35 Hip-Hop Artists That Rock

Rappers with strong rock 'n' roll vibe.

Ultimate Guitar
35 Hip-Hop Artists That Rock

Rock music and hip-hop music always went parallel each walking in his own way. But at a certain time they came close to each other, and the result did not take long to wait - there were various collaborations between rock and hip-hop artists, and such music genres as rap metal, nu metal, rapcore, funk rock, etc were formed.

And since that time, both genres somehow influence one another. So we know many examples of rock/metal bands influenced by hip-hop - but there are hip-hop artists who were by influenced by rock music too.

So we prepared a special list of 35 hip-hop artists who have a rock approach or even incorporate rock/metal elements into their music.

P.S. Yes, of course we're Ultimate Guitar first, but it's always great to expand genre boundaries - hope you'll discover something new from this list.

Honorable mentions are (you can just scroll them down if you want):

  • 3rd Bass
  • Action Bronson
  • Aesop Rock
  • Afrika Bambaataa
  • Atmosphere
  • Black Star
  • Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
  • Buck 65
  • Danny Brown
  • Das EFX
  • Das Racist
  • dead prez
  • Edan
  • Flatbush Zombies
  • Fort Minor
  • Funkdoobiest
  • Gang Starr
  • Group Home
  • Gym Class Heroes
  • Hopsin
  • Immortal Technique
  • Jedi Mind Tricks
  • Joey Bada$$
  • Jurassic 5
  • Kendrick Lamar
  • KRS-One
  • La Coka Nostra
  • Lords of the Underground
  • Melodica Deathship
  • Mobb Deep
  • Moscow Death Brigade
  • Nappy Roots
  • Necro
  • Non Phixion
  • OutKast
  • Pharoahe Monch
  • Prozak
  • Saul Williams
  • Snowgoons
  • Sole
  • Soul Sonic Force
  • The D.O.C.
  • The Fugees
  • The Sugarhill Gang
  • twenty one pilots
  • Twiztid
  • Ultramagnetic MC's
  • Wudstik
  • Yelawolf

And here's the actual list:

35. B.A.N.G.

Johnny Reilly aka B.A.N.G. is a very active man: musician, filmmaker, MMA fighter, activist... And his approach to the music is pure and raw. Believe it or not, dude is in his 50s...

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34. Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E.

Boo-Yaa T.R.I.B.E. are composed of the Devoux brothers Paul, Ted, Donald, Roscoe, Danny, David and Vincent, with their family being from American Samoa. When they appeared, their music was different from most rap records at the time because they played live instruments by themselves. In 1997 they even recorded an album "Angry Samoans", which is actually a rap metal record. The "Boo-Yaa" in their name signifies the sound of a shotgun being discharged, while the "T.R.I.B.E." stands for "Too Rough International Boo-Yaa Empire." They also recorded songs with such rock artists as Faith No More, P.O.D., Transplants, etc.

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33. Astronautalis

Andy Bothwell, aka Astronautalis, paid plenty of dues in the underground hip-hop world before emerging with the album "Pomegranate." The thing is, the album attracted more fans from the rock world than it did hip-hop lovers. Astronautalis has been described as "if Beck were a decade or so younger and had grown up more heavily immersed in hip-hop," with his rapping style noted for "blending styles of indie rock, electro, and talkin' blues" with hip-hop. He has described himself as "historical fiction hip-hop." During live performances, he often performs a freestyle rap based on topics chosen by members of his audience.

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32. Stetsasonic

Stetsasonic were an American hip-hop group formed in 1981 in Brooklyn, New York. They are remembered as one of the first hip-hop crews to use a live band, and their positive, uplifting lyrics have made the group forerunners of alternative hip-hop and jazz rap.

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31. The Pharcyde

The Pharcyde are an underground/alternative hip-hop group, formed in 1991 in South Los Angeles, California, where the group's members grew up. They were one of the most well known of the first wave of alternative hip-hop acts. The Pharcyde are also best known for their hit singles "Passing Me By" (which crossed over to alternative rock radio) and "Runnin'."

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30. Machine Gun Kelly

Colson Baker, aka MGK or Machine Gun Kelly, embarked on a musical career as a teenager, releasing a mixtape in 2006. His stage name comes from his rapid-fire lyrical flow and is also a reference to notorious criminal George "Machine Gun Kelly" Barnes. His live performances are known for using live instruments and being really energetic.

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29. P.O.S

P.O.S (born Stefon Alexander) is an alternative hip-hop musician. He grew up punk, playing punk rock in middle school, and somewhere along the line decided to bring that energy into hip-hop. He's sampled everyone from Serge Gainbourg to such bands as Fugazi and ISIS, referenced "The Big Lebowski" and even featured guest vocals from Craig Finn of The Hold Steady and Greg Attonito from The Bouncing Souls. His rapping style is also heavily influenced by punk bands such as Kid Dynamite, Black Flag and Fugazi.

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28. The Goats

The Goats were an alternative hip-hop quartet from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They developed a cult following after the release of two well-respected albums, "Tricks of the Shade" (1992) and "No Goats No Glory" (1994). Most members of the group were Aboriginal Americans, and their concern with Aboriginal causes is reflected in their lyrics.

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27. Dälek

Dälek are an American experimental hip-hop group. Their music is dark, noisy and atmospheric, equally inspired by industrial music like Einstürzende Neubauten, the layered noise of My Bloody Valentine and the dense sound collages of Public Enemy. Dälek have often shared the stage with artists covering a wide range of genres, such as Godflesh, ISIS, Melvins, Tool, De La Soul, The Pharcyde, Grandmaster Flash, KRS-One, Dub Trio, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Mastodon and more.

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26. Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five

Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five were an American hip-hop group formed in the South Bronx of New York City in 1976. Composed of one DJ (Grandmaster Flash) and five rappers (Melle Mel, The Kidd Creole, Keith Cowboy, Mr. Ness/Scorpio, and Rahiem), the group's use of turntablism, break-beat deejaying, and conscious lyricism were significant in the early development of hip-hop music. They have influenced many hip-hop and rock musical acts were the first hip-hop group inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.

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25. Dope D.O.D.

Dope D.O.D. are an experimental hip-hop group formed in 2006 in Netherlands. They are known for mixing hip-hop with grime and dupstep and for their high energy, especially at their live shows.

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24. Vanilla Ice

Widely known for his 1990 single "Ice Ice Baby," Vanilla Ice (born Robert Matthew Van Winkle) started his musical career in 1988. He has been credited for helping diversify rap music by introducing it to a mainstream audience. Vanilla Ice changed his image and music styles several times during his career, even released 2 rap metal/nu metal albums: "Hard to Swallow" (1998) and "Bi-Polar" (2001)

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23. The Roots

The Roots, cult hip-hop group formed in 1987, are known for a jazzy and eclectic approach to hip-hop featuring live musical instruments. Inspired by the "hip-hop band" concept pioneered by Stetsasonic, The Roots themselves have garnered critical acclaim and influenced later hip-hop and R&B acts.

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22. Xzibit

Xzibit (born Alvin Nathaniel Joiner), is known as the actor, television host, radio personality, record producer and, of course, rapper. Achieved his fame in the West Coast hip-hop scene, Xzibit also worked with many rock musicians such as Limp Bizkit, Within Temptation, Korn, Alice Cooper, etc.

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21. House of Pain

House of Pain are an American hip-hop group formed in 1991. The group's name is a reference to the H.G. Wells novel "The Island of Dr. Moreau." House of Pain are best known for their 1992 hit single "Jump Around", which reached No. 3 in their native United States, No. 6 in Ireland and No. 8 in the United Kingdom. The group consists of Everlast, Danny Boy and DJ Lethal (who later became a DJ in Limp Bizkit).

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20. Everlast

Everlast (born Erik Francis Schrody) also known as the frontman for rap group House of Pain. But in his solo project he mix hip-hop with soul, country, blues, creating his own unique genre.

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19. Kottonmouth Kings

Kottonmouth Kings officially formed in 1996, describing their eclectic sound as "psychedelic hip-hop punk rock." Their style ranges from hip-hop to rapcore, reggae and even punk rock.

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18. Insane Clown Posse

Though many know Insane Clown Posse because of their dedicated followers, "juggalos," the group are also one of the biggest names in horrorcore, subgenre of hip-hop that focuses primarily around horror-influenced topics. ICP also collaborated with many rock artists and influenced a lot of hip-hop and rock bands.

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17. A Tribe Called Quest

Cult hip-hop group formed in 1985, A Tribe Called Quest regarded as pioneers of alternative hip-hop music, having helped to pave the way for many innovative artists. The group remains very influential, and Jack White says of A Tribe Called Quest that "they were miles and miles deeper than most other people in pop music."

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16. Ice-T

Ice-T (born Tracy Marrow) is one of the pioneers of gangsta rap (his track "6 'n The Mornin" is often seen as the track that triggered the whole gangster rap movement) and was also instrumental in creating rapcore with his band Body Count. His debut album "Rhyme Pays" was one of the first hip-hop albums to carry an explicit content sticker. Ice-t also was the first West Coast rapper to be accepted by the East Coast.

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15. One Day as a Lion

Who can rock harder than a member of one of the most rebellious rock bands ever? In 2008, Rage Against the Machine's Zach de la Rocha started new music project One Day as a Lion with Jon Theodore, former drummer of The Mars Volta and current drummer of Queens of the Stone Age. Originally Zach performed rapping along with playing keyboards, but later the band also included Joey Karam, keyboardist of The Locust.

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14. Run the Jewels

Run the Jewels are an American hip-hop supergroup formed in 2013 by rapper/producer El-P and rapper Killer Mike. They're known for their energetic tracks. RTJ also have 2 tracks featuring Zack de la Rocha.

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13. RUN-D.M.C.

Run-D.M.C. were founded in 1981 by Joseph "Run" Simmons, Darryl "DMC" McDaniels, and Jason "Jam Master Jay" Mizell. The group is widely acknowledged as one of the most influential acts in the history of hip-hop culture. They were the first group in the genre to have a gold album ("Run-D.M.C.," 1984) and be nominated for a Grammy Award. They were the first to earn a platinum record ("King of Rock," 1985), the first to earn a multiplatinum certification ("Raising Hell," 1986), the first to have videos on MTV, and the first to appear on American Bandstand and the cover of Rolling Stone. They also collaborated with such rock artists as Aerosmith (on famous "Walk This Way"), Limp Bizkit's Fred Durst, Kid Rock and more.

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12. 2Pac

2Pac aka Tupac Amaru Shakur (born Lesane Parish Crooks) is consistently ranked as one of the greatest and most influential rappers of all time. Though his career lasted only for 5 years before his death in 1996, Tupac's impact is really huge. On April 7th, 2017, Shakur was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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11. Eminem

Eminem, born Marshall Bruce Mathers III, started his career in 1988, and since that he is one of the world's best-selling artists. In addition to his solo career, Eminem is an original member of the Midwest hip hop groups Soul Intent and D12. He is also known for his collaborations with fellow Detroit-based rapper Royce da 5'9"; the two are collectively known as Bad Meets Evil.

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10. Onyx

Onyx, American hardcore hip-hop group formed in 1988, are known for their aggressive and even violent style. Despite the embrace of commercial outlets, the group maintained their hardcore image through raunchy live performances (not usually found in rap shows but rather at metal concerts). Onyx also known Onyx for their collaboration with Biohazard on the tune "Judgment Night," taken from the soundtrack album of the same name.

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9. Tech N9ne

Aaron Dontez Yates aka Tech N9ne is on the front lines when it comes to merging the worlds of hip-hop and rock and roll, collaborating with such artists as Corey Taylor, Sevendust's Lajon Witherspoon, The Doors and Avenged Sevenfold. In 2013 he even released a rap rock EP "Therapy," produced by famous rock producer Ross Robinson.

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8. Public Enemy

Formed on Long Island, New York, in 1982, Public Enemy are known for their politically charged music and criticism of the American media. The group consists of Chuck D, Flavor Flav, Professor Griff, Khari Wynn, DJ Lord, and the S1W group. Public Enemy were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013.

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7. N.W.A

N.W.A (an abbreviation for Niggaz Wit Attitudes) were among the earliest and most significant popularizers and controversial figures of the gangsta rap subgenre, and are widely considered one of the greatest and most influential groups in the history of hip-hop music. The original lineup formed in 1986 consisted of Arabian Prince, Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, and Ice Cube. DJ Yella and MC Ren joined later, with Arabian Prince eventually leaving shortly before the official release of debut album "Straight Outta Compton," which came out in 1988, and Ice Cube following suit in December 1989. In 2016, the group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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6. Wu-Tang Clan

Wu-Tang Clan are originally composed of East Coast rappers RZA, GZA, Ol' Dirty Bastard, Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, U-God and Masta Killa. Cappadonna later became an official member of the group. The Wu-Tang Clan has released seven gold and platinum studio albums with worldwide sales of more than 40 million albums, including members' solo projects, since 1992. Their debut album, "Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)," is considered to be one of the greatest albums in hip-hop history.

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5. Odd Future (OFWGKTA)

Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, normally shortened to Odd Future and abbreviated to OFWGKTA, an American hip hop collective formed by Tyler, The Creator in 2007 with Hodgy, Left Brain, Pyramid Vritra, Jasper Dolphin. Later members include Earl Sweatshirt, Frank Ocean, Domo Genesis, Mike G, Casey Veggies, Syd. They're widely known for their dark, violent, and offensive lyrical content, as well as their energetic live shows with crowdsurfing, stagediving and mosh pits and general, almost punk rock "don't give a fuck" attitude.

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4. Ho99o9

Ho99o9 (pronounced Horror) are an experimental hip-hop group founded by theOGM and Eaddy. They took their influences from gangsta rappers and hardcore punk/noise rock bands such as Black Flag, Big Black and Bad Brains. Ho99o9 also known for their energetic crazy live performances. The band played at many different rock festivals and also supported The Dillinger Escape Plan on their final UK tour.

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3. Cypress Hill

Formed in 1988, Cypress Hill are also one of the first hip-hop groups to gain a following with fans of hard rock and metal. They recorded songs with Pearl Jam, Sonic Youth, Biohazard, members of Rage Against the Machine, Fear Factory, Downset, Deftones, etc. The band members are also involved in different rock bands such as Prophets of Rage, SX10, Powerflo, etc. In 2000 they released a double album "Skull & Bones," with the record's genre and style are divided into two - a pure hip-hop disc ("Skull") and a rap metal disc ("Bones").

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2. Beastie Boys

Beastie Boys, formed in 1981, consisted of Michael "Mike D" Diamond (vocals, drums), Adam "MCA" Yauch (vocals, bass) and Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz (vocals, guitar) for the majority of their career. Originally formed as a four-piece hardcore punk band The Young Aborigines in 1978, they made a full transition to hip-hop in 1983. Beastie Boys are considered very influential in both the hip-hop and rock music scenes, with artists from Eminem to Rage Against the Machine to Limp Bizkit, to Sublime, and Blur citing them as an influence.

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1. Death Grips

Experimental/industrial hip-hop band Death Grips are undeniably one of the most "punk" groups ever with their rock attitude, powerful live shows, often accompanied by the destruction of the gear, and many controversial tricks - for example, shortly after signing to Epic Records in 2012, the group leaked their second album "No Love Deep Web" (with one of the most NSFW album covers ever) for free download in breach of their contract and were eventually dropped from the label. The band consists of rapper/vocalist Stefan Burnett (aka MC Ride), drummer/producer/songwriter Zach Hill, and recording engineer/producer/bassist/keyboards player Andy Morin aka A2B2, often miscredited under the alias "Flatlander." Though they were formed only in 2010, many famous musicians expressed their admiration and support for Death Grips' music. According to his collaborator Donny McCaslin, David Bowie was inspired by Death Grips whilst creating his final album, "Blackstar."

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Know more hip-hop artists with the rock influences? Feel free to post them in the comment section below.

67 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Remember that scene in Ace Ventura when he realized Finkle is Einhorn (and Einhorn is Finkle)?  Thats how I feel when I see ICP better ranked above The Roots and Grandmaster Flash!
    I was in class when i read this, i laughed so much, everyone's still looking at me
    The complete lack of Ozomatli and Urban Dance Squad on this list is also beyond baffling. 
    Both Ozomatli and Urban Dance Squad are rock bands first - with a huge hip-hop influence.
    UDS maybe. Ozomatli, definitely not. No more so than The Roots are a Jazz band with hip hop influence.
    Anyway, the borders between 2 genres in their music are very thin Also, if you like Ozomatli, feel free to check Fun Lovin' Criminals - they're a rock band first, but they have a lot of hip-hop songs too. Also (hed) p.e. have a lot of pure hip-hop songs too.
    I'm a simple man, I see Insane Clown Posse, I close the tab. 
    Haha true that. They included  dälek though so I guess that makes it even. And Death Grips getting the top spot was nice as well...
    Happy to see P.O.S. get some recognition here.
    Had never heard of him and his presence was enough to make this list worth it. After checking some other songs out, that man is great !
    It's sad to see Aesop Rock is only in the Honorable Mentions and not replacing ICP or Vanilla Ice.
    Don't see how Danny Brown was acknowledged and didn't make the list. He's the definition of rockstar.
    Love run dmc funky rap with beats that rock and guitar. My former Tama Granstar kit had Cypress Hill in the history as it was a rental kit in UK.
    I thought Beastie Boys would be No.1 when I saw the title, but eh, No. 2 is okay. They're one of the few hip hop groups I outright love. Skindred are pretty great too.
    No Flatbush Zombies? Have you heard Amerikkkan Pie? That song rocks hard.
    Wow, never heard of them - thanks a lot!
    Hey no problem, glad to spread the message! Lol
    Wow! You added them to the honorable mentions awesome! Idk if you heard this while researching them but it occured to me that this song ("Bounce") has quite the roc influence
    I posted a lot of comments, I'm very passionate about this subject. Listen to Flatbush Zombies.
    Also, Travis Scott, listen to 90210 and watch some of his live performances. The heart of rock is alive in this man.
    Riot Propaganda? Still, Moscow Death Brigade rules, those guys are amazing.
    Riot Propaganda are more like rap rock band. But really surprised that someone knows them and Moscow Death Brigade
    Yeah, I'm a huge fan of these bands, along with Los Chikos del Maíz, which is half of RP. I love the energy MDB display, best "monday morning" music ever haha. 
    I'm disappointed in the lack of Mos Def and Outkast. But god damn, I never knew Boo-yaa TRIBE was something I needed in my life lol. There needs to be some tabs of these guys now 
    They chose that for Ice-T when they could have had THIS?
    And no 3rd Bass?
    Much room for improvemen...
    Thanks to Ayreon, I became aware of Wudstik's hip-hop work, which also uses a lot of live instruments. He cites influences as diverse as Bruce Dickinson and James LaBrie along with a lot of the prerequisite hip-hop artists you'd expect, and has appeared on progressive metal albums by artists such as Ayreon and For All We Know (Within Temptation guitarist Ruud Jolie's side-project), as a singer rather than a rapper. \ There's a bit of a language barrier, since he raps in his native Dutch, but I really enjoy his sound a lot:
    He performs the majority of the vocals for the aforementioned band For All We Know, and it's hard to believe this is the same guy:
    The lack of Kendrick Lamar is disappointing. To Pimp a Butterfly should be a mandatory listen for every music fan.
    No Nas or Nappy Roots, even in the honorable mentions? Please. "One Mic" is hands down one of the best rap/hip hop songs ever released.
    No Limp Bizkit? I don't like their kind of music but they made a huge impact in combining rock and rap, I would considered them the pioneers of Rap/rock music. Fred Durst even had collaborations with Lil Wayne in his record label and Lil Wayne has made rock music too. I understand Wayne not being on the list due to his guitar playing but Fred Durst actually has good guitar skills. He has shown to make the rap/rock crossover successful. 
    Limp Bizkit are not pioneers of combining metal/rock with rap with any stretch of imagination. Sure they were mainstream from late 90s to mid 2000s but rap rock/metal existed way before they released anything.
    No Yelawolf or Kid Rock  while he was in his hip-hop period and there is vanila ice and icp ? I mean Yela even worked with Travis Barker and Bones Owens.
    As much as everyone loves to hate on Kanye, you can't deny My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was one of the best "rock" albums of the decade.