October 21, 2004

The Birth of Rap-Rock

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The worst musical development of the new century thus far has been the emergence of rap/rock as a dominant force in mainstream modern rock. To its credit, rap/rock is responsible for some of the most unintentionally funny songs ever put to tape, but it also must be blamed for the Wu-Tang Clan’s tragic lowlight, Method Man’s collaboration with Fred Durst on “N 2 Gether Now.” This is unforgivable.

The best musical development of the new century thus far has been the advent of the soundtracks to Activision’s Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater video games. The evolution of each game’s soundtrack has served as a flawless barometer for what America’s youth enjoys listening to while grinding and kickflipping around an airport terminal for six hours at a time. Tony Hawk soundtracks are inarguably crucial.

The prophecy of these two phenomena is what makes “Bring the Noise” by Anthrax and Public Enemy so mind-blowing. Most critics point to Run DMC and Aerosmith’s version of “Walk This Way” as the song that truly kicked off the rap/rock craze and made it commercially viable. I have no problem with this. Except “Walk This Way” doesn’t contain the line, “Soul on a roll but you treat it like soap on a rope ’cause the beats in the lines are so dope.” No one would have expected such genre-bending genius from Anthrax, since they suck so badly. But last year NASA started broadcasting “Bring the Noise” into outer space with the hope that it would be heard by intelligent life somewhere and lead to intergalactic peace, love, and understanding.

And “Bring the Noise” is the quintessential Tony Hawk song. It appeared on THPS2, before the soundtracks became overly bloated and when each had a true feel to it. Back then, each skating run was still limited to two minutes, so every minor screw-up seemed cataclysmic. When “Bring the Noise” came on, you knew you’d better make it a good run because it would be another fourteen songs before you heard it again.

With these historical implications in mind, “Johnny B. Goode” is probably the only other rock song that can claim to have been as influential as “Bring the Noise,” and that remains debatable. Public Enemy may have already made the song a classic on It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, but it wasn’t until Anthrax came along that “Bring the Noise” unknowingly changed video games, skateboarding, music, space, time, and life as we know it forever.

For this, I thank them.

Archived article by Ross McGown