Holding down the musical force is the sub-genre horrorcore. Horrorcore is rooted in hardcore, gangsta rap music that uses "horror-themed lyrical content" that pushes the limits of violent bars with a healthy infusion of supernatural elements to paint a song's narrative. Topics surrounding many of these songs are "satanism, self-harm, cannibalism, suicide, murder, torture" and even rape. But it is that these rappers pay homage to horror films and recognize them as their inspiration is solely where my interest lies.
The use of these topics dates back to hip hop's first golden age with Dana Dane's "Nightmares" (1987) and more popularly recognized, less horrorcore-tied, odes to Freddy Krueger in the form of DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince's "Nightmare On My Street" (1988) and The Fat Boys' "Are You Ready For Freddy?" (1988).
Horrorcore has never been what is considered mainstream, but the more public, well known groups are the Geto Boys and Insane Clown Posse while in the underground circuit, hip hop fans can rattle off groups like Gravediggaz and Flatlinerz. Although horrorcore has a strict formula, certain styles and trends within its circle provide a variety for hip hop fans who don't mind a little of the macabre in their beats and lyricism.
I've been listening to hip hop music literally for as long as I can remember. I took my mother's cassette of MC Lyte's Eyes on This for my Fisher Price walkman and listened until I knew every verse. When I've come across rappers who clearly have a knowledge for and embrace the horror genre, I always give it a pass. Horrorcore is not a brand I'm immersed in, but I appreciate it as an expression. Below is a good base of mainstream rappers who've used elements of horrorcore and actual horrorcore rappers who have defined the genre.
DMX "The Omen"
This is the only song I recall first listening to that truly falls under the umbrella of horrorcore. This could be described as DMX having a conversation with a demon. Ultimately, the demon reminds him of his place on the spiritual food chain.To top it off, Marilyn Manson makes an appearance.
Could be considered horrorcore.
Nicki Minaj "Monster"
Yeah, the song is titled "Monster," but if my loose memory serves correctly here, it's only Nicki in this rapper mash-up that embraces visions from our favorite horror films here with "...eat 'cha brain" and "then Imma start rockin' gold teeth and fangs" and something about Chucky and Child's Play. Correct me if I'm wrong. My hip hop IQ doesn't really extend pass the 2000's.
Plays with horrorcore elements.
Plays with horrorcore elements.
Ludacris feat. Nicki Minaj "My Chick Bad"
More of a display of horror fandom.
A-Wax "Dead People"
Flatlinerz "Satanic Verses"
Fronted by Redrum (Russell Simmons' nephew), Flatlinerz released U.S.A. (Under Satan's Authority) in 1994 under the Def Jam label. "Satanic Verses" is probably as hard as it gets. Listen closely. Another song from this album, "Live Evil" seems to aurally borrow from classic horror film, The Omen (1976). U.S.A. was named by Fangoria as one of horrorcore's most iconic albums. They're currently doing performances and creating new music. Follow their Facebook page if you dare...
Gravediggaz "1-800 Suicide"