If you have ever heard snippets of songs talking about meeting Dracula or encountering Freddy Krueger, you’ve been hearing horrorcore.
Horrorcore is defined as a subgenre of hip hop, including hardcore rap and heavy metal in their songs. As evident in the name, horror is the main theme of this genre, but it covers a wide range of topics. Typically, it features grotesque and exaggerated violence, going past the typical violence and brutality that is realistic. Many compare the lyrics and imagery within these songs to that of slasher movies. Many artists or this subgenre also include themes of the occult, Satan, psychological horror, and mental illness.
History and Controversy of Horrorcore
Horrorcore is believed to have its origins in the 1980s with songs like Are You Ready for Freddy by the Fat Boys and Adventures of Super Rhyme by Jimmy Spicer, but they did not identify as horrorcore. The first attempt to name and identify this genre was from Ganxsta N.I.P., who called his music “Psycho Rap.” The 1990s is when horrorcore really became a genre and more widely known. It was popularized by the Gravediggaz and Flatlinerz, along with the Geto Boys, in 1994, following the release of the Flatlinerz song U.S.A. (Under Satan’s Authority) and 6 Feet Deep by the Gravediggaz. Many of these songs have incredibly gruesome depictions of violence. With the internet becoming more accessible to the normal person and people finding community within it, horrorcore became more popular and well-known, carving out its fanbase on the internet.
Unfortunately, due to its increase in popularity and their violent lyrics, horrorcore music has been connected to many tragic and brutal events. One of the most notable instances of the negative impacts of horrorcore (although it cannot only be attributed to horrorcore) is the connection of the prominent horrorcore group Insane Clown Posse to the tragic Columbine High School massacre, as both shooters were listeners of ICP. Also, Juggalos (fans of Insane Clown Posse) are sometimes formed into gangs, which are classified as a criminal street gang, similar to the Crips, by the FBI and other crime prevention organizations. They commit very violent acts that are noted as brutal and seem to be violence for the sake of violence. Insane Clown Posse themselves has a troubled past, being a gang before becoming a band (they were named Inner City Posse, the same initials as their new name), but ICP has said many times that these Juggalo gangs do not represent or reflect them in any way.
Today, horrorcore is still not as mainstream as other genres of hip-hop or rap, but it has seen an increase in popularity due to the internet. One of the most well-known horrorcore artists of modern-day are most likely the group called Insane Clown Posse (or ICP for short). You might know them from their songs My Axe and In My Room, which feature violent and gory themes, as well as necrophilia. Insane Clown Posse collaborates with other horrorcore artists and releases a new addition of the album Devilz Nite on Halloween every year.
Why Do People Like It?
For many people, horrorcore is a safe space to be an ‘outcast’ and for people who feel that they are not accepted or understood by society. It seems to have a large following of ‘normal people’ who live regular lives, as the exaggerated lyrics are a way to escape the monotony of everyday life.
It is also important to note that while horrorcore has very brutal and violent lyrics, many of the artists make songs that stand firmly against things such as domestic violence, child abuse, and racism, among other things. Their lyrics criticize police brutality, elitism, the lack of attention and opportunities given to those in the ghetto, and the effects of violence on those living there.
If you are new to horrorcore or similar genres, the lyrics can be incredibly shocking and disturbing. But, beneath the explicit and gory lyrics, there are genuine messages that call attention towards deep-rooted issues in our society and injustices throughout it.
ABC News. (2010, March 9). Law Enforcement Claims “Horrorcore” Genre Incites Crime. https://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/law-enforcement-claims-horrorcore-genre-incites-crime/story?id=9739420#.UJtSV-Sunww
Creekmur, C. (2014, September 29). Ganxta NIP: The Psycho Becomes a God of Horrorcore. AllHipHop. https://allhiphop.com/features/ganxta-nip/
Kangas, C. (2019, May 23). The History of Horrorcore Rap. LA Weekly. https://www.laweekly.com/the-history-of-horrorcore-rap/
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