BLACK MUSIC MONTH: “Born To Rock” – The Top 5 Artists To Mash-Up Rap With Rock


It’s the end of “Black Music Month!” And while it may not sound okay to some folks to call music ‘Black’ or ‘White’ or ‘in-between,’ there are definitely historical and cultural roots to today’s beloved music genres. Black Music Month is a time to celebrate the music of a people born out of struggle and raised into triumph. It emerged from the swamps and plantations of the South, the steel mills and railroads of the North, and everywhere Black people have been in this country.

Most Black Music is derived from the rhythms of Africa, and in America, it mashed with other sounds to create the rhythmic pulses of most modern, Pop and Rock music. defines Rock N’ Roll as “a style of popular music that derives in part from blues and folk music and is marked by a heavily accented beat and a simple, repetitive phrase structure.” 

Believe it or not, Rock N’ Roll is essentially Black Music – originating from artists such as Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and others, who noticed their bluesy sounds were kicked-up a notch when paired with heavy guitars and reckless drums. That their style was, by many accounts, “stolen” by the mainstream, White artists of the ’50s is still up for debate, but where Rock originally comes from is not.

In the early days of Rap, some artists found their voices over that same notion of heavy guitars and drums, and in honor of the monumental mixture between Rock and Rap, and because we love Black Music Month, offers its “Top 5 Artists (or Groups) To Mash-Up Rap With Rock”:

5. Public Enemy

Following Run-DMC’s “Walk This Way” record with Aerosmith in the mid-1980s, the music world opened its doors to more left-field collaborations that, more often than not, produced stellar results from the genres of Rock and Rap. The first examples were the iconic group’s sampling of Slayer on their 1988 album, It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back followed by their collaboration with Anthrax on “Bring the Noise” three years later.

4. Cypress Hill

Lyricists B-Real and Sen-Dog are usually the first names you think of when Cypress Hill comes to mind, but the sound of Cypress comes from DJ Muggs and Eric “Bobo” Correa, the DJ/producer and current percussionist of the band, respectively. Since 1988, Cypress Hill has merged their Latin roots with booming drums, bass, and hard-hitting lyrics to create a sound that is uniquely their own and appreciated around the world. “Insane In the Membrane,” “(Rock) Superstar” and their mid-’90s collaboration with Alt-rockers Pearl Jam are just a few examples of the group’s innate ability to merge Rock and Rap together more than effectively.

3. Rage Against the Machine 

In the 1990s, Rap was beginning to lead the forefront of what people considered “popular music.” One of the greatest Rock bands to bring in a Hip-Hop influence is undoubtedly Rage Against the Machine who were led by singer, activist, and all-around icon, Zack De La Rocha. There is no doubt that Rage’s primary influence outside of Rock was Public Enemy, so it was only right that, despite being vocal about different issues throughout the world, the groups were extremely similar in what they stood for musically and sonically.

2. Beastie Boys

When Licensed to Ill dropped in 1986, the world was introduced to The Beastie Boys, and in the decades that followed, die-hard fans could not be happier with the material that three Jewish boys from Brooklyn delivered decade after decade. “Fight For Your Right,” “Sabotage,” “Make Some Noise”, and “Intergalactic” are just a few examples of what the Boys have done over the years in their familiar, Rock-themed way. With the recent passing of founding member Adam “MCA” Yauch, what better time than now to go back and discover (or rediscover) what made the Rap world fall in love with the Beastie Boys from day one.

1. The Roots

Who really merges and mashes genres together better than The Roots? Over 20 years of perfecting their signature sound through performances, albums, and a current residency on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, it’s no surprise that they just keep sounding better. Since the group’s inception, live instrumentation was always a focal point to create atmospheric and one-of-a-kind sounds behind one of the most respected lyricists in the game, Black Thought. They’ve been breaking barriers and crossing boundaries since 1987, here’s to the next 25 years!

Honorable Mentions: Run-DMC, Jay-Z, Kid Rock, Ice-T, Linkin Park, Wu-Tang Clan, B.O.B., KRS-One, Kanye West, Mos Def, De La Soul


Be sure to check out’s other “Black Music Month” coverage!:

Black Music Month: We Got The Jazz:’s Top 5 Artists to Mash-Up Rap With Abstract

Black Music Month Book Notes: A Breakdown of the Latest Urban Reads

Black Music Month: “The Planet Rocks” When Electronic Dance Music and Rap Collide

Black Music Month VIDEO: Kevin Hart, LaLa Anthony And More Share Their Favorite Hip-Hop Artists