Rock Music that Crosses over into Hip Hop

 by Colin Whitten

     As blog editor I have really dropped the ball this academic year. I was the first democratically elected blog editor of the Cornell University Hip Hop Heads (CUHHH) and as of February 2019 I have published one article of my own in September 2018 when then-president reminded me to make a short list and publish it to the blog. So my bad. Blog editor is also somewhat of a made up position. I do not listen to much hip hop anymore which is in part to blame for my lackluster effort. It really is rather pathetic I wrote one article the whole year it took me about twenty minutes to write the first one and this one will take ten minutes to write. I would say expect more to come but I should not make any promises. If you came to this blog expecting the blog editor to be fair and balanced and write about hip hop that you listen to you would be incorrect. 

     Rock music is great and it would be silly for us to ignore the influences and comparisons the two share. Both genres should be considered black music. Hip hop is generally considered to have been invented in the South Bronx in the 1970s and was influenced largely by street gang culture, graffiti, beatboxing, and dancing. Rock music is widely accepted to be invented by Chuck Berry in 1955- a black man playing black music- essentially playing blues with a lot of energy. People tend to forget rock music originally being a black art form but it certainly was at its inception. This is perhaps partly due to white people actually being really good at making rock music while they are overall rather terrible at making hip hop music. Worth mentioning here also that the most influential artist in rock music was a black man Jimi Hendrix I will leave it at that before I bore you to death I hope you are all still reading this even at this point. 

   It would also be worth noting obvious similarities in punk influences in both genres. Hip hop is actually very punk music in nature as I said before it was born out of the South Bronx during a time where artists would have a strong reason to want to rebel against the establishment. The Sex Pistols and Green Day are very punk rock and I would argue that Run DMC and 2Pac are punk rock for the same reasons. 

    Thank you for making it to this part of the article all ten of you that will read this I now will finally use my platform as blog editor of CUHHH to discuss some rock artists that are heavily influenced by hip hop or make strong crossovers into the genre. This is not at all what I was asked to do as blog editor when I was chosen democratically elected one might say but I am only one of about three executive board members that have the login details for the website. 

    The Beastie Boys were a rock band that held their own as a hip hop group. They were well received by all communities as an infusion of rock, punk music, and hip hop. The Beastie Boys would have to be the most important artist when discussing this topic white people listened to them and black people listened to them as these white guys were never trying to be something that they were not. They just made good and fun music while being cognizant and respectful of the culture. My recommendations with regards to this group is to listen to their album ‘Licensed to Ill’ of course and if you have less time just listen to the song ‘Sabotage’ please I’m hoping to get through to someone and put you all on to good music. I will be making recommendations like this for all the artists I mention.

^Beastie Boys^

    Next I should really talk about the Red Hot Chili Peppers one of my favorite bands of all time. Casual fans may suspect the Chili Peppers as being a rock band that makes pop music but that would be far from the truth as they, especially in their early days. Anthony Kiedis has certainly transformed over the course of several decades from a spastic rapper that performed for colleges to a melodic singer that has played at Wembley. Their original guitarist Hillel Slovak who Kiedis once described as ‘the Israeli cowboy that can’t be stopped’ died of a heroin overdose in 1988 and was replaced by John Frusciante who eventually came to be one of the greatest guitarists ever- who transformed the band in numerous ways including a small departure from their heavy rap influence- still most evident in their 1988 album ‘Mother’s Milk.’ Flea should also be mentioned as a mainstay of the band and probably the best bass guitarist ever. If you are looking for a Red Hot Chili Peppers album that sounds a lot like hip hop, certainly check out ‘Mother’s Milk’ especially the songs ‘Higher Ground,’ ‘Magic Johnson,’ and ‘Knock me Down.’ If you want to listen to their *best album, check out ‘Blood Sugar Sex Magik’ which still contains a lot of hip hop influences.

     When discussing this topic I have to mention Limp Bizkit as they unfortunately fit into this category very well. Limp Bizkit was a band that was very popular in the 90s and Fred Durst was a real person that existed. 

     Another group that absolutely should be discussed is Rage Against the Machine. They sit on the intersection of hip hop and rock music. Their guitarist Tom Morello, a Harvard alum, is unbelievably the son of Kenya’s first Ambassador to the United States and his great uncle was Jomo Kenyetta the first elected president in Kenyan history. Rage Against the Machine made perhaps the most socially conscious music in the history of the world. The lead vocalist Zack De La Rocha delivered extremely heavy, profane, and conscious vocals. The song ‘Killing in the Name’ which includes seventeen iterations of the word “fuck” but only contains eight lines of lyrics brought their debut album to triple platinum status. Very heavy music, very aggressive music- socially conscious and punk- very hip hop. Rage Against the Machine should certainly be in this category and included in hip hop. If you are interested in listening to Rage Against the Machine please check out these songs: ‘Killing in the Name,’ ‘Bulls on Parade,’ and ‘Guerilla Radio.’ 

     Some further reading- check out Cypress Hill, most notably ‘How I Could Just Kill a Man’ and ‘Tequila Sunrise.’ Rage Against the Machine as discussed above made a cover of Cypress Hill’s ‘How I Could Just Kill a Man’ that is worth a listen. Linkin Park is certainly worth a mention with their best album being ‘Hybrid Theory.’

     Those bands discussed above are very important in the context of hip hop music intersecting with rock music and I am grateful for those of you that have actually made it to the end of the article and I am especially grateful if you in fact listened to the music I recommended as classic examples of this genre

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