Horrorcore: Music’s Strangest Subgenre

Horrorcore is music’s strangest subgenre. It’s murderous and bloody like death metal or goth, but it’s hip hop.

It’s strange because goth and black metal generally doesn’t appeal to black people. I never met a black guy who thought he was a vampire, wore makeup, or filed their teeth. However, the themes of serial killing, cannibalism, and Satanism can be found in this strange mix of gangsta rap and horror.

Geto Boyz “Chuckie”

Dwarf rapper Bushwick Bill raps this ode to the killer doll in horror flick, Child’s Play. Recorded in 1991, it’s the earliest horrorcore track I know of. We Can’t Be Stopped was my first gangsta rap tape. The hit single Mind Playin’ Tricks on Me has vague tones of horrorcore.

Gravediggaz “From the Dark Side”

This song’s beat and sound completely embody horrorcore. The Gravediggaz are the genre’s most respected act. Wu-Tang beats genius RZA is a member. Their sound is very East Coast. This track is featured on the soundtrack of horrorcore film, Tales From the Hood.

Anybody can enjoy Gravediggaz’ Tonite is a Special Nite, even if you’re not into horrorcore.

Brotha Lynch Hung “Season of da Sicc”

Brotha Lynch Hung is the most horrific of horrorcore artists. He raps about cannibalism and killing babies. His music is also classic, West Coast gangsta rap. It’s gang-banging music. In the album title “Season of da Siccness,” he misspells ‘sickness’ with two C’s so as not to use ‘CK’, which stands for ‘Crip Killer’. That whole album is rather listenable for rap fans, but his best track is Situation on Dirty from the I’m Bout It soundtrack.

Insane Clown Posse “Psychopathic”

ICP are the token white act here, and by far the most successful. I’m embarrassed to say I was an ICP fan in high school. I grew out of it, but over the years I’d often marvel at their longevity. They released their first album, Carnival of Carnage, in 1992. More popular than ever, ICP may be the most prolific rappers in history.

Chicken Huntin was their most commercially viable track by the time I quit listening, but they’ve put music out for over a decade since and spawned a cult-like following. You may recognize their label’s logo from car decals and t-shirts, or often as a tattoo. They’re among few musical acts that inspire tattoos, and I’d bet ICP tattoos outnumber any other musicians’.

ICP video Miracles recently went viral (9.5 million views, 66,000 dislikes to 42,000 likes), which was parodied by Saturday Night Live. It went viral precisely because of how hated ICP are, especially by the music industry establishment. Their outcast status appeals to their outcast following. Fans are often obese, ugly, dirt poor, scrubs, and/or from a trailer park. ICP validates these social outcasts and makes them feel a part of something, hence the cult.

Insane Clown Posse had a foray into professional wrestling. Here’s a tribute video to ICP wrestling, which includes their amateur experience. They ascended to performing alongside A-list wrestlers on primetime WCW and WWF. Watch ICP get their asses kicked by Billy Kidman and Rey Mysterio.

ICP are so bizarre they could warrant their own article. Wired Magazine did exactly that in an in-depth look at the ICP brand. How did these hated clown rappers become so rich? Insane Clown Posse are pioneers in cultivating and monetizing their tiny niche. How Two Outcast Rappers Built an Insane Clown Empire is required reading for independent artists. From the article:

[ICP] discovered a formula for success in the Internet age that the larger music world is only now waking up to: Build close relationships with fans, develop ancillary profit streams, keep production and promotion costs down, turn every concert and album into an event (even if that requires industrial soda sprayers), and, most of all, do everything yourself. Bruce and Utsler, in other words, have become two bona fide 21st-century music magnates.

ICP is the least listenable music on this list for any socially mature person. However I do still have some of their instrumentals in my iTunes. See Ringmaster’s Word.

DRS “Sickness”

Horrorcore just got even weirder than ICP. DRS is more R&B than rap. Horrorcore R&B. Listen for yourself. Despite their smash hit Gangsta Lean and a high quality album (for 1993), the group never produced more music.

Koopsta Knicca (of Three 6 Mafia) “Torture Chamber”

Added at the suggestion of a friend. Samples Metallica.



  1. I had a bunch of friends who listened to horrorcore in high school. I was never into it, but I’ve heard ICP so many times I could probably sing along with most of their first 4 albums. I have to hand it to ICP – their music is awful, but they are marketing geniuses. Every juggalo owns a ton of ICP merch, including multiple $35 shirts, medallions, etc.

    Fucking bushwick bill! I’d forgotten about that guy. Too funny.


  2. ICP amazes me. I can watch every interview, read every article, watch them wrestle, and spend hours learning about these remarkable guys. But almost all their music is like a fork on a chalkboard to me.

    I only know the radio hits by Three 6. Tell me what track and I’ll update.


  3. ICP gives a sense of belonging to the strangest kids. It also gives them a little bit of a sense of power.

    Business is often about seeing and underserved market and using it to build a buisiness.

    In the case of ICP I believe they were members of that underserved market.


  4. Damn I’m glad I got to enjoy the punk/new wave scene in the late 70’s/early80’s. Clash, SexPistols, Ramones sound as good now as they did when I was in college…….30 years ago. If Joe Strummer were alive today – he would be the coolest dude on the planet.


  5. Sam Walton had the insight that lower income people in small towns were underserved by retailers.

    Steve Jobs thought that people might want a portable computer in their telephone. Before that he envisioned PC’s in all our houses.

    I suspect that the ICP founders had similar insight into the musical tastes of mdwestern youth when they buiilt their act into such an underground empire that the FBI keeps track of them.

    Nobody can predict youth culture and nobody could have seen them coming. Never underestimate the antisocial emotions of frustrated kids.


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