The once-maligned genre, rap metal, is maybe the hottest it’s been in decades.
This new wave of the genre is driven by younger musicians who grew up with the sounds of Linkin Park and Rage Against the Machine. Bands now subvert expectations of what rap metal is capable of, and offer up a compelling argument: these two styles belong together.
Recently, it was announced that Rage Against the Machine has been nominated to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; and then there was news of Robb Flynn praising Ronnie Radke of Falling In Revere’s rap “skills.” Both these stories got us thinking about the history of rap and nu-metal and what bands – old and new – deserve to be praised for their creative brilliance.
For the critics who might have counted the genre out in the past for pure red-capped ignorance, it’s time to dive back in to see what’s really going on, and to appreciate what’s built the current state of the genre.
Without further ado, here are 10 awesome rap-metal, rap-rock, and nu-metal bands.
Having formed in 2012, Ho99o9 blends hardcore with rap, metal, and industrial music. They’ve toured with the likes of The Dillinger Escape Plan and Slipknot, with Corey Taylor even jumping on a track with them. Ho99o9 has drawn comparisons to both the legendary hardcore band Black Flag, as well as the experimental Death Grips. Their latest album is 2022’s Skin, which is a hell of a banger.
Along with providing their own fresh sound, Dropout Kings channel the nu-metal energy of early aughts Linkin Park throughout their material. Their blend of rapping and metal makes for nonstop thrilling tunes which channel the vibrancy of rap with the crushing flow of metal. Along with the likes of Tallah and Vended, Dropout Kings is helping to usher in an exciting era of nu-metal.
Of course, Body Count made this list. You have one of the greatest rap legends of all time – Ice-T – fronting a crossover metal group. To this day, few have written songs as succinct as “Cop Killer” or “KKK B****,” with Ice refusing to cower to anybody. As much as the PMRC may have wanted to stop Body Count and Ice, the band always stayed true to calling out injustices.
This Philadelphia, Pennsylvania group offers a jaw-dropping blend of hardcore and rap, each of their songs making for gripping experiences of sonic ferocity and emotion. Their album Diaspora Problems, was one of our favorite albums from 2022, and for good reason. As much as there are moments of anger and frustration throughout the album, Soul Glo also manages to be funny without being corny. A remarkable band everyone needs to hear.
Without a doubt, Death Grips are by far one of the most fascinating musical acts around today. Their concoction of noise, rap, hardcore, and industrial music is wholly their own, capturing the rapt attention of deep internet dwellers. Death Grips’ refusal to be a public entity only adds to the excitement of their music, with each new record release going in a completely unexpected direction, be it Robert Pattinson riffing or Bjork offering up vocals. With the group set to tour further into 2023, it’s a good time to log into the band’s discography if you haven’t.
Currently, on the road with Jesus Piece, Show Me The Body actually manages to make rap rock and bluegrass not only listenable but excellent. Truly, a herculean feat no one would expect on paper. Songs like “Arcanum” show just how readily the two worlds can merge together, as their discography is proof positive there are far more angles and dimensions for rap metal to explore.
The music of Backxwash is nothing short of fascinating. Her approach to horrorcore – incorporating elements of nu-metal, electronics, and rap – makes for some of the most theatrical-sounding and stunning work to be heard in heavy music today. Backxwash is not interested in creating anything conventional or easily digestible – she is far more interested in creating works that engage with audiences, offering complex compositions that are exciting to hear, but also provide technical depth and intrigue.
A badass act that incorporates rapping with Slayer-like instrumentals, Gridiron is a one-of-a-kind force absolutely killing it in the hardcore world. Who else could manage to deliver wonderfully ignorant lines like, “You on the bench, We in the trench” and deliver it with enthusiasm?
As one of the biggest bands to come out of the early aughts – and considered by some to bring nu-metal to the mainstream – Linkin Park has cemented themselves as one of the most important acts in all of rap metal history. Backed up by two of rock’s greatest to do it in Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda, Linkin Park drew up the blueprint for the emotional complexity the genre could deliver. While many rap-metal acts have come and gone, Linkin Park’s influence remains ever-present in heavy metal.
Rage Against the Machine
And of course, the originators of rap metal and nu-metal. While it’s been 23 years since their last album, Rage Against the Machine’s earlier works still stand as politically and musically relevant as ever. Generations will embrace “Killing In the Name” for good reason, Zach De La Rocha‘s shiv-like lyricism is both relatable and specific to injustices carried out by the government. Many bands, people, politicians, and corporations tried to replicate what Rage did, but they’re a singular entity. No one else could provide the fuel for a generation’s political awareness and ignite the passions and consciousness of young people around the world.