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Ho99o9 - A very different music of black origin

Ho99o9 (pronounced Horror) is an American hip hop/hardcore punk group founded by theOGM and Eaddy in 2012 in Newark, New Jersey. They relocated to Los Angeles in 2014. They attracted a cult following on account of their live performance, according to the LA Weekly, and began collaborating with Ian Longwell who plays drums and produces for Santigold. In 2016, former Black Flag member Brandon Pertzborn became the band's drummer.

Loud and Quiet described Ho99o9's sound as a "seething collision of anarchic hardcore punk rock and industrial charged death rap". They were one of Rolling Stone's "10 New Artists You Need to Know" in 2014 and The Guardian's "New Band of the Week". They have performed at the Afropunk Festival in 2014, the SXSW Music Festival in 2015 and Primavera Sound Festival in 2016. To date, they have released multiple EPs, accompanied by grindhouse-style music videos, and one full-length album, United States of Horror (2017).

TheOGM was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, raised in Linden, New Jersey; Eaddy is from Newark, New Jersey. Both were part of the same performing arts collective, the NJstreetKLAN also known as the JerseyKLAN and formed the group in Newark in 2012. They were influenced by hip-hop and gangsta rappers such as DMX and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony in their teens, but later began attending underground punk shows in Brooklyn featuring Japanther, Cerebral Ballzy and The Death Set as well as Ninjasonik, Theophilus London and the A.L.I.E.N. art shows. The band also cites influences that include horror movies and director/former White Zombie frontman Rob Zombie. Critics have noted the band’s cinematic influences as well as those of its punk and hip-hop roots, though the band has been compared to Death Grips, Black Flag, Big Black and Bad Brains.

Ho99o9’s latest video project channels their experiences in 2020 into a hair-raising sensory overload. The hardcore industrial punk-rap duo from New Jersey have been pushing the envelope since their formation in 2012, ramping up songs such as “United States of Horror” or “Pigs Want Me Dead” with supercharged visuals. In the full-length video for their 34-minute BLURR mixtape, classic scenes from Nightmare on Elm Street, Rob Zombie’s Firefly series, and wrestler Lex Luger collide with news clips of police brutality, COVID-19, Charles Manson, and 9/11. For Ho99o9’s members Eaddy and theOGM, life as young Black men in America can easily be paralleled with a filmmakers’ darkest fantasies, where one overstimulating image quickly replaces the next.

“Our concept with BLURR was that so much has happened this year so far,” says theOGM, joining Eaddy on a Zoom call from their home in LA. “With the way the internet and technology are changing things, everything is a blur. Before George Floyd, people forget that just last year two similar cases happened. Kobe Bryant died earlier this year, and that sh*t is a blur to people. It’s not even in the conversation anymore, and the election is coming up too. It’s an overload, man.”

The BLURR video opens with Barbara Walters’ introduction to a special episode of 20/20 from 1987, when reporter Stone Phillips investigated the “ghoulish images and violent theatrics” of heavy metal. Staring doe-eyed into the camera with a look of exaggerated concern, Walters cranks her fear-mongering tactics up to eleven and asks, “Is there a message that may be too loud for us to hear?” The members of Ho99o9 know the conservative media have been trying to scare parents about their kids’ musical obsessions since before the days of Black Sabbath. As long as artists speak freely with a style of music that’s deemed aggressive, someone will try to suppress them.

“It’s just like kids today loving trap music,” says Eaddy. “Parents think their children will grow up to be outcasts, not go to college, and not have a good job. Back in the day I remember seeing a story about how a Judas Priest song made these two kids commit suicide. They said if you play the music backwards there’s a Satanic message that you should off yourselves. The band went to court for that, and the trial was dismissed because it was outrageous. The outside world puts these titles on music. We just make it how we feel.”

Earlier this year, Ho99o9 released a song called “Christopher Dorner,” based on the tragic true story of the LAPD officer who killed several colleagues and civilians. As Dorner explained in a manifesto on Facebook, he had experienced racist bullying since his time in the military, before being fired by the police for reporting a fellow officer who had used excessive force. Ho99o9 were compelled, like any other artist might be, to write a song about a serial killer, but make it clear they don’t support Dorner’s actions.

Reflecting on why this year’s protests spread across the globe, Ho99o9 see people united by a common cause, just like their fans they call the Death Kult. In the same way the nines in their name are meant to flip the script on 666 and inject some positivity into culture, they see their music as a continuation of Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World.” Released in 1967 when populations were divided by racism, segregation, and war, Armstrong aimed to spread messages of the beauty that can still be found in the most difficult times. This is what Ho99o9 are trying to do with their music as well.


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