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Gravediggaz, from left to right: The Rzarector (RZA), The Undertaker, The Gatekeeper and The Grym Reaper (deceased)
Background information
Origin New York City, U.S.
Genres Horrorcore, East Coast Hip Hop, Hardcore Hip Hop
Years active 1992–2002; 2010–present
Labels Gee Street/Island/PolyGram
Gee Street/V2/BMG
Empire Musicwerks/BMG
Associated acts True Master, Tricky, Killah Priest, Scientific Shabazz, Dreddy Kruger
Members The Gatekeeper
The Undertaker
Past members The Grym Reaper (deceased)
The Rzarector (RZA)

Gravediggaz is an American hip hop group from New York City, well known for its dark sense of humor and abrasive, menacing soundscapes. The supergroup was formed in 1993, bringing together Prince Paul (The Undertaker), Frukwan (The Gatekeeper), Too Poetic (The Grym Reaper) and RZA (The Rzarector). Its inception was largely due to the efforts of Prince Paul. The group is widely credited as being one of the most influential and pioneering groups in the small hip-hop subgenre of horrorcore.[1][2][3]


The group's first album was originally titled Niggamortis; however, the potentially risqué title was changed to 6 Feet Deep for the American market (European versions of the album retained the original title, and also included the bonus track "Pass the Shovel") and was released on August 9, 1994. The four members adopted Gravedigga alter egos for their work with the group: The RZA became the Rzarector, Poetic became the Grym Reaper, Prince Paul became the Undertaker, and Frukwan became the Gatekeeper. The three rapping members (without Prince Paul) released a collaborative EP titled "The Hell EP" with UK trip hop artist Tricky in 1995.

The second full-length Gravediggaz album, The Pick, the Sickle and the Shovel, was less humorous. The album dealt more with social and political issues than 6 Feet Deep; it also used calmer and more conventional production. Prince Paul played a considerably smaller role in the making of this album, with many of the production duties now taken care of by RZA and his Wu-Tang affiliates (including True Master and 4th Disciple).

A bootleg Gravediggaz album surfaced in 1998, called Scenes From The Graveyard. It featured 7 unreleased tracks plus some remixes from the first two albums.

Gravediggaz recruited DJ Diamond J around the turn of the millennium. Poetic finally succumbed to colon cancer in July 2001. Frukwan stated in an interview not long after Poetic's death that a new album using leftover Poetic material would be released.[4] Nightmare in A-Minor, the third official album for Gravediggaz, was released independently in 2001; it featured two of the original members, Poetic and Frukwan. This album was their darkest work yet. It includes many references to Poetic's struggle with cancer, as well as a focus on the more apocalyptic themes of the teachings of the Five Percent Nation. Although RZA did not take part in the making of the album, some Wu-Tang Clan affiliates such as 4th Disciple, True Master and Beretta 9 were involved. The album was mostly produced by Poetic and Frukwan themselves. A different version of the album (minus the song "Better Wake Up") was released to widespread critical acclaim in 2002. Some of the tracks previously created by Poetic were replaced or altered.

In 2003 Frukwan released his debut solo album, Life. The fourth Gravediggaz album 6 Feet Under was released in 2004 by Cleopatra Records and featured songs from Nightmare in A-Minor and Life which was mentioned in an interview on wu-International. According to Frukwan, he had nothing to do with the release and noted that the song titles were changed without permission, further showing it to be an unauthorized release. Legal remedies were noted as being addressed.

In 2010, Gravediggaz recorded a new song, "2 More Cups of Blood".[5] As of 2011, it was revealed that the group had been recording various tracks, minus the late Poetic. Shabazz The Disciple & Killah Priest are said to be heavily involved in the new recording sessions, though not more has been mentioned.[6]

Style and influence[edit]

According to Frukwan, the group's name means "digging graves of the mentally dead, and it stood for resurrecting the mentally dead from their state of unawareness and ignorance."[7] The group's lyrics mix black humor (regarding topics such as suicide, death, killing, psychopathy, hell, etc.), social criticism towards the music industry, cartoonish violence reminiscent of the Geto Boys, and esoteric references to the Nation of Gods and Earths. The group is widely credited as being one of the most influential and pioneering groups in horrorcore.[8][9][10]



External links[edit]