It shouldn’t be surprising to anybody that nu-metal progenitors Korn absolutely loves hip-hop.
Whether explicitly or subtly, hip-hop has always intersected with the band’s music. At its core, their own take on heavy metal owes a lot to the song structures and bounce of rap music. Singer Jonathan Davis often oscillates between full-on singing and a style not that far off from an MC.
Be it bringing out rappers on tours, or appearing front in center in the Aaliyah-starring Queen of the Damned, Korn’s hip-hop credentials have always been pretty clear. Here are ten of their best collaborations, ranging from remixes to mashups to pitch-perfect features. Rest assured, “All in the Family” is not on this list.
“Bitch Better Have My Money” Remix
Out of nowhere, in 2014 Korn decided to drop a remix with Rihanna on her explosive “Bitch Better Have My Money” single. Already packed with attitude in its original incarnation, Korn’s adds a serious level of oomf to the song’s instrumentals. The band upgrades the already bassy production to one of their signature low-end guitar riffs, and Rihanna sounds perfect over the bounce. To this day, we’re still not totally sure how the remix came about, but we’re so stoked it exists.
“Play Me” Featuring Nas
By no stretch of the imagination is Take a Look in the Mirror Korn’s best work. Their first without Brian Head Welch, Korn fumbles around and doesn’t find their footing in too many places. The one exception is “Play Me” featuring hip-hop legend Nas. Davis steps away from vocal duties on the track for the most part, allowing Nas to just go at it, laying down bar after bar over the band’s instrumentation. It rises to a killer breakdown, Davis making himself felt with a screamed bridge before Nasty Nas returns.
“Coming Undone Wit It” Dem Franchize Boyz Remix
Korn’s celebrity footprint was pretty massive during the release of their 2005 record See You on the Other Side. In addition to enlisting the pop production team The Matrix to help shape the album’s sound, they also did work with prominent rappers at the time, namely Atlanta trap group Dem Franchise Boyz. The two groups mashed up their singles “Coming Undone ” and “Lean Wit It Rock Wit It” into a track that actually works pretty great. “Coming Undone Wit It” builds off the original’s bounce and rhythm, inserting raps over Korn’s riffs. It’s a shame the jam isn’t on any streaming services.
Twisted Transistor Video
Again during the See You on the Other Side time period, Korn decided to drop what’s easily their funniest video ever, “Twisted Transistor.” The band’s roles are replaced here: Lil Jon as Jonathan Davis, Xzibit as Fieldy, David Banner as David Silveria, and Snoop Dogg as James Shaffer. All four rappers do a pretty funny job here, both pantomiming the song’s performance at a show, doing an autograph signing, doing terrible modeling deals and more. At the end of the video, they’re confronted by Korn’s actual members playing the role of “Fony Music” executives. It’s too damned good.
Children of the Korn
Korn’s mainstream breakout Follow the Leader had Korn leaning further into the hip-hop end of their formula, the best example being “Children of the Korn” featuring Ice Cube. Cube starts the track off referencing the band’s infamy at the time with schools and parents, as the band delivers a guitar-laden trounce forward. Both Jonathan Davis and Ice Cube deliver great performances here, both artists hitting a similar level of infamy at the song’s release.
“Worst Is On Its Way” HEALTH Remix featuring Danny Brown and Meechy Darko
Few do remixes as well as HEALTH. With collabs under their belt featuring everyone from Nine Inch Nails to Ghostemane, it was only a matter of time before Korn and HEALTH put something down. That wound up being a remix for Requiem Mass cut “Worst Is On Its Way,” with guest vocal features from rappers Danny Brown and Meechy Darko. Darko’s voice is low and rough, fitting the song’s vibe perfectly while Brown bounces off the song’s walls. It’s a hell of a collab with all involved, and we’re stoked to see Korn continuing to work with out of the box collaborators.
“The Devil Went Down to Georgia” Featuring Yelawolf
It’s hard to imagine Korn covering “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” with Yelawolf being on anybody’s bingo card. That said, it’s a pretty solid combo between all involved, and the interplay between Davis and Yelawolf taking on Charlie Daniels’ original odyssey is commendable. It’s also a rare context you’ll hear Korn solo stuff out, which is a nice surprise from the group.
$uicideboy$ Collab With Munky and Travis Barker
NOLA rap duo $uicideboy$ represents a new generation of metal-inspired hip-hop, so a Korn collab makes all the sense in the world. For their EP Live Fast, Die Whenever, $B tapped Travis Barker to produce, and in that wound up getting Munky to do some wild-ass riffs to help back up their in-your-face raps.
“Fight the Power” Cover Featuring Xzibit
Korn know how to nail a cover. For the soundtrack of XXX 2: State of the Union (a nu-metal classic, in our expert opinion) Korn teamed up with rapper and Pimp My Ride host Xzibit for a pretty excellent cover of Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power.” Both artists make it their own, Xzibit going off of the original verse and nailing the vibe and power of the original.
Notorious B.I.G. Wake Up
In 2005, the second posthumous Notorious B.I.G. album Duets: The Final Chapter was released. It was a controversial record, combining then-contemporary rappers with some of B.I.G.’s classic tracks, and transforming them into new posse cuts. The final track on the song “Wake Up,” features none other than Korn. Frankly, it’s a pretty compelling combo all things considered, and Korn’s love for Biggie’s material is obvious. The track pulls from the Biggie songs “If I Should Die Before I Wake” and “Kick In the Door,” recontextualizing his raps over the bassy power of Korn’s grooves.