Tuesday, September 21, 2010

"‘Horrorcore’ rapper ‘Syko Sam’ pleads guilty to four murders", my take on Horrorcore, being from the Detroit area

Here's the original story.

"An aspiring rapper in the "horrorcore" genre pleaded guilty Monday to killing his 16-year-old girlfriend, her parents and her friend days after the adults chaperoned the teens at a music festival featuring artists rhyming about raping, killing and mutilating people.

Richard "Sam" McCroskey, 21, was sentenced to life in prison as part of his agreement to plead guilty to two counts of capital murder and two counts of first-degree murder. He initially was charged with four counts of capital murder, which could have resulted in the death penalty if convicted on the charges."

My perspective on this is interesting in that I actually listened to folks who were part of the original Horrorcore scene. I listened to ICP and Esham well before there was any major label interest in this stuff and when you could only buy their stuff on cassettes that had green, red, and yellow foil labels. To give some idea of the time frame, "Syko Sam" was only five or six years old when I was listening to this stuff.

The way I see it is this: Detroit in the '80s was extremely violent. There was a crack epidemic that swept through it that fueled ultra-violent gang action. All of this was chronicled by rappers like Esham. But what happened is that white rappers, like ICP, took up the more fantastic elements of it and started to export it to a less black and less urban audience. From ICP, who did live in Detroit albeit near the down river area, were spawned white rappers who had no connection with the city itself, as well as followers whose own connection with the level of violence that they rapped about was nonexistent. What started out as a sort of messed up representation of life became a fantasy land for white kids who wanted to seem hardcore. Even in the time I was listening to them this was already on the rise. I didn't live in the city of Detroit, I lived in the middle of nowhere on the outskirts of the Detroit area, and yet was listening to people rap violently about the inner city. The difference, if there is one, was that folks developed connections to other people within the city and tried to insinuate themselves into sketchy life down there if they were able.


Fiction overcomes reality and takes on a life of its own that's frankly juvenile when not linked to that reality.

*on edit: wow, looking through the net it turns out that the people of Insane Clown Posse didn't even grow up in Detroit. They grew up in the suburbs and then "Violent J" moved to downriver suburb of Detroit after 9th grade.....but then returned to Ferndale, another suburb. This is interesting as the whole thing when I was listening to them was that they were from Southwest Detroit and therefore really hard core. Instead, the towns that "Violent J" and "Shaggy" were from were Berkeley and Oak Park. I know Berkeley and Oak Park, and Ferndale for that matter. Berkeley is a typical sort of middle-middle class suburb that's surrounded by really wealthy areas, with Royal Oak being somewhat wealthier and Birmingham being a lot wealthier. Oak Park is more working class, but I wouldn't consider it to be really "tough" in the way that some folks on the 'net are implying. It's not Warren, which is where Eminem is from, and which is legitimately a tough place. So in other words ICP is another con job from white rappers who haven't actually experienced the kind of life they talk about and sometimes claim to have experienced. Ferndale, by the way, is one of the centers of hipster indie culture in Detroit, as is Royal Oak. You could argue that times may have changed, but the fact is that Ferndale, where Mr. Violent J lived, now resembles Williamsburg more than the hardcore life of Detroit.

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