Creator Spotlight: Horrorcore Veteran Komatose Exclusively Debuts “Murder Hill Gang” from Upcoming Album
We sit down with the Omaha-based rapper to discuss his inspiration for “The Boom Bap Blood Splat Horrorcore Backpack” album.
By Ray Morse
It is no secret that the concept of horror as an art form has existed since the dawn of time and has spread over the years like a virus to just about every creative medium imaginable. From literature to film and everything in between, artists have maintained a fascination with exploring darker themes through their work and, in doing so, some of the most acclaimed pieces of art were born. This art is responsible for inspiring a generation to take the things they are most passionate about and evolve them into something entirely new and dark. It was only a matter of time before music, and more specifically hip hop, was infected. The horrorcore genre was the result.
Throughout the near 40-year history of this wicked little genre of music, there have been many artists responsible for building a strong foundation for the underground scene to thrive on. Artists like Insane Poetry, Esham, Ganxsta NIP, Gravediggaz, Geto Boys, and Flatlinerz would pave the way for future successes like Insane Clown Posse, Twiztid (formerly House of Krazees), Tech N9ne, and even Eminem in his early years.
It is no shock that the noise being made by the genre would eventually inspire a subculture of individuals looking to follow suit. Who could blame them? The idea of mixing horror themes with a genre of music that was fierce, dangerous, and controversial was and still is a tempting notion. While this writer was not one to pick up a microphone and try his hand at spitting the wicked shit, it was easy to become infatuated with those who did. Enter the subject of this creator spotlight, Sam Rocha aka Komatose.
Based out of Omaha, Nebraska, Komatose is one half of horrorcore’s more memorable underground duo, Kryptik. Active in the scene since 1998, he has spent the last 20 years blending his murderous rhymes with a hybrid of hard-hitting hip hop beats and macabre-sounding melodies that could easily feel right at home as the backing soundtrack for a slasher flick.
Six years after his last solo-offering, titled I, Madman, the self-proclaimed Pumpkin King has once again returned to unleash his upcoming record, The Boom Bap Blood Splat Horrorcore Backpack, on hip hop heads and gore-hounds alike. This album will be released on October 9th via Cutthroat Productions and is now available for pre-order.[blockquote-0]
If that wasn’t enough to sell you, perhaps a little taste of the record might. Dead Entertainment is proud to exclusively debut the very first single off of The Boom Bap Blood Splat Horrorcore Backpack, titled "Murder Hill Gang." Check it out below.
When we reached out to Komatose to be featured here on Dead Entertainment, we wanted to make sure we presented a well-rounded spotlight on both the upcoming album and the madman himself. So, to best compliment the announcement and song debut, we sat down with Mr. Komatose for a discussion that touched on a bit of everything from his earliest inspirations to the rigorous process of crafting The Boom Bap Blood Splat Horrorcore Backpack into what it is today and much more.
Without further ado, this is what goes on in the mind of a lunatic!
Ray Morse: Hello, sir! Before we get started, I would like to extend my gratitude your way for taking the time to speak with Dead Entertainment ahead of your upcoming album’s release.
Komatose: You are most welcome and thank you for reaching out to make this happen. It’s truly a pleasure!
Ray Morse: For the sake of those who might not be overly familiar with the Horrorcore genre or the work you’ve contributed to it over the years, could you offer our readers a bit of a history lesson? Who is Komatose and where does he fall into the mix?
Komatose: Horrorcore as a whole (horror-themed music regardless of parent genre) has been around for at least half of a century or more. One of the pioneering acts to take a look at would be Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. His stage show theatrics and persona on stage weren’t meant for those feint of heart in the late ‘50s. Very controversial stuff for the era and he may have been the first true horrorcore artist.
As for the term as most know it (hip hop mixed with horror), I believe it would start with either Insane Poetry or Esham. I believe either is up for a true debate. I personally believe it to be Insane Poetry, no slight to E. I first heard of what I thought was horrorcore with The Fresh Prince and Jazzy Jeff’s “A Nightmare on My Street” in ‘87. Freddy-themed rap and hip hop. I was in love.
Ray Morse: Art and horror often go hand in hand. Who are some of the creatives that have impacted your vision the most and inspired you into the artist you are today?
Komatose: Honestly, it would be more filmmakers than actual horrorcore artists. My love for horror flicks is what initially made me fall for horrorcore music. I used to write out old Fresh Prince lyrics and make them my own, and substitute places and people for things I was familiar with. The love for hip hop was always there. I even wrote my mom a rap when I was in 2nd grade once for Mother’s Day.
When I got older, I just started to incorporate these horror themes I loved into the hip hop I was writing. I thought I was actually the only person doing this hybrid type of music. I really had no idea there was such a “genre” until a coworker read some lyrics I was writing back at 17 years old, working in a restaurant as a busboy. He was like, “This is sick stuff, man.It reminds me of Insane Clown Posse.”This was back in ’96 when he sparked my interest in this group and brought me a dubbed cassette of Riddlebox. I thought, “Yes! This could really be something.”
From there, I stumbled upon The Down Boyz and Simken Heights, which then legitimized this as an actual genre to me. This music was dangerous and a way to “watch” horror movies when I couldn’t be in front of a TV. As I’ve gotten older, though, my tastes have since soured to horrorcore music as a whole and I rarely listen to it for enjoyment anymore. Nowadays, I get inspiration from real-life tragedies and I tend to make up stories from these sad events.
The new record has a really sad story that happened not too far from home which everyone should hear. Life is truly stranger than fiction and definitely more horrible. My list of influential movie makers would just be standard fare: Craven, Romero, Roth (make Thanksgiving, you fuck!), Aja, etc., and I mark out hard for anything Tarantino.
Ray Morse: Throughout your career, you’ve maintained a very cinematic approach to the storytelling in your music. Which horror films would you say might have had something to do with this?
Komatose: I really enjoy atmosphere in horror more than I do gore. If a movie can make me uneasy participating in and bearing witness, then it's done the best job at being art. Anyone can make loud noise at quiet moments, so I don’t view that as scary. Scary to me is making the ordinary menacing, to take comfortable subjects and make them a nightmare, subtly. I try to take cues from that ideology.
The Blair Witch Project will always hold a special place in my heart for making camping horrifying, as will the original Paranormal Activity for making going to sleep in my bed as terrifying as it was for me when I was kid back when Freddy was king. I had issues for a few nights after seeing that one while it was out on the college circuit, overanalyzing every bump in the night I heard. I even had that dumb attic crawl space in my room. Just bad times, man. Bad times. Ha.
Currently, I really enjoy the things A24 is putting out.Killing of a Sacred Deer, It Comes at Night, Hereditary, and the upcoming Slice. I’m really just into indie flicks (Goodnight Mommy, It Follows, etc.) way more than anything Hollywood has been trying to shove down our throats as “horror.” Shout-outs to Jim Hosking for one of my all-time favorites,The Greasy Strangler. See that shit. It will change your life!
Ray Morse: As an underground artist, word of mouth is by far the most important method to amassing a loyal fan base and it’s how I personally discovered your music. Since you have the floor, where in your catalog would you recommend one start their journey?
Komatose: Ha, The Boom Bap Blood Splat Horrorcore Backpack. I only recommend the most current works because it’s the best current version of me. Anything other prior works has flaws in my opinion. Artwork is never done, just abandoned, and this is the least abandoned work yet.
Ray Morse: With the Halloween season fast-approaching, there’s no better time for the pumpkin king to make his return. On October 9th, you are set to release your fifth solo effort, titled The Boom Bap Blood Splat Horrorcore Backpack. Wow… That’s quite an album title you’ve got there!
Komatose: Yeah, I wanted something that reflected what was in my head. A good friend asked me how I came across the name the other day and I had to mull it over myself, as the record was initially called “The Business of Death.” I thought that sounded official as fuck, because death is a business that makes billions every year and, in my opinion, profiting off of death is kind of fucked up, but such is the world. I had a concept and everything, but as taste buds change and ideas come and go, I just wasn’t in that frame of mind anymore.
I remember reading a review of “The Ugly” where someone said "Komatose is as terrifying as a Fulci flick while maintaining the sensibility of a golden age hip hop artist" and it got me to thinking, “Yeah, that is where my style developed,” from listening to Fresh Prince, DJ Quik, and Kid N Play, what is known the beginning of the so called “golden era” as well as my current listening habits of great indie artists such as Sage Francis, Slug of Atmosphere, Chino Xl, Cage, etc.
I wanted something that really paid honor to the music and the horror movies of that era while still having a modern twist with more than just simple ‘80s rhyme schemes. The boom bap sound was the primary rhythm kit of the time and backpack rap is what “pure” hip hop is referred to as anymore.Add the blood splat and horrorcore because it’s what I do and you’ve got a title. Plus, I really wanted a title that no one could ever duplicate. I think I succeeded on all fronts.
Ray Morse: If I understand correctly, this album has been in various stages of development over the last six years. Could you tell us a bit about that process and how it evolved into the record it is today?
Komatose: Yeah, I initially I recorded one song for it six years ago called “What’s Next,” which was going to be the precursor to this whole shebang, but I left the label that was currently backing me due to personal reasons and I wanted to succeed again on my own two feet. At the same time, I was juggling working for 4 other groups on Cutthroat Productions and I don’t fail other people that I work for. I take that shit super serious. I put everyone else’s needs up front before my own.
I would occasionally work on things or come up with a new idea here and there, but it would be just that – a fleeting idea. Some of them stuck; some of them just drifted away. I then also got my foot in the door to doing what I truly wanted to do: making visuals, which I do find more personally gratifying than making music. Rap music has always had this “competition” connotation behind it, as rap as a whole is nothing more than a dick-swinging contest. “I’m the best. I have the most. I win.” That part of the game I absolutely hate.
If more people celebrated music as art as opposed to a “status,” I would probably love it more, but that’s not how it is. Making visuals brings people together to make something unique and fun. Everyone believes in each other, while music is just judged too harshly as a “product” and not art. That’s the game, though, and I accept it.
So, music for me took an extreme backseat. Then, going through Timehop via Facebook, I realized I put a proposed release date on this about 3 times over, so I made a solemn oath to myself, “This year is it or it’s never going to be out. Put up or shut up.”So, I stuck to my guns and made it happen. In short, I’ve been busy helping others realize their creative visions and finding it more satisfying artistically and financially than being in the “rap game,” but the cult-like fan base demands more of what brought me to the dance and I appreciate them for it!
Ray Morse: Based off of the track-list and artists featured, the album seems as though it will illustrate the journey from your career’s beginnings, all the way up to the present day. Was this done by design when putting together this record?
Komatose: Totally done by design. In essence, I wanted to create a record that if I died tomorrow, there would be zero regrets about this artistic endeavor. It shows you where I’ve been, what I love, and where I am going. There are so many subtleties, nuances, Easter eggs, and nods throughout. This record really will cater to those who’ve been with me from day one, yet I kept it so fresh and engaging that if this is your first go around, you’ll be interested in hearing more.
Ray Morse: Regarding the features, how does it feel to have the legendary New York hip hop artist Cage sharing the same track?
Komatose: Ugh, words really can’t explain what it means to me and the story behind how it all came together is just other worldly. I believe when you ask the universe for something, it will give you mysterious ways of making it happen.You just have to listen and that’s exactly what transpired. It involved a few other hands and those parties want to be kept under wraps, so that’s how it will remain, but just know that I am extremely thankful and grateful for said parties and they know it. Also, Cage just doesn’t do features. When I chopped it up on the phone with him, he told me he was selective about working with certain people, productions, and ideas, so I guess I “made the cut” so to speak, which is a feather I will wear in my hat until I die.
When I first heard Cage on “Movies for the Blind,” his music to me was the evolution of that“dangerous” element that I so craved when I was younger. He dabbled in darker ideas but also didn’t go the “fantasy” route. It was more “I am a fucked-up individual. Here’s some shit I’ve been through and these are my thoughts,” and his schemes were impressive. He, in essence, was the next level of music I was looking for and I have been a fan ever since that release.
Ray Morse: With the Cage feature aside, you have quite an impressive cast of supporting characters, so to speak. What was it like to chopitup again with artists who came up with you and those who are gracing the mic alongside you for the first time?
Komatose: The amount of respect for each and every artist on my record goes above and beyond normal camaraderie. These are people I would seek counsel with in music. They are opinions and hustles I value above more than most. They, as artists and business people, have exceeded my standards of either aforementioned standard. The stories I could write up about each individual contributing to this record would make this interview a novel, but rest assured, I am going to do little write-ups about each of them in the near future so everyone can understand and relate to why they are a part of this newest entry.
Ray Morse: Over the last few years, you’ve been mastering the craft of filmmaking by producing music videos and short films. Can we expect something visual to compliment the audio?
Komatose: This is the million-dollar, hot ticket item in my head right now. I hate being a creative muse and trying to entrust others with the visions and ideas I have in my head. If I could clone myself, then I would without a doubt say yes – 100 percent. As of right now, I’m mulling over who I can get on board to film what I have in my head and seeing if budgets work out for what I want to do. I could make simple stuff by myself, but this being what it is, I am trying to bring the “wow” factor up a notch and separate myself from the pack. Time will tell. I may cave and do something simple at first and then knock one out the park later. I don’t know. I hate my brain sometimes.
Ray Morse: As far as expectations go, if you could share one thing about The Boom Bap Blood Splat Horrorcore Backpack to both fans new and old, what would it be?
Komatose: Expect three things: the best yet, a trip through the Koma-verse, and to be perplexed at the end. That’s all I’m going to say.
Ray Morse: The anticipation and hype is real, sir! I, for one, cannot wait until the autumn smells fill the air, the jack-o-lanterns get carved, and the morbid tales from The Boom Bap Blood Splat Horrorcore Backpack unfold in my mind as I listen. Any final thoughts you’d like to share regarding the album?
Komatose: The honest to “whatever god you believe in” truth is I hope you like it, but at the same time, I don’t care if you do. I set out to make the exact album you are getting. Artistically, I feel like this is a completion. If I were to cease to exist on the Earth on October 10th after all orders were shipped, I have zero regrets on what I’ve done. This is an album that’s been mulled over and chewed on for six years. I did this one my way with no concern on who to please other than myself. I hope everyone gets a kick out of it like I do and if you don’t, that’s cool too.
Ray Morse: Before we wrap-up, I wanted to talk to you about your Omaha-based record label, Cutthroat Productions.
Komatose: It’s your funeral!
Ray Morse: Throughout the years, you’ve had quite the arsenal of talent pass through your studio. In 2018, who is presently serving among the ranks and are there any upcoming releases on the horizon?
Komatose: Well, 2018 has shaped up to be extremely interesting, to say the least. We have just signed Joe Dub, who has been in the local scene for a handful of years, and are taking his music and artistry very seriously. He impressed me with his investments in himself and his skills behind the mic. If I had to compare him to a similar sound, I would say he echoes the same stylings as Playboy the Beast. He truly is impressive. I hope to help him achieve his artistic visions and goals he has set for himself with whatever expertise I can offer.
We also still have Mike Fantastik aboard and he is currently working on a group effort with one of his close compadres, Pro2J, called “Smoke Break.” It’s grimy, gutter-party hip hop rap and the cool thing that’s going to set this apart from the rest is that they have some exclusive production by DJ Lethal of House of Pain fame. That’s pretty amazing, if I say so myself.
We also have a mystery signing to talk about in the winter months and we’ve been teasing about this artist for about the last two. It’s someone who everyone is familiar with and there’s a third signing that’s on the horizon with another legend, which I’m not at liberty to speak about yet, but the wheels are turning. Both Joe and Smoke Break are working on their first releases on Cutthroat Productions.
Ray Morse: With the full slate of CTP projects and The Boom Bap Blood Splat Horrorcore Backpack release right around the corner, business seems like it’s about to be boomin’! I truly wish you the absolute best and continued success with Cutthroat Productions and greatly look forward to finally experiencing The Boom Bap Blood Splat Horrorcore Backpack. I know that you are a busy man, so I will not take up any more of your time. Is there anything you would like to say to before we conclude?
Komatose: Never eat the white lump in pork and beans. It’s the queen bean and the rest are worker beans! For real, though, life’s a trip, man. It kicks you in the dick, but if you fight hard enough, keep your eye on the prize, and sacrifice the bullshit, there’s no limit to what you can achieve. Set a goal and take steps every day, big or small, to make it happen. You will eventually cross that finish line. I am just a small sliver of truth to that ideology. You reading this, get moving… and, uh, go watch The Greasy Strangler.
Ray Morse: As a long-time fan of your work, it has been a pleasure speaking with you. Thank you very much for the opportunity.
Komatose: Thank you for reaching out and everyone keep your eyes on Dead Entertainment!
Komatose’s The Boom Bap Blood Splat Horrorcore Backpack is out on October 9th, 2018. Pre-order now right here. To stay up to date with the Pumpkin King, follow him on Facebook and Twitter, subscribe to his channel on YouTube, check him out on ReverbNation, and be sure to toss Cutthroat Productions a like as well!
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