Published Aug 07, 2018What could hip-hop fans and metal heads possibly have in common? Actually, the chasm between the two isn't as wide as it seems, at least for Arizona rap-rock crew Dropout Kings, who prove that satisfying, widely appealing nu-metal is attainable nearly two decades after overrated acts like Limp Bizkit ran the genre into the ground.
Though their new LP, AudioDope doesn't always succeed in simultaneously melding rap and rock into an entirely new sound, the album does find Dropout Kings toggling back and forth between both genres to thrilling effect.
Key track "Going Rogue," for instance, features high octane synth drones and a practically shimmering guitar riff along with imagery-rife rapped lyrics like: "I ain't no surgeon / I cut ya to hurt ya." Before long, all that gives way screamo vocals abrasive enough to get even the hardest core mosh pits moving.
"503," meanwhile, boasts slashing guitar notes and a more simplistic but focused and effective hip-hop flow that chugs dependably like a freight train. But the most quintessential example of Dropout Kings' smooth gear-shifting is "Something Awful," which begins with Zack de la Rocha-worthy spitting about a "noose around my neck to replace my blue collar," over dissonant synth notes and a tight loop of a sampled water drop, the tension reaching an unbearable level until guitars and hardcore screams rush in on a hairpin turn.
Thrilling as that back and forth can be, especially as the listener waits for one genre to supersede the other, AudioDope's best moments occur when such seams barely show. Take "Bad Day," for which buzzsaw guitar riffs serve as a backdrop for bristling screamo vocals. Surprisingly, those hardcore screams are cleverly delivered in a hip-hop cadence that carries lyrics about side-eyeing haters and migraines that'd make plenty of MCs nod along in approval.
And "NVM" sports metal-style snares and steely guitar riffs alongside vocals rapped at a dizzyingly speedy tempo. If Dropout Kings fuse rap and rock more frequently in that fashion on future releases, then they'd be better realizing their clearly considerable potential. (Napalm)