It’s not every day an artist or group drops an album like 6 Feet Deep. The project is as unique as they come and has grown to have an unshakable reputation. Gravediggaz, a pioneering Hip Hop group formed in 1991, orchestrated the masterpiece. Prince Paul (The Undertaker), Too Poetic (The Grym Reaper), Frukwan (The Gatekeeper), and RZA (The RZArector) were the four members of Gravediggaz. The group was known for their horror-themed lyrics and uniquely dark production style. 6 Feet Deep was their debut album, and with it, they engraved their name in stone in the Horrorcore Hall of Fame. The album is a bonafide classic in the genre and houses some of Hip Hop’s spookiest songs. It also embodies what a true horrorcore album should sound like. It is almost three decades old, but its legacy has stood firm.
Background & Release
The formation of Gravediggaz brought together highly talented individuals each known for their contributions to Hip Hop. Prince Paul and Frukwan were both originally members of Hip Hop group Stetsasonic. In 1991, they joined forces with the late rapper Too Poetic, and RZA who was gaining widespread recognition as a member of the highly influential Wu-Tang clan. Forming Gravediggaz was a joint attempt for each individual to reinvigorate their respective careers, which had begun to lose momentum. 6 Feet Deep (also known as N***amortis outside the US)was a gamble for the four men, but it evidently paid off very nicely. The album was released on August 9, 1994, and it was recorded for three years, from 1991 till early 1994.
Production & Themes
The production on 6 Feet Deep was mostly handled by Prince Paul and RZA. However, a handful of tracks on the album have production credits by RNS, Gatekeeper, and Mr. Sime. Furthermore, the entire group is credited as a producer on the song, “6 Feet Deep.” RZA’s beats on 6 Feet Deep are few, but notable for the veteran producer’s distinctive style, and “Graveyard Chamber” and the title track are two tracks that exemplify RZA’s style. They are characterized by eerie samples, haunting melodies, and heavy use of atmospheric sounds.
These elements help create a macabre ambience that perfectly complements the group’s horror-themed lyrics. Prince Paul’s contributions on the album are impossible to overlook as well. He produced over half of the songs on 6 Feet Deep, and gave each track an extra oomph. While his influence is evident throughout the album, it does not steal the spotlight or isolate Paul’s beats from the rest of the project.
Gravediggaz also infused 6 Feet Deep with conceptual depth. They explored topics such as mortality, mental illness, urban decay, and existential crises. With lyrics rich in symbolism, metaphor, and vivid storytelling, they delved into these morbid subjects without inhibition. Additionally, they were unyielding in their approach, and offered listeners a glimpse into the darker sides of life from their perspective. Overall, the album’s thematic depth and horrorcore identity set it apart from mainstream Hip Hop releases of its time.
Highlights and Guest Appearances
For most of 6 Feet Deep, Gravediggaz are the sole presence on a track. However, two songs on the album feature guest artists. Shabazz the Disciple and Killah Priest both appear on “Diary of a Madman,” while Daddy Kruger, Scientific Shabazz, and Killah Priest are featured on “Graveyard Chamber.” The lead single, “Diary of a Madman,” is also one of the standout songs on 6 Feet Deep, as well as the most successful. It was the only song to make it into the Billboard Hot 100 chart, peaking at No. 82. Lastly, “1-800 Suicide” and “Nowhere to Run, Nowhere to Hide” are also notable highlights.
Reception & Impact
Group portrait of The Gravediggaz in Tribeca, New York City on 14 May 1994. Clockwise from bottom left: The Rzarector (RZA), The Gatekeeper (Frukwan), The Undertaker (Prince Paul) and The Grym Reaper (Poetic). (Photo by David Corio/Redferns)
Upon its release, 6 Feet Deep achieved widespread acclaim. It was praised for its innovative production, intricate lyricism, and exploration of dark and existential themes. It is easily one of the most lauded horrorcore albums in Hip Hop history. The album was not a commercial triumph however, but it still managed to achieve moderate success. 6 Feet Deep peaked at No. 36 on the Billboard 200 chart.
6 Feet Deep significantly influenced the horrorcore subgenre. It also earned Gravediggaz the title of pioneers of horrorcore rap. The group’s innovative approach paved the way for a new wave of alternative and underground rap artists. Gravediggaz has influenced rappers like Tyler, The Creator. Also, Earl Sweatshirt and Tech N9ne are a few more examples of impacted artists. They have embraced darker themes and horror-inspired aesthetics thanks, in part, to the contributions of Gravediggaz to horrorcore rap. In conclusion, over the years, 6 Feet Deep has continued to be celebrated as a classic album. Moreover, the legacy of Gravediggaz lives on through this horrorcore masterpiece. 6 Feet Deep will continue to be celebrated for years to come, as it is an essential part of Hip Hop history.