Rap Metal

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Rap metal is a metal sub-genre that fuses rapping with various styles of metal. It technically began in the 80's, but didn't gain prominence until the early 90's when more bands started to devote their sound to the style.

The first combination of rapping with metal is noted to be the novelty single Metal Rap by the Lone Rager, alter-ego of the founder of metal label Megaforce Records. The idea of rap metal being more of a novelty or one-off thing continued into the 80's, with thrash metal bands like Anthrax and Bulldozer playing with the idea (I'm the Man for the former and Dance Got Sick! for the latter). Anthrax would do more metal and hip hop mixes in the 90's though, collaborating with hip hop group Public Enemy for a cover of their Bring the Noise as well as doing a cover of Beastie Boys' Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun. On the hip hop side of things, both Beastie Boys and Public Enemy would sometimes sample metal songs, and later Cypress Hill would as well and even go in a rap metal-influenced direction for a couple albums.

After funk metal/alternative metal band Faith No More struck a hit with their rap metal song Epic in 1989, rap metal started to take off as a genre that both metal and hip hop bands would make use of. Hip hop group Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E.'s 1990 debut album features a rap metal song in the form of Pickin' Up Metal, and they would later release a rap metal album in 1997. Hardcore/groove metal band Biohazard went in a rap metal direction with their 1992 album Urban Disicpline, and rapper Tairrie B. would form the rap metal band Manhole. Perhaps the most famous example is rapper Ice-T forming the thrash/rap metal band Body Count and becoming a key figure in both the hip hop and metal scenes. The soundtrack to Judgement Night also helped to popularize the combination of rap/hip-hop with rock/metal, with it featuring collaborations between rock and metal bands with rappers and hip hop groups.

When bands started forming as rap metal in the 90's, some bands blended rapping with a funk metal basis such as Rage Against the Machine and H-Blockx, while others like Stuck Mojo and Clawfinger took more from groove/thrash metal. During the nu metal boom, among the eclectic mix of bands, there were rap metal-oriented groups such as Powerman 5000, Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park, (h?d) p.e., Guano Apes, P.O.D., and Papa Roach among others. Some of these bands took rap metal further by utilizing more elements of hip hop than just rapping, particularly (h?d) p.e. and the early albums of Powerman 5000 with their blending of metal riffs with hip hop rhythms and turbtablism. The aforementioned (h?d) p.e. as well as metalcore/nu metal band Candiria even have some pure hip hop tracks spread across several of their albums.

(Introduction by Unitron)

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RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE Rage Against the Machine Album Cover Rage Against the Machine
4.04 | 70 ratings
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RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE The Battle of Los Angeles Album Cover The Battle of Los Angeles
3.85 | 53 ratings
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RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE Evil Empire Album Cover Evil Empire
3.85 | 32 ratings
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BIOHAZARD State Of The World Address Album Cover State Of The World Address
3.80 | 12 ratings
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RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE Renegades Album Cover Renegades
3.64 | 23 ratings
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ANTHRAX I'm The Man Album Cover I'm The Man
3.60 | 15 ratings
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BODY COUNT Manslaughter

Album · 2014 · Rap Metal
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Body Count’s discography has always been a story of up’s and down’s, a great album followed by a disappointing one, followed by a... you get the idea. And after 2006’s uninspired ‘Murder 4 Hire’, the band went on hiatus. With frontman rapper Ice-T keeping busy with his solo music and acting career, it would be eight years until the crossover thrash, rap rock pioneers would return, and the trend continues, because 2014’s ‘Manslaughter’ is a fantastic return to form for the band.

Featuring some of their most polished and well-written tracks, ‘Manslaughter’ shows that age hasn’t slowed these guys down, and in fact, they sound more energetic and enraged than ever before. The production is amazing, really emphasizing the bands precision playing and incredibly tight guitar riffs, making this by far the heaviest Body Count have ever sounded, and the lyrics and rapping are probably more consistent than they’ve ever been, fitting wonderfully with the music, and still rapping about themes that are as relevant and relatable today as they’ve ever been.

With the likes of ‘Talk Shit, Get Shot’, ‘Pray for Death’, ‘Pop Bubble’, ‘Back to Rehab’, ’99 Problems BC’, ‘Bitch in the Pit’ and an updated cover of Suicidal Tendencies ‘Institutionalized’, this is some of the strongest material Body Count have put out. And while they’ve often been considered a band that courts controversy and is hard to take seriously, the truth is that ‘Manslaughter’ is a very coherent and well put together album.

DOWNSIID The Evolution of Ghetto Rock

Album · 2007 · Rap Metal
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Fancy that, a rap-rock band in 2007. Career suicide right there. If 2004 saw the nu metal subgenre clinging on for dear life as new musical trends preceded it, then by 2007 it was well and truly dead and buried. And while many of the bands who’d had some level of success over the genres peak years had enough name value to at least stagger along comfortably, bands like Downsiid were screwed from the outset.

Which is a shame, actually, as 2007’s ‘The Evolution of Ghetto Rock’, the debut album by Texan five-piece rap rockers Downsiid, isn’t a bad album, and showed that even though nu metal was dead, there was still plenty of bands out there blending rock with hip hop and using simple song arrangements to produce some great music.

With a variety of hard-hitting raps, shouts and singing, along with heavily de-tuned guitars and plenty of groove, ‘...Ghetto Rock’ is a throwback to those nu metal bands that were always a step below the upper echelon of groups, but had a decent hit or two that gave them some level of success. In particular, Sevendust and Nonpoint come to mind. There’re plenty of electronic effects used to give the music some flavour, and a nice mixture of heavy, pumping songs with softer, acoustic ones.

Unfortunately however, with no notable hits or career milestones, you’re not likely to stumble across these guys unless it’s by accident (in my case, I saw this CD for £1 in a second-hand shop and took the gamble that it looked like something I’d enjoy), which is a shame, because songs like ‘No Rain’, ‘Texas Get Up’, ‘Grab the Cash’, ‘I’ and ‘Take Out the World’ are all pretty good, and show that the genre was still alive and well, even if it wasn’t the mainstream juggernaut it once was.


Album · 1997 · Rap Metal
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Clawfinger’s 1997 self-titled third album sees the band return to form after a rather average follow-up to their debut. While ‘Deaf Dumb Blind’ gave the Swedish rap-rockers some miner mainstream success and publicity, they mostly remained an obscure, unknown entity, especially with constantly shifting music trends. But then, since when has a band like Clawfinger cared about music trends?

Packed full of aggressive, non-stop rapid-fire lyrics and energetic, grooving and pumping guitar riffs, ‘Clawfinger’ is a shot of adrenaline that doesn’t give up until the closing moments of the album. Tackling the usual issues of politics, socialism, relationships and religion, the band is relentless and completely unapologetic in getting their message across. And it’s this tongue-in-cheek attitude that makes them so endearing.

The band has taken a huge step forward here in regards to song writing. Their lyrics are a lot more mature, and the music is much more polished, with more electronic and industrial influences, as well as Middle Eastern sounding phrases and female vocals too. Closing track ‘I Guess I’ll Never Know’ reflects on a friend who had committed suicide, and is incredibly sad and melancholic, with vocalist Zak Tell ditching the rapping for singing. Lines such as “with so much love around you I just wish you loved yourself” shows a group that have a lot more depth and meaning than simply lashing out at governments and social issues.

With highlights including ‘Two Sides’, ‘I’m Your Life & Religion’, ‘Not Even You’, ‘Biggest & The Best’, ‘Chances’, ‘Wrong State of Mind’ and the aforementioned closing track, ‘Clawfinger’ sees the band back on top form with another dose of high-quality, hard-hitting rap metal.

BONZ Broken Silence

Album · 2015 · Rap Metal
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‘Broken Silence’ is the 2015 debut by Bonz, the original front man of rap-rock pioneers Stuck Mojo. After a second attempt at a reunion with his former band mates produced similar results as before (they’d attempted reunions in both 2005 and 2014, neither were able to sustain themselves for more than a number of shows), it was time for Bonz to step out on his own and break his silence.

Following on from his multiple tenures with Stuck Mojo, this is hard-hitting rap metal, with heavy, crunchy guitar riffs and energetic drumming accompanying Bonz’s spite-filled vocals, which are honest, brutal, and at times humorous. The raw and gritty production gives the album the sound it needs, giving everyone some clarity whilst not sounding overproduced, it sounds dirty, which is befitting of the lyrical themes, style of the music, and image of the band.

However, while there aren’t really any bad songs on the record, there is a major ingredient missing; “The Duke” Rich Ward.

Guitar mastermind of Stuck Mojo and Fozzy, Rich Ward’s groove laden guitar riffs were able to really get the best out of Bonz’s unique voice, which blended traditional rapping with punk and hardcore influences, and unmatched charisma. While ‘Broken Silence’ is a good effort, and certainly gives the man an avenue to voice his thoughts, everything seems just a little rigid without that swinging feeling of Ward’s songwriting and his signature guitar tones.

However, ‘Broken Silence’ is still a good album, and certainly has its moments. ‘Sinister Grin’, ‘Take It Personal’, ’30 Seconds to Swat’, ‘Godshine’ and the title track itself, which is no doubt a shot at his former band mates, are all decent tracks that make this record worth checking out. But if you really want to catch Bonz at his best, check out ‘Declaration of a Headhunter’, ‘Rising’, or ‘Pigwalk’ by Stuck Mojo. The guy is an absolute beast, and ‘Broken Silence’, while a good album, just doesn’t quite do him or his talents justice.

BODY COUNT Violent Demise: The Last Days

Album · 1997 · Rap Metal
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Rapper Ice-T and his merry men are back with Body Count’s third studio album, ‘Violent Demise: The Last Days’. Released in 1997, it follows the disappointing ‘Born Dead’, which failed to capitalize on the unexpected and surprising success of the bands self-titled debut. However, with ‘Violent Demise’, the Californian gangsters return to the more brutal, cynical, yet tongue-in-cheek approach that made their first outing so unique for its time.

Starting off with a radio interview skit which sees the host attacking Ice-T over the poor reception of ‘Born Dead’, it’s evident that the group recognizes this and are setting out to rectify any issues. And they do it with a vengeance. With opening track, ‘My Way’, the band are instantly back to their aggressive and violent roots, with guitar riffs heavier than a tonne of concrete slabs and profanity-laden lyrics that will make your mother blush. Covering a host of traditional gangster rap subjects such as gang violence, racism and sex, the band are lashing out at society with both humour and pure hatred.

The musicianship itself is pretty good, and while this style of music isn’t typically known for virtuoso performances, the band members are tight, and the production gives the album a thick, punching sound that really re-establishes Body Count as a solid metal outfit. Ice-T’s vocals are a blend of rapping and generally shouting, but overall it works fantastically with the hardcore-inspired guitar riffs.

With the likes of ‘My Way’, ‘Violent Demise’, ‘Strippers’, ‘You’re Fuckin’ With BC’, ‘I Used to Love Her’ and ‘Dead Man Walking’, Body Count may not be able to recapture the mainstream success they had with their debut album, but it’s clear with ‘Violent Demise: The Last Days’ that this is a band who are more than just a side project, with well-written music of a high standard, this is a solid release that more than makes up for its predecessor.

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