Alternative metal emerged from the hardcore scene of alternative rock in the US in the later 1980s, but gained a wider audience after grunge broke into the mainstream in the early 1990s. Early alternative metal bands mixed a wide variety of genres with hardcore and heavy metal sensibilities, with acts like Jane's Addiction and Primus utilizing prog-rock, Soundgarden and Corrosion of Conformity using garage punk, The Jesus Lizard and Helmet mixing noise-rock, Ministry and Nine Inch Nails influenced by industrial music, Monster Magnet moving into psychedelia, Pantera, Sepultura and White Zombie creating groove metal, while Biohazard andFaith No More turned to hip hop and rap.
Hip hop had gained attention from rock acts in the early 1980s, including The Clash with "The Magnificent Seven" (1981) and Blondie with "Rapture" (1981). Early crossover acts included Run DMC and the Beastie Boys. Detroit rapper Esham became known for his "acid rap" style, which fused rapping with a sound that was often based in rock and heavy metal. Rappers who sampled rock songs included Ice-T, The Fat Boys, LL Cool J, Public Enemy and Whodini. The mixing of thrash metal and rap was pioneered by Anthrax on their 1987 comedy-influenced single "I'm the Man".
In 1990, Faith No More broke into the mainstream with their single "Epic', often seen as the first truly successful combination of heavy metal with rap. This paved the way for the success of existing bands like 24-7 Spyz and Living Colour, and new acts including Rage Against the Machine and Red Hot Chili Peppers, who all fused rock and hip hop among other influences. Among the first wave of performers to gain mainstream success as rap rock were 311, Bloodhound Gang, and Kid Rock. A more metallic sound - nu metal - was pursued by bands including Limp Bizkit, Korn and Slipknot. Later in the decade this style, which contained a mix of grunge, punk, metal, rap and turntable scratching, spawned a wave of successful bands like Linkin Park, P.O.D. and Staind, who were often classified as rap metal or nu metal, the first of which are the best-selling band of the genre.
In 2001, nu metal reached its peak with albums like Staind's Break the Cycle, P.O.D's Satellite, Slipknot's Iowa and Linkin Park's Hybrid Theory. New bands also emerged like Disturbed, post-grunge/hard rock band Godsmack and Papa Roach, whose major label début Infest became a platinum hit. However, by 2002 there were signs that nu metal's mainstream popularity was weakening. Korn's long awaited fifth album Untouchables, and Papa Roach's second album Lovehatetragedy, did not sell as well as their previous releases, while nu metal bands were played more infrequently on rock radio stations and MTV began focusing on pop punk and Emo. Since then, many bands have changed to a more conventional hard rock or heavy metal music sound.