Thursday, August 21, 2014
Gravediggaz – “Nowhere to Run, Nowhere to Hide” from 6 Feet Deep (1994, Gee Street/Island/PolyGram)
I’m excited about this new feature precisely because a) I think that many people who know me well would maybe be surprised to find this gem lurking in my library, and b) truth be told, I didn’t really know a ton about these dudes, and writing about them gives me an excuse to learn.
It must have been 1997 or so. The bass player in my decidedly metal hardcore band asked me to drive him to a record store to pick up the new Gravediggaz album. The record store was the now defunct Soul Survivor Records at Broadway and Penn in North Minneapolis. It was a wintery night, and we were the only customers. The staff were sitting behind the counter eating microwave popcorn, some of which had spilled onto the carpet. Erich was thrilled when they told him that the CD came with a free t-shirt. He grinned all the way home.
Nearly two decades later, I have to confess that I keep Gravediggaz in my library partly because I have fond memories of Erich, someone I’ve completely lost touch with. I kind of sort of knew that they were progenitors of the horrorcore subgenre, but didn’t know much else beyond that. Going back to this track, I immediately hear some of the darker sounds of mid-nineties bohemian rap, a la Cypress Hill or Onyx.
But horrorcore, though. Let’s get into that, first. Like so many advances in human history, horrorcore comes from the realization of a “what if” question. Like, “hey, we’re all into horror movies and shit, what if we rapped about blood and gore and horror and all that?” You can spend some time going down that internet rabbit hole if you’d like, learning all about Five Percenters while you’re at it, but in the meantime, enter Gravediggaz: Wikipedia explains that “The group was formed in 1993 and was effectively a supergroup, bringing together Prince Paul (The Undertaker), Frukwan (The Gatekeeper), Too Poetic (The Grym Reaper) and RZA (The Rzarector). Its inception was largely due to the efforts of Prince Paul.“
Martha and her Vandellas probably didn’t foresee this reworking of their soul hit, let alone Prince Paul’s elegant outro:
And just when you thought it was safe to make records
From the bottomless pit, the RZA, the Keeper, the Reaper
And myself the Undertaker
Pourin gravy all on you brains you know what I’m sayin?