It must be hard being a famous musician in the public eye. When you say you’re inspired by certain musicians, people (sometimes, THAT musician too), like to say you’re trying to be like them. When you don’t pay “homage” to these people, then fans and musicians fading out of the limelight like to claim you stole their style completely. You can’t win for trying! Over the years, there have been many folks who have been called out for having a style similar to someone else, some we can understand, others we think are getting unnecessary shade. We thought we’d compile these folks and figure out who is killing it on their own, and who is a clone.
R. Kelly and Aaron Hall
If you ask some people, Aaron Hall put an imaginary patent on the permission to rock a bald head, sunglasses and and sing at a ridiculously loud but melodic level. Hall had that look and sound on lock during the early ’90s, but some say R. Kelly came through and stole it, and even swiped his singing style. I can’t lie, there are some songs from the early days of the R-ruh’s career that make me think if I closed my eyes, I might be hearing Aaron Hall (“She’s Got That Vibe” anyone?), but as Kellz became more popular and Hall started to slowly fade out of the music scene to try his hand at being a dog whisperer…his style and music continuously changed (he still talked about sex constantly, but you know what I mean…). Either way though, Hall isn’t sweating it, because while Kelly may have stolen his style, he says, the singer can’t touch his swag:
“I know a lot of people out there are saying that R. Kelly stole my style. But remember he can’t touch my swagger. I got that old school swag, that 80′s swag and ain’t nobody touching that.”
Trey Songz and R. Kelly
If anyone remembers, with his scrawny physique and braids, a few years back, Trey Songz was just one of many wannabe R&B singers trying to find their way into the mainstream. And during that time, he was singing about just making it in general, women with undeserving men and waiting for his “Wonderwoman.” But all it took to make it big was to talk about sex…like, constantly. He claimed he invented it, and the neighbors knew his name because of it. But with all that sex talk came comparisons that he bit the steez of R. Kelly. Hmmm…he did do a remix to “Trapped In the Closet” a few years back that Kelly wasn’t too happy about and he looked EXACTLY like him…but Songz doesn’t deny that he uses some of Kelly’s formula. The thing is, not only does he not care, but he says R. Kelly did some theft himself, and from you know who: “People say, ‘Well, I hear a lot of R. Kelly in your music.’ So what? R. Kelly took Aaron Hall’s whole style. Two albums straight. … You can say what you want about me.”
Rihanna and Kelis
Forever the style maven, Rihanna has been changing the hair game and topping the music charts for years now. However, we’d be lying if we didn’t overhear the comments people have made over the years about her “swaggerjacking” some other eclectic style mavens. From her hair to her sound and music videos, people have been pulling the Kelis card saying Ri-Ri stole a lot of her trendsetting style from the “Caught Out There” singer. The short haircut, the video for “Only Girl In the World” (see Kelis’s “4th of July” visuals) as well as both songs–the comparisons make some sense. But Kelis laid to rest all the talk, saying in an interview:
“You know what, listen, it’d be totally ridiculous for me to not acknowledge it if someone asks. The reality is…what is she like 20? I mean, what else is she supposed to do? I mean honestly. I don’t have any animosity at all whatsoever. That’s what she’s supposed to do.”
But these days, with her style changing every few days (I think she’s done about three different hair colors and styles since the year started), she’s trying to pave her own lane. And it’s working.
Nicki Minaj and Lil Kim
Lil Kim’s legions of fans and the tiny rapper herself have been calling Nicki Minaj a “Lil’ Kim clone” from the moment the public started hearing her on any and every remix. With her penchant for bright wigs and calling herself a Barbie, things Kim loved to do back in the day, folks were saying Minaj was a copycat. Kim herself did a million and one interviews and accused her of studying her style and stealing her sound, literally trying to make her vocals similar to Kim’s. Did she bite from Kim? Maybe so, but at this point, it really doesn’t matter, because Minaj is doing it big and getting rich while doing it and though we love Kim, there’s a bitterness to her constant comments about the star and her style. Plus, Nicki’s spending more time trying to look and sound like a pop star (with her long blonde wigs and colorful costumes) than anything else these days.
Lady Gaga and Madonna
Well, duh. When Gaga first came to the scene in her funky costumes and new pop sound, there were a few Madonna comparisons, but Madge herself had no problem with the new star and seemingly embraced her (the two women even did an SNL skit together that joked on their supposed rivalry). But as with most musicians losing their thunder, as Gaga became more successful, and her songs started sounding a bit too similar to Madonna’s (“Born This Way” vs. “Express Yourself” and the “Vogue” video vs. Gaga’s “Alejandro“), the queen of pop started throwing her own dose of shade at the young singer in interviews, and even did a cover of “Born This Way” while on tour.
The-Dream and Prince (Circa the late ’80s)
Crazy, I know, but people talk about it often. As much as The-Dream likes to claim folks stole his swag (he never defined who, but he’s thrown indirect shade), anybody that’s listened to his music over the years knows that your boy is obsessed with Prince. He’s fashioned songs that sound exactly like cuts Prince made in the ’80s (see “Yamaha,” and “Fast Car” is the new Millennium version of “Little Red Corvette”) and many of his songs are eerily close to the name of Prince songs (“Nikki” vs. “Darling Nikki”). However, there musical talents can’t be compared whatsoever. Try as he may, though The-Dream is indeed talented, his musical talents come nowhere near Prince’s, even if he does base his sound off of the “Purple Rain” years.
Keyshia Cole and Mary J. Blige
“The Way It Is” was an awesome album, but when it dropped, it also created a lot of talk that Cole was trying to rip the classic style of MJB. Maybe it was all the extra painful songs about love, cheaters and moving forward, maybe it was the unique raspy voice or the around-the-way girl thing (some online actually said “ghetto”) both women embody well, but folks noticed it. There are rumors that Mary and her husband, Kendu, didn’t want Cole involved in a BET Honors tribute to her because they were already sick of all the comparisons (so hey had Monica take her place), but Mary hasn’t spoken out about the comparisons. Cole on the other has tried to downplay the comparisons over the years, but says Blige has had a big influence on her. They both seem down to earth, and they both can SANG! That’s all that matters, right?
Ciara and Aaliyah
If you ask Timbaland, he says Ciara is the next Aaliyah, in fact he was quoted as saying, ”
“People would say “Oh Ciara is the next Aaliyah” – yes she is. She keeps my girl alive, so when I hear Ciara a tear come out my eye, coz I’m like “wow, she ain’t forgotten. That sound is still gonna be heard. These kids who don’t know [and know] Ciara will go “Who she sound like? Baby girl Aaliyah” and then they go back and buy the Aaliyah stuff and be like “Aaliyah sound better than her” or somethin’. The point is Aaliyah won’t be forgotten.”
When she came out, people were throwing shade at her for having a style that seemed to come too close to the late singer. From the tomboy look that Aaliyah wore so well, to the dance moves, and even Ci’s work with Missy, who was a constant collaborator with Aaliyah and friend, the comparisons never really stopped. The folks at GIANT even went as far as to ask if Ciara would even be around if Aaliyah was still alive? I can see why people would say she bit Aaliyah’s style, but at the end of the day, I don’t think their music is similar in the least bit. I think Ci’s just someone who admired Aaliyah a bit much, but is still trying to do her own thing. What do you think?
Justin Bieber and Justin Timberlake
The two pop singers have more in common than their first name. The singers’ musical styles have been compared as well as their songs ‘Girlfriend’ and ‘Boyfriend.’ ( watch the mashup) Morning radio host Mojo, of “Mojo in the Morning,” said, “when I heard ‘Boyfriend’ for the first time, I thought it was Justin Timberlake’s single.” Bieber has acknowledged being influenced by Timberlake, but does not appreciate comments that the two sound alike. Bieber stated, “saying I sound like someone else is not really a compliment. … I think if you were to say ‘I heard some Justin Timberlake-esque things in your sound,’ I would take that as a compliment.” Timberlake hasn’t really put out an album, let alone a single, in years so maybe we should just let him have the acting and Bieber have the singing.
Which other musicians seem to be a little bit too inspired by other famous artists?
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