Can a Rapper Make a Good Rock Album?
Recently B.o.B. commented on his upcoming rock EP to MTV, saying that he's been "holding back so much rock for so long." While B.o.B. says that "no one's really expecting anything," freeing him to do whatever he wants, I myself do have an expectation for this record: It's going to be awful.
Dominick Brady via Wikipedia
I hate to be a Debbie Downer here when B.o.B. sounds so excited about his new project, but there's one question we have to ask ourselves any time this happens. Has a rapper ever made a good rock album? Can a rapper make a good rock album?
I propose that while possible in theory, it just never works in practice. You can bring up the one famous one that worked, Run DMC's collaboration with Aerosmith in 1986, but that was an Aerosmith song that the Queens trio worked over -- Run-DMC didn't try to write their own rock hit with "Walk This Way," they took one that already worked.
When a rapper tries to take on the task of writing his own rock songs, it just never works. Sometimes it can even kill careers. Look at what happened to Ice-T. He was one of the biggest rappers in the world until he decided to start Body Count, which not only paved the way for awful nu-metal bands, but left Ice-T's commercial and critical success in shambles. He ended up having to reinvent himself as an actor!
Other times it's just a career low everyone wants to forget about. Take Lil Wayne's Rebirth album. While it didn't hurt his chances of selling another rap album, and it didn't really sell all that badly itself (it did have Lil Wayne's name on it), Rebirth was probably Weezy's worst-received LP in his entire career, which is saying something given the reviews of his past few records.