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Rap rock
Stylistic origins Hip hop, rock
Cultural origins Mid-to-late 1980s, United States
Typical instruments Rapping - Vocals - Electric guitar - Bass guitar - Drums - Turntables - Sampler - synthesizer - Keyboard
Mainstream popularity Underground in 1980s, moderate in early 1990s, gained much mainstream success in the mid to late 90s
Rapcore - rap metal
Fusion genres
Crunkcore - nu metal
Other topics
Hip hop - rock

Rap rock is a cross-genre fusing vocal and instrumental elements of hip hop with various forms of rock. Rap rock is often confused with rap metal and rapcore, subgenres that include heavy metal-oriented and hardcore punk-oriented bands, respectively. These styles became the basis for nu metal.


Proceeding the development of rap rock, some rock bands had experimented with old school hip hop influences, such as Blondie and The Clash.[1][2] 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 remake helped bring hip hop into popularity with a mainstream white audience.[3] 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.[4] Detroit rapper Esham became known for his "acid rap" style, which fused rapped metal-influenced lyrics with a sound that was often rock and heavy metal-based,[5][6] and is considered to be an influence on the development of rap rock and rap metal.[5] Rappers who sampled rock songs included Ice-T, The Fat Boys, LL Cool J, Public Enemy and Whodini.[7]

Rap rock began to enter the mainstream arena in the 1990s. Rock bands such as 24-7 Spyz, Faith No More, Living Colour, Rage Against the Machine and Red Hot Chili Peppers fused rock and hip hop influences.[7][8] The soundtrack album for the 1993 film Judgment Night featured 11 collaborations between hip hop and rock musicians.[9] Urban Dance Squad mixed funk, heavy metal, hip hop and punk.[10] Biohazard is also considered to be a pioneering act in the genre.[11] 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.[12] Beck's successful 1994 single "Loser" incorporated hip hop influences,[5] including an imitation of Chuck D's rapping style.[13]

Rap rock gained mainstream popularity in the late-90s. Among the first wave of performers to gain mainstream success were 311,[14] Bloodhound Gang,[15] and Kid Rock.[16] Rap rock would later become the basis for the nu metal genre with artists such as Linkin Park or Limp Bizkit.[17] Although the popularity of these styles is believed to be declining,[8] some believe that rap rock may regain popularity, with younger music fans discovering bands in the genre.[18]


Rap rock is varied in sound, with performers incorporating influences from various genres, including alternative rock,[7] funk,[19] hardcore punk,[20] hard rock,[7] heavy metal,[7] or pop.[7] In The Violent World of Moshpit Culture, Joe Ambrose describes rapcore as "a mixture of white rap and hardcore".[20] 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",[19] and described rap rock as having a more organic sound,[19] characterizing many songs in the genre as rock songs in which the vocals were rapped rather than sung.[19] Allmusic also states that the rhythms of rap rock are rooted in that of hip hop, with more funk influences than normal hard rock.[19]

Hed PE, which fuses punk rock with hip hop, sometimes incorporates reggae and heavy metal influences.[21] According to Rolling Stone writer Rob Kemp, Incubus' 1997 album S.C.I.E.N.C.E. "links funk metal to the rap metal".[22] Kottonmouth Kings perform a style which they refer to as "psychedelic hip-hop punk rock".[23] Kid Rock incorporates country and Southern rock influences,[24] and is backed by a 10 piece band, while Everlast fuses blues and rock with hip hop,[25] performing with a live band that includes a DJ.[26][27]

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".[28] Although some alternative metal and nu metal bands incorporate hip hop beats, rap rock bands were always fronted by rappers.[28] Rap metal vocalists mix rapping and screaming.[3]


  1. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Review of Autoamerican". Retrieved 31 December 2008.  
  2. ^ Guarisco, Donald A. "Review of 'The Magnificent Seven'". Allmusic. Retrieved 31 December 2008.  
  3. ^ a b Sanneh, Kelefa (December 3, 2000). "Rappers Who Definitely Know How to Rock". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 December 2008.  
  4. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Review of Licensed to Ill". Allmusic. Retrieved 31 December 2008.  
  5. ^ a b c Keyes, Cheryl Lynette (2002). "Blending and Shaping Styles: Rap and Other Musical Voices". Rap Music and Street Consciousness. University of Illinois Press. p. 108. ISBN 0252072014, 9780252072017.  
  6. ^ Ketchum III, William E. (October 15, 2008). "Mayor Esham? What?". Detroit, Michigan: Metro Times. Retrieved 2008-10-16.  
  7. ^ a b c d e f Henderson, Alex. "Genre essay: Rap-Metal". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-06-24.  
  8. ^ a b Grierson, Tim. "What Is Rap-Rock: A Brief History of Rap-Rock". Retrieved 31 December 2008.  
  9. ^ Greene, Jr, James (April 4, 2008). "Review of Judgment Night: Music from the Motion Picture". PopMatters. Retrieved 31 December 2008.  
  10. ^ Jenkins, Mark (July 14, 1990). "Urban Dance Squad". The Washington Post. Retrieved 31 December 2008.  
  11. ^ "Pop and Jazz Guide". The New York Times. December 26, 2003. Retrieved 31 December 2008.  
  12. ^ Huey, Steve. "Review of Black Sunday". Allmusic. Retrieved 31 December 2008.  
  13. ^ Black, Johnny (March 2003). "The Greatest Songs Ever! Loser". Blender. Retrieved 31 December 2008.  
  14. ^ Nixon, Chris (August 16, 2007). "Anything goes". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 31 December 2008.  
  15. ^ Potterf, Tina (October 1, 2003). "Turners blurs line between sports bar, dance club". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 31 December 2008.  
  16. ^ "Long Live Rock n' Rap: Rock isn't dead, it's just moving to a hip-hop beat. So are its mostly white fans, who face questions about racial identity as old as Elvis". Newsweek. July 19, 1999. Retrieved 31 December 2008.  
  17. ^ McIver, Joel (2002). "The Shock of the New". Nu-metal: The Next Generation of Rock & Punk. Omnibus Press. p. 10. ISBN 0711992096.  
  18. ^ Wedge, Dave (December 24, 2008). "Reveille answers wake-up call". Boston Herald. Retrieved 31 December 2008.  
  19. ^ a b c d e "Genre: Rap-Rock". Allmusic. Retrieved 1 January 2009.  
  20. ^ a b Ambrose, Joe (2001). "Moshing - An Introduction". The Violent World of Moshpit Culture. Omnibus Press. p. 5. ISBN 0711987440.  
  21. ^ Sculley, Alan (August 28, 2008). "(Hed) p.e. wants (no) interference". Naperville, Illinois: The Wichita Eagle. Retrieved 2008-08-23.  
  22. ^ Kemp, Rob (2004). "Incubus". in Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian. The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon and Schuste. p. 403. ISBN 0743201698.  
  23. ^ Ankeny, Jason. "Biography for Kottonmouth Kings". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-08-04.  
  24. ^ Hess, Mickey (2007). "White Rappers". Hip Hop Dead? The Past, Present, and Future of America's Most Wanted Music. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 122–123. ISBN 0275994619.  
  25. ^ "Everlast, Mike Ness, Willie Nelson Soothe Nerves With Early Sunday Sets". MTV News. July 26, 1999. Retrieved 1 January 2009.  
  26. ^ Sullivan, Jim (September 28, 1998). "Scrambling genres works for Everlast". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 1 January 2009.  
  27. ^ Johnson, Brett (August 14, 1999). "Everlast succeeds with introspection". The Hartford Courant. Retrieved 1 January 2009.  
  28. ^ a b "Genre: Rap-Metal". Allmusic. Retrieved 1 January 2009.  

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