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The origins of industrial hip-hop are in the work of Mark Stewart, Bill Laswell, and Adrian Sherwood. In 1985, former Pop Group singer Mark Stewart released As the Veneer of Democracy Starts to Fade, an application of the cut-up style of industrial music, with the house band of Sugar Hill Records (Doug Wimbish, Keith Leblanc, and Skip McDonald).[1] In the late 1980s, Laswell's Material project began to take increasing influence from hip-hop. Adrian Sherwood was a major figure in British dub, as well as working with industrial groups such as Cabaret Voltaire, Einstürzende Neubauten, Ministry, KMFDM, and Nine Inch Nails. Tackhead, a collaboration between Sherwood and the Sugar Hill band, picked up where Mark Stewart left off.[2] Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, from San Francisco,[3][4] and Meat Beat Manifesto, from the UK, are also early representatives of the style. Industrial hip-hop groups tend to take a great deal of influence from Public Enemy's intensity, volume, and emphasis on noise. The industrial group 23 Skidoo and Miles Davis's album On the Corner are also important precedents for the style.

Industrial hip-hop was carried forward by figures from a diverse number of scenes. Perhaps the most unlikely adopters were Justin Broadrick and Mick Harris, previously known for their invention of the grindcore style of extreme metal, while in Napalm Death. After participating in the jazzcore group Pain Killer with Bill Laswell, Harris's Scorn project delved into dark ambient and industrial hip-hop. Subsequently, Broadrick began to work with Kevin Martin, previously of God (also a jazzcore group). The later work of Broadrick's Godflesh,[5] as well as his collaborations with Martin, Ice,[6] Techno Animal,[5] and Curse of the Golden Vampire, are prime examples of industrial hip-hop.[7] The last of these was also a collaboration with Alec Empire, from Berlin, who also participated in the style in a number of his albums. The German label Mille Plateaux developed the sound throughout their series of Electric Ladyland compilations. Ice and Techno Animal also collaborated at times with El-P and other representatives of the Def Jux label. DJ Spooky's illbient style is closely related to these developments in industrial hip-hop; Mutamassik takes influence from both, as well as from breakcore. The Industrial rock band Acumen Nation also adopts a number of Hip-hop influences, as does, to a larger degree, the band's side project DJ? Acucrack, a few other industrial bands that combine hip hop elements in their music are Rabbit Junk, The Mad Capsule Markets and The Shizit who are industrial metal and digital hardcore bands. Dwelling around in the subject of digital hardcore Atari Teenage Riot is also known to have hip hop elements in some of their songs. In the electro-industrial/industrial metal genre there is also Steril (band) who is infamous for combining hip hop beats, dj scratches, turntables and rap versus with industrial. Another notable artist is Dr. Steel who uses the fusion of electro-industrial, with the combination of circus and Dark cabaret music, while mcing and rapping in verses, he is constantly associated with the Steampunk subculture.

While Broadrick chose to devote his attentions primarily to post-metal, Martin continued to apply industrial hip-hop to dancehall and grime with the Bug. Jace Clayton, a Brooklyn native who expatriated to Barcelona and records under the names DJ /rupture and Nettle, is also devoted to the style, as well as to breakcore. Filastine, a former member of ¡Tchkung! who records for Clayton's Soot label, also practices a politicized variety of industrial hip-hop. The French label Cavage eventually devoted itself to the style, along with the Toulouse-based group les Trolls. Antipop Consortium[8] and Dälek are also successful examples of contemporary industrial hip-hop,[9][10] as is Saul Williams.

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