Not to be confused with nu-metal (although it commonly is), rap-metal has produced some great stuff courtesy of groups like Rage Against the Machine and Biohazard. Groups of their ilk knew the importance of both musical styles at play in the mix, refusing to let either the metal or rap elements overshadow each other. When it’s done correctly, rap-metal can be just as hard-hitting and thought-provoking as any other heavy metal sub-genre.
Inevitably though, there are always going to be those tracks that get lost at sea, and rap-metal is no different. Throughout the sub-genre’s history, there have been plenty of great songs that either didn’t perform well in the charts, weren’t critically lauded, or simply didn’t make enough of a splash upon release. Well, let them go underappreciated no longer.
We’ve navigated our way through the inner-tunnels of rap-metal’s core to dig out ten of the most underrated rap-metal songs ever created. We’ve included lesser known acts, as well as more popular artists, but the results are the same regardless: these selection of cuts should be heralded much more than they currently are.
10. Kid Rock – Fist of Rage
As far as metal party records go, Kid Rock’s 1998 effort Devil Without a Cause definitely deserves a mention. Whether it’s the country-rap freewheeler “Cowboy” or the barnstorming opener “Bawitdaba” – Kid Rock’s fourth studio album is a really well executed rap-metal effort that still holds up despite some dated elements in the sounds and textures.
Criticism could certainly be leveled at the braggadocios performer’s later material, but it’s harder to aim those same critiques at the underrated “Fist of Rage.” It’s all pretty conventional stuff, but it’s compiled and layered so well, that it’s hard not to be impressed by the song’s tough exterior. It’s just a shame that it probably sounds to some listeners like bandwagon-jumping when compared with much of his follow-up material.
“Fist of Rage” is one of the hardest hitting tracks on the record, and it also happens to be one of Kid Rock’s best ever rock tunes too. This is a far cry from “All Summer Long” – and that’s a good thing for us all!
9. Cypress Hill – Trouble
Hip-hop royalty Cypress Hill aren’t afraid to mix it up in the metal world, as they’ve proved on several occasions throughout their career. Their juggernaut hit song “(Rock) Superstar” tends to get much love and attention, however, the 2001 single “Trouble” doesn’t seem to garner the same adulation. Shame too because it’s arguably their most effective rap-metal concoction to date.
Starting with a woozy guitar line in the verse before giving way to a monstrous riff in the chorus – “Trouble” nails the quiet/loud dynamics of heavy metal effortlessly. Throw in some killer vocal sparring between vocalists B-Real and Sen Dog, introspective lyrical content, and a jazzy drum workout, and you’ve got the makings of a gem.
This paranoid thumper exemplifies the best rap-metal has to offer – and it’s an offering you’ll want more than once after hearing its infectious groove.
8. Hed PE – Stay Ready (Featuring The Dirtball)
They may have been lumped in with the nu-metal crew around the time of their biggest ever record Broke, but really, Huntington Beach, California’s Hed Pe always sat more comfortably in the rap-metal bracket. Yet, the release of their 2008 magnum opus New World Orphans found the band delving into various different genres, all without abandoning their core sound – as evidenced by album highlight “Stay Ready.”
Whether or not you agree with the controversial lyrical content, one thing that can’t be dismissed is the effortless flow that frontman Jared Gomes hits here. The track exhibits all facets of his vocal talents, going from slick rapping to melodic singing before finishing with guttural screams to close out proceedings. Of course, the group are also complimented by a guest appearance from hip-hop artist The Dirtball, who spits on the second verse with some genuine venom.
All in all, you can’t go far wrong with this underappreciated tune if you’re looking for insatiable grooves, spot on transitions, and some stellar vocal moments.
7. Korn – Children of the Korn (Featuring Ice Cube)
I know, I know, it’s off one of the most successful metal albums of the ‘90s, but Korn’s off-kilter rap/metal hybrid “Children of the Korn” tends to get lost in the pack of successful tracks to emerge from Follow the Leader. Never released as a single, rarely played live, and uncommonly discussed, this eerie album cut tends to get overlooked in several areas. You’d be wrong to however…
Not only is it one of the most effective genre mash-ups in Korn’s illustrious career to date, but it’s also one of the best rap-metal songs out there period. Much of that has to do with gangsta rap icon Ice Cube who, it has to be said, steals the show here. His no-nonsense delivery perfectly suits the rebellious themes that pepper this one, dealing with teen alienation and feelings of isolation in his unique confrontational style. And that’s without taking into account the crazy, oddball instrumentation that propels the track forward.
The spooky, wacky, and downright bizarre choice of hooks, chords, and vocals also made this one of Korn’s most experimental tracks up until that point – something they would delve further into on follow-up LPs Issues and Untouchables. Korn may not be considered as rap-metal, but “Children of the Korn” most certainly should be.
6. Tech N9ne – URALYA
If you want a rapper with some serious appreciation for the metal genre, you’d be remiss not to check out Strange Music spearhead Tech N9ne. He’s hugely respected in the hip-hop world, but that respect also extends to the world of metal. He’s collaborated with Corey Taylor, Serj Tankian, among others, but he’s also pursued it on his own – “URALYA” being a perfect example.
Without the presence of a metal vocalist on the Boiling Point EP track, it’s up to Tecca Nina to deliver the goods himself. Thankfully, his infectious rhymes and rhythms are more than enough to carry this banger through its turbulent duration. With a menacing guitar refrain, a speaker-shattering beat, and an aggressive vocal onslaught, “URALYA” highlights just how adaptable Tech N9ne really is.
Nestled in an EP release, “URALYA” is certainly good enough to make it onto an album. For now, though, it remains a highly underrated rap-metal track that could easily have eluded metal fans upon release.
More rap metal on the next page…