I know this whole series is called Rocktoberfest, but let’s keep it real: rock isn’t the only music genre to frequently delve into the macabre. Hip-hop as a whole has taken influence from horror films in various forms over the decades in their music, and rap’s visual contributions have been much more understated. I’ve compiled a list of a few hip-hop music videos that each manage to incorporate horror elements or aesthetic in various ways. Whether they’re songs actually featured in horror films, homages to iconic frightening moments, or are just simply creepy in their own right; these 10 (plus two) Halloween rap videos are the perfect additions to your spooky season playlist.
Gravediggaz — “Diary of a Madman” (feat. Shabazz The Temple & Killah Priest)
It’s only fitting to start off this list with Gravediggaz, the supergroup known for helping pioneer the horrorcore subgenre and features legends Prince Paul and RZA amongst its four members, each with a horror-themed alias like “The Undertaker and “The RZArector,” respectively. The video for their first single, “Diary of a Madman,” contains no shortage of eerie atmosphere and imagery fitting their gritty production and dark, over-the-top lyrics courtesy of legendary director Hype Williams.
The Fat Boys — “Are You Ready For Freddy”
It’s hard to understate how absolutely huge Freddy Krueger was in the late ’80s. So much so that there were multiple rap songs dedicated to the villain himself. However, I’m adding the video for The Fat Boys’ “Are You Ready For Freddy” because, not only was this song played during the credits of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4: THE DREAM MASTER, but Robert England actually appears in the video and actually raps a verse in character as Freddy himself. It’s insane, it’s hilarious, it’s perfect.
EPMD — “Symphony 2000” (feat. Method Man, Redman, and Lady Luck)
Renowned duo EPMD decided to pay homage to a whole host of classic horror films with their video for their posse cut, “Symphony 2000.” Enlisting the help of their Def Jam label-mates Method Man, Redman, and Lady Luck, the five rappers deliver some great rhymes all while dressed up as iconic villains like Leatherface and Michael Myers. Special shout-out to Lady Luck for damn near stealing the whole song with her short verse, especially on a song with Method Man and Redman at the peak of their powers.
Lil Uzi Vert — “Sanguine Paradise”
BLADE’s opening blood rave sequence is not just an iconic sequence in horror, but one of my personal favorite scenes in film. It’s a treat to see Lil Uzi Vert pay tribute to the sequence in his video for “Sanguine Paradise,” and also to see him play the Daywalker himself and chop up vampires with an energy that would make Wesley Snipes fist pump in approval.
Childish Gambino — “Bonfire”
Donald Glover was already known for his comedy chops as an actor and a writer back in 2011. However, when it came to the video for his single “Bonfire,” he and director/fellow Derrick Comedy member Dan Eckman decided to go in a surprising direction—opting for a dark, gruesome take on the campfire story motif. You can’t really get more surprising than Glover coughing up blood with a noose around his neck in the opening scene. Even though the tone of the song doesn’t particularly match the video, it’s still one that works in its own right.
Eminem — “3 a.m.”
While Eminem has made plenty of songs that were fitting of being horror films themselves, it wasn’t until his video for “3 a.m.” that he made a music video that completely delved into a horror aesthetic; turning his Slim Shady persona into a full-on serial killer in his own slasher flick. If you can get past the slightly irritating voice he put on for this song (and the whole Relapse album), it’s definitely a video that delivers on some solid creepy visuals.
Snoop Dogg — “Murder Was The Case”
Mostly using footage from his short movie of the same name, the video to “Murder Was The Case,” a song about Snoop being brought back to life after making a deal with the Devil, makes it on the list for both being an appropriately spooky video matching the song, but just the frequent repeating shot of the devil’s eyes looking into the camera creep me out.
Tyler, The Creator — “Yonkers”
The video that launched Tyler, The Creator and his Odd Future collective to mainstream notoriety, “Yonkers” is simple in approach but delivers maximum creepiness; whether it’s the unconventional beat, Tyler’s vocals, or just the visual of him (actually) eating a cockroach; maybe a combination of all three. It reminds me of the best parts of watching a horror movie: It’s disturbing, it’s uncomfortable, but it’s so memorable and compelling that you just want to watch it over and over.
Earl Sweatshirt — “Earl”
In all honesty, Odd Future’s early videos and songs could take up most of this list. The video for fellow Odd Future member Earl Sweatshirt’s debut combines the raw, unfiltered aesthetic of a skate video with some simple-yet-effective body horror to create one of the more disturbing videos in recent memory. The only thing more unsettling than the video might be the song itself, featuring a then-teenaged Earl rapping gleefully about ultra-violent acts with a skill on par with peers twice his age.
Further listening: Earl’s later single, “Hive,” has a more restrained, atmospheric approach to eeriness, featuring Earl and guests Casey Veggies and Vince Staples surrounded by (what I can best call) the creepiest looking Halloween masks I’ve ever seen.
Geto Boys — “Mind Playing Tricks On Me”
Finally, There was absolutely no way I could make this list without adding Geto Boys’ classic ode to paranoia, which is enhanced by its equally chilling video. The video mirrors the plot of the song, wherein each member of the group describe their experiences being stalked by a mysterious figure who may or may not actually exist. It’s a legitimately haunting song that’s both tragic and catchy all at once.
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Tags: A Nightmare on Elm Street, Childish Gambino, Earl Sweatshirt, Eminem, EPMD, Freddy Krueger, Geto Boys, Gravediggaz, Lady Luck, Lil Uzi Vert, Method Man, Odd Future, Prince Paul, Redman, RZA, Snoop Dogg, The Fat Boys, Tyler The Creator