The best rap music already challenges metal in the heaviness department: The bloodiest goregrind fantasy seems downright tame against Scarface plumbing his real life experiences with depression and death. Ever since 1986, when Run-D.M.C. and Aerosmith symbolically tore down that practice space wall in the "Walk This Way" video, heavy music and hip-hop have been intrinsically linked, from the rap-rock collaborations of the Nineties to the nu-metal hybrid theories of the '00s to the SoundCloud screamers of today. These 10 hip-hop songs span decades, trends and regions but stand together as some of the absolute best for throwing elbows, banging heads and spitting venom.
Producer Rick Rubin helped Trojan Horse hip-hop into the suburbs by combining the NYC-bred rhymes of Run-D.M.C., L.L. Cool J and Beastie Boys with the chugging guitars and hard-rock samples beloved by middle America headbangers. Military-grade rap-rock pavement shakers like "Walk This Way" and "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)" scaled the Billboard pop charts and conquered MTV. However, it was the production team of Run-D.M.C. and producer Davy DMX who ended up with the heaviest song of the era. The 1988 album track "Tougher Than Leather" out-Rubins Rubin with a mix of funk and proto-groove metal as Run and D.M.C. shout in tandem: "Three man riot, you can't deny it/We're so ill that you can't defy it"
"I'll strangle that cocksucker Jimmy Page," said Bad Lieutenant director Abel Ferrara, who was forced to remove Schoolly D's Led Zeppelin-interpolating "Signifying Rapper" from his ultra-gritty 1992 flick. "As if every fucking lick that guy ever played didn't come off a Robert Johnson album." It's too bad because the Schoolly D song — built off of Page's incredibly heavy "Kashmir" riff — is one of the absolute hardest rap songs ever made. The song flips the proto-rap "Signifying Monkey," a piece of African-American folklore utilized by many, many previous generations but was made iconic to Schoolly's by the 1975 blaxploitation classic Dolemite.
This cinematic prequel to Ice-T's 1986 gangsta rap classic "6 'N The Morning" is full of vivid scenes of bullets and bloodshed, but gets even heavier since it's built on two of the heaviest pieces of music ever played: Tony Iommi's guitar riff from Black Sabbath's "Black Sabbath" and John Bonham's drums from Led Zep's "When the Leevee Breaks."
There's not one note of guitar in this wild-out classic, but anyone listening to rap radio in 2000 knows that "Ante Up" from Brooklyn blasters M.O.P. is probably the crunkest, meanest, most elbow-throwing anthem in rap history. "We had already put out three albums by that point and smashed everybody when it came to live shows on stage. We smashed everybody on guest verses on their own records, too. But still we were not getting our due respect.," M.O.P.'s Billy Danze told Passion of the Weiss. "So the song might sound like it's about robbing and stealing only, but for me, we got the energy for this one because we were calling for respect and taking it.
Eminem's most notorious tantrum was a gruesome, unsettlingly specific murder fantasy about his on-again off-again romantic partner. "If I was her, I would have ran when I heard that shit," the Marshall Mathers LP executive producer Dr. Dre told Rolling Stone. "It's over the top — the whole song is him screaming. It's good, though. Kim gives him a concept."
Much of metal royalty — Ozzy Osbourne, Metallica, Slayer, Korn and Linkin Park among them — have teamed up with a famous rapper at some point in their careers. But leave it to horrorcore malcontent Necro to finally dip hip-hop's toes in the bloodpools of death metal. On his 2004 album, he got assistance from vocalist John Tardy of gore-soaked death-metal pioneers Obituary, who teams here with Nuclear Assault bassist Dan Lilker and Hatebreed guitarist Sean Martin.
Producer Rick Rubin laced this crunk-metal song with not one, but two Slayer riffs — off 1986's "Raining Blood" and 1988's "Mandatory Suicide." Lil Jon, a skatepunk in his youth, took direct inspiration from Suicidal Tendencies' world-up-my-ass classic "Institutionalized." "First day we came in, [Rubin] had these loops and samples, and I was like, 'That ain't hard enough!' Lil Jon told MTV News. "He said, 'All right,' and pulled out some Slayer stuff."
Fueled by My Bloody Valentine and Public Enemy (and endorsed by both TOOL and Mike Patton), Dälek have spent 20 years making uncompromising music that brings golden-era hip-hop screaming into industrial voids. Perhaps the heaviest song off their eight-albums-and-growing catalog is this examination of hip-hop's balance of art and capital, a passionate rant given from inside a dense, impenetrable swirl of feedback and noise.
No one has had more success with the still-exploding subgenre of "trap-metal" than controversial Florida rapper XXXTentacion, whose punk-length, emotionally raw dispatches touched a nerve with a generation of depressed kids and whose offstage legal troubles and violent behavior kept the media rapt. Raised on metalcore bands like Asking Alexandria and high-octane rappers like the Odd Future collective, songs like "#ImSippinTeaInYoHood" were pure unvarnished energy, bleeding with distortion and throat-ripping shouts.
At her angriest, Maryland MC Rico Nasty explodes in every direction like a cross between Nicki Minaj and Slipknot. Her two-minute-and-change track "Rage" was an instant punk-rap classic. "I think sometimes when you can't express the right words of how profoundly upset you are, screaming has a more visceral impact, so I'm just like, arghhhhhhhh! It's therapeutic," Nasty told Dazed. "I feel like that shit works because there are actually rage rooms. They have people who can take you to a fucking mountain, then you just go up there and you scream."