Hip-hop culture wasn’t initially violent. From its birth in the late 1970s until the early-’80s, rap music was centred around fun and dancing. Born and raised at New York block parties, the music took much of its messaging from its predecessor, funk, concerning the subject matter. However, with the politicisation of hip-hop that occurred during the early 1980s, the music began to address and highlight real-life issues affecting the impoverished. From there, it was only a matter of time before abuse entered the conversation.
Although, at first, the lyrics were critical of the violence and questioned whether it was effective as a means of protest, it became more prevalent with artists expressing who they wished to harm and why. During the 1980s, this was about all people. However, songs such as ‘By The Time I Get to Arizona‘ began to see an all-important line in the sand that people often ignore. The previously mentioned track by Public Enemy saw the group express how they wanted to cause harm to a white political figure. The authorities quickly clamped down on this. The same predicament occurred when N.W.A. made ‘F*ck The Police.’
Although it may be somewhat uncomfortable to consider, as a result of the events mentioned above, during the mid-’80s, there were several instances of severe backlash and even FBI interventions when artists suggested violence against white individuals. As a result, rappers were naturally disincentivised to urge violence upon said race but were free to wish death on other African-Americans. Hence we have the hip-hop we have today. Of course, violence exists and will appear in music. However, the parameters set for who can and can’t be killed in the lyrics are insidious and perhaps reflective of a broader societal issue.
However, despite the above, sometimes violent music can resonate with people who may be frustrated and can often provide relief. Frequently people listen to the beat and not the lyrics, but violence has been and will remain a contentious issue within hip-hop for a long time. Below we have picked out the ten most violent rap songs ever made.
The most violent rap songs:
10. Natas – ‘Torture’, Doubelievengod (1995)
Detroit rap collective Natas are often considered the kings of horrorcore. Formed while the members were in high school, their name stirred up much controversy when they first arose. The collective’s frontman, Esham, has unveiled that they initially intended their crew moniker to mean “N*ggas Ahead of Time And Space.” However, most consider that a lie, as the name spells “Satan” backwards.
From this, perhaps listeners can assume the collective are Satanists as their music is most certainly laced with a particular evil and unnerving edge that is, at best, perverse. ‘Torture’ from the group’s 1995 album, Doubelievengod, is arguably one of their worst concerning lyrics. With lines like, “She never knew what was in store / ‘Cos I’m the n*gga that r*ped the b*tch 2pac went to jail for.” For Natas, nothing was off limits.
9. Immortal Technique – ‘Dance With The Devil’, Revolutionary Vol. 1 (2001)
Harlem artist Immortal Technique is not known as a horrorcore rapper per se. However, like many hip-hop MCs, he isn’t one to hold back. With a similar story to Eminem, Immortal Technique (real name Felipe Coronel) built his brand and created a buzz on New York’s underground battle rap scene.
Following multiple victories on the circuit, Coronel knew that he needed to release an official body of work as he did. His debut album, Revolutionary Vol. 1, boasted several tracks, one of which was ‘Dance With The Devil’. The song is unnerving as listeners hear Coronel rant about violent acts against women. The track features lines such as “The shirt covered her face, but she screamed and clawed / So Billy stomped on the b*tch, until he broke her jaw / The dirty b*stards knew exactly what they were doing / They kicked her until they cracked her ribs and she stopped moving.”
8. Live Squad – ‘Murderahh’, A Game Of Survival (1992)
Following the Watts riots and the Rodney King beatings, the iconic LA emcee Ice-T made a track entitled ‘Cop Killer’, which put the establishment on edge concerning rap music and its potential to incite violence. Following its release, George Bush Sr. led a crackdown on hip-hop, leading to many artists and collectives getting shunned and dropped from record labels. Live Squad were one of these groups.
Live Squad were so bold and unapologetic in their anti-establishment sentiments they only managed to release one single commercially. Following this, they got shelved by Tommy Boy Entertainment. Released in 1992, ‘Murderahh’ speaks on violence against children with its video even depicting an individual randomly shooting a minor before committing mass murder. One of the killer’s victims was a police officer. Live Squad were actively involved in violence. Only a few years after the track’s release, the collective’s frontman, Stretch, was murdered following Tupac’s 1994 New York shooting. The 1992 song includes lyrics such as, “Well the job is done, now we can go / What about the baby? / Throw it out the window!”
7. Brotha Lynch Hung – ‘Meat Cleaver, Mannibalector, (2013)
West Coast rapper Brotha Lynch Hung is one of the most infamous horrorcore MCs of all time and is so for a good reason. As a former gang member and an affiliate of the Garden Blocc Crips, it’s safe to say that the artist (real name Kevin Mann) saw some violence growing up. Mann was shot at a house party as an adolescent, and his gore-filled lifestyle is most definitely reflected in his material. Many cite him as one of the pioneers of horrorcore. However, not wanting to be put in a box by fans, Brotha Lynch Hung has professed his music is “Ripgut”, which focuses specifically on body parts and flesh, unlike horrorcore. Moreover, his fans have even said he is the creator of what they happily call “Cannibal Rap.”
A ghastly genre, if ever there was one, Brotha Lynch Hung’s Mannibalector album is a cacophony of songs referring to body parts, blood and guts. The 2013 project’s lead single, ‘Meat Cleaver, ‘ details Mann cutting up potential meals and cooking body parts.
Speaking with BandWagon Magazine in 2017, Mann unveiled how his inspiration came from horror movies as he explained, “That is my favourite thing of all time. It started with The Twilight Zone. Oh, I got all the episodes – the whole series. Took like a month to get to me, but I finally got them all. I was around 13 when I started watching that. I love horror movies so much. It just seeped into my music.”
6. Necro – ‘Dead Body Disposal’, Gory Days (2001)
From his stage name alone, one could tell that Necro and any music he produces will be controversial. Most know the prefix necro from the word necrophilia, and that term itself is enough to send shivers down someone’s spine. Born and raised in Brooklyn, the rapper (real name Ron Braunstein) is a bizarre figure as he lived in a religious household. Born into a Jewish family, seeing how he ended up as a horrorcore artist is strange. However, it makes sense considering he was introduced to the genre through death metal.
After failing to secure a record deal due to his lyical content, in 1999, Braunstein founded Psycho+Logical-Records. It was through this label that he released his sophomore project, Gory Days. Track five of the album is undoubtedly the scariest. Entitled ‘Dead Body Disposal’ the single speaks on the best ways to dispose of a deceased individual and contains lyrics such as, “For dismemberment gentlemen I recommend/Heavy-duty bone saws that cut through gentle limbs like pendulums.” Although nothing seems to be off-limits for Braunstein, he has always insisted that the name Necro concerns death and has nothing to do with sex or necrophilia.
5. Russ Millions – ‘Gun Lean (Remix)’ ft Taze, LD, Digga D, Ms Banks & Lethal B
With the rise of drill, UK music is becoming more violent daily and shows no sign of stopping. For every song in the genre that goes platinum, there is another that leads to someone getting murdered. The repercussions have reached all corners of London. With the rise of artists such as Digga D and Central Cee in West London, the area has become a hotbed of gang warfare from Northolt to Ladbroke Grove; the streets are bloody, and songs such as ‘Gun Lean’ desensitising listeners to guns does not help.
However, the track was unbelievably popular in the UK and its creator, Russ, has received multiple platinum certifications making drill. This remix included prominent rap artists from all over London and was highly successful. However, with lines such as “Active, don’t mad me, get shot / Live O like Magnum’s and Glocks” and “Hit chest then back Man lean with it / .44 hit his chest clean with it.” Although it’s catchy, it’s also unbelievably unapologetic in trivialising the use of guns.
4. Ganksta N-I-P – ‘Psycho, The South Park Psycho (1992)
Houston rapper Ganksta N-I-P is the definitive hardcore rapper. Formerly signed to the legendary Rap-A-Lot record label, the emcee (real name Rowdy Williams) was a member of the South Park Coalition, a notorious Houston crew he founded in 1987 alongside K-Rino. Released in 1992, with G-funk influences, Williams’ debut album South Park Psycho is one of the most beloved horrorcore projects ever. However, upon listening to N-I-P, his material doesn’t scream horrorcore. Instead, it sounds like an evocative form of G-funk.
South Park Psycho boasts many intriguing tracks. However, one that stands out and is particularly savage is ‘Psycho’. Akin to Live Squad’s ‘Murderahh’, this single from Williams also speaks to murdering minors. One of the most horrific lines heard in the song reads, “I’m finna kick ass / Breast feed newborn babies with unleaded gas.” Although it is meant to shock, it may be possible that ‘Psycho’ is a step too far.
3. Geto Boys – ‘Mind Of A Lunatic’, Grip It! On That Other Level (1989)
Houston rap collective The Geto Boys were the original pioneers of Southern rap in the US, especially concerning Houston. Led by their frontman, Scarface, the Geto Boys’ origins are rooted firmly in the late-1980s and are known, to this day, as one of the first mainstream hip-hop groups from the South. However, they were controversial. Their 1993 track ‘Crooked Officer’ was heavily scrutinised by the industry. However, it was on their 1989 debut album, Grip It! On That Other Level, their most concerning material lives.
‘Mind Of A Lunatic’, produced by Doug King, sees the trio explore every violent act possible on one song, from r*ape to necrophilia, mass murder and more. The lyrics explain how the trio will kill anybody aged “nine to 99” and even murder “cripples and the blind.” Furthermore, with lines such as, “She begged me not to kill her, I gave her a rose/Then slit her throat, and watched her shake till her eyes closed”, it seems as if they’re willing to kill women as well. Simply murder music.
2. Kool G Rap – ‘Hey Mister Mister’, The Veteran (1995)
Kool G Rap is usually seen as a respectable legend who can do no wrong and is the king of the golden age. However, some of his songs have not aged well, especially ‘Hey Mister.’ Rapped from the perspective of a New York City pimp, the track is a diatribe of misogynistic hate-speech and was so offensive that no record label would give it the green light. However, being the anti-establishment contrarian that he is, the rapper (real name Nathaniel Wilson) simply pressed the single up independently and released it as a white-label vinyl.
The violent track looks pegs women to promiscuity, narcotics and prostitution. Furthermore, it depicts graphic beatings and rpe as the pimp unleashes a “mouthful of trouser snake.” With Wilson gleefully rapping “B*tch why you lyin’, b*tch you’ve been cheatin’ / Now I gotsta to give your motherf*ckin’ ass a beatin / I punched her in the ribcage and kicked her in the stomach / Take off all my motherf*ckin’ jewellery, b*tch run it / I stomped her and I kicked her and I punched her in the face!” it has not aged well at all.
1. Cassidy – ‘AM to PM’, I’m A Hustla (2005)
‘Am To PM’ is undoubtedly one of the most violent rap songs ever. The track, released in 2005, was produced by Philadelphia beatmaker Neo Da Matrix and samples the intro of the song ‘I Want To Break Free’ by Queen. The instrumental is menacing and has been covered by many artists, including Remy Ma, who released an unofficial remix ‘When I See Her’ in 2005.
The track’s running theme is a barrage of constant threats of violence and murder directed at an unknown antagonist. Cassidy doesn’t cease for the entire song; the intimidation permeates the music. Concerning the unnamed male, the Philadelphia rapper (real name Barry Reese) insists he will “Cut a bone out his skin”, “AK ’em when I see him”, and “Then wire his grill.” The track is violent and perhaps to an extent that makes for uncomfortable listening.