Over the course of the last decade, album sales have fallen sharply for the rock and metal genres, while hip-hop and rap have exploded in sales and popularity. The interesting thing about this is that a lot of the popular rap artists today have taken a rather non-traditional approach to create their music, much like how the early metal bands separated themselves from mainstream rock by incorporating new elements of sound.
Rap and rock together is not a new thing. Run DMC were probably the first band to bring the two together for a larger audience in the early days of rap. They were followed up by the Beastie Boys who mixed metal music sounds with their unique flavor of rap. Other bands followed with Ice-T starting the controversial band Body Count.
The mid to late 80’s seemed to see the two genres go their separate ways again. But in the mid-to-late 90’s and early 2000’s bands like Korn, Limp Bizkit, Kottonmouth Kings, Hed P.E., Rage Against The Machine, P.O.D. and many more were again mixing rock and rap into a successful formula. Since that time, the two have drifted apart again as rap has split into some very different sub-genres as well as rock music being declared dead by some in the industry. For the record, I don’t believe for a second that rock music is dead or over. Rock music is currently suffering from an identity crisis. Mainstream rock has become absolutely boring with a seemingly endless parade of bands emerging using the same cookie cutter formula to play what they they think the mainstream audience wants to hear. This leads to a formula that leaves so many bands sounding almost identical to one another. Meanwhile, rap artists have tested the boundaries of their genre and found success with more harsh sounding elements in the music. Rap has gotten more noisy. Many popular rap artists openly confess their love for metal music and are often seen wearing ripped jeans, denim jean jackets and metal shirts for bands like Iron Maiden, Metallica and Pantera.
Recently Body Count returned with a critically acclaimed new album. Rap artists like ZillaKami even wants people to refer to his music as metal. It definitely has the spirit of metal, but does not contain the traditional elements of guitar that has so far defined the genre. Houston Texas has spawned Hyro The Hero, a true rap and rock mix, which sounds surprisingly similar to Rage Against The Machine. But by far the most interesting band that I have heard lately is the Dropout Kings. They fuse the modern style of the current rap scene with traditional rock elements to create a cohesive sound that’s relevant to both genres.The Dropout Kings will see their debut album released in August 2018 and very well could be the start of a another true rock and rap crossover sound that can invigorate the scene and unite fans of both genres.
The Arizona-based six-pack of the Dropout Kings have managed to fuse everything that was awesome back then with the modern edge that blows our minds right now. Hip hop! Fire freestyles! Metal! Varsity jackets! ‘Going Rogue‘ poisons your senses with a dark flow and pumping bass, before ultra-aggressive shouts drown out the heady rapping – and the advance single ‘Street Sharks‘ makes that ceiling crumble over the dancefloor from moment number one. The young crew skillfully avoid the cheesiness of the 90s, and instead plays it ultrasmooth and mega-heavy on debut album AudioDope.
While many people are equally divided and absolutely hate rap or rock, there is nothing that states that the two can’t co-exist. The biggest problem today with any type of music is lack of creativity. And if a band or artist can make something fresh and interesting to listen to, I’m all for it.