The Rap Butterfly Effect: What If These 4 Collabs Actually Happened?

Had these songs gone down as originally intended, who knows what could’ve happened?
Author:
Publish date:
butterfly-effect-hip-hop.jpg

I read somewhere the other day that there are more ways to re-arrange a deck of cards than there are atoms on Earth. A mind-blowing fact in and of itself, it’s a concept that also has universal implications about the realm of possibilities constantly surrounding us, a realm we instinctively ignore for the sake of our own sanity.

In hip-hop, the realm of possible collaborations is mathematically staggering, but in terms of probable situations, still fathomable enough to enjoy thinking about without ending up like that guy in the movie Pi.

For example, learning that Chance The Rapper was supposed to have a verse on Childish Gambino’s “The Worst Guys” makes me ponder the infinitude of alternate dimensions in which songs that are missing a feature for whatever reason exist in their originally intended form.

What would have been different for those artists? Would the song have blown up quicker? Would some of these artists have gone on to produce great works together?

With the help of the DJBooth squad, I’ve compiled a short list of four songs that, if executed as they were originally meant to have been, could have dramatically shifted the course of the songs’ trajectories, individual careers, or ultimately, the entire hip-hop universe.

Juicy J - “Bandz A Make Her Dance” ft. Lil Wayne & 2 Chainz

Was Supposed to Feature: Big Sean, Future

In a recent interview with Power 106 in LA, everyone’s frequent-collaborator Mike WiLL Made-It revealed that both Big Sean and Future were supposed to appear on Juicy J’s strip club-ready comeback vehicle “Bandz A Make Her Dance.”

What Could Have Happened:

The track was released in 2012 before either Big Sean or Future had reached superstar status. Big Sean had Finally Famous under his belt, but had yet to release Hall of Fame, and Future had just dropped his debut album, Pluto. While both artists were certainly making waves following their respective introductions to the scene, an appearance on a Platinum-certified single with two of the biggest artists in the industry would no-doubt have sped up their already turbocharged trajectories.

Also, I can’t help but wonder how many more times “Bandz A Make Her Dance” would have gone Platinum with Future on the hook during a time when listeners were just beginning to obsess over his warbled Auto-Tune flow.

Kanye West - “Barry Bonds” ft. Lil Wayne

Was Supposed to Feature: Jay Z

Nearly 10 years ago, our editor-in-chief Z managed to pull this tidbit of information out of a pre-Trump-dapping Kanye West, and to this day, it’s a fact that nobody has seemed to latch onto in a moment of “holy shit, what if?”, aside from Z of course.

What Could Have Happened:

In 2007, Jay Z was fresh off Kingdom Come, an album many consider to be the worst entry in his incredible discography. However, Hov was in the midst of writing his bounce-back album American Gangster. Considering Kanye had mentioned that Jay’s verse does indeed exist somewhere, “Barry Bonds” could have very well been the competitive inspiration Jay needed for his return to form.

Had the track been released with Jay's verse, we would’ve seen arguably the three biggest rappers in the world at the time trading bars on an album that nearly went Platinum in its first week. “Barry Bonds” would have surely become one of the biggest singles on the album, and who knows, that one extra Wayne and Jay collaboration could’ve been the driving force behind Watch The Throne being a three-man group. That might seem like a stretch, but if we’re going the butterfly effect route, I’m pulling out all the stops.

Jay Z “Renegade” ft. Eminem

Was Supposed to Feature: Royce Da 5’ 9”

Collaborations weren't always accomplished as seamlessly as they are today. In 2001, Jay Z was looking for a feature from Eminem during arguably the peak of the latter’s lyrical prime, but the beat Em originally had in mind was in a studio in Los Angeles, miles away from Eminem in Detroit and even farther from Jay on the East Coast.

To help Hov keep his deadline, Em instead sent a rough version of “Renegade,” which at the time was a Bad Meets Evil collaboration between he and Royce Da 5’9". Jay loved the record, slid his vocals into Royce’s place, and the rest is history.

What Could Have Happened:

Man, if Jay had kept Royce’s verse on the track, it’s entirely possible Royce would have gone on to have a superstar career.

While plenty of us are aware that Royce is an absolute beast on the mic, his career has always teetered on the cusp of mainstream success, and a lyrical onslaught alongside Em and Jay in their primes could have catapulted Royce’s name far beyond the underground that went on to embrace him.

Hell, Jay might have even returned the favor by dropping a quick 16 on Death Is Certain, and the rest would’ve taken care of itself.

Kendrick Lamar - “Complexion (A Zulu Love)” ft. Rapsody

Was Supposed to Feature: Prince, Azealia Banks

Talk about saving the best for last. In 2016, when The GRAMMYs published their oral history of To Pimp a Butterfly, I somehow missed this absolutely mind-blowing bit of information.

When asked about her contributions to the album, Rapsody revealed that Kendrick originally did not want to appear on the song himself, preferring that Rapsody perform two verses with Prince on the hook. She also mentioned that, at one point, Kendrick wanted Azealia Banks to perform the hook, an exclusion that may or may not have led to her harsh criticism of Kendrick’s comments on Ferguson in 2015.

What Could Have Happened:

Well, for starters, Prince would have been on To Pimp A Butterfly. The implications of that collaboration are so huge that it would probably take an entire article on its own, but just know that it would’ve meant a great deal to the legacies of both Kendrick and Prince.

Had Azealia performed the hook, however, we could be looking at a totally different career trajectory for the controversial Harlemite. An appearance on one of the most celebrated hip-hop albums of the decade would have opened doors for her that maybe even her incendiary tweets couldn’t have closed.

With just one guest contribution, Banks could have been on her way to stardom, and maybe not as widely hated for her divisive personality and mediocre solo musical offerings. 

***

By Brent Bradley. Follow him on Twitter.

Related