I can already see the comments now. “Who cares about rap?” “Why would a metal blog cover rap?” “What new low has Metal Injection sunk to?” Look, I can’t answer all of these questions, and frankly the type of people who write these kind of comments don’t want answers anyway. I get it; you don’t like rap. Hey, I’m not a giant rap fan myself, and I also happen to think a lot of heavy metal, even the heavy metal we cover here, is hot, stinky, putrid garbage. One should always look on the bright side, however. There are gems out there waiting for you to touch, even in the hip hop world.
For metalheads, even those headbangers who like to spell “rap” with an extra “C,” it’s hard not to appreciate horrorcore. Also known as death rap, this sub-genre of the rhyming arts is replete with the types of lyrics most often found in death metal albums made by bands like Vader, Cannibal Corpse, etc. Some horrorcore acts like to spice up their tracks with overt references to drugs (which, if you’re a fan of Electric Wizard, should be all too familiar to you), but for the most part abject violence does the trick.
It should also be noted that unlike many of their contemporaries, horrorcore artists openly embrace heavy metal and implement heavy, crushing, almost breakdown-like grooves into their songs. And yes, you can certainly headbang to horrorcore. The following six entries prove it.
Honorable Mention: Insane Clown Posse
They have been called “the most hated band in the world.” Their fans, known as juggalos, were also officially labeled a gang by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which has much better things to do. Unofficially, the band is often the butt of jokes, especially jokes made by people who think they’re edgy but are in fact basic AF. I for one applaud ICP—they run a wrestling company, they put on the massive Gathering of the Juggalos every year, and they’ve stuck around much longer than the snobby critics would like to admit. Also, if you don’t recognize the overlap between metalheads and juggalos, then you’re obviously not paying attention. ICP’s lyrics are gritty, nasty, and gloriously unrefined. They even wear corpsepaint, for Varg’s sake! Without ICP and their juggalos, horrrorcore would be a blander product, indeed.
A pair of hardworking misanthropes who each sport more than five or six aliases apiece, the $uicideboy$ of New Orleans are one of rap’s hottest commodities right now. Their obsidian, glitch trap songs barely last longer than one minute, and each tend to make references to upside down crosses, the number six hundred and sixty six, drugs, the Devil, and, of course, suicide. The whole aura of the group is low-fi menace stuck in perpetual relapse. Their songs and videos make the usual metal band’s attempt at shock seem corny and overdone. $uicideboy$ are making rap dangerous again, which is beyond needed.
Let’s get spooky: $uicideboy$, “Paris’
Although they claimed that their name was in reference to the “mentally dead,” New York’s Graveddigaz always seemed fueled by the type of adrenaline that Herbert West pumped into those dead corpses in order to make them reanimate. A supergroup formed by Prince Paul that included Wu-Tang member RZA, Poetic, and Frukwan, Gravediggeaz usually get the label as the first hip-hop act to go full horrorcore. While some horror music purists might be turned off by some of the overt socio-political messages of Gravediggaz, it cannot be denied that tracks like “1-800-Suicide” and “Diary of a Madman” drip with ghoulish delight.
Run for your life: Gravediggaz, “Diary of a Madman”
Yet another New York act, Flatlinerz were one of the first hip-hop groups to go whole hog with horror movie imagery and themes. Their masterpiece, 1994’s U.S.A. (Under Satan’s Authority), is more evil than the last Behemoth record, plus Flatlinerz made some wickedly grotesque videos back in the 1990s for songs like “Satanic Verses.” They even went on live TV and performed in a smoke-filled graveyard full of gangster zombies. Although Redrum is the nephew of Russell Simmons, and is therefore part of rap royalty, he and the other members of Flatlinerz always came off as hardcore gravebangers.
Be afraid, be very afraid: Flatlinerz, “Satanic Verses”
3. Brotha Lynch Hung
If you’re questioning Brotha Lynch Hung’s metal credentials, look no further than the fact that in 1996, he was submitted to the same type of scrutiny that greeted Judas Priest, Ozzy Osbourne, and Marilyn Manson in the 1980s and 1990s. Namely, an 18-year-old monster and recent juvie parolee by the name of Joseph Edward Gallegos primed himself for a night of murder by ingesting methamphetamine and cranking the volume on “Locc 2 da brain,” his favorite Brotha Lynch Hung song. At the end of the night, three of his roommates lay dead, victims of bullets spat out by Gallegos’s Beretta 9mm. Many blamed the violence on Brother Lynch Hung. After all, the musician’s songs glorify murder and mutilation, with some videos even beginning with disclaimers urging all people under eighteen to turn the channel or to shut the computer down. Without a doubt, Brotha Lynch Hung, a Sacramento-based rapper who has been working since the early 1990s, is probably the most obscene songwriter in the history of horrorcore.
Don’t go down in the basement: Brotha Lynch Hung, “Locc 2 da brain”
Of all horrorcore artists, Necro will probably appeal to most metalheads currently sitting on the fence. Necro (real name Ron Braunstein) has never shied away from citing metal acts like Death, Metallica, and Obituary as influences. Metal musicians as diverse as Scott Ian of Anthrax and Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed have collaborated with Necro, while the man even rapped over a blast beat drummed by former Suffocation skinbeater Mike Smith. All you have to do is look at Necro’s cover art to realize that this guy is the real deal.
They’re alive!: Necro, “Creepy Crawl” ft. Charles Manson
1) Geto Boys
Horrorcore was born in New York City, but its soul was formed in Houston by several emcees, the heart of which consisted of Big Willie D, Bushwick Bill, and Scarface. In the early 1990s, when most of America was still coming to terms with basic gangsta rap, the Geto Boys churned out songs that dealt with much darker topics, like insanity, suicide, necrophilia, and murder. The urban hellscape described the Geto Boys isn’t too far off from Dante’s inferno, and metal bands should take note: dragons, Satan, and black magic are never as scary as real life.
Fear itself: Geto Boys, “My Mind Playing Tricks on Me”