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Title: Horrorcore  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Insane Clown Posse, Comedy hip hop, Kool Keith, Mystic Stylez, U.S.A. (album)
Collection: Hip Hop Genres, Horrorcore
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Horrorcore is a subgenre of hip hop music based on horror-themed lyrical content and imagery. Its origins derived from hardcore and gangsta rap artists such as the Geto Boys, who often incorporated supernatural or occult themes into their lyrics and, unlike most gangsta rap artists, pushed the violent content and imagery in their lyrics beyond the realm of realistic urban violence to the point where the violent lyrics became gruesome, unsettling, or slasher film-esque. The term horrorcore was popularized by openly horror-influenced hip hop groups such as Flatlinerz and Gravediggaz.


  • Origins 1
  • History 2
  • Characteristics 3
  • Notable artists 4
  • References 5


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.[1]

Since 1983, Ganksta N-I-P has performed horror-themed lyrics which he described as "Psycho Rap", but was not commonly considered to be horrorcore until the term came into mainstream prominence.[2] Ganksta N-I-P has written lyrics for other groups, including Geto Boys.[2]

In 1988, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince released "A Nightmare on My Street", which described an encounter with Freddy Krueger,[1] 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.[1]

While Kool Keith later claimed to have "invented horrorcore",[3] the first use of the term appeared on the group KMC's 1991 album Three Men With the Power of Ten.[1]


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."[4]

While rappers in the underground scene continued to release horrorcore music, including Big L,[5] Insane Poetry,[6] and Insane Clown Posse,[1] the mid-90s brought an attempted mainstream crossover of the genre.[1]

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).[7][8][9][10]

In 1995, an independent horror film called The Fear was released, which included a soundtrack which consisted entirely of horrorcore songs, including Insane Clown Posse's biggest radio hit, "Dead Body Man".[1]

The genre is not popular with mainstream audiences as a whole; however, performers such as Insane Clown Posse and Twiztid have sold well.[7] The genre has thrived in Internet culture and sustains an annual super show in Detroit called Wickedstock.[11] Every Halloween since 2003, Horrorcore artists worldwide get together online and release a free compilation titled Devilz Nite.[12] According to the January 2004 BBC documentary Underground USA, the subgenre "has a massive following across the US" and "is spreading to Europe".[11] Rolling Stone in 2007 referred to it as a short-lived trend that generated more shlock than shock.[13] New York Magazine put horrorcore in the spotlight by listing off the ten most horrifying horrorcore rappers.[14] Spin asked Violent J of Insane Clown Posse to list off his favorite horrorcore songs. Songs included, The Dayton Family's "What's On My Mind", Bone Thugs-N-Harmony's "Mr. Ouija", Necro's "Billie Jean 2005", and Michael Jackson's "Thriller".[15]


Horrorcore defines a style of hip hop music that focuses primarily on dark, violent and/or horror-influenced topics that can include satanism, self-harm, cannibalism, suicide, murder, torture, rape, drug use and supernatural themes. The lyrics are often inspired by horror movies over moody, hardcore beats.[16] 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."[17] Horrorcore was described by Entertainment Weekly in 1995 as a "blend of hardcore rap and bloodthirsty metal."[18] 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.[19] Horrorcore artists often feature dark imagery in their music videos and base musical elements of songs upon horror film scores.[19]

Notable artists


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Chaz Kangas. "The History of Horrorcore Rap". LA Weekly. Retrieved April 15, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "AllHipHop » Ganxta NIP: The Psycho Becomes A God Of Horrorcore". AllHipHop. Retrieved 26 March 2015. 
  3. ^ Kane; QED (July 19, 2007). "Kool Keith Interview". Original UK Hip Hop. Retrieved 2008-08-04. 
  4. ^  
  5. ^ "Fright Night".  
  6. ^ a b Cordor, Cyril. "Biography of Insane Poetry".  
  7. ^ a b c d e f Hess, Danielle (2007). "Hip Hop and Horror". In Hess, Mickey. Icons of Hip Hop. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 369.  
  8. ^ a b c Passantino, Dom. (07 Jan 2005) Top ten Hip-Hop gimmicks of all time Stylus Magazine. Accessed November 4, 2007.
  9. ^ a b Fernando Jr., S.H. (September 18, 2007) The Pick, The Sickle & The Shovel Rolling Stone Accessed November 4, 2007. (archived
  10. ^ Gravediggaz star loses cancer battle. NME (16 July 2001) Accessed November 4, 2007.
  11. ^ a b Underground USA BBC. Accessed November 4, 2007
  12. ^
  13. ^ Fernando Jr., S.H. (September 18, 2007) The Pick, the Sickle & the Shovel Rolling Stone Accessed November 4, 2007.
  14. ^ Fennessey, Sean. "The Ten Most Horrifying Horrorcore Rappers".  
  15. ^ Schultz, Christopher. "Insane Clown Posse's Violent J Picks 11 Horrorcore Classics".  
  16. ^ Meyer, Frank. (2004-10-28) Frankly Speaking: Halloween Horror-core Hip Hop g4tv. Retrieved 2008-09-14.
  17. ^ Darcy, Pohland. (May 19, 2005) The dark world Of Horrorcore music WCCO-TV. Accessed November 4, 2007.
  18. ^ Browne, David. (24 Feb 1995) Fifth anniversary music Entertainment Weekly. Accessed November 4, 2007.
  19. ^ a b Strauss, Neil (September 18, 1994). "When Rap Meets the Undead".  
  20. ^ "Throwback Thursday: Top 10 Horrorcore Anthems For Halloween Okayplayer". Okayplayer. Retrieved 26 March 2015. 
  21. ^ Daniel, Jamila (April 1995). "Uptown Renaissance: Big L". The Source (67): 36. ISSN 1063-2085.
  22. ^ Detroit's scariest Rap music [2]/
  23. ^ Cordor, Cyril. "Blaze Ya Dead Homie > Biography".  
  24. ^ Macias, Chris. (December 5, 2006). The king of gore, Brotha Lynch reigns over local hip-hop movement The Sacramento Bee. Accessed November 29, 2007.
  25. ^ Faraone, Chris (November 30, 2007). star hopes to play indie rapper Cage in biopic"Transformers"Shia LaBeouf: Horror-Core MC? .  
  26. ^ Montgomery, James (May 18, 2009). "Shia LaBeouf-Directed Video Puts Cage's Dark Hip-Hop On The Map".  
  27. ^ Reeves, Mosi (July 8, 2004). "World Famous".  
  28. ^ Cohen, Sara (2007). Decline, Renewal and the City in Popular Music Culture: Beyond The Beatles. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 52.  
  29. ^ Hernandez, Pedro. "N of Tha World"Review of . Rap Reviews. Retrieved 2008-08-04. 
  30. ^ Mickey Hess (2007). Is Hip Hop Dead?: The Past, Present, and Future of America's Most Wanted Music.  
  31. ^ Peter Shapiro (2005). The Rough Guide to Hip-Hop.  
  32. ^ "The Story Behind Def Jam's Worst-Selling, and Most Misunderstood, Album Ever".   (31 October 2014)
  33. ^ Noah Hubbell. "Horrorcore: From Esham to Hopsin, a look at the history of rap's most terrifying subgenre". Westword. Retrieved 26 March 2015. 
  34. ^ a b , p. 369. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007 ISBN 9780313339042Icons of Hip Hop: An Encyclopedia of the Movement, Music, and Culture, Volume 2Hess, Mickey.
  35. ^ Righi, Len. (9 April 2007) King Gordy keeps up lighting up the dark Pop Matters. Accessed November 4, 2007.
  36. ^ Noah Hubbell. "Horrorcore: From Esham to Hopsin, a look at the history of rap's most terrifying subgenre". Westword. Retrieved 26 March 2015. 
  37. ^ 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. 
  38. ^ Bulwa, Demian (September 23, 2009). "Bay Area suspect allegedly bludgeoned victims".  
  39. ^
  40. ^ NECRO. "NECRO's Official Blog". Retrieved 26 March 2015. 
  41. ^ McKinney, Devin. (2004-09-14) Real horror show The American Prospect. Retrieved 2008-10-14.
  42. ^ Proulx,Jaymin. (2013-04-13) Swollen Members - Beautiful Death Machine - Album Review
  43. ^ Varine, Patrick (October 26, 2009). "'"Album review: 'K.O.D.,' by Tech N9ne.  
  44. ^ Sean Fennessey. "10 Horrifying Horrorcore Rappers -- Vulture". Vulture. Retrieved 26 March 2015. 
  45. ^ "Three 6 Mafia". Memphis Music Hall of Fame. Retrieved 4 June 2014. 
  46. ^ Utley, Ebony A. (11 June 2012). Rap and Religion: Understanding the Gangsta's God. ABC-CLIO. p. 105.  
  47. ^ "'"Twiztid morality and 'horrorcore.  
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