Happy Halloween -- 15 Scary Songs in Hip-Hop & R&B
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You're never truly scared until fear seeps into your dreams. Dana Dane's 1986 song, 'Nightmares,' off his 'Dana Dane With Fame' debut, is a classic hip-hop Halloween track. During a frantic trip to the shrink, Dana lays down on the couch and rolls out a list of crazy nightmares keeping him tossing and turning at night. Things don't get interesting until Anita the Beast finds a way to terrorize him even when he thinks his eyes are open.
'Nightmare on My Street'
Fresh Prince & DJ Jazzy Jeff
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After famously complaining that "parents just don't understand," the Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff tackle bad dreams for their 1988 single, 'Nightmare on My Street.' The duo's ode to the '80s horror flick 'Nightmare on Elm Street' is both funny and frightening once Will Smith falls asleep and Freddy Kruger gets a hold of him. Between running for his life and trying not to get stabbed by Kruger's claws, that's one hell of a bad dream.
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Bone Thugs-n-Harmony are known to be lyrically preoccupied with mortality so it comes as no surprise that 'Hell Sent' is a downright scary track. Being that the group came "straight from the flames of hell, a place where assassins dwell," the song, off their 1993 debut, 'Faces of Death,' described a trip to hell and an ultimate takeover of the dark side. Only Bone Thugs could spit about taking a demon hostage and make it sound somewhat believable.
'Dance With the Devil'
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No one has ever really danced with the devil but this track off Immortal Technique's 2001 release, 'Revolutionary Vol. 1,' is a lesson in pure evil. The song surrounds character Billy Jacobs, whose initiation into a gang calls for him to rape a woman. However, he later finds out that she was his own mother. Talk about dancing with the devil! The description is so gruesome and scary it sounds like a story out of 'Tales from the Crypt.'
'Interview With a Vampire'
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Forget Anne Rice, Ras Kass' rendition of 'Interview With a Vampire' is much more interesting. This 1998 track off his sophomore release, 'Rasassination,' packs a powerful beat and finds Ras playing three roles: his own, plus the voices of God and Satan. From the start, the Southern California MC tests religious theory as "God" answers all of his inquiries before Satan has his say in the matter on this mystical track.
'Freaks Come Out at Night'
One thing Whodini taught us with this 1984 hit is that when night falls, be on the lookout for freaks. In its own way, the track is an ode to the New York City clubbers of the '80s -- those who weren't afraid to let their freak flags fly. But only after the sun goes down. From the crazy hair colors to spikes, leather jackets, short skirts and chains, the descriptions alone sound like a Halloween costume.
'My Mind's Playing Tricks on Me'
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This 1991 single released by the likes of Bushwick Bill took Halloween to the hood on a crazy night filled with trick or treating, robbing little kids for bags and a healthy helping of paranoia. The single helped put the Geto Boys on the map, peaked at No. 23 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts and gave the group their highest charting song to date.
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Imagine if Ice Cube took the place of famed scientist Frankenstein to create his own monstrous creature. In this 1988 track from his fifth album, 'War & Peace Vol. 1,' Cube slips into the shoes of the mad scientist to spawn his own crazy creation. The untrained ear might write this one off as a play on the famous story, but if you listen closely, Cube's rendition of 'Dr. Frankenstein' is clearly more of a political commentary hidden behind the song's title.
'What's Yo Psycho'
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With Tech N9ne, the name says it all -- he's lyricall loaded and ready to fire. Nothing about this guy screams wholesome, but we can't help but respect his gory disposition. 2010's 'What's Yo Pyscho' off Tech's 'Tha Gates Mixed Plate' album, is a front row seat to the mind of a crazy person. Featuring Brother Lynch Hung, the grandiose beat and unforgettable descriptions are almost tailor-made for a graveyard. From murder to cannibalism ,'What's Yo Pyscho' is a unique brand of insanity.
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Like many of the songs off his 1994 album 'Reasonable Doubt,' 'D'Evils' is another example of a prolific MC in the making. Between the breakdown of the business of street pharmaceuticals, the DJ Premier-produced beat and the sample of Snoop Dogg's dark track 'Murder Was the Case,' everything about the song is perfection. Transitioning from drug dealer to full-time rapper, Hov was on the brink of stardom, and even as a youngster, his lyrical maturity was ahead of his physical age.
Harlem rapper Big L walks through a nightmare in which he becomes the 'Devil's Son.' Originally released off L's 1993 demo, this track stands out for the lyricist's ability to delve deep into his devilish side, opening with the chorus, "When I was 12, I went to hell for snuffing Jesus." If that's not proof of the ultimate sin, we don't know what is. Unfortunately, the slain MC was murdered in 1999, but his music is certainly immortal.
Kanye West Featuring Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj & Jay-Z
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Leave it to Kanye to make being a "motherf---ing monster" sound utterly amazing. When Yeezy released 'Monster' last year, he snagged some of hip-hop's finest, but the standout guest was by far Nicki Minaj. In 32 bars, she went from "Barbie" to "Roman" and back to the Barbie she is, lyrically feasting on the competition. Equally gory is the Jake Nava-directed video featuring necrophilia, suicide and just about every dark scary scene you can imagine.
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One of the qualities that made Biggie stand out during his prime was his lyrical honesty. In 1994, he let it all hang out on the track 'Suicidal Thoughts.' The Lord Finesse-produced song, off his 'Ready to Die' debut, was nothing short of raw emotion as the Brooklyn MC's self-loathing moves from talk of committing suicide to getting the job done. More than a decade after his death, the realness on the tune remains a blueprint other rhymers can only hope to follow.
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Fan infatuation almost turned fatal for Eminem in this creepy third single off his 'Marshall Mathers LP.' Playing himself and his crazed fan Stan, Em used his pen to step into the mind of a deranged character, who had obviously taken the Detroit MC's lyrics a little too seriously. The Detroit rapper also shot back at critics who accused him of glorifying violence and homophobia in his music by performing 'Stan' with Elton John at the 2001 Grammy Awards. That right there scared the status quo.
In 1984, Michael Jackson raised the bar for music videos with his 'Thriller' single, which spoke of the evils lurking after dark. The album, of the same name, became the best selling LP in history, and it all kicked off with the title track, brought to life in a 14-minute mini movie. In the visuals, the King of Pop donned his infamous red leather jacket, turned into a werewolf and threw in an iconic zombie dance sequence just for good measure. They don't call him the King for nothing.
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