Whereas Juggalo nation spawned in Michigan, two East Coast acts in particular brought hip-hop to the dark side. The first was Flatlinerz, a Def Jam afterthought whose Wes Craven antics failed to catch on. More important were Gravediggaz, a collective boasting Poetic, Stetsasonic vets Prince Paul and Frukwan, and Wu-Tang ringleader RZA that emerged from underground in 1994 with Niggamortis. A major inspiration for such acts as Zombie Death Squad (who respect boom-bap principles as much as they do shock value), Gravediggaz cleared a lane for artists like South Brooklyn producer/rapper Necro, whose despicability touches youth noir everywhere but who also gets respect from the traditional rap establishment.
“Horrorcore artists are usually cheesy lyrically,” writes Necro, who recently lent a dark chord to Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx Pt. II. “They rap about murder and killing in a corny way. . . . My rhymes are not based around horror movies. . . . My subjects might be dark, but I will rap about mad shit [from] human trafficking to cockroaches to disposing a corpse to pimping bitches to the way I grew up in the projects. I consider myself the most extreme hip-hop [artist] on the planet.”
With lyrically competent gloom acts like Necro and Tech N9ne straddling the “Rock the Bells” and “Gathering of the Juggalos” demographics, it would seem that violent anguish is gaining in acceptance in underground-rap circles. According to some, that development should be credited to the likes of Black Sabbath, Cannibal Corpse, and any number of other punk and metal bands who are the true forefathers of horrorcore and death rap.
“The concept underneath Zombie Death Squad is that all these rappers now are doing the same thing — like fucking zombies,” says Mortis. “That’s why you see artists like Necro and Tech N9ne — who have crazy, disgusting live shows — becoming more popular with rap fans who are sick of watching guys standing on stage and doing nothing. Personally, I stole a lot of my shit from the Misfits. I can’t hide my influences — I have a fucking Black Flag tattoo on my arm.”
Reminiscent of the media frenzy that surrounded Judas Priest and teen suicides in 1990 is how horrorcore is now on trial for a rash of recent murders that include a quadruple homicide in Virginia and, closer to Boston, the Kimberly Cates slaying in New Hampshire. This is neither the time nor the forum to host a chicken-or-bad-egg debate, but you might recall that the Granite State birthed GG Allin some half a century ago, so it’s hardly news that our northern neighbors have long fiended for creative depravity.
As for why rappers are held more accountable than Stephen King and George A. Romero, R.A. the Rugged Man — who recently wrote and produced the B horror flick Bad Biology, and who’ll perform along with ZDS at Harpers — chalks it up to hypocrisy. “People will complain about me and then go see some bitch’s tits get ripped off in Saw. They look at films as entertainment and fiction, but in rap music they’re trusting, for some reason.”
ZOMBIE DEATH SQUAD + R.A. THE RUGGED MAN + AC & OG + HEDDSHOTTS + MORE | Harpers Ferry, 154 Brighton Ave, Allston | October 31 at 9 pm | 21+ | $15 | 617.254.9743 or www.harpersferryboston.com