Horrorcore is a subgenre of hip hop music based on horror-themed and often darkly transgressive lyrical content and imagery. Its origins derived from certain hardcore hip hop and gangsta rap artists, such as the Geto Boys, which began to incorporate supernatural, occult, or psychological horror themes into their lyrics and, unlike most hardcore and gangsta rap artists, often pushed the violent content and imagery in its lyrics beyond the realm of realistic urban violence to the point where the violent lyrics became gruesome, ghoulish, unsettling, or slasher film- or splatter film-esque. While exaggerated violence and the supernatural are common in horrorcore, the genre also frequently presents more realistic yet still disturbing portrayals of mental illness and drug abuse. The term "horrorcore" was popularized by openly horror-influenced hip hop groups such as Flatlinerz and Gravediggaz.

The genre has incited controversy, with some members of the law enforcement community asserting that the genre incites crime,[1][2] and fans and artists have been blamed for numerous high-profile instances of criminal activity and mass murder, including the Columbine High School massacre,[3][4] the Red Lake high school massacre,[5] the Farmville murders, murders of law enforcement officers, and gang activity across the United States.

Characteristics [ edit ]

Horrorcore defines a style of hip hop music that focuses primarily on dark, violent, gothic, transgressive, macabre and/or horror-influenced topics that can include death, psychosis, psychological horror, mental illness, satanism, self-harm, cannibalism, mutilation, necrophilia, suicide, murder, torture, rape, drug abuse, and often supernatural or occult themes. The lyrics are often inspired by horror movies and are performed over moody, hardcore beats.[6] According to rapper Mars, "If you take Stephen King or Wes Craven and you throw them on a rap beat, that's who I am."[7] Horrorcore was described by Entertainment Weekly in 1995 as a "blend of hardcore rap and bloodthirsty metal."[8] The lyrical content of horrorcore is sometimes described as being similar to that of death metal, and some have referred to the genre as "death rap".[9] Horrorcore artists often feature dark imagery in their music videos and base musical elements of songs upon horror film scores.[9]

History [ edit ]

Origins [ edit ]

It has been argued that Jimmy Spicer's 1980 single "Adventures of Super Rhyme" was perhaps the first example of anything that resembled horrorcore, due to the segment of the song in which Spicer recounts his experience of meeting Dracula. Following this were groups like Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, and songs like Dana Dane's "Nightmares," which spun more frightening, imaginative narratives.[10]

Since 1983, Ganxsta N.I.P. has performed horror-themed lyrics that he described as "Psycho Rap", but was not commonly considered to be horrorcore until the term came into mainstream prominence.[11] Ganxsta N.I.P. has written lyrics for other groups, including Geto Boys who are also an influence on the early horrorcore sound.[11]

In 1988, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince released "A Nightmare on My Street", which described an encounter with Freddy Krueger,[10] and the Fat Boys recorded the similarly-themed "Are You Ready for Freddy" for the film A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master and its soundtrack. 1988 is also the year Insane Poetry released his debut single "Twelve Strokes Till Midnight," one of the first examples of music specifically made to be horrorcore.[10]

While Kool Keith later claimed to have "invented horrorcore",[12] the first use of the term appeared on the group KMC's 1991 album Three Men With the Power of Ten.[10] Nonetheless, Kool Keith brought significant attention to horror-influenced hip hop with the 1996 release of his horror and science-fiction-influenced, absurdist, trippy, experimental album Dr. Octagonecologyst.

Rise in the hip hop genre [ edit ]

Scarface, of the group Geto Boys, whose violent, horror-themed lyrics have been singled out as the first recorded example of horrorcore.

The Geto Boys' debut album, Making Trouble, contained the dark and violent horror-influenced track "Assassins", which was cited by Joseph Bruce (Violent J of the horrorcore group Insane Clown Posse) in his book Behind The Paint, as the first recorded horrorcore song. He said that the Geto Boys continued to pioneer the style with its second release, Grip It! On That Other Level, with songs such as "Mind of a Lunatic" and "Trigga-Happy Nigga."[13] The Geto Boys' 1991 album, We Can't Be Stopped, was also influential on the horrorcore genre and contained themes of paranoia, depression, and psychological horror, especially in the track "Chuckie," and "Mind Playing Tricks on Me".[14][15]

While rappers in the underground scene continued to release horrorcore music, including Big L,[16] Insane Poetry,[17] and Insane Clown Posse,[10] the mid-90s brought an attempted mainstream crossover of the genre.[10]

In 1994, according to Icons of Hip Hop, horrorcore gained prominence in 1994 with the release of Flatlinerz' U.S.A. (Under Satan's Authority) and Gravediggaz' 6 Feet Deep (released overseas as Niggamortis).[18][19][20][21]

In 1995, an independent horror film called The Fear was released, which included a soundtrack that consisted entirely of horrorcore songs, including Insane Clown Posse's biggest radio hit, "Dead Body Man".[10] 1995 also saw the release of Three 6 Mafia's debut album "Mystic Stylez" which touched on drug use, ritualistic sex, mass murder, torture and Satanism. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony's "E. 1999 Eternal" LP, furthered tales of the occult on songs such as "Mr. Ouija 2", "Mo' Murda", and "East 1999". Tension would soon rise between Bone Thugs and Three 6 over their presumed similarities in style and use of dark imagery.

In 2009, dark music themed website Fangoria named Tech N9ne's 2001 album "Anghellic" as an iconic and influential album to the genre, to the artist, and to hip-hop as a whole.

The genre is not popular with mainstream audiences as a whole; though in some cities like Detroit it is the dominant style of hip-hop and performers such as Insane Clown Posse, Eminem, Necro, and Twiztid have sold commercially well nationwide.[18] Horrorcore has thrived in Internet culture and sustains an annual super show in Detroit called Wickedstock.[22] Every Halloween since 2003, Horrorcore artists worldwide get together online and release a free compilation titled Devilz Nite.[23] According to the January 2004 BBC documentary Underground USA, the subgenre "has a massive following across the US" and "is spreading to Europe".[22] Rolling Stone in 2007 referred to it as a short-lived trend that generated more shlock than shock.[24]

Notable artists [ edit ]

Controversy [ edit ]

Some members of the law enforcement community have asserted that the horrorcore genre is dangerous and incites crime, and the genre's artists and followers have been linked to a wide variety of crime, ranging from mass murder to gang activity and drug trafficking.

In 1999, horrorcore group Insane Clown Posse was considered a potential influence on school shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. ICP responded that if the shooters had been Juggalos, they would have "gotten the whole damn school".[3] However, Brooks Brown, the best friend of Dylan Klebold and a friend of both of the shooters, was, in fact, a Juggalo and had introduced Klebold to Insane Clown Posse's music.[4] Horrorcore-influenced rapper Eminem also received negative publicity in the wake of the massacre and has referenced it throughout his discography.

In 2007, horrorcore fan Jeff Weise committed the Red Lake Senior High School massacre. Weise was a fan of horrorcore rappers such as Mars and Prozak.[5]

In 2009, horrorcore rapper Syko Sam committed the Farmville murders, bludgeoning a pastor and his family to death in an apparent anti-Christian hate crime. Like Weise, he was a fan of horrorcore rapper Mars.

Juggalo gangs have caused law enforcement concern throughout the United States due to their tendency for extreme violence and have been linked to diverse crimes. Arizona Department of Public Safety Detective Michelle Vasey has expressed concern at the Juggalos high potential for violence, stating "The weapons, they prefer, obviously, hatchets ... We've got battle-axes, we've got machetes, anything that can make the most violent, gruesome wound," and "Some of the homicides we're seeing with these guys are pretty nasty, gruesome, disgusting homicides, where they don't care who's around, what's around, they're just out to kill anybody." [65] A 2017 Denver Police Department guide warned that even Juggalos who are not affiliated with a gang are prone to commit "murder, shootings, kidnapping, rape, necrophilia, cannibalism, assault, and arson" and that "such acts give a Juggalo a sense of pride and street credit amongst peers".[66] Allegedly horrorcore-related criminal activity has, in rare cases, even branched out into ad-hoc domestic terrorism, with a Juggalo-led terrorist cell calling itself the "Black Snake Militia" attempting to raid a National Guard armory in 2012.[67]

References [ edit ]

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  4. ^ a b Brown, Brooks (2002). No Easy Answers: The Truth Behind Death at Columbine.
  5. ^ a b "YouTube video". Archived from the original on 2014-07-05. Retrieved 2013-05-13. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  6. ^ Meyer, Frank. (2004-10-28) Frankly Speaking: Halloween Horror-core Hip Hop g4tv. Retrieved 2008-09-14.
  7. ^ Darcy, Pohland. (May 19, 2005) The dark world Of Horrorcore music Archived 2007-11-24 at the Wayback Machine WCCO-TV. Accessed November 4, 2007.
  8. ^ Browne, David. (24 Feb 1995) Fifth anniversary music Entertainment Weekly. Accessed November 4, 2007.
  9. ^ a b Strauss, Neil (September 18, 1994). "When Rap Meets the Undead". The New York Times. Retrieved April 25, 2009.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Chaz Kangas. "The History of Horrorcore Rap". LA Weekly. Retrieved April 15, 2014.
  11. ^ a b "AllHipHop » Ganxta NIP: The Psycho Becomes A God Of Horrorcore". AllHipHop. Retrieved 26 March 2015.
  12. ^ Kane; QED (July 19, 2007). "Kool Keith Interview". Original UK Hip Hop. Archived from the original on June 21, 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-04. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  13. ^ Bruce, Joseph; Hobey Echlin (August 2003). "The Dark Carnival". In Nathan Fostey (ed.). ICP: Behind the Paint (second ed.). Royal Oak, Michigan: Psychopathic Records. pp. 174–185. ISBN 0-9741846-0-8.
  14. ^ Sciaccotta, J.C. "Geto Boys - "Mind Playing Tricks on Me"". PopMatters. Retrieved 11 December 2015.
  15. ^ "#1: Geto Boys "Mind Playing Tricks On Me"". Complex Magazine. Retrieved 11 December 2015.
  16. ^ "Fright Night". Vibe. November 2004. p. 74.
  17. ^ a b Cordor, Cyril. "Biography of Insane Poetry". Allmusic. Retrieved 12 November 2008.
  18. ^ a b c d e f Hess, Danielle (2007). "Hip Hop and Horror". In Hess, Mickey (ed.). Icons of Hip Hop. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 369. ISBN 0-313-33903-1.
  19. ^ a b c Passantino, Dom. (07 Jan 2005) Top ten Hip-Hop gimmicks of all time Stylus Magazine. Accessed November 4, 2007.
  20. ^ a b Fernando Jr., S.H. (September 18, 2007) The Pick, The Sickle & The Shovel Rolling Stone Accessed November 4, 2007. (archived
  21. ^ Gravediggaz star loses cancer battle. NME (16 July 2001) Accessed November 4, 2007.
  22. ^ a b Underground USAArchived 2010-10-25 at the Wayback Machine BBC. Accessed November 4, 2007
  23. ^ July 13, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ Fernando Jr., S.H. (September 18, 2007) The Pick, the Sickle & the Shovel Rolling Stone Accessed November 4, 2007.
  25. ^ Danish paginis el, Jamila (April 1995). "Uptown Renaissance: Big L". The Source (67): 36. ISSN 1063-2085.
  26. ^ "Bizarre, King Gordy Form Last American Rock Stars, Drop LARS". XXL. 13 October 2017. Retrieved 10 June 2018. Gordy shares a similar sentiment, saying he and Bizarre came together to inject the rap game with some much-needed zaniness. “Me and Bizzy came together because we are the last of a dying breed," Gordy tells us. "Nobody is having fun anymore. It's all about stunting and having money. Well we don't give a fuck about that. We ain't rappers.. we are the Last American Rock Stars!!!! On the Foul World mixtape expect a very disturbing version of Hip Hop. We intended to take Horrorcore to a whole new Level!”
  27. ^ Detroit's scariest Rap music [1]/
  28. ^ Cordor, Cyril. "Blaze Ya Dead Homie > Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-07-14.
  29. ^ Macias, Chris. (December 5, 2006). The king of gore, Brotha Lynch reigns over local hip-hop movement Archived 2007-12-17 at the Wayback Machine The Sacramento Bee. Accessed November 29, 2007.
  30. ^ Faraone, Chris (November 30, 2007). "Shia LaBeouf: Horror-Core MC? Transformers star hopes to play indie rapper Cage in biopic". Spin. Retrieved 2008-06-27.
  31. ^ Montgomery, James (May 18, 2009). "Shia LaBeouf-Directed Video Puts Cage's Dark Hip-Hop On The Map". MTV News. Retrieved May 26, 2009.
  32. ^ Reeves, Mosi (July 8, 2004). "World Famous". New Times Broward-Palm Beach. Retrieved 31 March 2009. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  33. ^ Cohen, Sara (2007). Decline, Renewal and the City in Popular Music Culture: Beyond The Beatles. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 52. ISBN 0-7546-3243-1. The music journalist and author Dan Sicko describes certain strains of Detroit hip-hop as 'an extreme, almost parodied' version of inner city life, which he links to the extremities of urban decline in the city: 'both the horrorcore of hip-hop outfits such as Insane Clown Posse, Esham and (to a lesser extent) the multi-platinum-selling Eminem, utilize shocking (and blatantly over the top) narratives to give an over-exaggerated, almost cartoon-like version of urban deprivation in Detroit' (cited in Cohen and Strachan, 2005).
  34. ^ {{The album "Helter Skelter" incorporates mainly all horrorcore stylistic music. The 2nd Track titled "Return of the Living Dead" was the lead single and the main feature of the album, and incorporates many horror based themes., Similar Elements emerge on "Duece," The D.O.C.'s Third Album, which discusses The Idea of The New World, as well as other psychological horror themes. Unlike Helter Skelter, Duece contains other genres of music besides Horrorcore. It appears on the tracks "What Would You Do," and "Mentally Disturbed." Helter Skelter also legitimized his influence as a Horrorcore Artist by Hitting #30 on the Billboard 200 and #5 on the Hot R&B/Rap Album Charts.}}
  35. ^ Hernandez, Pedro. "Review of N of Tha World". Rap Reviews. Retrieved 2008-08-04.
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  37. ^ Mickey Hess (2007). Is Hip Hop Dead?: The Past, Present, and Future of America's Most Wanted Music. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 0275994619. Alice Cooper's horror-movie imagery may have inspired the hip hop genre known as horrorcore, in which artists like Ganxsta N.I.P., Gravediggaz, and The Flatlinerz imbue their lyrics with stories of horrific torture and murder.
  38. ^ Peter Shapiro (2005). The Rough Guide to Hip-Hop. Rough Guides. ISBN 9781843532637. He calls his black-metal schtick "acid rap" and his splatter patter has influenced everyone from horrorcore artists the Flatlinerz to Motown neighbours Kid Rock, Insane Clown Posse, Kottonmouth Kingz and Eminem
  39. ^ "The Story Behind Def Jam's Worst-Selling, and Most Misunderstood, Album Ever". Village Voice. (31 October 2014)
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  47. ^ Noah Hubbell. "Horrorcore: From Esham to Hopsin, a look at the history of rap's most terrifying subgenre". Westword. Retrieved 26 March 2015.
  48. ^ The Jimmy Star Show - Cool Radio. "Hit Horrorcore Rapper Kung Fu Vampire to Guest on The Jimmy Star Show Radio Show October 27 2010". Retrieved 26 March 2015.
  49. ^ "King Gordy and Lo Key feuding on Social Media - Faygoluvers". Retrieved 23 September 2018.
  50. ^ "Lou The Human Is a Rebellious NYC Rapper Making Raw, Twisted Hip-Hop". Retrieved 23 September 2018.
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  64. ^ Clayton Purdom. "Horrorcore is rap's monstrous creation that refuses to die -- The A.V. Club". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 26 April 2018.
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