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When Horror Rap was a thing.

by Maurice Pendarvis |

Gravediggaz was a hardcore rap group from New York City, well-known for its dark sense of humor and abrasive, menacing soundscapes. The group was formed in 1994 and was effectively a supergroup, bringing together Prince Paul (formerly producer with De La Soul and Stetsasonic), Frukwan from Stetsasonic, Too Poetic from the Brothers Grym, and RZA from the Wu-Tang Clan (which at the time of Gravediggaz' formation had only just released its first album). The group is widely credited as being one of the most influential and pioneering groups in the small hip-hop subgenre of horrorcore. The group's first album was originally titled Niggamortis; however, the potentially risqué title was changed to 6 Feet Deep for the American market (European versions of the album retained the original title, and also included the bonus track "Pass The Shovel"). Released on August 9 1994, 6 Feet Deep was a mix of black humor, cartoonish violence reminiscent of the Geto Boys, esoteric references to the Nation of Gods and Earths, and some of Paul's darkest production. The four members adopted Gravedigga alter egos for their work with the group: The RZA became RZArecta, Poetic became the Grym Reaper, Prince Paul became the Undertaker, and Frukwan became the Gatekeeper and rex. The three rapping members (without Prince Paul) released a collaborative EP titled "The Hell EP" with UK trip hop artist Tricky in 1995. The second full-length Gravediggaz album, The Pick, the Sickle and the Shovel, released in 1997, was less oriented to humor and more to social and political issues than 6 Feet Deep, and used calmer and more conventional production. Prince Paul played a considerably smaller role in the making of this album, with many of the production duties now taken care of by RZA and his Wu-Tang associates (including True Master and 4th Disciple). Poetic finally succumbed to cancer in July 2001. Frukwan stated in an interview not long after Poetic's death that a new album using leftover Poetic material would be released.[1] The album Nightmare in A-Minor, the third for Gravediggaz, was released independently in 2001 and only featured two of the original members, Poetic and Frukwan. This album was their darkest work yet, including many references to Poetic's struggle with colon cancer with a focus on the more apocalyptic themes of the teachings of the Five Percent Nation. Although RZA did not take part in the making of the album, some Wu-Tang Clan affiliates such as 4th Disciple, True Master and Beretta 9 were involved. The album was mostly produced by Poetic and Frukwan themselves. A slightly different version of the album (minus the song "Better Wake Up") was released to widespread critical acclaim in 2002. Gravediggaz would split up later that year. In 2003 Frukwan released his debut solo album, Life.


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