Every now and then, you’ll see Brotha Lynch Hung in someone’s top five. It won’t be often, and you won’t expect it, but once in a blue moon you’ll see him get the credit he deserves.
After the Geto Boys started addressing things like mental health and murder fantasies on “Grip It! On That Other Level” in 1989, the lane was open for rappers to take it as far as the human imagination allowed. In the late ’80s and early ’90s, Gravediggaz, Esham, and Ganksta N-I-P were some of the early progenitors of “horrorcore,” which prominently featured raps bathed in blood. It was the next logical progression after gangsta rap—from holding heat to detailing how bullets tear flesh. If rap at large was zoomed in on the young black mentality, horrorcore put a microscope on the most desperate and creative of these artists.
Coming out of Sacramento, Brotha Lynch Hung sounded influenced by a variety of rappers, such as Bay Area godfather, E-40, and Midwest pioneers like Bone Thugs (notice the “packin-a-mac-in-the-back-of-the-ac” thing that Big Pun and A$AP Rocky would later emulate). Yet in 1993, when he dropped his debut 24 Deep tape, few if any were saying the kind of outlandish shit that he was.
He got his start back in 1991 with X-Raided on a project called Niggaz In Black, a cassette Brotha Lynch produced entirely and provided hand drawn cover art for. X-Raided would go on to feature Brotha Lynch on his next album, Psycho Active, before catching a murder charge. He’s allegedly set to be released in April 2016.
Together with artists like X-Raided, Cold World Hustlers, Doomsday Productions and Triple Beam, BLH became an early flagship artist for Black Market Records, an independent record label run by Cedric “CedSing” Singleton out of Sacramento. While Black Market proved to be fertile ground for young and upcoming West Coast MCs at the time, Brotha Lynch would eventually feud with Singleton over unpaid royalties. He mentions the split in a 2002 interview with Murder Dog magazine.
All of that context dissolves when you listen to his 1995 sophomore album, the classic Season Of Da Siccness. Within the first six songs, he’s talking about getting a hard-on for his own mom, fucking the devil in his mouth, munching bloody clits, shooting babies and eating their brains. Totally outlandish shit the likes of Three 6 Mafia couldn’t even match. Eminem might have caught flack for his language and vivid imagery, but those people would have had a heart attack if they heard Brotha Lynch Hung talking about baby mamas sucking their own son’s dicks.
The shocking subject matter of the album is the easiest thing to latch onto, but rappers like Lynch Hung and Ganksta N-I-P would have faded into history as novelty rappers if they weren’t actually innovative with their styles, too. Hung had a blunt style similar to fellow West Coast rapper Spice 1, who rapped like he was really sticking a gun in your face. But where Spice 1 was grounded in the realities of his neighborhood, Brotha Lynch Hung went beyond mere surroundings. When asked why he was “always into sick stuff,” Hung told Murder Dog:
“Because I was always by myself in my room all the time and I was a little detached from reality. I just liked stayin’ by myself. I’d look out the window. I loved horror movies. I loved seein movies about car crashes and plane crashes… I’m curious about death. To see someone living one second and dead the next second, that fascinates me. That kinda stuff just comes into my raps.”
Like many artists driven to create, Lynch Hung manufactured his own world in solitude. In explaining his violent lyrics, he sounds almost like a high school student who’s just learned about existentialism and i’’s totally altered his outlook on the world. On songs like “Return Of Da Baby Killa” and “Dead Man Walkin,” he’s a director, swiveling the camera from slabs of human meat to 50 pounds of dank in his casket with precise, almost discomforting focus, like Scorcese, who knows what he portrays is wrong, but feels compelled to show you anyway.
The production, done entirely by Brotha Lynch, is also a huge part of why Season Of Da Siccness is considered a classic. The front half of the album has sunny, synth-laden beats that sound like light G-funk. Later on the album gets darker sonically, but the early juxtaposition is jarring. It almost sounds like Lynch Hung is having fun describing the carnage, while other rappers sounded tortured. That uncanny effect is what makes his music still sound fresh today.
Season Of Da Siccness sparked national debate in 1996 when an 18-year-old Colorado kid named Joseph Edward Gallegos shot three of his friends after reportedly listening to “Locc 2 da Brain” on repeat. We won’t get into how saying irresponsible shit like, “Gunman primed himself with drugs and music for Colorado slayings,” misses the truth of what really motivated the kid to murder people (as if we can even know), but it might have also given Brotha Lynch Hung a promotion boost (I hope I don’t go to hell for that).
There are no limits to what Brotha Lynch Hung spits about. Before rappers were scared to be themselves, creative imaginations ran wild and made the ’90s a fountain of originality. Listening to Odd Future after Season Of Da Siccness is like watching Barney after Chuckie: a walk in the park. Anyone who has studied raps thick history will be quick to give Brotha Lynch Hung his props as one of the most groundbreaking MCs to ever pick up a mic.