The Metal Influences That Shape Backxwash's Ferocious Hip-Hop

From her sample choices to her highest-profile fans, here are some of Backxwash's strongest connections to metal and heavy music
The Metal Influences That Shape Backxwash's Ferocious Hip-Hop
Photo: Chachi Revah (@mechant_vaporwave)
There's no denying that Backxwash is a rapper through and through — her industrial sound recalls the genre at its most abrasive, from horrorcore to Death Grips-style industrial. But from the samples that define her most recent work — like this year's album God Has Nothing to Do with This Leave Him Out of It and new EP STIGMATA — to her oft-discussed influences to some of the higher-profile fans from her ever-expanding base, one thing is clear: Backxwash is a total metalhead.

In honour of Backxwash's current appearance as Exclaim!'s September 2020 cover artist, here are some of her strongest connections to metal and heavy music.

Backxwash's STIGMATA EP
Backxwash's latest release, a four-track EP that blazes by in less than 15 minutes, is built around a series of samples of Christian metal bands from all over the world, including New Zealand's Saving Grace, Finland's Renascent and Norway's Antestor. According to Backxwash on Twitter, it's a formula that she is interested in repeating. She wrote, "STIGMATA 2 going to come next year as well(don't put on [Rate Your Music] yet tho lmao) cause I like fucking around with Christian metal samples and rapping about angels and demons."

Black Sabbath
All of Backxwash's music carries her distinctive, inimitable style, but the opening title track to God Has Nothing to Do with This should be familiar to most metalheads: it samples Ozzy Osbourne's iconic "Oh no, no, please, God, help me!" from Black Sabbath's self-titled track. (The song's guitar riff makes an appearance later on, too.) Not only does it set the stage for Backxwash's genre-blending appeal, but it fits with the all-encompassing Satanic energy that she channels throughout the record.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Backxwash was handpicked to open for Montreal post-rock giants Godspeed You! Black Emperor for a hometown show last fall, and while Godspeed are a few blast beats short of metal, their droning bursts of guitars and lengthy song dynamics are certainly heavy, and also quite influential on Backxwash's music. Godspeed's 2000 masterpiece Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven "was literally a soundtrack one summer," said Backxwash last year, and the sample-laden instrumental interludes on God Has Nothing to Do with This recall the found sound collages of Godspeed's earlier work.

Backxwash's meteoric rise to attention has earned her many high-profile fans, including fellow industrial-minded rappers clipping., the Needle Drop's Anthony Fantano and Speedy Ortiz's Sadie Dupuis, but none that speak to Backxwash's metal cred more than Hunter Hunt-Hendrix of black metal experimentalists Liturgy. All it took was a tweet from Hunt-Hendrix to Backxwash stating "I checked out your stuff I like it :)" to set a particular corner of Twitter ablaze with the thought of a potential collaboration.

Learn more about Backxwash's rise to prominence in our latest Exclaim! Magazine cover story, in newsstands and mailboxes across Canada.