A word hasn’t been invented yet to classify the music made by Ho99o9. Members Eaddy and theOGM slice up punk, hardcore, trap, and hip-hop, then they throw the dismembered pieces back in listeners’ faces. During a 1988 interview of Bad Brains in Holland, bassist Darryl Jenifer could only explain his group’s sound as, “Like thunder and lightning.” Thunder and lightning might be the only suitable way to describe what Ho99o9 does, too.
Ho99o9 (pronounced “horror”) is the brainchild of two African-American men, but racial boundaries have never defined their influences or interests. “We get misconstrued all time. It’s a lack of people’s knowledge and they try to put us in a category,” says theOGM. “You just have to listen to the fucking music, dude.”
The 25-minute Dead Bodies in the Lake mixtape, the latest release from the New Jersey-bred and Los Angeles-based group, begins with a classic clip from the film Boyz N the Hood, when Little Chris asks the other neighborhood kids if they want to see a dead body. Though Boyz N the Hood is about life in South Central Los Angeles in the 1980s and early ’90s, the members of Ho99o9 relate to it because of their own upbringings. “That’s regular hood shit where we both grew up,” says Eaddy. “We come from Newark and Linden, New Jersey, both urban neighborhoods that have violence, gang activity, and drug activity.” Now they’re connecting that history to the crime stories of their new home. “We go to this lake in Echo Park that MS-13 was getting rid of bodies in,” Eaddy continues. “We just wanted to tell that story and put a spin on it.”
The group continues to push against barriers of race and masculinity with their wild live performance—hitting backflips into the crowd, wearing wedding gowns, and snarling in vampire prosthetics. “Where we come from, we were always getting laughed and criticized for painting our nails and wearing skinny jeans. They would call us ‘faggots’ for looking like us,” says Eaddy. “What they don’t understand is that music and art have no boundaries, we as humans have no boundaries. You can do what the fuck you wanna do. A dude can like men, he’s good, he’s getting him. I’m getting girls, I’m good. But that’s just the mentality of the hood. They don’t wanna see nothing new, they don’t want any change. We are making those changes.”