Nine Inch Nails mastermind, and all-around musical genius, Trent Reznor, has an expansive musical palette that extends well beyond the industrial metal that he built his name on. Over the years, he has ventured into collaborations with artists from diverse musical backgrounds, Hip-Hop included.
For starters, Nine Inch Nails’ epic 1999 double album The Fragile features a name you probably wouldn’t expect to see on a Nine Inch Nails record: Dr. Dre.
Yes, that Dr. Dre. Former member of N.W.A., multi-platinum rapper behind The Chronic, and producer of hits by Snoop Dogg, Eminem, 50 Cent and more. But he’s not a collaborator on the record in the most obvious or conspicuous sense. He doesn’t contribute a guest rap or lend his beats to the sprawling industrial rock album. It’s actually a lot more technical and less glamorous than that: He helped produce and mix “Even Deeper,” the 8th track on The Fragile.
Reznor’s flirtation with hip-hop didn’t stop there, though. In 2005, he hired indie rapper and producer El-P (now one-half of Run The Jewels) to remix the Nine Inch Nails track, ‘Only.’ In 2007, he joined up with El again for his second solo full-length, I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead.
That wasn’t where the collaboration between the two ended, and they linked up once more for ‘Flyentology’ on El-P’s second proper studio album, I‘ll Sleep When You’re Dead in 2007.
That same year, Reznor continued his hip-hop-related collaborations with the rapper Saul Williams. Reznor produced Williams’ critically acclaimed album The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust!, a fusion of industrial rock, electronica, and hip hop that showcased both artists’ innovative approaches to music. Reznor’s influence is evident in the album’s dense, layered soundscapes, while Williams’ potent lyrical content shines through.
But in what is Reznor’s most fascinating (and honestly, bizarre) associations with the Hip-Hop genre is when none other than P. Diddy hired Reznor way back in 1998 to recreate/remix the track ‘Victory.’
The original version of the song was a hit, peaking at number 19 on the Billboard Hot 100. Interestingly, it featured the last verses ever recorded by The Notorious B.I.G., as his verses were reportedly recorded literally the day before the shooting that claimed his life.
Reznor’s distinct production style and sounds are all over the remix, giving it a heaviness and wash of distortion that works shockingly well against the machine-gun-like delivery of Busta Rhymes and the legendary flow of Biggie.