Horror has always had a heavy constituency made up of youth. In the 21st century as a generation matures into adulthood and has essentially lived in a world where there always has been access to hip hop culture, the horror market developed ways in which to capitalize on this. Many of us have seen rappers in genre films. It has even been said that one of Halloween producers, Moustapha Akkad’s sons enthusiastically encouraged him to cast Busta Rhymes in Halloween: Resurrection (2002). Moustapha then used Google to find out who Busta Rhymes was.
Rapper/actor lead and major supporting role horror films have been a trend. In the direct-to-DVD, independent market, they were a saturation; “over 100 hip-hop inspired ‘Black horror’ films were released in the first decade of the twenty-first century alone.” Mostly known for their (much) lower budgets and putting z’s at the end of titles (Vampiyaz, Zombiez, Cryptz, and overall abuse of the English language) these films were ruled by a marketing target set in the 1980’s: the profitability of “youth, hip hop, and the home video market”.
Next to placing a well-established figure in hip hop culture in another medium, it’s critical to observe what kind of stories are being told in hip hop horror. These films maintain a sort of cultural insulation that is infused with supernatural elements. While mainstream films tend to overtly shy away from racially laden cultural commentary, “hip-hop infused horror” hits audiences “over the head like a sledgehammer with tales of morality and social responsibility” from one Black community to another. 1999’s Urban Menace (Ice-T, Big Pun, Fat Joe, Snoop Dogg) accomplished this with a ghost killing criminals who capitalized on the detriment of poorer neighborhoods. New Line Cinema’s production, Bones (2001) starring Snoop Dogg tackled matters of how drug epidemics destroyed Black communities, gentrification as well as matters of African Americans and class divisions.
Below are just a handful of the more well-known hip hop horror films that are significant enough to be a part of the Black horror film genre. Not all of them star hip-hop artists, but all work and dabble with themes that give it the label. Additionally, many images from these films and the films themselves were extremely difficult, if impossible to find. The lack of recognition for this sub-genre likely has a lot to do with the overall production value. But it certainly merits visibility and at this point, free streaming to at least check them out.
Read more – HIP HOP HORROR FILMS – Graveyard Shift Sisters