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My blog is my space to highlight academic work outside of my formal publications. Posts vary from short essays to album reviews to exemplary student work to small sample-digs that I use as warm-ups for my courses. This blog also contains the burgeoning archive of artist interviews that I am collecting for my dissertation, "Writing in the Break."

  • Writer's pictureTyler Bunzey

Digging the Digital Crates: Hip-Hop's Collaborations with Rock n' Roll

Hip-hop has been using rock samples since its party days in the early Bronx, but the first group to really take advantage of rock's aesthetics and put them into a rap context was Run D.M.C. (Rev Run and Darryl D.M.C. McDaniels). The Queens duo used rock as early as their hit single "Rock Box" (1984), which samples a guitar riff by Eddie Martinez who was a famous rock studio musician. However, it wasn't until D.M.C.'s cover of Aerosmith's "Walk This Way" (1986) that hip-hop began to regularly incorporate rock into its samples.

The Beastie Boys came out with "Rock Hard" around the same time as "Rock Box," which featured an uncleared sample of AC/DC's "Black in Black."

Public Enemy's Terminator X and production team The Bomb Squad incorporated rock as part of their signature "Wall of Sound" that was meant to assault the ears of their listeners. Their remix of "Bring the Noise" (1991) featured the thrash metal band "Anthrax" and mixed the track to feature Anthrax's general style.

Hip-hop/punk rock crossover band featuring MC Ice T (yeah, he did stuff before Law and Order) forwarded rock aesthetics in their controversial protest record "Cop Killer" (1992). This hit was immediately pulled from shelves, Ice T was forced to reissue the album without it, and he attracted the ire of political, cultural, and social leaders like George H.W. Bush, Tipper Gore, and Oprah. Ice T, however, did get one last laugh as he released the single for free in record stores after the controversy.

Some bands began to fuse the two styles completely, like the early 2000s mega-popular rock hop/punk/emo (?) band Linkin Park.

Hip-hop and rap's flirtation with one another began to wane in the 2000s and has never really picked back up. While bands like Twenty One Pilots occasionally use hip-hop's aesthetics, hip-hop and rock went different directions. Rock began to wane in popularity, and hip-hop's aesthetic center moved from NY to the West Coast to the South, which birthed the party rap of the 2000s and trap in the 2010s, two sub-genres whose aesthetics don't really match up with rock's.

However, we haven't even talked about hip-hop sampling rock. These are all explicit collaborations. Looks like we will have to do another sample dig on rap's rock samples soon!

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