Taylor Swift — or T-Swizzle, as she's known in rap circles — has been working her way toward a legitimate appearance on a hip-hop track for some time now. After welcoming many an MC onstage during her Speak Now Tour, the singer now guests on B.o.B's Strange Clouds track "Both of Us."
The Dr. Luke-produced song blends the unlikely duo's musical genres, with jangly guitars that pay homage to Swift's country roots and synthy beats that have Bobby Ray's hip-hop flavor. Surprisingly, the duet came about at the insistence of the singer. B.o.B recently explained that "she came to Atlanta and she hit up Grand Hustle. I wasn't there. Tip was there and I eventually linked with her in Dallas and the rest is history."
This is not the first time the twosome have appeared on a song together. Last year, during Swift's tour, B.o.B took the stage to perform "Airplanes" with the star. Swift took over chorus duties from her pal (and Paramore leading lady) Hayley Williams.
But we have to go back even further than that to really dive into T-Swizzle's hip-hop history.
In a 2008 MTV News interview, the singer opened up about one day wanting to work with rappers. "I'd like to do a completely off-the-wall collaboration," she said. "I would like one of my songs to be the hook to a rap song. That would be so much fun! You know, I love Kanye West and I love T.I. — he's amazing."
The following year, at the 2009 CMT Awards, she hooked up with T-Pain to parody her good-girl image in the song "Thug Life." She showed not only her gangster side, but also her funny bone, rapping lyrics like, "You can find me making cookies at night/ You out clubbing? I just made caramel delights."
Taking some time off from her rap game for a minute, in 2011 she enlisted the likes of Nicki Minaj, Flo Rida, and, yes, T.I. to put her stamp on some of their biggest hits during the Speak Now Tour.
Initially, it surprised Tip that the country cutie would want to have him appear onstage with her last October.
T.I. explained, "I was confused, because I know it's a phenomenal opportunity, but being T.I. — the Rubberband Man — and Taylor Swift being America's Sweetheart, I had just gotten out of prison like two days [earlier] and all of a sudden my phone rings."
Eventually, though, she was welcomed with open arms into his crew. "Taylor's extended Hustle gang. She a part of the crew," T.I. said in March. "She just ain't got her dog tags yet, but she's a part of the crew, though."
In the midst of the tour, Swift talked about asking rappers to perform with her. "I'm a huge hip-hop fan," she shared. "And it's been so amazing to have so many incredible artists come out and to get to sing the hooks on their songs that I've been blasting in my car for the last couple years."
Now, with so much practice singing other people's hooks behind her, it seems like the right time for her to get her own. On the B.o.B track, she sings, "I wish I was strong enough to lift not one, but both of us/ Someday, I will be strong enough to lift not one but both of us." The lines mirror the song's theme of battling hardships and strife.
"Both of Us" will be featured on B.o.B's May album release.