Horrorcore is a subgenre of hip hop based in horror themed-lyrical content and imagery. While the style is underground in popularity, some performers have sold well in the mainstream scene.

Horrorcore defines the style of hip hop music that focuses around "horror influenced" topics that may include Satanism, cannibalism, suicide, murder and rape. The lyrics are inspired by horror movies over moody, hardcore beats.[1] 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."[2] Horrorcore was described by Entertainment Weekly in 1995 as a "blend of hardcore rap and bloodthirsty metal".[3] 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".[4] Horrorcore artists often feature dark imagery in their music videos, and base musical elements of songs upon horror film scores.[4]

The stylistic origins of horrorcore can be traced to a number of artists, including the Geto Boys,[5][6] Ganksta N-I-P,[5][6] Insane Poetry,[5][7] and Esham.[5][8] Kool Keith claims to have "invented horrorcore".[9] While there is much debate over who first coined the term, its use did not gain prominence until 1994,[5] with the release of Flatlinerz' U.S.A.[5][10] and Gravediggaz' 6 Feet Deep.[11][12] While the genre as a whole is not popular with mainstream audiences, performers such as Insane Clown Posse, Twiztid and Necro have sold well.[5] The genre has thrived in internet culture and sustains an annual "supershow" in Detroit called "Wickedstock".[13] According to the January 2004 BBC documentary Underground USA, the subgenre "has a massive following across the US" and "is spreading to Europe".[13]


  1. Meyer, Frank. (2004-10-28) Frankly Speaking: Halloween Horror-core Hip Hop g4tv. Retrieved 2008-09-14.
  2. Darcy, Pohland. (May 19 2005) The dark world Of Horrorcore music WCCO-TV. Accessed November 4, 2007.
  3. Browne, David. (24 Feb 1995) Fifth anniversary music Entertainment Weekly. Accessed November 4, 2007.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Strauss, Neil (September 18, 1994). "When Rap Meets The Undead". The New York Times. Retrieved on April 25, 2009. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 Hess, Danielle (2007). "Hip Hop and Horror". in Hess, Mickey. Icons of Hip Hop. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 369. ISBN 0313339031. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Hess, Mickey (2007). "The Rap Persona". Is Hip Hop Dead?. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 72-73. ISBN 0275994619. 
  7. Cordor, Cyril. "Biography of Insane Poetry". Allmusic. Retrieved on 12 November 2008.
  8. McLeod, Rodd (March 2, 2000). "The Wicket World of Natas". Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 2008-07-19. 
  9. Kane; QED (July 19, 2007). "Kool Keith Interview". Original UK Hip Hop. Retrieved on 2008-08-04.
  10. Passantino, Dom. (07 Jan 2005) Top ten Hip-Hop gimmicks of all time Stylus Magazine. Accessed November 4, 2007.
  11. Fernando Jr., S.H. (September 18, 2007) The Pick, The Sickle & The Shovel Rolling Stone Accessed November 4, 2007.
  12. Gravediggaz star loses cancer battle. NME (16 July 2001) Accessed November 4, 2007.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Underground USA BBC. Accessed November 4, 2007
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