea whether Drizzy is planning to follow Lil B's lead and reinterpret the painting of Gaye on the studio's website for the cover of Take Care, though.
Erick Sermon feat. Marvin Gaye, "Music."
As one half of E.P.M.D., Erick Sermon secured a place as a golden-era hip-hop legend. But after splitting from Parrish Smith when it was rumored that business got in the way of musicmaking, his solo career never really sparked. Until 2001 that is, when he fused an a cappella outtake from Gaye's "Turn On Some Music" with a leisurely, bass-heavy production, and intermingled his endearingly lispy raps with hearty swathes of Gaye's vocals. The whole thing's a far more classy affair than the Martin Lawrence flick it was ostensibly meant to be soundtracking.