Looking at the Apple Music charts over the past few months reveals two contradictory things about the state of rock music. At first glance, it seems like the rock genre is mostly stuck in the past. The top 10 songs are populated by the likes of AC/DC, Queen and The Eagles.
On the other hand, two artists who aren’t “rock” in the traditional sense topped the charts this summer. It fascinated me to see these two artists make a splash in the world of rock. In fact, I think their success showcases a paradigm shift for the genre.
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In June, emo rapper Trippie Redd released his song “Dreamer.” The song is devoid of any hip-hop influence. Instead, “Dreamer” is an upbeat guitar-centric song reminiscent of bands like Fall Out Boy.
As a Trippie Redd fan, I was not totally surprised to see him go in a purely rock-inspired direction. He has toyed with guitars and rock-influenced melodies in the past. While I wasn’t a huge fan of “Dreamer,” I was pleasantly surprised to see him top the rock charts.
If you have followed the direction of rap in general for the past five or so years, the success of emo rappers like Trippie Redd should come as no surprise.
Lil Uzi Vert, Juice WRLD and Trippie Redd himself have found immense commercial success. But, most of their supporters are mainstream hip-hop fans. I have looked for an artist who could truly bridge the gap between the underground rock scene and the hip-hop community.
That’s where City Morgue comes in. Consisting of former punk vocalist ZillaKami and Harlem rapper SosMula, City Morgue is one of the groups leading the “trap metal” wave.
Their rap-rock music is lyrically and sonically aggressive, taking cues from alternative metal bands like Slipknot and hardcore groups like Title Fight. Their album “Toxic Boogaloo” shot to the top of the Apple Music rock charts in August.
City Morgue creates music so heavy and abrasive most mainstream rock sounds tame by comparison. The fact that the group can push the boundaries of both rock and hip-hop — and find commercial success while doing it — suggests the future of rock is intrinsically connected to hip-hop.
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Trippie Redd and City Morgue are melding rap and rock in different ways, but they are just two examples of the sea change occurring in music right now. Recent years have seen artists like XXXTentacion, Denzel Curry and Scarlxrd incorporate noisy, metal-influenced sounds into their styles of rap. Late rapper Lil Peep took melodic cues from emo bands like My Chemical Romance and Mineral.
Rock may not be as “stuck in the past” as I first suggested — but it sounds very different than it used to. In the near future, I imagine rock and rap will only continue to meld together.