First up, hip hop has alot of sub-genres, including sex rappers like 2 Live Crew and Too $hort, political rappers like Immortal Technique and Public Enemy and obviously gangsta rap but probably the most obscure style is the horror style. It is also probably the most debated style of hip hop. Just the name of it alone causes heated discussions on the net and in the street. Most people call the style "Horrorcore", a name created by east coast Def Jam group The Flatlinerz who released the album "U.S.A. (Under Satans Authority)" in 1994. Esham and Natas refer to their style as "Acid Rap", Ganksta Nip labels his music as the "Psycho Style" and Necro's style is called "Death Rap". Referring to an artists style by the wrong name on a rappers fan-site will lead to you receiving a cyber beatdown. The other main arguement people get into when talking about the horror style is who actually started it. Ganksta Nip claims he did as do the Flatlinerz etc. For anyone reading this, I don't claim to know everything about the style and I've been on sites such as Horrorcore.com where there are people that know almost every little detail on what goes on in the horror styled rap scene, but I am writing this because some of my favourite artists fall under this umbrella and I don't personally care what people call it or who claims to start it. I personally refer to it as "horror rap" and what's written below is how I see the history of the genre in my eyes.
Before horror rap forged its own style there were a few tracks with a horror theme such as "Fat Boys - Are You Ready For Freddy" in 1988 and "Mellow Man Ace - Hip Hop Creature" in 1989. Although the first group that I know of that came out with its style centred around horror was Insane Poetry who released a tape only EP that featured the original version of "How Ya Gonna Reason With A Psycho" and also released the track "12 Strokes Till Midnight".
Insane Poetry - How Ya Gonna Reason With A Psycho [Unreleased Verse]
Psycho (Cyco) of Insane Poetry
In 1989 Houston, Texas group the Geto Boys released "Grip It On That Other Level" which featured the track "Mind Of A Lunatic" which is probably the first horror track that gained attention, they re-recorded the track with slight variations for their 1990 self-titled album. This same year in Detroit, Michigan a young Esham released the classic "Boomin Words From Hell" (he was only 13 when he recorded this album). The album was laced with devil raps and suicidal rhymes with one of the stand out tracks being "4 All My Suicidalists" which uses Geto Boys samples for the hook . This album on its original label Reel Life Productions is hard to find and worth big bucks. The album was also released on cassette and vinyl although a couple of tracks vary. Since this album Esham has dropped just under 20 solo releases along with 6 (soon to be 7) albums with Natas, incredible to think that Esham is still under 30.
Esham The Unholy
Although not a horror group, in 1991 LA based Priority Records group KMC (Kaotic Minds Corruptin') released "3 Men With The Power of 10". The album featured plenty of horror references scattered throughout and also features Drew Rock (Cyco) from Insane Poetry. Also in 1991 the Geto Boys released "We Can't Be Stopped" which featured the horror themed Bushwick Bill solo track "Chucky" which was written by Houston's Ganksta Nip of the South Park Coalition who was also signed to Rap-A-Lot records (Bushwick also released "Chuckwick" in 1992 on his solo album "Little Big Man"). In 1992, Ganksta Nip dropped his first release titled "The South Park Psycho" and as the name suggests it was filled with horror references and the track "Horror Movie Rap" became an instant favourite for horror rap fans around the world. This is another hard to find horror rap classic and it goes for a fair bit on ebay.
Bushwick Bill aka Chuckwick
Also in 1992 Insane Poetry released "Grim Reality" on Nastymix Records which was started by Seattle's Nasty Nes and Sir Mix A Lot. The album featured the track "Stalkin With The Nitebreed" with horror style rappers Evil-1, Shakespeare The One Man Riot and D-A-L and the classic track "How Ya Gonna Reason With A Psycho" that was released without the final verse. Insane Poetry also released "Blacc Plague" in 1996 which was more of a gangsta album but returned again in 2003 with "Faith In Chaos" which was as Cyco describe, an updateded version of "Grim Reality".
Downloadable Music Video:
Insane Poetry - How Ya Gonna Reason With A Psycho
Probably the most controversial horror hip hop group ever would be Natas (Esham, TNT, Mastamind), who dropped their debut album "Life After Death" in 1992 on Reel Life Productions. After this album was released a Tennessee teenager killed himself while playing Russian roulette and listening to the groups music.
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From: Rap Pages, 1994, Year End Issue
In 1993, Sacramento rapper Brotha Lynch Hung released the EP "24 Deep". The EP contained cannibalistic gangsta rhymes and was the start of a notorious career that has even seen him star in his own horror movie "Now Eat". Ganksta Nip came back in '93 to drop his second album titled "Psychic Thoughts" which picks up where he left off on his previous album, and since then also released "Psychotic Genius", "Interview With A Killa", "Psycho Thug", "Return Of The Psychopath" as well as the underground release "Originator Of The Psycho Sound" and is soon to release another album.
In 1994, Def Jam Recordings president Russell Simmons signed his nephew RedRum's group The Flatlinerz to Def Jam. They released "U.S.A. (Under Satans Authority). When promoting the group Russell Simmons referred to the Flatlinerz style as "Horrorcore", a term which has enfuriated many people who are into this style of hip hop including Esham who has dissed Russell Simmons on several tracks. The group themselves have been dissed by alot of people saying that they would of never have been signed to Def Jam if RedRum was not related to Russell Simmons. On the forums at Horrorcore.com RedRum posted a topic where he dissed other rappers. RedRum wrote:
"I HAVE RETURNED TO SHOW YOU THAT ESHAM, TECH-9, NATAS, INSANE CLOWN POSSE, AND MANY OTHERS ARE DOING WHAT I WAS DOING AS A TEENAGER. MY MUSIC FROM 1994 IS BETTER THAN THEIR MUSIC OF 2004. THAT'S A FUCKIN SHAME. THEY HAVE NOT GROWN."
Also in 1994 The RZA, Da Gatekeeper, The Grym Reaper and Prince Paul hooked up under the name Gravediggaz and released "Six Feet Deep" which is also titled in other countries as "Niggamortis", this album was dropped on Gee Street and features favourites such as "1800 Suicide" and "Diary Of A Madman".
1995 saw the return of Brotha Lynch Hung with what alot of people call his best work to date with the Black Market classic "Season Of Da Siccness" which features the daring track "Return of Da Baby Killa" which as you can gather by the title has references to killing and eating babies. It was also the year that Three Six Mafia dropped both "Live By Your Rep" and "Mystic Stylez" and a couple of years later "World Domination". The groups music was filled with comments of devil worshipping although later they changed their style and became more commercially appealing.
Brotha Lynch Hung
There are plenty of other horror styled rappers and rappers who have horror styled tracks around such as Death, Mars, Half Breed, Project Deadman, Bob E Nite, Castro The Savage, ICP, Necro and most of the Psycho+Logical Records camp, Triple 6, Bedlam and one of my personal favourite rappers, Rhode Islands Q Strange who has released two official full length albums -"Creation to ExeQtion" and "Strangeland" as well as a few underground only releases. Everyones view on the name and history of this style of hip hop is different but this is how I see it and I am very aware that I would of missed out some artists that should of been mentioned. The important thing is that everyone realizes that "horror rap" or whatever you wish to call it is still a credible form of hip hop music.
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From: Spice Magazine, 1993