Welcome to Know Your History, your monthly dose of hip-hop knowledge. I’m your host Chase March and today we are celebrating Halloween, hip-hop style. You can download this episode for free or stream it with the player below.
We need to start the Halloween edition of the show with this song. There’s no question about it.
It’s called “The Haunted House of Rock” and it came out in 1983. It was the first track on Whodini’s self-titled debut album. They even released the song as a single and went all out with it as well. I have this record on coloured vinyl. It’s gorgeous. It’s a 12 inch and it’s a bright fluorescent green. Another unusual thing about it is that it’s a 45 rpm. Seven inch singles were common for running at this speed but most 12 inch singles ran at 33 1/3 revolutions per minute.
I want to play that song for you right now. If only you could see it spinning around on the turntable. Absolutely gorgeous. I’m so proud to own, what I think it probably the first Halloween-themed rap song ever. This is “The Haunted House of Rock” by Whodini.
Welcome back to Know Your History: Episode 34 “Halloween Hip-Hop.” We started off the show with “The Haunted House of Rock” by Whodini. The artwork on this record is something else. It’s done in black and white and has the two emcees of the group drawn as skeletons and holding microphones. They stand in front of heir tombstones with a haunted house in the back ground. It’s quite the cover.
On the back, we see the front iron gates of the creepy estate. A group of bats fly towards the centre of the record and a white line draws your eye to the bottom where it states that this song is “For those who are not scared to party.” What a cool release.
Hip-hop doesn’t have a lot of novelty songs that can actually stand the test of time. When they are done, they are usually quite disposable and easily forgotten. In fact, when you think of Halloween songs in particular only a few probably come to mind. Obviously, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” is at the top of the list. That came out in 1982, one year before the record we just heard. And twenty years before that, we had the “Monster Mash” by Bobby “Boris” Pickett. Of course, those two songs are probably the most famous Halloween novelty songs of all time. Those in the know, will most certainly add the Whodini song I just played and probably this one as well.
This is DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince’s take on a familiar character in horror cinema. This is “A Nightmare on My Street.” Stay tuned because we have a lot more to explore in this Halloween edition of Know Your History.
That was “A Nightmare on My Street” by DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince. It was the third single from their album “He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper” which was released in 1988. Of course, the rapper in question here went on to become a huge television star and movie actor. Will Smith definitely has talent and he can write a novelty song with the best of them.
Sometimes novelty can spark an entirely new genre of music. For in the same year as that light and comical record I just played came out, we had a much darker and violent song released by a group called the Geto Boys. The song was called “Assassins” and it was from their debut album “Making Trouble”
I don’t want to play that song for you right now. I want to play one of their more well-known songs that still has a Halloween theme to it. We’ll come back at look at the genre known as horrorcore and what exactly it entails right after this song. We’ll also explore how the Geto Boys, while not exactly a horrorcore group, helped to kickstart this subgenre of hip-hop with some of their dark imagery and horrific storytelling.
This is “My Mind’s Playing Tricks on Me” by the Geto Boys. This is Chase March, your host. And this is Know Your History on DOPEfm and The Word is Bond. Stay tuned!
Welcome back to Know Your History, your monthly dose of hip-hop knowledge. We’re currently in Season 3 of the show. This is episode 34 and today we are looking at Halloween themes and imagery in rap music. So far, we’ve looked at light-hearted or comical songs. That last one was a little darker but fair warning, we are about to get even darker than that.
Some people credit the Geto Boys with starting the whole genre of horrorcore. We just heard “My Mind’s Playing Tricks on Me” and while the backdrop of the story took place at Halloween, the song was about much more than that. It dealt with the paranoia of drug use and abuse. It did it in a way to hopefully scare a few people straight or deter them from even going down that path to begin with.
Some rappers just naturally lean toward darker content. Themes of murder, suicide, self-harm. and even Satanism come in to play in their songs. The beats or musical backdrops are equally as dark. They often sample dialogue from horror movies, complete with blood curdling screams and harsh sound effects.
One of the first rap groups to come out in this new sub-genre and achieve some commercial and crossover success was Gravediggaz. They were a supergroup that featured RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan and Prince Paul, originally of Stetsasonic and legendary producer with such groups as 3rd Bass and De La Soul. The other two members in the crew were Frukwan and Too Poetic. This song was the lead single from their 1994 album “6 Feet Deep.” It’s called “Nowhere to Run, Nowhere to Hide.”
That song is actually kind of tame. I’ve heard some pretty disturbing songs over the years that fit in the genre of horrorcore. Truth be known, I’m not really a fan of horror, either in music or movies. I appreciate a good Halloween song and the occasional fright but for the most part, I leave horror alone.
If you are just joining us, we are celebrating Halloween in this episode of Know Your History. You can find each and every episode at chasemarch.com This is a special presentation of DOPEfm and we’re in our third season of this segment. You can also hear it on The Word is Bond podcast. So if you missed it, or you just want to hear it again, visit us online at DOPEfm.ca, The Word is Bond.com, and ChaseMarch.com
What you just heard was “Nowhere to Run, Nowhere to Hide” by Gravediggaz. I want to play another song right now. This “Halloween” by The Arsonists.
Halloween is one of those famous movie franchises that just doesn’t die. See what I did there? Michael Myers is the character in those films but there is a rapper who decided to take on that name. I’d like to close out the show with this track by Mykill Miers. It’s called “Straight Dirt” and it features AG. Thanks for listening. Happy Halloween!
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