Creative Direction: Alexandra Weiss
Photography: Gina Canavan
When it comes to Ho99o9 (Horror), there are no rules. The New Jersey natives, Eaddy and theOGM, mix punk, hardcore and rap to create their own brand of hyper-aggressive deathwave. After years of raucous live shows that have spawned a cult-like fanbase, the duo has finally released their debut LP—and they couldn’t have picked a better title. Written months before Donald Trump came into office, The United States of Horror is more than an album—it’s a call to arms.
Filled with anarchic lyrics and hypnotizing beats, the record is a biting take on American hypocrisy. Armed with religious references and violent imagery, Eaddy and theOGM take on brutality and consumption, crafting a sinister ode to chaos and rebellion. If apathy’s the problem, Ho99o9 is the solution. With The United States of Horror, the band turns political decay into prophetic dissidence, delivering a scathing cultural anthem as catchy as it is cutting.
BULLETT caught up with the duo to talk hip-hop, posers and punk.
Tell me about The United States of Horror.
theOGM: It’s a mixture of sonic palettes, our frustrations, our aggressions, or anger, our happiness, our joy, all in one pot. The stuff we’re talking about has always been relevant, but we’re in a modern time where it’s actually happening right now.
Were there any records that influenced your process?
theOGM: We listen to everything from jazz to fucking hardcore rap. But the thing is, the music we listen to isn’t really a reflection of what we make—it’s more of how we’re feeling. I might wake up and listen to some fucking Wacka Flocka because I want to turn up, but the music that we make is just our own vibe. We don’t like to let anything dictate how we create.
Punk and hardcore are such different genres. Is it hard to fuse the two?
Eaddy: It’s natural for us. Some people try to do it—try to work too hard. But it’s just authentic for us because it’s our roots, it’s what we grew up on. It’s not like we think, ‘Oh it has to be like this’—we just express ourselves on the mic and write shit down, and whatever it sounds like, it sounds like.
theOGM: We’re actually into the music we make. If we weren’t, it would come off a little forced because we wouldn’t know anything about the actual scene. But if that’s something you’re into, you live it, you breathe it, and it just comes off smooth.
Eaddy: We don’t wear band shirts of bands we don’t listen to.
That’s seriously the worst. I’ve written like a hundred articles about Kanye and Justin Bieber wearing Metallica tees.
theOGM: We see so many rappers wearing metal band tees and I’m like, ‘Yo but you don’t even listen to them. You just like the shirt because it’s cool.’ And that’s such a part of rap culture, because they don’t know about shit they wear. Being a poser is such a thing in rap and punk, yet people do things that you can question.
Eaddy: I just made a joke on Twitter the other day—if the Skrewdriver had Iron Maiden or Metallica’ font, every rapper would buy the shirt. Supreme would do a collab—a Supreme x Skrewdriver shirt and everybody would wear it, not even knowing they’re like the biggest neo-Nazi band.
Did you grow up listening to punk and hardcore?
Eaddy: I got into it at the of my senior year in high school, when I was just about to go into college, and I introduced it to theOGM. But we grew up listening to rap and hip hop, because that shit wasn’t in our community. We grew up in a black neighborhood, an urban community, with gangs and fucking drugs—nobody was talking about going to a Circle Jerk show. We found out about punk through the internet and then by actually going to New York and experiencing different shit from outside our neighborhood. If we didn’t leave, we wouldn’t know shit.
What attracted you to it?
Eaddy: The first show I went to—I’d never been in a moshpit, I’d never even seen a moshpit, and I’d never felt that kind of electric energy from everybody in one small place all at the same time. That shit just amazed me. I was seeing pictures and videos, and I just knew I had to go to one. Then I did, and it was like, ‘Yo I got to go to another show. I got to see another band.’
theOGM: The energy of a hardcore show is different than anything, and much different than a rap show. A rap show could be one dude rapping on a mic, or it could be a hundred niggas on stage just mobbing and shit. But a hardcore show is a band and they’re playing their heart out, going so hard, and people are going completely crazy. That’s what’s dope, on a performance level, when it comes to hardcore shows over rap shows. But what’s dope about rap, about being lyrical, is the way you can express yourself—the way you can talk about subjects and patterns, you can say shit, and the words you say can really make people feel something.
So you think rap has more depth?
theOGM: It’s competitive—it’s a macho man sport. You always want to rap better than the next motherfucker, you want your melodies to be tighter than the next motherfucker. And rap can be built from sampling jazz, and all this different shit. That’s why, to me, it’s not that big of a difference meshing rap with metal, because niggas been doing that—talking about slinging drugs on a Ronald Isley beat. That’s crossbreeding right there, and it’s the same to me as mixing rap and punk.
It’s just an unlikely pairing—you grew up in a community where hardcore was not prevalent, and you mix it with rap, which was. Then you were a wedding dress onstage. Your art definitely encourages people to play with expectation and not follow the rules.
theOGM: We come from where no dudes can be wearing no wedding dresses with nails painted and wigs—you just can’t do that shit. Even wearing skinny jeans at a time before that transition happened—you just couldn’t be doing that shit where we come from. Those are all things that are forms of oppression in our own community.
Your live shows are notoriously wild. What’s your favorite part about being onstage?
theOGM: Live, we just go off our energy. It’s just kill and murder and bring out all hell and love. But when the fans are responding to it and into it, it gives us even more of a boost—it can go places we don’t even know.
Eaddy: I think it should be like that with any artist—you should always leave room for you to make the live experience cooler than what they hear on the album.
There’s a lot of rumors about your band name, especially because of the triple nines. What does it mean?
theOGM: We actually had a different name when we started. But it’s mostly like, we ain’t from fucking Beverly Hills—we’re from New Jersey where it’s cold as shit and niggas is grimey.
Eaddy: It’s also just a mutual respect and feeling with the triple nines, too. We’re not for evil. But we’re not role models, and we’re not for good either—we’re just ourselves. Like with genres, punk is supposed to be this, or rap is supposed to be that—we don’t follow none of those rules. We come into this shit making what we want to make, how we want to make it and not worrying about anybody else’s critique or say in how we run our shit. This is our cult. We call it ‘Ho99o9 Triple 9 Death Cult’ because this is our shit—this is the new fucking 2017 deathwave.
Do you think you have a responsibility as an artist in our current political climate?
theOGM: We don’t want to be looked at as political figures. But it’s hard not to speak on the shit that’s happening in your country or your hood—it’s in our face, we go through these things, it’s happening on the news. We’re not political, but we do have a voice to speak for our people, our community, ourselves. And that’s who we speak for—the underdogs.