Follow the Leader is the third studio album by American nu metal band Korn. The album was released on August 18, 1998, through Immortal/Epic. This was their first album not produced by Ross Robinson. Instead, it was produced by Steve Thompson and Toby Wright.
The album peaked at number one on four charts, including the Billboard 200 with 268,000 units sold in its first week of release, Follow the Leader is considered by members of Korn to be the band's most commercially–successful album, being certified five-times Platinum by the RIAA. Its singles "Got the Life", and "Freak on a Leash", both charted on more than three charts, and their music videos are considered to be the first music videos retired from MTV, most notably the MTV show Total Request Live. The album generally received positive reviews by critics and sold around 14 million copies worldwide. Korn was praised by AllMusic saying the album is "an effective follow-up to their first two alt-metal landmarks."
The Family Values Tour promoted the album, along with its five singles. The song "Freak on a Leash" was nominated for nine MTV Video Music Awards, and won for the Best Rock Video award, as well as Best Editing. The music video for "Freak on a Leash" won Best Short Form Music Video at the 2000 Grammy Awards.
By early 1998, Korn returned to the studio to record Follow the Leader. Even though Korn was impressed by the work Ross Robinson had done on their previous albums, they decided to work with Steve Thompson and Toby Wright. Robinson did however work with singer Jonathan Davis as a vocal coach for the album. According to Wright, Robinson went to extreme lengths to agitate Davis in the vocal booth, including punching him the back repeatedly. Korn was shown making the record on KornTV. The reason they exposed themselves making the album was because they wanted to let their fans see what they were doing in the studio and behind the scenes. Follow the Leader features numerous guest vocalists, including Ice Cube on "Children of the Korn", Tre Hardson of The Pharcyde on "Cameltosis" and Limp Bizkit's Fred Durst on "All in the Family". The songs for the album were written and copyrighted in 1997, with the exception of "Children of the Korn", "All in the Family" and "Cameltosis", which are copyrighted from 1998.
In a 2013 interview, the band revealed that they partied heavily during the production of Follow the Leader, with massive amounts of alcohol, drugs, and women in the studio. Davis explained further, saying that while recording the vocals for "It's On", there were "people getting blowjobs right behind me, there was girls banging each other in front of me, people getting boned in the closet right behind me, it was the craziest shit I've ever seen in my life and I sang that song." According to Davis, he only agreed to begin tracking vocals when producer Toby Wright met his demands for an eight-ball (a one-eighth ounce of cocaine).
The artwork for Follow the Leader was done by Todd McFarlane Entertainment, with McFarlane and fellow Image Comics artists Greg Capullo (penciller) and Brian Haberlin (colorist) doing the album cover, and designer Brent Ashe handling the graphics work According to drummer David Silveria, the band got interested in McFarlane after hearing that "Todd had actually referred to us as 'the Doors of the 90's'", leading to them recording a song for Spawn, a film based on a comic book by McFarlane, and eventually approaching the artist to make an album cover for them. The cover art depicts a child hopscotching toward the edge of a cliff and a gathering of kids waiting to follow, a concept that begun with bassist Reginald "Fieldy" Arvizu and sketched by a friend of Jonathan Davis before being submitted to McFarlane. It marked the third straight Korn cover featuring children in a disturbing context, which Davis explained by saying that "Children are always scared when they're all happy and stuff. They're the most beautiful thing in the world, but when you see it in our artwork, the way we've placed it, it's just kinda fuckin' weird." The "Freak on a Leash" music video features animated segments by McFarlane featuring this cover art.
Follow the Leader is recognized as Korn's mainstream breakthrough, and the album that launched nu metal into the mainstream. .