What is Horrorcore?

An ongoing battle for sometime now has been “What exactly is horrorcore music?” While peoples opinions on the matter are broad, the definition is fairly simple if you just look at what the word is made up of:

“Horror” + “Core” = Horrorcore

The dictionary defines “horror” as:

hor•ror Pronunciation Key (hôrr, hr-)

1. An intense, painful feeling of repugnance and fear. See Synonyms at fear.
2. Intense dislike; abhorrence. 
3. A cause of horror.
4. Informal. Something unpleasant, ugly, or disagreeable:  “That hat is a horror.
5. horrors Informal. Intense nervous depression or anxiety.

In a nutshell, horror draws on the basic human emotions such as fear, terror, and dread. Like watching a horror movie that is freakin’ you out and makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up or sends chills down your spine. It’s the same principle in music — the subject matter is supposed to be morbid, scary, and similar to stuff you would see in horror movies.

The dictionary defines “core” as:

core Pronunciation Key (kôr, kr)
1. The hard or fibrous central part of certain fruits, such as the apple or pear, containing the seeds.
2. The central or innermost part: the hard elastic core of a baseball; a rod with a hollow core.
3. The basic or most important part; the essence: a small core of dedicated supporters; the core of the problem.

Emphasis placed on 2 & 3. It basically states that it’s the center or the focus of. In this case, it means “horror” is the focus of the music. See how easily that fits together? Now here comes the tricky part:

Who actually came up with the word “horrorcore” is not exactly known, however the originator of the term is often accredited to the Flatlinerz. However, artists have been doing horror-rap as far back as the mid-80′s with artists such as Ganxsta Nip, Insane Poetry, and Esham – long before word horrorcore was coined.

The word “horrorcore” was made famous by both the Flatlinerz and Gravediggaz back in the early 90′s when they came on the scene with their debut albums “USA (Under Satan’s Authority)” and “6 Feet Deep.” Who would be the bigger group came down to a push & popularity contest between Wu-Tang Clan and Russel Simmons. The Flatlinerz were banking on the fact that Russel Simmons’ (at the time head of Def Jam records) nephew was the pointman for the Flatlinerz VS. RZA of Wu-Tang clan who was the top dog from the Gravediggaz. The popularity of the Wu-Tang Clan at this time was undeniable, so naturally the Gravediggaz were instantly in the limelight by piggy-backing onto the Wu-Tang fanbase. The Gravediggaz were all over Mtv and in hip-hop magazines. At that time horrorcore was thought to be “the next big thing” considering gangsta rap’s popularity was deteriorating quickly and the industry was looking for something new to catch the interest of hip-hop fans.

In the end, the whole horrorcore movement was not broadly accepted by the public. The Gravediggaz reached nominal fame, releasing 2 albums with RZA (1 album without), and eventually fell off the map. The Flatlinerz released only their debut album before Def Jam pulled the plug due to lackluster sales.

That particular period is where horrorcore gained mainstream attention and why so many people are familiar with the horror-rap sound today. Even today Mtv will mention an artist as being “horrorcore” in their news segments. Emphasis on the word mainstream! The horrorcore world did not center around the Detroit area with Esham & ICP. Esham never managed to get well known outside of the midwest and ICP did not branch out into “somewhat” mainstream appeal until much later.

Horrorcore is also taken to be a derivative of the word “hardcore” which is an ADJECTIVE not a NOUN.

These days, horrorcore is not always referred to as rap music. The internet is filled with many websites that refer to gothic or dark metal as horrorcore as well. This is by no means incorrect because horror metal music does fall within the means of the horrorcore definition. The dispute of horrorcore being rap or metal is simply in the eyes of the fan. That’s why many people refer to it as “horror rap” or “horror metal” to be specific on what type of music it actually is. Just to reiterate, horrorcore can be just about ANYTHING, it does not have to be rap. Horrorcore is also taken to be a derivative of the word “hardcore” which is an ADJECTIVE not a NOUN. It’s simply a way to describe ANY form of music. Yes it originated with rap, but has since transitioned over into other genres.


Horrorcore is FICTION, not fact.

Information Courtesy of Horrorcore2.com

“That’s Devil Music”

To clear the air on the whole satanic issue: Many people have the misconception that horrorcore music is nothing more than the devil playing with a bass machine in hell, manufacturing the CDs in Purgatory, and distributing them to the masses through the Internet. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Horrorcore is nothing more than a horror movie without the visual aspect. When someone watches the Exorcist they are less lightly to label that movie as satanic, whereas that same person will quickly label Tech N9ne, KGP, or Bedlam as satanic. Why? The world may never know. Horrorcore is FICTION, not fact.

In summary, take horrorcore music for what it is – entertainment. If you listen to horrorcore for some kind of message or “the word from the streets” …. your not going to find it. Listening to horror is like watching horror movies. You know it is fake, but you enjoy listening to it for the ENTERTAINMENT value.

Til’ Next Time,


*Excerpt from Horrorcore.com