One night in March, three organisers of London’s Sadler’s Wells Breakin’ Convention hip-hop festival met in a bar to concoct the timetable of their 3-day event. They spread out the festival entries on the table. Here was US group Style Elements, with their hip-hop version of Japanese cult movie The Ring, about people dying after watching a video. Then there was Wanted Posse, from France, with a story about a shamanic dancemaster and humanoids from the planet Bad Land. Then came London company Impact Dance with a tale of feuding vampire and werewolf clans, inspired by the film Underworld. Aha! cackled the programmers. The first night was to be Friday May 13, and now it had a name: Hip-Hop Horror.
“It was a complete coincidence,” says festival curator and horror buff Jonzi D, “but I couldn’t have planned it better.” Is there a link between hip-hop and horror? Certainly some of the dance moves lend themselves to horror and fantasy: think of android bodypopping and crazily angled zombie limbs. But for Jonzi, the connection goes deeper. “For young people there’s a lot to be scared about. There’s more guns, more death, more drugs. These can fuel horrific scenarios. And death is something that young people deal with not only in their real lives, but also in entertainment. So no, I’m not surprised that horror comes into some of these pieces.”