|Stylistic origins||Hip hop, rock|
|Cultural origins||Mid 1980s, United States|
|Typical instruments||Rapping, electric guitar, bass, turntables, drums, vocals, sampler, synthesizer, keyboard|
|Rapcore - rap metal|
|Alternative hip hop - Trip hop - Nu metal|
Rap rock is a cross-genre fusing vocal and instrumental elements of hip hop with various forms of rock. Rap rock's most popular subgenres include rap metal and rapcore, which include heavy metal-oriented and hardcore punk-oriented influences, respectively. One of the earliest examples would be The Clash's song "The Magnificent Seven" which fused new wave, hip hop and funk.
Allmusic describes rap metal as having "big, lurching beats and heavy, heavy riffs" that "occasionally [...] [sound] as if the riffs were merely overdubbed over scratching and beat box beats", and described rap rock as having a more organic sound, characterizing many songs in the genre as rock songs in which the vocals were rapped rather than sung. Allmusic also states that the rhythms of rap rock are rooted in that of hip hop, with more funk influences than normal hard rock.
Hed PE, which fuses punk rock with hip hop, sometimes incorporates reggae and heavy metal influences. According to Rolling Stone writer Rob Kemp, Incubus' 1997 album S.C.I.E.N.C.E. "links funk metal to the rap metal". Kottonmouth Kings perform a style which they refer to as "psychedelic hip-hop punk rock". Kid Rock incorporates country and Southern rock influences, and is backed by a 10 piece band, while Everlast fuses blues and rock with hip hop, performing with a live band that includes a DJ.
The lyrical themes of rap rock vary. According to Allmusic, "most rap-metal bands during the mid- to late '90s blended an ultra-aggressive, testosterone-heavy theatricality with either juvenile humor or an introspective angst learned through alternative metal". However, as the genre began to become more established, several bands branched out into political or social commentary in their lyrics, most notably Rage Against the Machine and Senser which distinguished them from less politically concerned bands such as Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit.
Sample of "Papercut" by Linkin Park, from the album Hybrid Theory.
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Although some alternative metal and nu metal bands incorporate hip hop beats, rap rock bands were always fronted by rappers. Rock bands generally not associated with rap rock have experimented with hip hop influences, including rapping. Such bands have included Blondie, Rush, Beck and Cake. Many rappers have been noted for a prominent use of samples derived from rock songs, including Eminem, Ice-T, The Fat Boys, LL Cool J, Public Enemy, Whodini, Vanilla Ice and Esham.
In 1986, Run–D.M.C. collaborated with Aerosmith on a remake of the latter's earlier song, "Walk This Way", first released in 1975. The success of the "Walk This Way" remake helped bring hip hop into popularity with a mainstream white audience, following an earlier experimental track by rap artist LL Cool J, "Rock the Bells", where he had fused conventional rap lyrics over a hard rock arrangement. Beastie Boys, formerly a hardcore punk group, began working in the hip hop genre. Their debut album, Licensed to Ill, largely featured a rock-based sound. In 1991, thrash metal band Anthrax collaborated with political hip hop outfit Public Enemy on a version of the latter's "Bring the Noise", which saw rapped vocals shared between the Anthrax's Scott Ian and Public Enemy's Chuck D over a heavy electric guitar and electric bass riff. Public Enemy's track, "She Watch Channel Zero?!" features Chuck D rapping over a metal riff.
Rap rock began to enter the mainstream arena in the 1990s. American rock bands such as 311, 24-7 Spyz, Faith No More and Rage Against the Machine fused rock and hip hop influences. Simultaneously, British bands like Pop Will Eat Itself and Senser were similarly shaping the genre across Europe. The soundtrack for the 1993 film Judgment Night featured 11 collaborations between hip hop and rock musicians. Urban Dance Squad mixed funk, heavy metal, hip hop and punk. Biohazard, who collaborated with hardcore hip hop group Onyx on the Judgment Night soundtrack, is also considered to be a pioneering act in the genre. Cypress Hill's Black Sunday featured a rock-based sound and artwork which, according to Allmusic reviewer Steve Huey, resembled that of heavy metal bands.
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