Throwback Thursday: The Top 10 Horror-Core Raps For Halloween
Happy Halloween, tricks! Like every other hip-hop DJ, radio station and outlet on the planet, we are raiding the tombs of forgotten vinyl and mp3s today, cuing up the scariest raps to assemble our costume party playlist. Yup. We remember Ghostbusters and "Nightmare On My Street," too. Whodini's "Haunted House Of Rock" - check. Geto Boys' "Mind Playin Tricks On Me" - check. But being as this is Okayplayer we hear that demon on our shoulder whispering for us to go a little deeper, a little darker. To dig 7 feet under, if you will. In that (cough) spirit, we (Shamz & Eddie STATS) are proud to present Okayplayer's Top 10 Horrorcore Anthems For Halloween! Click through to get the 10 goriest raps from the genre so sick it'll make your eyes bleed--not from woola blunts, I mean like they are actually sticking needles in your eyeballs. We've collected the monsters of rap that defined the sub-genre and dredged up a few bone thugs so obscure, these joints were buried under the crypt. Enjoy. IF YOU DARE.
1. Esham - "Devil's Groove" Boomin Words From Hell 1989
When it comes to horrorcore as a movement in rap music, Detroit's Esham is the bastard father of a thousand maniacs. Though he himself dubbed his style 'acid rap' but the acid in question clearly came not from LSD or house music's 909 synth lines but the "acid rock" of Ozzy Osbourne, Kiss and (fellow Detroiter) Alice Cooper, which the Osborne High School student fused with the sound of Run DMC, 2 Live Crew and the brand new sounds of gangsta rap. Genre categories aside, there's really no doubting the horrorcore credentials of a cat who called his album Boomin Words From Hell and rapped shit like "666 / Crucifix / Hell's the fire on the candlesticks..." in 1989, right about the time N.W.A, Slick Rick and Too $hort were just pushing past radio's tolerance for pornographic and gang-related material. While pretty raw in the technical department, "Devil's Groove"--all about selling his soul for gold--is the most devilish on a proto-horrocore album of Devil's Night anthems. - Eddie STATS
2. Geto Boys - "Mind of A Lunatic" Grip It! On That Other Level, 1989
Everybody knows "Mind Playin Tricks On Me" but "Mind Of A Lunatic" really set this psycho rap trend off and Geto Boys are the other originators who have to get a mention when you talk about horrorcore. Scarface has done more than just see a man die, as he's made many a man push up daisies on earlier Geto Boys tracks. This one has enough raw lines to make Jason Voorhees himself blush, horrorcore to the core. - Shamz
3. NATAS - "Hell-raiser" Life After Death, 1992
By 1992, Esham had teamed up with partners TNT and Mastamind to form the group NATAS--yes, that's 'satan' backwards but it stands for "Nation Ahead Of Time And Space" if you're typographically nasty--and dropped the LP Life After Death. Releases like this made their label Reel Life productions one of the most successful indie rap labels of the 90s and established the premise of regional rap before anybody outside NOLA knew who No Limit was. It also got some less positive feedback when a teenage fan in Nashville, Tennessee killed himself while smoking weed and playing Russian roulette while bumping Life After Death. True story--see Esham's "shockumentary" for more macabre details. I can clearly remember coming across this CD in the bins of Detroit-area record shops Harmony House and Record Time and being like, Whut thee hail? -Eddie STATS
4. Ganksta N-I-P - "Horror Movie Rap" The South Park Psycho, 1992
It wouldn't feel right making this list without Ganksta N-I-P, another one of the MCs credited with starting the genre. "Horror Movie Rap" plays like the goriest horror movie that was never made. As uncomfortable as this song is sure to make you, it's not even close to the rawest song he's ever made (google his catalog at your own risk). - Shamz
5 & 6. Gravediggaz "Diary of A Madman" & "1-800 Suicide"
Now we getting to the groups that gave this shit its name. I listened to plenty of Korn, Slipknot, and Rage Against The Machine to get off that pre-teen angst, but nothing quite quenched that thirst like the Gravediggaz. For me personally, these dudes defined the genre (Prince Paul & RZA at their best), so I had to add two of their classics. As dark, twisted and demented as it gets... these dudes made a full song giving you creative and detailed instructions on how and why you should kill yourself. Bear witness as they exercise their exorcism- Shamz
7. Flatlinerz - "Live-Evil" Under Satan's Authority, 1994
Along with Gravediggaz, Flatlinerz are the group credited with introducing the term 'horrorcore' into American English. The group was fronted by Redrum AKA Jamal Simmons, nephew to Russell "Rush" Simmons and they're often cited as part of a Def Jam plot to move the rap industry away from (mostly West Coast) hardcore gangsta rap. I'll admit I didn't listen to them much in my youth, but I'd be remiss not to have them on here. "Live-Evil" is all horrorcore without quite as many cringe worthy lines as N-I-P and Geto Boys--but don't go thinking you can play this in front of your mom. - Shamz
8. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony "Mr, Ouija 2," E. 1999 Eternal, 1995
If you're only familiar with Bone Thugs via their Radio singles, you may not know that their early albums were all filled with some evil ass satan worshipping tracks as well. They sounded so soulful and "harmonious" that you didn't even realize they were praying to the devil. - Shamz
9. Dayton Family - "What's On My Mind" What's On My Mind, 1995
Representing Flint, MI (I know, I know. So far there is no clear explanation for what makes Michigan and Texas, specifically, so motherf**kin diabolical. They just are.) Dayton Family are more in the lane of midwestern gangster rap ala MC Breed but "What's On My Mind" is a good example of where Dr. Dre-ish gangsterisms bleed over into something far more disturbed than just keys and Gs. The song starts off with familiar "stress" raps about fuckin up in school and selling crack but swiftly descends into a stream of consciousness spree of murder (and necrophilia!) that's far more Trenchcoat Mafia than Junior M.A.F.I.A. For evidence see lyrics like:
"What's on my mind is a motherfucking blood bath / Two stanky bi**hes must have asked me for my autograph / What's on my mind is a bi**h's head up in a tree / And why you kill her G? / That bitch shoulda never spoke to me."
But if you need any further verification of the horrorcore pedigree, this track was named in Spin magazine as one of the best/most formative examples of the genre by none other than white rapper/evil clown Violent J of the Insane Clown Posse. Which Brings us to...
10. Insane Clown Posse - "Night Of The Chainsaw"
Yup. While Eminem may have perfected the formula of watering down horrorcore's disturbing imagery just enough to make it dominate radio and MTV the Insane Clown Posse (Detroit again) have gone further than anybody in not only keeping horrorcore alive but making it an incredibly lucrative and popular genre, transforming it into something of cult/youth movement with their wild-ass gathering of the Juggalos. In the process they have brought horrorcore full-circle back to the evil carnie facepaint of Esham's beloved acid rock (Alice Cooper, ye have much to answer for). I am not even going to front like I know or could judge which is the biggest or most classic of their Juggalo jams but ICP stay making meth-fueled zombie apocalypse anthems called things like "Night Of The Chainsaw" to this very day--and getting millions of views off them. Scary shit, indeed.