Known for their abrasive and confrontational performance style akin to that of Death Grips combined with the punk-infused raucousness of outfits such as Black Flag, Ho99o9 are an alternative hip-hop group based in Los Angeles, California. Pronounced “horror,” Ho99o9 finds the intersection of noise and rap through exploring distorted production, ugly lyrical themes, and the occasional implementation of death metal growls and blastbeats on caustic albums like 2022’s SKIN.
United States of Horror
Ho99o9 was formed in Newark, New Jersey around 2012. The project was started by the group’s frontrunners, theOGM and Eaddy, who were both initially involved in a performing arts collective known as the NJstreetKLAN. Throughout their teen years, the pair developed a deep-rooted interest in pioneering artists of hip-hop such as Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and DMX. They eventually began attending underground punk shows in the Brooklyn area, absorbing the discordant madness of acts such as Cerebral Ballzy, the Death Set, Ninjasonik, and Japanther. They coined the term “Ho99o9” after recording their first track. Originally using the name for the instrumental version of what would be their first song, “Bone Collector,” the duo decided the word would better jibe with their vision for the entire project itself; they ultimately decided to throw in some digits in place of select letters in order to avoid any other artists with similar names cropping up in online searches. Ho99o9 then put out a number of singles and EPs in subsequent years, gaining renown on both sides of the Atlantic in 2014 and 2015. Releases such as Mutant Freax and Horrors of 1999 caught the attention of various DJs from BBC Radio 1; but it wasn’t until the release of their Dead Bodies in the Lake mixtape along with extensive touring (with Santigold producer Ian Longwell on drum duties) that they really began to develop a cult following. Many critics noted that their cinematic, over the top, abrasive, and heavy style was a welcome sound amidst the alternative scenes occupying the worlds of hip-hop, punk, and rock. Ho99o9 garnered praise for their live performances, particularly at the SXSW festival, Visions Festival, Pukkelpop, and Reading and Leeds Festivals in 2015. The band embarked on a headlining tour of the U.K. in 2015, while also opening for British punk duo Slaves that same year and revered mathcore outfit the Dillinger Escape Plan in early 2017. In 2016, they parted ways with Longwell, and brought on new drummer Brandon Pertzborn for recordings, though Dillinger Escape Plan’s Billy Rymer would play drums for Ho99o9 on live dates. Their first full-length effort, United States of Horror, arrived in May 2017. The record maintained the ferocity delivered on previous releases, but contained within more crystalline production techniques and a vast sound palette that incorporated different styles of percussion, such as trap, gabba, and hardcore punk. The group released several singles and EPs over the next few years, and also embarked on tours with Alice in Chains, Korn, Avenge Sevenfold, and many others. They released mixtapes Blurr (2020) and Turf Talk, Vol. 1 (2021) before second studio album SKIN arrived in March of 2022. The album was every bit as abrasive as Ho99o9 fans have come to expect, with some tracks finding the group going full death metal, and others melding classic horrorcore rap sounds with thick distortion and fuzz-saturated bass. SKIN included guest features from Jasiah, Corey Taylor, Bun B, and Saul Williams.