If point of impact of the early-1990s grunge explosion can be traced to Nirvana's Nevermind, the full commercial arrival of rap-metal can be pinpointed to August 1998 — the month Korn's aptly titled third album, Follow the Leader, debuted at Number One. Rage Against the Machine had reached that landmark two years earlier, but Follow the Leader opened the floodgates; subsequent releases by Korn and fellow rock rappers Limp Bizkit (and to a lesser extent Papa Roach) would all either bow at Number One or entrench themselves in the Top 10 for weeks and months on end well into the turn of the 21st century.
Korn came together in 1993, when mortuary assistant Jonathan Davis, who sang in a band called Sex Art, was invited to join a metal group called Creep. All hailing from Bakersfield, California, its members — Brian "Head" Welch, James "Munky" Shaffer, Reggie "Fieldy" Arvizu, and David Silveria — had originally recorded an album under the moniker L.A.P.D. With Davis handling lead vocals and primary songwriting duties, the band renamed itself Korn and relocated to Orange County's Huntington Beach. A deal with Epic imprint — Immortal followed, resulting in the group's self-titled debut released in the fall of 1994.
MTV and radio largely ignored the album, but relentless touring and a rabid fan base eventually pushed sales past the two million mark. The follow-up, 1996's Life Is Peachy, debuted at Number Three and also went double platinum. The album gave the band its first taste of MTV rotation with the video for "A.D.I.D.A.S." and a headlining slot on the Lollapalooza festival tour. By the time the quintuple-platinum Follow the Leader (Number One, 1998) hit stores two years later, Korn didn't need invitations to join other festival tours. It headlined its own: its inaugural Family Values Tour also featured the German industrial band Rammstein, Orgy, Ice Cube, and Limp Bizkit, who garnered a record deal thanks in part to Korn's support. The special-effects-laden video for the album's "Freak on a Leash" helped Korn win its first Grammy. Released in November 1999, Issues also debuted at Number One (selling nearly 600,000 copies its first week in stores) and went triple platinum. The band premiered the album in its entirety with a special concert at New York's famed Apollo Theater in Harlem.
Korn followed that up with Untouchables (Number Two, 2002), which delved into electronic elements previously absent from the band's recordings. For one of the album's videos, "Alone I Break," they held a contest on MTV to choose the director; the honor went to a fellow named Sean Dack, who depicted Davis killing his bandmates. A year later, Korn released Take a Look in the Mirror (Number Nine, 2003), featuring "Did My Time" and the cleverly-titled "Y'all Want a Single." Greatest Hits Vol. 1 arrived in October 2004, reaching Number Four with a pair of cover-version singles: Cameo's "Word Up!" and Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall." Shortly thereafter, Welch quit the band to devote his life to Christianity.
After signing to Virgin in one of the earliest "360 deals" in the record industry (in which the label shares the band's profits outside of recording in exchange for a hefty advance), Korn released See You on the Other Side in December 2005 (Number Three). The accompanying video for the single "Twisted Transistor" (Number Nine Modern Rock) featured hip-hoppers David Banner, Lil' Jon, Snoop Dogg, and Xzibit playing the band. In 2006, the Family Values Tour was resurrected (it had expired after 2001) and featured, among others, Deftones, Stone Sour, Flyleaf, and Deadsy; the 2007 edition had Evanescence, Atreyu, and Trivium among its headliners. While in Europe in 2006, Davis was hospitalized with a blood disease and after a few shows with featured vocalists like Stone Sour's Corey Taylor and Skindred's Bebji Webbe, the shows were off. After Davis recovered, Korn played on MTV Unplugged, a performance featuring guest spots by the Cure and Amy Lee of Evanescence; the show premiered in February 2007. Later that year, Korn released its eighth album, officially untitled; it went to Number Two. During recording, David Silveria unofficially stepped down from the drum chair, replaced by a number of studio musicians.