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This isn't the climax of the latest Stephen King book or Jason, part 17.

"I'm gonna slice and dice cause murder's my vice. I'll stab you once, twice maybe even thrice. Carve initials in your liver. Make you quiver, deliver. Yeah, that'd be nice. I'll dissect your heart. Rip your entrails apart. Hack off your head. And that's just the start."
L.I.F.E. Long

Horrorcore rap music is essentially Gangsta Rap meets Horror Tropes, with a touch of bloodthirsty metal for good measure. Musically, they're basically "what if you rapped Death Metal lyrics?" The production style usually also favors dark and often dissonant textures, as well as horror movie samples. Rock and Heavy Metal guitar samples are also common, while many Soundcloud horrorcore artists from the 2010s were more rooted in trap and mixed in elements of nu metal and extreme metal.

There's dispute over where the genre originated. Horrorcore is more or less gangsta rap turned up to 11. Expect subject matter to cover cannibalism, rape, torture, infanticide, occultism, necrophilia and other horrible things For the Evulz. However, it's common for horrorcore to have a strong social conscience, often incorporating elements of Christian redemption, portraying the protagonists as Dark Shepherds, or allegorising the misery of being a criminal, drug addict, or victim of injustice. Due to horrorcore allowing protagonists to be irredeemable and often fantastical, it avoids the Do Not Do This Cool Thing problem that has been known to occur with Gangsta Rap. It also allows it to be much funnier than conventional Gangsta Rap, with quite a lot of the genre aiming to be satirical and cartoonish as much as it is scary.

In the 2010s, this split into two main strains. The dominant style from 2009-2013 was a lyrical Shock Rap style based around extreme and darkly comedic scenarios, often with exploitative celebrity namedrops, explicit drug use, political incorrectness used for shock value, and minimal or no Gangsta Rap elements. From 2014, this fell out of favor for the "SoundCloud horrorcore" or "Memphis horrorcore" style influenced by early Three 6 Mafia and popularised by SpaceGhostPurrp - a less lyrical, more lo-fi and 'vibe'-driven style frequently mixed with Emo Rap.

While horrorcore artists can and do come from anywhere, the genre is generally associated with Memphis and the Midwest — in particular Detroit, one of the only rap scenes in America where the horrorcore style is so dominant that most emcees will at least dabble in it. The reason for Detroit's love of horrorcore is complex and related to Detroit's unique combination of racial segregation and urban decay.

Could be said to be to Hardcore Hip-Hop what Death Metal is to Thrash Metal. See also Gangsta Rap, Shock Rock and Murder Ballad. The Memphis horrorcore style (popularized by Three Six Mafia) also wound up being a major influence on Crunk, mostly through its signature aggressive, insistent, and repetitive synth lines, and East Coast/Midwest horrorcore was a huge influence on Drill Music through its bleak atmosphere, graphic content and use of horror movie samples.

Artists in the genre include:

Record labels centered around this genre:

  • Psychopathic Records
  • Lyrikal Snuff Productions
  • Serial Killin Records
  • Slaughtercore Entertainment
  • Prone Records
  • Murder House Records
  • Hirntot Records
  • 666 Kartell Records

Horrorcore often provides examples of the following tropes:

  • A Darker Me: Horrorcore protagonists often have a lot of autobiographical elements, but with the nastiness taken to extremes.
  • Asshole Victim: More sympathetic horrorcore protagonists will target unsympathetic characters.
  • Ax-Crazy: Just about every protagonist in their song is this
  • Black Comedy: Some songs have this in lieu of horrorcore's standard gory lyrics
  • Bottom of the Barrel Joke: If you can't think of something scary to say, you can just be gross.
  • Chainsaw Good: It's about murder. Of course chainsaws will pop up!
  • Chaotic Stupid: A lot of horrorcore protagonists spend a lot of time doing pointless stupid things in between killing people, in order to reinforce how crazy they are.
  • Circus of Fear: You've got to have somewhere for those Monster Clown rappers to hang out.
  • Dark Shepherd: Very common with juggalo rappers, due to Insane Clown Posse's mythology revolving around their violence being punishment for abusers, tyrants and the corrupt.
  • Deal with the Devil: Often Satan will offer horrorcore protagonists riches in exchange for serving him as an allegory for a life as a gangsta. Though Eminem used this as an allegory for his fame.
  • Divine Intervention: God makes appearances in many horrorcore albums, either to save protagonists from their sins or call them out on their actions.
  • Domestic Abuse: The main characters's significant others do not tend to get treated well in horrorcore songs.
  • Escapist Character: Horrorcore protagonists function as a safe way to deal with feelings of rage, pain and fear.
  • Evil Is Petty: Funnier Horrorcore protagonists like to contrast their heinous crimes with more mundane scenes of them being complete assholes, often to girlfriends.
  • Grossout Show: A lot of more comedic horrorcore uses grossout humour and scatology.
  • Higher Understanding Through Drugs: Some horrorcore under the "acid rap" subgenre aims to express the dissociation, torment and terrifying enlightenment of a bad trip.
  • Justified Criminal, though the individual actions probably aren't justified.
  • Monster Clown: Every Juggalo artist and group in this genre ends up characterizing themselves as this.
  • Moral Myopia: Horrorcore protagonists often condemn their enemies for actions of self-preservation while doing things to them that are a thousand times worse.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Just about every song under this genre can qualify as this in one way or another
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Common in the subgenre, and one of the main reasons for it being controversial, even outside of its target audience. Eminem became a massively controversial figure in the 2000s due to his use of homophobia and misogyny in his music, and doubled down on it to make a point about freedom of speech, although he did eventually swear off homophobic slurs in 2018.
  • Religious Horror: It's a common Horrorcore plot to follow the shape of a Medieval morality play, in which a sinner is led astray by Satan, then punished by God for their crimes.
  • Stupid Evil: Protagonists usually end up doing quite stupid actions, though some are quite resourceful though still too heinous to be a Magnificent Bastard.
  • Subverted Kids' Show: The campier/sillier/poppier end of the genre likes to incorporate elements from children's TV, comic books, cartoons, Animated Shock Comedies, circus culture and professional wrestling. (In particular, Insane Clown Posse and a lot of other Juggalo rappers are pro wrestlers as well as musicians.)
  • Toilet Humor: Anything that causes disgust is on the table, so why not?
  • Undiscriminating Addict: Lyrics and music videos depicting gratuitous and unsafe drug use are a favourite way to shock people.
  • Villain Protagonist: Often to the point of being a Complete Monster.
  • Villains Out Shopping: The mundane realities of going to the club, making money to live and dealing with your family/girlfriends don't go away just because you're a murderer. These often serve as lighter relief songs and love songs in horrorcore albums.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: The more sympathetic narrators found in some songs.