What my demons look like: rap’s complex relationship with…

Horrorcore’s popularity declined in the 2000s, but hip-hop’s relationship with Satan was rekindled in the age of the blog. Tyler, the Creatordebut mixtape Bastard opened with him describing himself as the son of Satan“, while Odd Future referenced the occult in their lyrics and imagery, often using the Rhythm Sign and inverted crosses in artwork. Lil Uzi Vert also uses an inverted cross, devil horns, skulls and other satanic symbols in his work, and some critics even believe that their name is an ode to the devil, they say Lil Uzi Vert” too fast or too slow and the word “Lucifer” comes out (sort of). Bloggers and YouTubers were quick to label both rappers as Satanists in the late 2000s and early 2010s, but they didn’t care what the public thought. Instead, they took advantage of the backlash, using controversy and hysteria to achieve fame.

However, rap’s association with demonic imagery goes beyond the shock factor. DMX, for example, used his demonic alter ego Damien to interrogate his troubled psyche. First featured on his debut album It’s dark and hell is hot On road DamienDMX went on to use the alter ego to create a trilogy of songs across three albums, using the character to constantly talk to the demon in his head.

There’s also Lil Nas X, who’s in the video for Montero (Call me by your name), descended into hell through a pole, where he rode Satan, gave him a lap dance, killed him, and then received the title of devil. For Nas, these images were used to reclaim the cultural belief that gays go to hell, reimagining eternal damnation as a place where a black gay man could be king. The outrage among right-wing politicians and conservatives was further exacerbated by the rapper’s decision to sell unofficial Nike sneakers that featured a bronze pentagram, samples of human blood on the soles of the shoes and a reference to the Bible verse Luke 10:18, which states that the conditions: I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning.”

However, the prevalence of Satanic imagery in hip-hop does not mean that everyone in the community supports it. The demonic influence in this matter is becoming more and more apparent,” Punch, co-president of Top Dawg Entertainment, said in a recent series of tweets. The gradualism was stunned, now it’s just loudly said.”

Punch’s comments are based on the centuries-long relationship between African Americans and Christianity. Hip-hop may have evolved from blues and jazz, but these genres originated from the singing traditions of the Black church and gospel. Thus, in all iterations of black music there will always be a direct call to divinity. It’s no wonder that black artists who are into the occult make people uncomfortable.

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