“Cut niggas up, sector by sector/Next to her dead, first cousin and nephew/Next to her head, bloody intestines/Next to her bed, other intestines.” If you’ve ever heard of this lyric, or something similar to it, you’re probably listening to horrorcore, a subgenre of hip hop that focuses on horror filled lyrical content and imagery. This subgenre of music started in the 1980’s in the United States. Most of the horrorcore subgenre focuses on realistic and majorly disturbing images of rape, murder, cannibalism, and necrophilia.
Along with the disturbing images this genre portrays, many artists of this horrorcore subgenre have had criminal records, including homicide. A particular artist putting out his cannibalistic artistic rap styling is Brotha Lynch Hung, real name, Kevin Danell Mann. Hung has been described as an innovator and one of the forefathers of horrorcore. If you take a look at the titles of his work, we can see just why. They are obviously disturbing, for example, “Mannibalector”, “Look It’s A Dead Body”, “Body On The Floor”, “I Plotted (My Next Murder)”, and “Meat Cleaver”. Focusing on the last song, “Meat Cleaver”, was one of his most disturbing songs with the lyrics talking about murder and cannibalism. The music video isn’t any better, with him furiously rapping beside a girl who’s tied up and bloody looking like the intro to a horror movie before the first person dies. The lyrics, “comin’ with the meat cleaver, cut her in the neck, leave her/Put her on the ground like a beaver, see, um/Yeah, I’m comin’ to get her, run up and get her with a machete” leaves the audience with a foul taste in their mouth when reading the lyrics. Thankfully, his rap styling is so difficult to understand that you really don’t have to listen to the lyrics, so you can somewhat enjoy the music.
Another song that he came out with was Locc 2 da Brain which describes a ride along where they’re shooting people on the street. This is probably a reference to his days back in the Crips where he would be out on the street with his gang member piers. This song influenced Bubba, real name, Joseph Edward Gallegos, an 18-year-old man from Bayfield, Colorado who had serious depression. After his girlfriend broke up with him, he listened to this song repeatedly before fatally shot his friends. His minister suggested that the music played a role in the killing. Though the song probably wasn’t the reason for his shooting, it definitely contributed to it. This shows that songs have a contributing factor to how people can live their lives.
If your music incites the urge to commit criminal acts in others because of the words you say, are you, as the artist, socially responsible for those criminal acts also? Given the fact many horrorcore artists have served jail time and rap about the crimes they committed, wanted to commit, or just their imaginative process of what people wanted to hear, does that give them the right to incite hatred with their work? Or does the fact that their freedom to creative process allow them to do what they want? From here where is freedom of expression limited and is sometimes banning inappropriate content better for the welfare of others?
One thought on “What has Brotha Lynch Hung sung?”
Banning “inappropriate” content is never the answer. For starters, everyone will have a different definition of inappropriate. Secondly, some content e.g. historical record of violence will inevitably be caught up in the ban that really probably shouldn’t be.
Most importantly, content banning just distracts from the real solutions to problems like Bubba and Lynch, solutions that are admittedly usually much more difficult and complex to implement, such as improved access to mental healthcare (wider exposure to services and offerings, comprehensive insurance coverage, free public options, etc.), reduced stigma, better safety checks throughout the system and society at large (e.g. better training for problem identification, awareness classes in school, etc.), incentivizing “see something, say something” programs, and so on.
It’s unlikely that the song had any substantial role in influencing or inciting those killings. A mind capable of planning and carrying out such heinous acts does not need help or inspiration imagining the acts in the first place or finding the necessary motivation—and stomach—to carry them out.