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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BIOHAZARD State Of The World Address Album Cover State Of The World Address
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RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE Renegades Album Cover Renegades
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rap metal Music Reviews

RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE Rage Against the Machine

Album · 1992 · Rap Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Although rapping to metal music had started as a novelty as far back as 1984 with an all but forgotten dude named the Lone Rager, the possibilities really seemed to take a life of their own when Anthrax shocked the world with their unique thrash metal / hip hop hybrid song “I’m The Man” but the world pretty much wrote it all off as a joke and wasn’t quite ready for the musical collaborative efforts of a perceived black’s only style of music with the predominant whiteness of metal music. Part of that problem was the fact rap music hadn’t gone mainstream yet and it wasn’t until RUN-DMC released its cover of Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” which featured both Steven Tyler and Joe Perry that the world finally realized that rap music was a major force in the world of music. While still considered somewhat of a novelty once Fatih No More hit the top 10 on the Billboard chart with its 1989 rap metal hit “Epic,” it seemed that it was destiny that this cross-pollination was here to stay.

While rappers like Ice-T and funk rockers like the Red Hot Chili Peppers were becoming heavier, it wasn’t until the LA based RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE released its self-titled debut in 1992 that the world of rap metal really became an international phenomenon. While the antecedents of this hybridization had hinted at the possibilities, this band that consisted of Zack de la Rocha (vocals), Timmy Commerford (known as Timmy C on bass), Tom Morello (guitar) and Brad Wilk (drums, percussion) really set the world on fire much like the self-immolating Thích Quảng Đức who was the Bhuddist monk who famously went down in history for that famous photo of protesting the Vietnamese war by sacrificing his own life. What a perfect album cover for a band that focused on political revolution and absolutely nobody has done the rap metal thing better than RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE did on its first album.

Part of what makes this album so ridiculously awesome is that all four members were extremely dexterous in how they hybridized hip hop and heavy metal namely by emphasizing the strengths of both and not forcing rap lyrics into some incongruous style of metal music. With the emphasis on the lyrical content, RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE benefited by Zack de la Rocha’s superb poetic prose that he delivered with a vocal precision of the most gifted of rappers along with the extreme vocal angst of what metal offers. Graced with a strong bass funk driven groove section with heavy distorted guitar riffs and crushing percussive drive, the band was also lifted by Tom Morello’s uncanny ability to interpret DJ oriented music and channel it through his guitar offering some of the most unique soloing techniques in all of metal history, a style as distinct and unique as this band proved itself to be.

The other factor that makes this debut so utterly brilliant is that each of the 10 tracks has its own developed personality with a diverse array of melodic grooves that provided the perfect backdrop for De la Rocha’s hot on the mic passion and hunger for a more just world. While the grooves provide the basic funkified groove, RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE excelled at creative breakdowns, unexpected interludes and a firm sense of command for diverse dynamics. Add to that Morello was uncanny in how he could exploit the guitar to create sounds hitherto unthinkable. He truly had a gift of interpreting guitar playing in a way that absolutely nobody before had considered and although new ideas may be interesting they don’t always result in a satisfying experience. Not the case with RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE despite the fact these youngsters had only begun their career. This album sounds like a group fo seasoned professional as far as the musicianship is concerned only with the fiery punk fueled passion of youthful discontent.

This one was really love at first listen and even now after i pull it out every so often i’m reminded at how intense and absolutely perfect this album is. While it’s rare for a young band to totally come out with a completely new genre of music, it’s even rarer when that first release was already taken it to its logical conclusion. Yeah, RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE is blamed for the entire nu metal scene (by the haters) that followed and for wankers like Limp Bizkitt to follow but one can’t condemn any band for inspiring inferior imitators after all. IMHO, this debut album remains the best example of rap metal to have ever existed and it seems unlikely it will ever be improved upon. A true gem of hip hop, funk, metal and political fervor as scorching hot as the album cover suggests. An ALL TIME CLASSIC!

JEDI SEX TRIK Jedi Sex Trik

EP · 1999 · Rap Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Once Korn dropped its innovative new style of music that would be called nu metal on the world, it was an invitation for all the angsty youth of the alternative 90s to hop on the bandwagon of a new musical trend that adopted the heavy bombast of 80s hardcore punk and metal and hybridized it with funk and hip hop. While the style would only last about 10 years and burn out completely, there sure were a lot of bands that followed Korn and while a few like Limp BIzkit, Papa Roach, Stained and Slipknot would experience unthinkable popularity, many more bands cranked out a release or two and then faded into obscurity.

Such is the case for the Riverside, California based JEDI SEX TRIK which emerged from the ashes of a band called Code 13. This nu metal band that employed hardcore hip hop rapping featured five members with connections to another Riverside alternative rock band Alien Ant Farm. There is almost know info about JEDI SEX TRICK that i can find. It seems this band came and went rather quickly and only released this one tiny self-titled EP that came out in 1999. It was released independently with very few copies so it’s probably next to impossible to find and the only trace of its existence is one fan who posted clips of the five tracks on YouTube.

As far as originality goes, JEDI SEX TRIP didn’t have much to go around. These five tracks are clearly influenced by Korn in the musical department with those distinct rhythmic bass grooves however the tempos and emphasis on heavy guitar heft is much more out of the Slipknot playbook. The most obvious influence though comes from Rage Against The Machine with the rapped vocals that dominate however there are also some dual vocal attacks with growly counterpoints. Despite the clear worship of those more popular aforementioned bands, JEDI SEX TRIK was successful in crafting a nice hybrid effect of those bands and this tiny musical specimen is not a bad listen at all and much better than some of the more popular bands like Limp Bizkitt (ugh) for example.

True that this one doesn’t warrant seeking the planet high and low to add it to your collection unless you are one of those nu metal worshippers who lives to attain every single example of the genre but of all the nu metal acts that came and went, JEDI SEX TRIK had a stylistic approach that deemphasized the irritating factors of the genre and focused on the strengths. While some will be put off by the rapped vocals, this is after all rap metal right out of the Rage Against The Machine playbook and although not nearly as innovative and accomplished as that band still cranked out a decent DIY sounding slice of this style of hardcore from at the turn of the millennium and well worth a listen or two.

BODY COUNT Manslaughter

Album · 2014 · Rap Metal
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martindavey87
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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martindavey87
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.

CLAWFINGER Clawfinger

Album · 1997 · Rap Metal
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martindavey87
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.

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