|Stylistic origins||Hardcore hip hop, gangsta rap|
|Cultural origins||1980s, United States|
|Typical instruments||Rapping, drum machine, turntables, sampler|
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, which pushed the violent content of its lyrics further than most artists in the genre, as well as describing supernatural themes. The term horrorcore was popularized by openly horror-influenced hip hop groups such as Flatlinerz and Gravediggaz.
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. In 1988, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince released "A Nightmare on My Street", which described an encounter with Freddy Krueger, and the Fat Boys recorded "Are You Ready for Freddy" for the film A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master and its soundtrack.
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 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."
While rappers in the underground scene continued to release horrorcore music, including Ganksta N-I-P, Big L, Insane Poetry, and Insane Clown Posse, the mid-90s brought an attempted mainstream crossover of the genre.
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).
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".
The genre is not popular with mainstream audiences as a whole; however, performers such as Insane Clown Posse and Twiztid have sold well. The genre has thrived in Internet culture and sustains an annual super show in Detroit called Wickedstock. Every Halloween since 2003, Horrorcore artists worldwide get together online and release a free compilation titled Devilz Nite. According to the January 2004 BBC documentary Underground USA, the subgenre "has a massive following across the US" and "is spreading to Europe". Rolling Stone in 2007 referred to it as a short-lived trend that generated more shlock than shock. New York Magazine put horrorcore in the spotlight by listing off the ten most horrifying horrorcore rappers. 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".
Horrorcore defines a style of hip hop music that focuses primarily around horror-influenced topics that can include satanism, self-harm, cannibalism, suicide, murder, torture, rape and supernatural themes. The lyrics are often inspired by horror movies over moody, hardcore beats. 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." Horrorcore was described by Entertainment Weekly in 1995 as a "blend of hardcore rap and bloodthirsty metal." 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. Horrorcore artists often feature dark imagery in their music videos and base musical elements of songs upon horror film scores.
- Bone Thugs-n-Harmony
- Big L 
- Blaze Ya Dead Homie
- Brotha Lynch Hung
- Eminem and D-12 
- Esham and Natas
- Ganksta N-I-P
- Insane Clown Posse
- Insane Poetry
- King Gordy
- Kool Keith
- Kung Fu Vampire
- Necro 
- Swollen Members
- Tech N9ne
- Three 6 Mafia
- Tyler, The Creator
- Chaz Kangas. "The History of Horrorcore Rap". LA Weekly. Retrieved April 15, 2014.
- Bruce, Joseph; Hobey Echlin (August 2003). "The Dark Carnival". In Nathan Fostey. ICP: Behind the Paint (second ed.). Royal Oak, Michigan: Psychopathic Records. pp. 174–185. ISBN 0-9741846-0-8.
- Kane; QED (July 19, 2007). "Kool Keith Interview". Original UK Hip Hop. Retrieved 2008-08-04.
- Hess, Danielle (2007). "Hip Hop and Horror". In Hess, Mickey. Icons of Hip Hop. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 369. ISBN 0-313-33903-1.
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- Fennessey, Sean. "The Ten Most Horrifying Horrorcore Rappers". Vulture. New York. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
- Schultz, Christopher. "Insane Clown Posse's Violent J Picks 11 Horrorcore Classics". Spin. Buzz Media. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
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The music journalist and author Dan Sicko describes certain strains of Detroit hip-hop as 'an extreme, almost parodied' version of inner city life, which he links to the extremities of urban decline in the city: 'both the horrorcore of hip-hop outfits such as Insane Clown Posse, Esham and (to a lesser extent) the multi-platinum-selling Eminem, utilize shocking (and blatantly over the top) narratives to give an over-exaggerated, almost cartoon-like version of urban deprivation in Detroit' (cited in Cohen and Strachan, 2005).
- Hernandez, Pedro. "Review of N of Tha World". Rap Reviews. Retrieved 2008-08-04.
- Righi, Len. (9 April 2007) King Gordy keeps up lighting up the dark Pop Matters. Accessed November 4, 2007.
- Hit Horrorcore Rapper Kung Fu Vampire to Guest on The Jimmy Star Show Radio Show October 27 2010 | PRLog
- Bulwa, Demian (September 23, 2009). "Bay Area suspect allegedly bludgeoned victims". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2009-09-24.
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- 10 Horrifying Horrorcore Rappers - Vulture
- "Three 6 Mafia". Memphis Music Hall of Fame. Retrieved 4 June 2014.
- Utley, Ebony A. (11 June 2012). Rap and Religion: Understanding the Gangsta's God. ABC-CLIO. p. 105. ISBN 978-0-313-37669-6.
- "Twiztid morality and 'horrorcore'". Metro Times. October 27, 2010. Retrieved 7 November 2010.
- Iandoli, Kathy (10 October 2011). "6 Horrorcore Acts You'll Lose Sleep Over". MTV. Viacom International Inc. Retrieved 23 August 2013.
- Stewart, Allison (19 August 2013). "Earl Sweatshirt’s willfully weird ‘Doris’". washingtonpost.com. The Washington Post. Retrieved 23 August 2013.