From Trippie Redd to Lil Uzi Vert, rap-rock is back. And this time, it doesn’t suck

They used to call it 'nu-metal'. Now they call it 'glock rock'. Either way, this is the sound of next-gen artists blurring sounds to thrilling effect

Rap and rock have always gone hand-in-hand. Switching in popularity from time to time, the two genres have always inspired each other. However, when it came to ‘00s nu-metal – we’re looking at you, Limp Bizkit – the genres went together like sugar and shit. Lil Wayne’s 2010 attempt at blurring the genres, ‘Rebirth’, is perhaps best forgotten, too (Jay-Z and Linkin Park‘s ‘Numb/Encore’, released the same year, has aged better).

Now, though, rappers are emulating rockers more than ever: DaBaby‘s homage, ‘Rockstar’, featuring Roddy Ricch, has spent five weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100. Since ‘nu-metal’ is such a dirty word, fans have dubbed the new rap-rock crossover ‘glock rock’, a term fans applied to dancehall star Vybz Kartel’s surprise rock ballad ‘Not OK’, released back in May.

And he’s not the only one blurring the boundaries between rap and rock; these glock-rock luminaries have bangers in the pipeline…

Trippie Redd

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The Ohio rapper has been promising his fans a rock album for years now, and it’s no secret he loves a few rock legends. With his perfect gruff singing voice – always on the verge of screaming – Trippie would be perfect over a rock instrumental. On his last record, 2019’s ferocious ‘A Love Letter To You 4’, the track ‘End Of Time’ proved to the world that this once mumble rapper can unleash the real rocker inside of him. Hopefully the upcoming album ‘PEGASUS’, due this year, will live up to the same standards.

He says: “The deluxe [version of ‘PEGASUS’] is going to be the rock album… I’ve got all my favourite artists on there.”

Why he doesn’t suck: Trippie Redd has proven to the world time and again that rap’s may be his skill, but rock is his passion. ‘PEGASUS’ could just be the first time Trippie Redd proves he can still make a full record of high-quality rock songs.

Lil Uzi Vert

We all know Uzi’s favourite artist of all time is Marilyn Manson – he’s never been quiet about that. To date, though, Uzi has worn his love of rock aesthetically rather than musical; it’s right there in the ripped shirts, studded jeans and rebellious demeanour. But a recently leaked new track with A$AP Ferg looks set to change all that with the East Coast rappers spitting over a punk rock beat. Hopefully ‘She’s A Wild Thing’ is an indication that this generation’s Lil Wayne is moving in the same direction as his predecessor.

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He says: Lil Uzi Vert has always said he’s “a rockstar”. And his idol Marilyn Manson once said of the Philly native: “I think he has punk rock in him. He’s a lil’ crazy motherfucker.”

Why he doesn’t suck: Lil Uzi Vert is one of the most detail-orientated rappers out there; there’ll be none of the clumsiness of ’00s nu-metal when he’s around.

Machine Gun Kelly

MGK‘s 2019 album ‘Hotel Diablo’ proved he’s jumping from strength to strength; the  crossover record combined his traditional rap flows with the darker side of emo music. But his next project ‘Tickets To My Downfall’, due for release this year, will unleash the real rocker inside of him. He’s announced that it’ll be a “pop-punk album” and will see the  versatile Ohio native team up with Blink-182’s Travis Barker. The album will be one of the most anticipated nu-metal (sorry, glock rock) projects this year, and should go a long way to reviving the genre.

He says: “All the hip-hop melodies are so pop-punk right now – it’s awesome.”

Why he doesn’t suck: If the irresistible headbanger of a track, ‘Bloody Valentine’ – released in March – is anything to go by, Machine Gun Kelly’s take on rock will be an ideal outlet for this bad boy turned sad boi.

City Morgue

Frequent collaborators ZillaKami and Sosmula have been pushing against the grain in the New York rap scene. Emerging at the time SoundCloud and mumble rap were the newest craze a couple of year ago, these New Yorkers mixed thrash metal with pulsating 808s. The duo’s recently released ‘As Good As Dead’ is a masterclass in uncompromising sounds and horrorcore aesthetic.

They say:You can’t be sad and listen to it, unless you’re the sort of person who thrives on anger. … [Now] we have something for when you’re laying down, when you’re washing dishes, or when you’re lifting weights.”

Why they don’t suck: If you’re someone who enjoys hellish, high-energy music that is mosh pit-friendly, City Morgue should be your go-to.

Post Malone

We can’t talk about rap-rock without the blended genre’s poster child, Posty. His Billboard Number One, last year’s ‘Circles’, is a love-sick emo-rap masterwork. The album it appeared on, ‘Hollywood’s Bleeding’, was a true genre all-rounder, veering from rap to Stroke-style indie and even ’70s FM radio. He’s said he’s working on a new album; imagine how much emotion Posty has bottled up lockdown.

He says: “What I think is so cool is, music is becoming so genre-less and just so liquid and anything can be anything. Just stepping out of comfort zones and maybe doing rock, maybe doing country, maybe putting it all together with all different sorts of genres. There is no genre and it’s just music at that point.”

Why he doesn’t suck: Did you see the livestreamed Nirvana cover gig he did to raise money for the World Health Organisation? The guy can shred.

Clever

This 35-year-old Alabama rocker’s love for hip hop started at the age of 15 when he stumbled across US music video show 106 & Park. The media-shy rapper collaborated with Snoop Dogg and his Eastsidaz on 2014’s ‘Payday’, but it was 2019’s ‘Ring Ring’, which appeared on Juice WRLD‘s debut album ‘Death Race For Love’, that truly showcased his take on glock-rock. Clever’s heavy vibrato contrasted beautiful with barking blasts of guitar, so hopefully his upcoming album ‘Crazy’ will strike the same notes.

He says: “It’s really satisfying when people relate to the music in a way that helps them get through things, or feel some kind of emotional connection to what I do. But at the same time I wanted to turn their heads and make them say, ‘Who this is?’”

Why he doesn’t suck: Clever has paid his dues and earned his stripes; his voice is the voice of experience.

The Kid LAROI

Rock’s influence on rap isn’t just a bunch of rappers spitting over punky beats; New South Wales’ LAROI explores folky vocals over trap beats to similarly great effect. This Juice WLRD-affilate (he and the late rapper appear on this year’s ‘GO’) has proven his place with great tracks like the bouncy trapaholic ‘Diva’, laying his crisp, gravely vocals over 808s and clashing synths. With a brand new mixtape, ‘Fuck Love’, on the way, we can only hope we can hear more of the Aussie’s indie-rock vocals.

He says: “Being sad is something that you can’t really explain. That’s why I like music, because you can tell it through sounds and sonics.”

Why he doesn’t suck: Juice WRLD fans think that Kid LAROI is a ‘mini-Juice’ due to his blend of rock and rap. Tune in and watch him – and all of our glock-rockers – blow.

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