5. Body Count – Enter The Dark Side
Body Count have written scores of great rap-metal songs since their initial inception in 1990, however, one of their more overlooked tracks sits ominously on their 2014 comeback record Manslaughter. Whether it’s from a lyrical standpoint or a musical one, the towering anthem “Enter the Dark Side” ticks all the boxes.
Positioned relatively deep into the record, “Enter the Dark Side” is that instant shot of adrenaline that just keeps on giving. Going from a slow build to a frantic pace – Body Count are relentless and savage once this one catches fire. They ramp the track up to its peak with increases in tempo and intensity, before skidding off the rails with a thrash-laden finale. It’s powerful, raw, and of course, heavy as hell. Lyrically it’s just as effective, with frontman Ice-T railing against the disparity between rich and poor.
Body Count are masters at addressing social ills, but on “Enter the Dark Side,” they do it in such a precise and impactful way that it’s almost impossible not to sit up and take notice. Make no mistake about – this song deserves to be placed among their very finest compositions to date.
4. Faith No More & Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E. – Another Body Murdered
Both Faith No More and Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E can be credited for their work in the rap-metal world, but who knew how potent a force they could be when combining forces. Well, we got to see it first hand on “Another Body Murdered” from the Judgement Night movie soundtrack. Spoiler alert: it’s awesome.
When demands such as “Bang your head to this” ring out while Mike Patton croons over the top of the song’s crunching main riff, it’s hard not to oblige. Its catchiness masks some ingenious musical moments, though, such as the shrill keys which can be heard throughout, as well as the distant screams nefariously buried in the mix. Nevertheless, this floor-shaker was made for instant impact, and it succeeds at every step of the way.
Movie soundtracks can often sound like a bunch of throwaway tracks that didn’t require much thought when they were being conceived. “Another Body Murdered” breaks that cycle though thanks to some terrific performances and a merging of two acts that you wouldn’t think would work on paper but somehow do in reality.
3. Bionic Jive – I Shot Lucifer
Rap-metal five-piece Bionic Jive really never got a fair shake during their short time on the rap-metal scene. They released two records and practically vanished soon after. However, after listening to their 2001 debut album Armageddon Through Your Speakers, it’s quite mystifying as to why they never take off in the first place.
It’s not like they released a tepid first single either, in fact, “I Shot Lucifer” was the opposite. It featured chugging riffs, incendiary themes, and killer flows – elements that should’ve made this track a hit. For whatever reason, it never did, ultimately remaining one of rap-metal’s most overlooked songs. Did they come too late to the game? Was nu-metal on a decline? Was the market over-saturated? Those are the most likely reasons for its underwhelming performance.
I’ll even go one step further and say that Bionic Jive’s whole Armageddon Through Your Speakers is an underrated piece of work in the rap-metal canon. Well worth a listen if you like your grooves mixed with some really nifty vocal performances.
2. 24-7 Spyz – Spill My Guts
Merging metal and rap is one thing, but when the metal moments are mostly made up of thrash, that feat becomes even tougher to achieve. Well, try telling that to influential four-piece 24-7 Spyz – a group who did all of that when it wasn’t considered a cool thing to do. Nowhere was their genre-merging abilities on show as much as they were on the speeding bullet “Spill My Guts.”
This one hits an absolutely throttling pace right from the off, utilizing driving basslines, intricate drum patterns, and scorching riffs. With a scintillating guitar solo, an infectious vocal delivery, and all sorts of neat progressions along the way, “Spill My Guts” is one of those tracks that even haters of rap-metal would surely tip their hats off to.
Emerging late on in the band’s 1989 debut album Harder Than You, “Spill My Guts” never gets talked about enough despite how insanely forward thinking it was. 24-7 Spyz were masters of fusing genres together, and on this particular cut, it’s a fusion that works on every level.
1. Urban Dance Squad – Step Off
In terms of being underrated in the rap-metal world, no artist can really come close to touching musical innovators Urban Dance Squad. Formed in 1986, the group combined elements of metal, hip-hop, funk, blues, and a whole host more in their ambitious attempt to bring a fresh new sound to audiences. And on their last ever studio album in 1999, they made sure to go out all guns blazing.
The music scene may have passed them by at that point in time, but you wouldn’t know it listening to album opener “Step Off.” Following a stunning sample-laden intro, the group finally launch into a suave verse section with stuttering rhymes and intertwining guitar lines, before giving way to an anthemic chorus. Impressively, they show restraint for much of the track, making those heavy guitar moments all the more impactful. Unfortunately, the band broke up soon after the release of Antarctica, but at least they left us with some great music before the split.
The next time someone mentions Rage against The Machine, spare a thought for these unsung heroes of rap-metal. On “Step Off,” they prove that they are just as effective as their fellow sub-genre compatriots – with the added benefit of being one of the first groups to successfully merge the seemingly disparate styles of music too.
What rap-metal songs do you think deserve more praise? Let us know below!