Horrorcore: Hip Hop Artists Who Are Probably Horror Fans

One of the things I love about hip hop are clever, pop culture references many rappers place in their rhymes. Much of it reads like an inside joke or nod to those who enjoy these particular films, television series' and such. Looking at the horror genre, rappers for decades have used horror references and themes across the spectrum from brief name drop's (Q-Tip in A Tribe Called Quest's "Lyrics To Go") to sampling famous horror film scores (Busta Rhymes' "Gimme Some More").
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.

Mainstream Rappers

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.

Ludacris feat. Nicki Minaj "My Chick Bad"

Upon only getting a glimpse of the visuals first, I thought this was going to be all show. But Nicki again manages to incorporate lyrics that reference Friday the 13th and clearly A Nightmare On Elm Street with the use of the iconic glove. Her delivery simply tickles me, and regardless of how I feel about her music in general, I really dig the way in which she reps what seems to be a love for horror with appearances like this and the whole Roman deal.  

More of a display of horror fandom.

Horrorcore Rappers

A-Wax "Dead People"

The title is clearly reflective of the songs content for sure. And I'm not mad at California-based A-Wax's display of skill here. This sample is well worth a listen and a good gateway for those interested in hearing what horrorcore embodies.

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"
People may recognize Prince Paul and more famously RZA from this Long Island, NY group. The hook in "1-800 Suicide" is also catchy in recognizable. Personally, I can't for the life of me remember where else I've heard it but as horrorcore "pioneers", I'm not surprised that this track received significant exposure.

Horrorcore is likely one of, if not the hip hop music sub-genre that started in the margins and has remained there. It's a worthy presence in the culture and at the end of the day, I find myself wanting to talk for hours about horror films with each of them.

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