“Let’s Go” and the Rap-Horror Connection

I’m a 90s rocker at heart, but I’ve also been known to enjoy a good rap song. Like everything else in this world, my knowledge of rap can be traced back to horror. My entry point to the genre was New York-based rapper RA the Rugged Man. I learned of him through a special feature on Something Weird Video’s Basket Case DVD in which he tags alongside (my favorite) director Frank Henenlotter. I looked him up and was surprised to read Henenlotter directed his first few videos under the alias “François Pinky”. RA’s single “Till My Heart Stops/Flipside” even re-uses the artwork for Basket Case 2. In 2008, the duo produced Bad Biology. People sleep on that one. You may have heard RA on a soundtrack or two. He contributed a version of Chris Jericho’s entrance theme to the WWF album Aggression and “King of the Underground” to Tony Hawk’s Underground. I came across those by chance, as I love wrestling and skateboard games too.

RA’s whole catalogue is littered with references to exploitation and horror films. His unreleased debut album Night of the Bloody Apes has a song titled “Toolbox Murderer” on it. Other titles include “Even Dwarfs Started Small”, “Grizzly”, “Stanley Kubrick”, “Midnight Thud”, and “Sam Peckinpah”. Besides that, “4 Days in Cali” name-drops Paul Kersey, Charles Bronson’s character from the Death Wish series, “Die, Rugged Man, Die” samples the iconic “Die! Die!” soundbite from Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, “Holla-Loo-Yuh” quotes It… Well, you get the idea.

What I like most about his style is his self-deprecating sense of humor. While others stroke their own egos, he raps about hating himself, being a fuckup, having poor hygiene, and performing cunnilingus on overweight females. He’s basically a role model.

He features on quite a few songs by other artists as well. I liked what I heard so I branched out and looked up those artists. One was Cage. When I saw the artwork for They Live on Cage’s album Movies For the Blind, I became a fan of him too. His early stuff anyway. Cage’s catalogue is also littered with references to exploitation and horror films. “Ballad of Worms”, for example, is a love song about Zelda from Pet Sematary, and the chorus of “Dead” from his Leak Bros. album Waterworld was taken from Suicide Club. If you’re big into PCP, Cage is the rapper for you.

With him and RA, I came for the horror references, stayed for the music. And to think, I never would have known about them if it wasn’t for Basket Case. It’s the movie that keeps on giving (my review here). Likewise, I never would have known about Kool Moe Dee if his song “Let’s Go” didn’t play at the end of A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child.

Credit: Wrong Side of the Art

I love “Let’s Go”. It was produced by Teddy Riley and incorporates Vincent Price’s evil laugh from “Thriller”. That’s how you know it’s good. Like the best menstrual cycles, Kool Moe Dee’s flow is heavy throughout. He verbally beats down someone assumed (at least by me) to be Freddy Krueger with five minutes of nonstop, hard-hitting trash talk. It’s fun, and if you’re not paying attention (exiting the theatre, etc.), it might seem like a fitting choice for the credits. But was it? For comparison, let’s take a look at the precedent set by the series. These are the end title themes from the first four entries:

Part 1 – “Nightmare” by 213

Part 2 – “Did You Ever See a Dream Walking?” by Bing Crosby

Part 3 – “Dream Warriors” by Dokken

Part 4 – “I Want Your (Hands on Me)” by Sinéad O’Connor; “Are You Ready For Freddy?” by The Fat Boys; “Don’t Be Afraid of Your Dreams” by Go West

Four of the six themes, I think, were written specifically for the movies. Part 2’s was not, but it works well considering the words “dream walking” double as a reference to Freddy, and Crosby’s smooth crooner style juxtaposes the darkness and horror. Part 4’s first theme also works because the survivors are on a date when it kicks in and they have a baby in Part 5, so at some point, one of them does put their hands on the other.

“Let’s Go” wasn’t written for Nightmare 5, and its lyrics don’t apply to it either. When you really zero in on them, it’s apparent from the way Kool Moe Dee refers to his rival’s “rhymes/lyrics/records” he’s addressing a fellow rapper. That rapper is none other than LL Cool J. “Let’s Go” is the second of three diss tracks Kool Moe Dee wrote about him. It came out two full years before Nightmare 5 as the B-side to his single “No Respect” and contains four unmistakable references to the NCIS: Los Angeles star. Once you know all this, the song just seems comically out of place. Take a listen.


Side note, this is the ugliest album art ever ☝

It starts off with a woman asking Moe Dee how he feels about Jack the Ripper. This is the first sign that “Let’s Go” might not make sense here. Why would the woman inquire about a real-life nineteenth century serial killer instead of the movie’s killer, Freddy Krueger? Because “Jack the Ripper”, is the title of LL Cool J’s previous diss in the series, in which he claims to be “Jason with an axe”, that’s why.

1:57 — The line “How you like me now? I’m gettin’ busier. I’m double platinum.” is a direct quote from that song, and is sung in a whiny voice to mock Cool J.

2:36 — In verse 3, Moe Dee even addresses him by his middle name, Todd. If that’s not a big enough clue as to who the song is about, Moe Dee proceeds to spend eight lines — half a standard verse — proposing possible meanings for “LL”:

Lower Level, Lack Luster
Last Least, Limp Lover
Lousy Lame, Late Lethargic
Lazy Lemon, Little Logic
Lucky Leech, Liver Lipped
Laborious Louse on a Loser’s Lips
Live in Limbo, Lyrical Lapse
Low Life with the loud raps, boy

He follows with:

You can’t win, I don’t bend
Look what you got yourself in
Just usin’ your name, I took those Ls
Hung ’em on your head and rocked your bells

That’s right, Kool Moe Dee comes right out and says his rival’s name starts with “LL”. Who else could it be? Who listened to this and didn’t make the connection? Or better yet, who made the connection and decided a personal attack directed at LL Cool J was an appropriate way to follow a scene in which Freddy Krueger is turned into a baby and absorbed by a ghost nun? I like to imagine the person tasked with selecting the song did so knowingly to further their feud. Ha! Now Cool J has to respond!

The funny thing is that LL Cool J went on to appear in Halloween: H20 the next decade. I wonder, did he do it to get the last laugh? The Nightmare on Elm Street series Kool Moe Dee hitched his wagon to ended three years earlier. It’s plausible. Whether you like him or not, LL Cool J is a bona fide horror legend. He won his feud in the long run by outlasting Moe Dee, and was a factor in two of the genre’s biggest franchises. I expect to see him at all the conventions now.

Our new god.

What are your favorite rap-horror connections? Leave a comment below.

Hilarious Moments in Horror: Freddy 101 With Springwood Teacher

Of all the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare is one of them. The general consensus amongst fans and critics alike is that it’s… not exactly their favorite. I wouldn’t say that I hate it, but I’m not a big fan of it either. My main beef with it is its cartoonishness, from its literal cartoon sound effects, to its kills, to its 3-D finale. I do appreciate that it further explores Freddy’s backstory, however. Filmmakers should, in my opinion, expand on their characters with each sequel they make, otherwise they’re just telling the same story over and over and over again. In this one, an effort was made to do that, and I always award points for effort. Here, we’re told Freddy killed his adoptive father (played by shock rocker Alice Cooper) as a teenager, had his own kid later in life, and killed his wife in front of that kid. We’re also told he was given his supernatural powers by dream demons after his death, which is how he keeps coming back. But that’s not even the half of it. We learn the most shocking details of his past from a hard-to-read chalkboard in the background of a nonsensical scene.

Credit: Wrong Side of the Art

Here’s how we get there:

A graphic informs us that Freddy has killed all but one minor in Springwood. Not just on Elm Street. In the whole friggin’ town. That minor’s name is John Doe, and he’s played by Shon Greenblatt. The movie picks up inside of a nightmare he’s having. John starts off in a plane, then freefalls to earth in a house, then rolls down a hill for six weeks.

Freddy somehow physically transports the Ryder Strong lookalike to the outside of town and commands him to “fetch” — more victims, presumably.

Freddy does this cos he’s not actually allowed to leave Springwood. A wall of energy blocks him from doing so. This stops being a rule later on, but for right now it applies.

John soars through the barrier, hits his head on a rock and is found wandering the streets of a neighboring city with a bad case of amnesia. The cops pick him up assuming he’s a junkie and drop him off at a youth center for troubled teens run by a Maggie Burroughs.

Maggie deduces from a newspaper clipping in John’s pocket that he came from Springwood. As unlikely as it sounds, Maggie is unaware of the town’s gruesome past, even though it’s only TWO MILES AWAY and THERE HAVE BEEN FORTY-SIX MURDERS* THERE MINIMUM during her lifetime, so she drives John back to help jog his memory.

Three other teens stow away in the back of Maggie’s van, but that’s not really relevant to this post.

The five protags arrive just in time for the Springwood Town Fair. They develop an uneasy feeling when they notice there aren’t any kids around, and get even more spooked when they run into Roseanne. John and Maggie decide to do a little detective work, and head to a high school for literally no reason besides having heard a bell in the distance. They meander into a classroom where a man (Matthew Faison) lectures two empty desks, almost like he knew they were coming. The man welcomes them to “Freddy 101” and carries on with his less-than-historically-accurate lesson plan, ignoring the fact that something is and has been incredibly wrong in this place for some time.

Wait, this looks nothing like the same high school from Freddy’s Revenge.
Credit: New Line Home Video DVD

The instructor, “Springwood Teacher” as he’s listed in the credits, zoops up a pull-down map of the town, revealing a blackboard with a timeline drawn on it. He whaps his pointer at a section of it that says 1945 and with a crazed look on his face proclaims “Fourteen-hundred-ninety-three, Freddy sailed across the sea!” then flaps his arms like a bird or conductor.

This moment is brilliant for all the wrong reasons. For starters, Springwood Teacher points to the wrong part of his timeline. Then, he mangles what I’m guessing he was supposed to point to, which reads: “1492, [Freddy] sails [the] ocean blue.” His body language is the cherry on top.

They don’t cover this stuff in the textbooks.
Credit: New Line Home Video DVD

The whole thing is bizarre. But take a look at the rest of the blackboard. It gets even weirder. Transcription below.

Year

Event

0

He is come.

1066

Aligns With Saxons

1492

Sails Ocean Blue

1812

First Kill (w/cannon)

1869

Freddy Kills Maxie

1929

The Crash

1933

Munich Sighting

1945

Hiroshima and Nagasaki Attempts Fail

1966

Child Taken — Os Win in 4

1977

Freddy Kills Elvis?

The timeline ends with the word “kills” and no less than seventy Xs. These dates imply that Freddy:

•was born the same year as Jesus, and/or is Jesus
•was present for the Norman conquest of England (“aligns with Saxons” could also be a reference to horror verteran John Saxon, who played Nancy’s father in Wes Craven’s original)
•discovered America
•fought in the War of 1812
•brought on the Great Depression
•is Hitler or helped Hitler become chancellor of Germany
•was the real reason Allied forces dropped nuclear bombs on Japan, obliterating hundreds of thousands of people in the process
•resurfaced to bump off The King before settling into Springwood, Ohio

…which is hilarious and in poor taste once you realize that whoever came up with this text was basically making light of the Holocaust. It really says something when this is the silliest part of a movie that also features flying sperm demons and Freddy imitating the Wicked Witch of the West.

But hey, these blurbs made it into the movie, so I’m treating them as legit information. Obviously, the long span between dates means that Freddy was never a normal human being to begin with, but rather an ancient, undying evil, like Pennywise or the Creeper from Jeepers Creepers. Of course, this isn’t fully confirmed until New Nightmare, meaning Freddy’s Dead predicted the plot of that pseudo-sequel three years before it came out. Wild.

There are only two parts of this timeline I’m having trouble assigning significance to. The first one is “Freddy Kills Maxie” in 1869. The Civil War was over by then, and there don’t appear to have been any infamous deaths or assassinations that year, let alone of a person named Maxie.

According to IMDb, there are three films titled “Maxie”. One of them is listed as horror, yet none of them seem especially noteworthy. A quick scan through the cast and crew members of Freddy’s Dead shows that only one person named Max even worked on it, Max Penner. Mr. Penner is one of ninety-four people credited with providing visual effects. I’m sure he did a great job, but as part of a team that big, it’s not like he was terribly instrumental in bringing this sequel to the screen, so I doubt the blurb was referring to him. This leaves me wondering who the Hell Maxie is.

I haven’t been able to figure out what “Os Win in 4” means either. I’m sure director Rachel Talalay knows. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, she hasn’t recorded a commentary track for this flick, and probably hasn’t addressed such an extremely specific subject in any of the interviews that she’s done. All we can do is speculate.

Do you have any answers, theories, ideas? Am I overlooking something obvious? Leave a comment below.

The complete view.
Credit: New Line Home Video DVD

Now for some more random trivia. Those of you with a keen eye for detail may remember Matthew Faison as one of the paintballers who gets annihilated by Jason in Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986). You may also remember that Freddy’s adoptive father Alice Cooper provided the song “He’s Back (The Man Behind the Mask)” for the closing credits of that one. If that’s not coincidental enough, just look at the titles of both movies. Freddy’s Dead. Jason Lives. They’re opposites. This is getting creepy…

*total based on the kill count from Parts 1-5 (I’m choosing to use a conservative kill count of seven for Part 2 since the party scene is unclear), Marge Thompson’s admission from the first film: “Fred Krueger… was a filthy child murderer who killed at least twenty kids in the neighborhood.”, and Lisa’s line from the second one: “Fred Krueger kidnapped twenty kids and brought them here and killed them.”