Jessica Xie

The Philosophy Of Ho99o9, The Duo Making Waves In Experimental Rap

Eaddy and theOGM come in peace, rhymes and raw black man metal magic. 

Ho99o9 (pronounced Horror) aren't used to playing their music to new listeners, especially in an office environment. After our chat, theOGM and Eaddy are mighty coy when I ask them to play a few snippets of their debut album, United States of Ho99o9. It makes sense. Their rhymes, whether political or philosophical, are laid over a mix of the hardcore punk production designed to be played to ignorant levels in the car or in a mosh pit.

From the outside, the New Jersey natives are dripping with metal influence. Leather, biker chains and patches cover their garb, but there's more to the duo than meets the eye. "This is not what we planned at all," theOGM explains of their experimental rap style. "My parents are Haitian so I came up on church stuff because my parents are hella religious. Then I got into hip-hop and rap stuff through artists like Nas and Wu-Tang. When I started rapping, I only wanted to rap in that East Coast grimy style. Mixing punk came out of nowhere."

He's sitting across from his bredren Eaddy, who seems to smirk with his eyes during our interview. He was always a fan of noisy rock bands like Hammerheads, experimental rap collective Death Set and garage punk bands like Nomads. He gladly doused theOGM with their sounds and the result has allowed them to become one of the freshest voices in the experimental rap game. They've been explained as a metal version of Onyx (look 'em up), but their ability to blend the art of rage and social issues puts them in a league of their own.

Since coming together as Ho99o9 in 2012, they've gone on to impress fans at Afropunk and SXSW, as well as create grindhouse-style music videos that make you want to like them twice. It's a touch of creativity the guys release in their style of black man metal magic.

Currently, the duo is enjoying their nearly sold-out tour with 3TƎETH and dropped the short film titled, Sincerely, The Void.

VIBE chatted with Ho99o9 about their music, appreciating Kendrick Lamar, and more below.


Who came up with your artwork for the debut LP?

Eaddy: I did. It wasn't originally supposed to be the cover; just a street campaign for posters around the country and specific markets. It ended up being so powerful and everyone convinced me it should be the cover. Which it turned into both anyways so it worked in our favor.

Looks like there's a duality of peace and anarchy on here.

Eaddy: Yeah, I mean its kind of like that in life. Everybody wants peace and preaches peace, but at the same time there's still war and chaos going on. We live between the two.

How would you guys describe your sound?

theOGM: It's genreless because we don't make country or gospel. It's a mixture of things and hard to explain. But if we had to call it anything, it's experimental rap.

Eaddy: With us, you got to dive in with a clear head. There's so many areas of punk, rap, metal, noise, post-punk, and we're a bunch of stuff rolled into one. It's also 2018 not 1970 where everyone is sticking to one sound; everyone has different sounds.

When did the moment come where you guys decided, 'okay, this is what we're going to do'?

theOGM: This is not what we planned at all. My parents are Haitian so I came up on church stuff because my parents are hella religious. Then I got into hip-hop and rap like Nas and Wu-Tang, stuff like that. When I started rapping, I only wanted to rap in that East Coast real grimy style. Mixing punk came out of nowhere. We just started coming to shows in NY and seeing the energy. We're from Newark, Elizabeth. We know Jersey club and battle rappers, so if we went to a party and somebody was performing and people were pushing it would be a real fight because you don't see it as a mosh pit. We used to come to shows in the city and we would see a couple bands and the energy would be like that with no fights all, just love. We would try to not emulate that exactly, but we knew there were likeminded people in New Jersey so we wanted to unify them. That s**t just started happening like that. This kid got really into the scene and then put me on the scene.

Eaddy: It was so mind blowing at the time. I would always tell him to come and open his mind.

Who were some of the bands you gravitated towards?

Eaddy: They were bands in the city or kind of DIY bands. But I liked Hammerheads, Death Set and the scene of NY. Not too many bands from NJ were catching my eye besides what our crew was doing, but I would go to NY and be excited to see these bands or if a popular band would come through like the Nomads at Afropunk.

Ah, yes when Afropunk was free. So you guys ended up in California. What was that transition like? 

theOGM: That s**t was tight. I couldn't even deal, I was so ready. As soon as we got the opportunity to do it, we didn't even think twice. To be honest, it was a struggle being from NJ trying to get recognized in NYC we had to come to city for everything, just to get people to come out in NJ. We would have shows in NJ and book NY bands to have people come out. It's so hard to have NY people come to NJ. It was easier for us to move to LA to get a better look, push, platform, and to be around some cool vibes that will help the band. Plus, it's warmer. I hate the cold, I'm from here, but I hate the cold. Snow? Shoveling? I'm good on that. I can go to the sun and not have to worry about that. I'm good.

Everybody wants peace and preaches peace, but at the same time there's still war and chaos going on. We live between the two.

When you did you start to find like minded folks like 3TƎETH?

theOGM: We met thru a mutual friend aka our manager. They're cool, they're tight. We are fans of their music.We had been talking about touring and doing some work for a while now, it just took a little bit of time. We were all trying to get our s**t right before we went on tour. Those ni**as are tight, they're straight industrial. They're music is dark and sexy. I'm trying to make dark and sexy music. All we're making is angry music, two black men.

What are some of the lessons you're learning from them?

theOGM: Not to drink everyday, dat way. They turn up real hard. I love them, but they definitely turn up.

How's the Lights Out tour going? 

theOGM: We're at the halfway mark. We just did 9 or 10 in a row. That s**t has its pros and cons. Once you do it, you're in the flow, but when you're going hard every night, your voice gets crazy. If you don't sleep well or eat the right things, you could be messed up. Brooklyn, LA, Chicago is tight; Baltimore was surprisingly good. Austin was tight. Boston was very good; that was our third time there.

Eaddy: It's always the shows you don't think will be good that actually surprise you, Atlanta was turnt.

theOGM: Minneapolis low-key lit and good for us even though we won't be there this time. We're going to places we've never been to before like Kansas City.

What else is in the cards for y'all?

theOGM: Working on our next piece of art and the next album. I don't really have anymore information on that.

Eaddy: Just to stand out more than other artists. When you put on your TV and put on a rapper's video, it's the same thing. That's why I give praise to Kendrick Lamar because he's killing it with every visual he puts out. Every Kendrick video I'm like,'Wow.' We got to catch the eye with the visuals make it as bizarre and weird as we can so you remember it years from now.

theOGM: It always takes the right team to be cool. We need the right directors to help understand our vision and sometimes we have no vision and may need help with people who have the right eye. I have worked with a few people that have been like pulling teeth, but for the most part we always worked it out.

Check out their remaining tour dates here.

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After guests dined, Graça Machel, stateswoman, activist and Mandela's widow spoke. Donning a small blonde Afro, a pink silk scarf and a navy blue knee-length dress, Machel expressed her appreciation to all those who continue to champion her late husband's work and even quipped about her love for leaders.

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Take Five: DJ Khaled Talks ‘Father of Asahd’ And #Summergram Partnership

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How CJ Wallace Turned His Connection To Notorious B.I.G. Into A Cannabis Brand

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Creatively speaking, Wallace and Mack consider cannabis to be the “ultimate ghostwriter.” It’s no secret B.I.G. was an advocate. From numerous consultations with his family members, he learned his dad often smoked while recording. (Mack also notes famous smokers like Johnny Cash, Louis Armstrong, and Bob Marley.) Just about every corner of the music industry has dabbled in recreational smoking, but no genre has been hit as hard as hip-hop. While fans love to watch Snoop Dogg smoke on Instagram Live or share a spliff with Kid Cudi during a concert set, the hip-hop community as a whole is met with backlash and often times targeted by police due to cannabis.

“I feel like anything associated with black men is just immediately going to be deemed bad or evil,” Wallace says, referencing the negative connotation rappers receive. It’s Wallace’s mission, however, to adjust that perspective. “I feel like it’s really up to us to change that narrative. That’s why I try so hard to stop saying words like ‘weed.’ Cannabis, it’s actually a plant," he continues. Both Wallace and Mack noted the terms "weed" and "marijuana" hold negative connotations and are commonly used in connection with minorities. "We were lied to for so long. If we were given proper knowledge from the start, I feel like the entire hip-hop community and the entire way we talked about it would’ve changed.”

Beyond educating consumers with their message and products, Think BIG also seeks to improve the criminal justice system as well as launch charitable projects. According to “The War on Marijuana in Black and White,” on average, a black person is 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than a white person. Such racial disparities reportedly exist in all regions, states, and counties around the United States and largely contribute to today's mass incarceration crisis.

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Not only is it difficult to eradicate a vicious cycle that has left many black and brown people behind bars, but it is also hard to forge spaces for them to succeed in a rapidly changing industry. “Being able to understand how to navigate the industry that’s constantly changing and to do it without a bank account or full funnel of money, makes it that much harder,” Mack says. “Then on top of that, you got people sitting in jail who should be out of jail for nonviolent possession of cannabis. So, we’re faced with having to work four times as hard to make half as much because of the color of our skin. It’s a constant fight and we look at it as how can we set an example, share our knowledge, [and] show more information?”

It takes a group effort, Mac says. While Think BIG is setting a place at the table for black businesses in the cannabis industry as well as shifting the conversation around the plant, Mack suggests other ways to get involved that ultimately uplift the black community. “It’s much easier to enter into the market based on something you already know,” Mack insists, pointing out the opportunities for design firms, packaging, and communication firms to join the movement.

Wallace and Mack know the journey ahead is going to be a roller-coaster ride fit with many twists and turns, but they’re ready. “You got to dream big, as your dad said, and think big,” Mack says. “Everyone else in this industry is thinking about global billion-dollar companies, why shouldn’t we?” As for Wallace, he understands how difficult the process is and will be, “but, it wasn’t more emotional than the first 21 years of my life.”

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