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A Beginner's Guide To Heavy Metal #9 - Rap Metal

Updated on December 29, 2013

In Your Face

In 1970, Black Sabbath released the first truly heavy metal albums and began a whole new genre of music. A few year later, across the see in the urban cities of the United States, most in the South Bronx area, another genre that would take the world by storm known as hip-hop was beginning it's genesis. Then, in the late 80s, a very ambitious thrash band with a mind for innovation and fun, inspired by the street beats of their home state, decided to meld the two together. The result was what we today call Rap Metal, combining the rapid fire lyrics of hip-hop and the searing guitar work of metal, although rock and metal had been sampled and used by bands such as Run DMC or the Beastie Boys, this took the concept to another level entirely.

A small disclaimer before we begin, unfortunately there are not a very broad range of bands that have done this, and even fewer who have done it well, so instead of my usual top ten, this will be a top 5.



Anthrax - I'm The Man (EP)

I'm stretching very far to include this one on here, as one, it is only an EP, and two, only one of the songs on it is actually a rap metal song. But the thing is, it's not just a rap metal song, it is THE rap metal song. This is the EP that started it, the first time an original rap metal song was made, and not just a rap song with a metal sample beneath it. Initially a parody of the Beastie Boys, who were very important in pioneering the concept, this is the one responsible for pretty much every other time rap and metal have collided.



P.O.D - Satellite

Often considered to be part of the nu-metal movement (which I will be discussing next time), I personally feel that, at least on this album, that they are much more aligned with rap metal than nu-metal, for the simple reason that there is a lot more rapping. There are some phenomenal riffs and incredibly catchy choruses that many of you reading will have already had stuck in your heads several times in the past, combined with some great lyrics.

Want to check it out?



Faith No More - The Real Thing

Another giant step was taken when this album was released, as it took what Anthrax had begun and pushed it even further, making a very funky heavy album with several songs containing rapped lyrics. As with all of Faith No More's albums, there is an incredibly eclectic mix of styles included in the music, but for me, more than the incredible musicianship they always display, it is the advent of rap metal that is this album's greatest contribution.



Body Count - Body Count

What could better meld the worlds of rap and metal together than already well established and successful rapper and putting a heavy metal band behind him? Probably nothing because this album is just plain awesome. Rapping legend Ice-T decided to indulge his love of heavy metal completely and put together and incredibly controversial heavy metal band. He tries to do more with his voice and in most cases succeeds, especially on later albums, but on this one his background as a rapper is very apparent and makes the album that much more amazing.

Want to check it out?



Rage Against The Machine - Rage Against The Machine

Those of you who are already metal fans probably saw this one coming a mile away. And for good reason. With Tom Morello's legendary riffs and inventive solos and Zack de la Rocha's politically tinged spite filled lyrics, this album is easily the epitome of rap metal. Even if the concept of rap metal doesn't hold much appeal to you, you should definitely give this album a listen.

The Beat Goes On

I know this was a pretty short list but the fact is that rap metal is a very niche genre that very few bands can pull of convincingly for a long period of time. Even Rage Against The Machine burned out after only a few albums. Next time however, we'll look at bands that took combining rap with metal even further as we explore one of the more recent developments in metal, nu-metal.


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