Unfortunately, modern horror classics like It Follows and Kill List seem to have ditched horror films’ earlier practice of lacing their soundtrack with a cheesy rap single, though we can’t imagine why. I mean, what media property isn’t improved with the addition of a toothless, tossed-off pop-rap production from a mainstream, cred-less hip-hop artist rapping about, I don’t know, a Nosferatu getting jiggy with it, or a, uh *tries to think of more modern example* sex demon getting jiggy with it?
Rap songs paired with horror movies go back a long way, and it’s high time someone resurrected the eldritch ritual of launching the latest fright flick’s promotional campaign with a spookily low-budget music video, 90% composed of clips from the movie. Just imagine how perfect a gritty Gremlins reboot could be if it came complete with a Drake song (“Billy’s Room”? “12AM in the YMCA Pool”?). Maybe the dream can become a reality if we just remind horror directors and producers of some of the greatest hip-hop horrors of the past…
DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince – “A Nightmare on My Street” (1988)
New Line Cinema forced RCA to destroy the Krueger-featuring music video for “A Nightmare on My Street” after it didn’t make the cut for inclusion on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, and the label opted to release it anyway. “A Nightmare on My Street” was a massive hit anyway, reaching #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1988, but all vinyl copies of the He’s The DJ…I’m The Rapper were forced to include a disclaimer sticker disavowing the song’s affiliation with the Nightmare on Elm Street films. Don’t worry, they have plausible deniability, I’m sure the line “He wears the same hat and sweater every single day / and even if it’s hot outside, he wears it anyway” could apply to anyone, from Hey Arnold to Pharrell to Jughead.
The Fat Boys – “Are You Ready For Freddy” (1988)
Apparently, New Line was only willing to grant one family-friendly, late-’80s rap act a slot on the Elm Street 4 soundtrack, and the Fat Boys won out. This ode to everyone’s favourite janitor/burn victim includes a few verses from Robert Englund himself, dropping hot fire as the titular uh, child murderer. Best moment: 3:11, when the Boys are either doing their trademark beatboxing or hyperventilating in fear, or maybe both. A-huh-a-huh-ha.
LL Cool J – “Deepest Bluest (Shark’s Fin)” (1999)
LL Cool J’s four-minute fantasy about being a shark is definitely in the top 10 of songs that examine the psychological makeup of sea creatures (beats “Octopus’ Garden”, anyway). Sure, everyone hates on “Deepest, bluest, my hat is like a shark’s fin,”, but the whole thing is such a cavalcade of amazing, nonsensical lyrics that it’s hard to pick a winner. My fav? “Your life vest is off / and that turns me on.” Dunno if sharks get aroused at lack of proper water safety gear, but LL Cool J probably knows more than me. He was in Deep Blue Sea, after all.
MC Hammer – “Addams Groove” (1991)
Winner of the 1991 Golden Raspberry for Worst Original Song, the music video for “Addams Groove” features all your Addams favourites dancing with the man LL Cool J once dissed by saying “my old gym teacher ain’t supposed to rap.” Even Uncle Fester is uncomfortable with the situation at 1:15.
Jay Chattaway – “Maniac Rap”(1990)
Director William Lustig’s sequel to his 1988 cult movie about a cop turned zombie might be all but forgotten today, but Jay Chattaway’s Z’dar-turn rap is still vital. Lyrics like “When he shows up, he’s supposed to protect you / But Maniac Cop is out to get you” and “Don’t play the hero, don’t try to be brave / this dude’s gonna take you to an early grave” take on special significance in 2015.
Tricky – “Excess” (2002)
Bristol trip-hop kingpin Tricky is the odd one out on the nu-metal heavy soundtrack to the 2002 Aaliyah-starring angst-fest Queen of the Damned. The bulk of the other songs on the soundtrack were written by Korn’s Jonathan Davis, although contractual commitments kept Davis from actually singing on them, thankfully. For once, Chester Bennington and the guy from Orgy are the lesser of two evils. Fun fact: This song also features backing vocals by Alanis Morissette.
Master P feat. Silkk The Shocker – “Scream” (1997)
Is there a catchier, more meaningful hook in rap-horror history than “Scream! …Uhhhhh?” I don’t think so. The rap/Everclear-heavy Scream 2 soundtrack was seen by many as an attempt to over-capitalize on the success of the first film, which didn’t have any endorsements to the caliber of late-’90s No Limit, and it worked. The public was apparently starved for second-rate leftovers like “Scream,” not to mention Kottonmouth Kings and Sugar Ray b-sides: The Scream 2 soundtrack was certified gold in 1998.
Fatboy Slim and Eve – “Cowboy” (2002)
“Ah, Fatboy Slim and Eve, two great tastes that taste great together!” – no one, ever. The Blade 2 soundtrack paired 2002’s hottest big-beat electronic artists (Crystal Method! Groove Armada! And, uh, Danny Saber!) with big-name rappers like Ice Cube and Redman. We never knew how great somewhat passable Eve and big-beat EDM could be, until the Daywalker showed us the way.
Insane Clown Posse – “Where’s God?” (2011)
“Where’s God / Bumpin’ his iPod?” Damn, that’s even deeper than the magnets line. This cut from ICP’s 2012 opus, The Mighty Death Pop, was featured in the 2011 low-budget zombie flick Mimesis: Night of the Living Dead, surely lending some gravitas to a scene in which, I’m guessing, a zombie eats a dude’s brains and then questions what kind of benevolent diety would allow such an evil act, or the Cambodian genocide. Even so, I’m betting it’s not as compulsively watchable as Big Money Rustlas.
The Cryptkeeper – “Crypt Jam”(1992)
Is it still cultural appropriation if the perpetrator is an 1000-year-old immortal ghoul? Asking for a friend.
The Leprechaun – “The Leprechaun Rap” (2000)
ICP needs to book this guy for the next Gathering.