Few rappers sell death as well as Brotha Lynch Hung. The Sacramento emcee is one of the godfathers of the oft-maligned Horrorcore genre and his 1995 sophomore album Season of Da Siccness stands as one of the finest full lengths that scene ever produced. Having recently signed to Tech N9ne’s indie power house, Strange Music, Lynch is set to introduce himself to a new generation of horror rap fans with Dinner and a Movie. This will be his first proper album in nearly seven years and the first in a planned trilogy.
Despite an on record tendency towards baby killings and cannibalism and such, the real life Lynch comes off as particularly mellow and level-headed. (Almost alarmingly so. It’s always the quiet ones…) He recently sat down with HipHopDX about the new album, his screenwriting aspirations and his love for Avril Lavigne.
HipHopDX: How did you get into the Hip Hop thing?
Brotha Lynch Hung: New York. I’ve been doing it since I was 13. I’ve been listening to the Rakims, the Kurtis Blows, LL Cool Js, Run DMCs, and Ice-T even. I did it for fun not even knowing that anybody from Sacramento would even do anything. All we had was Club Noveau, if you can remember them. So I did it mostly for fun and I ended up getting lucky with people picking up on my stuff.
DX: How’d you transition to growing up on the Rakims and them to making much darker music?
Brotha Lynch Hung: Well it kinda went like this: I duplicated multiple artists raps, made little songs before I had a record out to see how I would sound saying their type of styles. I’ve been through everybody’s style. Run DMC, Rakim, LL. I tried all them styles just to see where I wanted to go with mine. Then finally, after about eight years I figured out what I wanted to do for myself to try to become somebody unique, to where they won’t say you sound like someone else. It kinda happened for me in ’91.
DX: What were the days leading up to that like? Were you performing a lot? Did you have a local following?
Brotha Lynch Hung: Yeah, I started in high school doing performances at lunchtime. My name spread around Sacramento and they would actually give me a call and see if I could perform at other places for free to get my name out there – which I didn’t believe in at first, but it’s called paying dues. So I did those shows and it started spreading throughout Northern California, then spreading through to Seattle and Oregon and L.A. and Arizona and it just was a real slow process like that.
DX: Were there other artists coming up in Sacramento that you were building with at the time?
Brotha Lynch Hung: I actually was kinda the first rapper [in Sacramento]. I really had nobody to follow up on, they kinda followed after me. I kinda did [look up to] Jay King [of Timex Social Club/Club Nouveau] a lot. I’d been to his house and I’d been to Raphael [Saadiq] of Tony! Toni! Toné!’s house in Sacarmento and that was inspiring. Knowing that somebody in my town was doing something so big.
DX: When did you bring the horror elements into the picture?
Brotha Lynch Hung: Ever since I was a kid I loved Horror movies. So a lot of my stuff is theatrical and that’s what [this trilogy of] albums are pretty much about, it’s about a serial killer. And you have to buy all three albums to figure out his life. It was just something I was into when I was thirteen and I reached back and grabbed that concept for this new stuff.
DX: Did you ever turn people off by going in that direction?
Brotha Lynch Hung: The controversial “Baby Killa” thing that I did turned off a lot of people. It even turned off Snoop [Dogg]. He was like “I love all your stuff man, but that baby killing gotta go.” But what a lot of people didn’t know is that I actually had a girlfriend who had to get an abortion and that’s all I was talking about. But the fans took it to a whole different thing and I gotta admit I rolled on that a little bit.
DX: So how’d you end up linking with Strange Music?
Brotha Lynch Hung: Well like four and a half years ago I went out to Tech N9ne‘s Everready release party and I’d seen all the stuff that Strange [Music] was doing for him. They actually tried to sign me back then but I had just started my Madesicc label and I was gonna go and give it a try that way. Four years later Dave Weiner, who I was signed with [when I was] at Priority Records in my “glory years,” he became Vice President for Strange Music and I guess his first mission was to come get me. So he called me one day and was like, “Let’s do this.” And I was like “Let’s do this.” Because in my glory years, he was the one that really got me paid. So I trusted him. I didn’t really know [Strange Music CEO] Travis O’Guin and Tech N9ne really too too much other than the shows that me and Tech had done together, so when Dave came it kinda solidified it.
DX: I can’t get over how well run that label is, they seem to be doing huge business.
Brotha Lynch Hung: Man, and it’s triple times better when you experience it. I’ve never had anybody in my whole career, besides maybe being on Priority Records with Ice Cube and all them, do everything that they say they’re gonna do. It’s crazy. I haven’t had an album out since 2003 so I missed this shit.
DX: Have they drawn in a new audience that otherwise wouldn’t have checked for your music?
Brotha Lynch Hung: Yeah, the Juggalos! Until I signed with Strange Music I never knew what a Juggalo was and they’ve been around as long as me. And I used to always wonder what that paint on the face with Tech N9ne was but he was grabbing those Juggalos and they loved the death out of him. And I hope to follow him down that line because they have their cult. I love people who have a cult following. And the Juggalos that are serious about it have been around for so long. I love it, anybody who has a cult like that and is building like that, you can’t say nothing bad about it. Hopefully I can get in with them if they can accept me into their family. I mean, I may not be as exotic with the paint on the face, but in my mind I’m probably a Juggalo.
DX: It’s crazy how in the ’90s there were so many pockets of that sort of dark Hip Hop popping up all over the country independent of one another.
Brotha Lynch Hung: Yeah, that’s real. But I’m glad. Our craft would be lost if it wasn’t for a lot of people doing it.
DX: That’s what struck me about the Juggalo thing, Insane Clown Posse seems to be into reaching back and introducing fans to the artists that influenced them. I saw they were bringing out people like Scarface and Awesome Dre at their festivals.
Brotha Lynch Hung: And yeah I can see why. I mean in the Geto Boys days, Scarface had a song where he was having sex with a woman and she was riding him and she got her head popped off in the window while they were having sex. That type of stuff drew me to them and I could see why the Juggalos would reach back and grab somebody like him. Or Bushwick Bill or Andre Nickatina or whoever.
DX: Why do you think Hip Hop has moved away from that sort of thing, at least on a mainstream level?
Brotha Lynch Hung: Well, if you want my all-around [opinion] about Hip Hop, I think it’s gonna take the underground to bring it back. What’s gonna be hard about the underground bringing it back is we don’t get as much publicity. But it’s gonna have to go back to straight lyrics and concepts and creativity in order for this to last. Because the mainstream is kinda turning Rap into Pop and that ain’t where Rap came from. And it should be all avenues, don’t get me wrong. It should be mainstream. But I think the underground should get some type of publicity too. We just have to bring it back to lyrics. There’s a lot of rappers out there feeling the same way as me too, so hopefully something good will come out of that.
DX: Are there any up and coming artists you’ve been listening to lately?
Brotha Lynch Hung: Whew, that’s a hard one. I’m still stuck on Eminem. But of course he does my craft. And obviously I am open to other genres as far as Pop and everything, but I’m more on the Eminem road. And right now, to be honest, I’ve been on some Avril Lavigne and Rihanna. I love Avril, she’s my girl, she’s gonna be my future wife. Just creative people, Lady Gaga. I love creative shit and Lady Gaga’s taking it to the next level and that’s what we need with music, period.
DX: Have you seen that new Lady Gaga and Beyonce video to “Telephone”?
Brotha Lynch Hung: Yessir, I saw it yesterday. They’re touching on my movie type, thing but I loved it. I gotta hurry up and get my stuff out. For me to have a concept like that and them turn around and do it, as far as making the video seem like a movie and stuff, I think I’m on the right track.
DX: So tell me about Dinner and a Movie.
Brotha Lynch Hung: It’s definitely different. I don’t know if you smoke or anything, but if you were to smoke and try to get into the story, then you’ll understand what happens for my next two albums – Coathanger Strangler and Mannibal Lecter. These three albums are connected together, and we’ll release them as a three pack later just so you can have the whole movie. It’s about a serial killer, a regular guy during the day who ends up turning into a serial killer in response to all the bad stuff in his life. People are not gonna all the way understand from this first album, but if they catch on they’ll buy all three. It’s chapter one out of three.
DX: What’s your relationship with X-Raided now? Are you still in touch with him?
Brotha Lynch Hung: Actually I was on the phone with X-Raided a couple months ago and I believe he has an album [Block Bizniz] dropping tomorrow. I was supposed to get on that album, but he’s where he’s at and he’s not supposed to be [releasing albums from prison], I suppose, so it’s hard to keep in touch with him. But before that I hadn’t talked to him in like four or five years. He’s still heavy into his music and he’s regretting that he chose to take that case for somebody else. In my opinion, he should be out. He really, honestly, should be out. But he’s fighting it all day. So our relationship is what it is. We keep in touch with each other when we can and hopefully we’ll keep in touch in the future. We talked about doing another album together, but it doesn’t look like it’s gonna happen. He has parole in four years, so if he can gets to a halfway house I believe we can do something. I believe music is forever. I don’t want him to get out thinking, “Oh, I’m too old.” So hopefully it’ll happen.
DX: So you think you’ll be doing this for many more years to come?
Brotha Lynch Hung: Well, I do now. From like 2004 to about 2007 I thought about [retiring]. Because I have a second career I want to try to get into, I have four screenplays that I’m writing right now. I want to make that be the thing for the second half of my life. But I think that I got another 10 years, lyrically. I just didn’t know if I was gonna get a good deal until I signed with Strange. And now I’ve stepped it up.
DX: Can you discuss the screenplays a little?
Brotha Lynch Hung: I have a screenplay called The Writer, [which] is about a father who writes movies, and he’s writing a movie about his son being a serial killer and [in real life] his son ends up becoming a serial killer. I [also] have one called Season Of The Siccness, it’s about my life and career. And what I want to get across in that movie is – don’t do what I did. I made a lot of bad mistakes in my career. I was hiring untrustworthy people and I wasn’t keeping track of what I should have been keeping track of. So it made my career harder. And there were major labels that wanted me and if I was able to steer myself clear of Black Market Records I probably could have gotten a major deal before I got heavily into the horror. Priority, even when they were in their heyday, were trying to sign me away from Black Market.
DX: Do you think that would have been for the better in the long run though? So many artists from that era tend to complain about how the labels handle things.
Brotha Lynch Hung: It depends. I can’t say money-wise, but I would have kept my craft. And whether the major was going to put [money] into me or not, I can’t say. But I can say this, being with Strange Music, they don’t limit me and they are the number one indie as of last year. And they’re a well-oiled machine. So I think I’m in a better position right now.