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March 19, 2012 | by  | in Features |
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Somebody Tell Satan that I Want My Fucking Swag Back

The Horrorcore Wars

“I’ma ruin you cunt” is a line from 212 by Azealia Banks, and is perhaps my favorite lyric from the past year or so. Why is that? Well, perhaps because Azealia Banks is just plain goddamn adorable. Crude, profane lyricism is undoubtedly one of the cheapest tools an artist can utilize in order to gain attention, but in some cases like Azealia Banks’ it’s endearing and just plain cute. In others though, it has a rather different social implication.

yler, The Creator wanted to make music to “scare the fuck out of old white people that live in middle fucking America”. By employing the use of some of the most misogynistic and depraved lyrics ever heard, Tyler and his ‘wolf pack’ have undoubtedly accomplished said goal. OFWGKTA have been called ‘the internet trolls of hip-hop’, and for good reason. The LA collective seem to revel in being as overtly disgusting and perverse as possible. Despite this, they have achieved success, being championed and praised by esteemed members of the musical community, both online and in print.

The group is undeniably talented and charismatic, producing something fresh and provocative in a day and age where attaining any kind of originality is difficult. That deserves kudos—but is rapping about being “ready to stab a clit with some glass and shit” too far? Perhaps being raised on a diet of Eminem’s shiny murder fantasies, and drawing inspiration from the likes of D12 and Geto Boys left not much else to do other than take shit up a notch. Now, OFWGKTA reject the ‘horrorcore’ label, but then again there isn’t much that they aren’t instantly dismissive of.

Growing up, and observing this calibre of music trickle further and further into the mainstream, I’ve always taken the social implications of the music with a grain of salt; I always kind of thought it to be hilarious. I mean, “put anthrax on a Tampax and slap you till you can’t stand”. Misogyny in music is hilarious right? I kid, I kid—it’s repugnant obvs. But really, if Eminem had intended for ‘Superman’ to be taken seriously, he probably shouldn’t have worn that bucket hat in the video.

Nicole Skews, of the Wellington Young Feminists’ Collective believes that “singing about how rape is fun and bitches come last, cannot ever be written off as ‘acting’ when not everyone can tell the difference.” On the other side of the argument is my boy Jay Z, arguably the best MC of all time, imploring us to understand that “the rapper’s character is essentially a conceit, a first-person literary creation.” The obvious crux of the issue here is that this genre relies quite fundamentally on the audience’s ability to appreciate this–it assumes that its listeners have some kind of moral compass and are able to distinguish right from wrong. But we all know the trouble with assumptions…

The unending debate is whether or not this music actually endorses the actions described. By now I’m sure society, as a whole is pretty aware of the fact that depravity has no floor. The exploration of this by one assuming a character for the sake of entertainment doesn’t constitute one actually being evil. Does anybody out there actually believe that OFWGKTA and their fans are all homophobic, potential rapists? I’m pretty sure we can mostly agree that they are likely just the victims of yet another Pitchfork-fueled fad, and everybody likes getting their swag on from time to time. Right?

Enter Insane Clown Posse, a horrorcore duo from Detroit, who were voted by US rock magazine Blender in 2003 as “the worst band of all time”. They probably are. The two high school drop-outs perform under the pseudonyms ‘Violent J’ and ‘Shaggy 2 dope’. Now, if you’ve heard ICP’s attack on Eminem entitled ‘Slim anus’, or ‘Miracles’ you’d perhaps write it off as “Charming, good natured idiocy” (as Blender did when reviewing their 2002 album The Wraith: Shangri-La). You perhaps think they are hilarious due to the incredibly crude and poorly articulated lyrics; idiocy is inherently funny. Perhaps you’d even think they are for play-play, and not for real-real. This is a fair assumption. Violent J once asked Jon Ronson, a writer for The Guardian “Have you ever stood next to an elephant, my friend? A fucking elephant is a miracle. If people can’t see a fucking miracle in a fucking elephant, then life must suck for them, because an elephant is a fucking miracle. So is a giraffe.”

ICP themselves at least claim to have a pretty steadfast grip of what constitutes right and wrong, their music is apparently intended to deter listeners from waywardness; their ‘dark carnival’ mythology illustrates this. “If you listen to our music and you really do it with a street attitude you’ll really hear a lot of positive messages,” says Violent J. Evidently the ‘Warning: Explicit content, street attitude advised’ sticker never made it past the embryonic stage of development, and consequently there are a fair few Juggalos and Juggalettes (fans) that misunderstood the intention. “Charming, good natured idiocy” quite quickly becomes terrifying when it concerns a fan murdering and subsequently raping a 13-year-old girlfriend. Other shiny Juggalo/Juggalette related crimes include stabbing a war veteran, rampaging gay bars armed with hatchets, the murder of a nine-year-old girl and, my personal favorite, mobbing Tila Tequila–this included pelting her with water balloons of urine, pieces of poo and a firecracker.

While we can perhaps conclude that Shaggy 2 Dope and Violent J aren’t so much evil as unintelligent attention whores, their fans are a different story. I’m pretty sure killing a 13-year-old by means of stabbing then fucking the corpse, as one fan infamously did, is pretty damn evil. Whether or not Alex Pacheco, the person responsible for the aforementioned, had a penchant for necrophilia before he listened to ICP’s ‘My Kind Of Bitch’ is a different debate entirely. While it is completely unsurprising that their fan base largely comprises of idiots, this serves as no solace for the fact that the cultish following they have spawned is responsible for some pretty brutal displays of pack mentality.

This music certainly facilitates a release that wouldn’t be possible under regular moral and social conventions, but that is not to say it is always a healthy one. The relentless, vile qualities the music of OFWGKTA and ICP possess appeals to persons of a certain persuasion, often in such a way as is not the artist’s intention. Then, surely, it can be said that it does promote these repulsive behaviors. Now, if the day comes in which the masses simply refuse to indulge the likes of Insane Clown Posse, that would be a miracle. But in the mean time, hows about those giraffes, my friend?

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