Album: Speakerboxx/The Love Below
Trend It Predicted: Rappers Who Sing Their Own Hooks, Singers Who Spit Their Own Raps
Modern Examples: Drake "Marvin's Room," B.o.B "All I Want," Cee-Lo "Fuck You"
In an era of Drakes and Kanyes, it’s hard to remember the full shock of cuing up Andre 3000’s half of 2003’s Speakerboxx/The Love Below to find out he only raps on three of its twenty songs. It's the same shock some Fugees fans experienced when they got home with Lauryn Hill's Miseducation album and heard more heartfelt soulful R&B catharsis than razor-sharp lyrical darts.
Like Lauryn's album, The Love Below was ultimately great enough to stave off everyone's reservations about one of the greatest rappers of the era giving up his primary craft to showcase his taste for jazz, funk, and rock music. "Spread,” for example, showed off Andre's ability to deftly switch from singing to rapping and back with unwavering skill and confidence. It’s “Drake featuring Drake” before Drake.
It wouldn’t be the last time a great rapper would give up rapping for singing. Phonte of Little Brother found new acclaim after his first group's dissolution with The Foreign Exchange’s Leave It All Behind, where he ditched rhymes in favor of crooning over Dutch producer Nicolay's ambient soundscapes, and 3000’s Dungeon Family associate Cee-Lo enjoyed his greatest career successes on numbers like Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” and The Lady Killer’s “Fuck You,” songs where he traded his brash, spitfire rhyme delivery for silky retro-leaning soul licks.