Album Reviews

Album Review: Flatlinerz – U.S.A. (Under Satan’s Authority)

Year of Release: 1994

Record Label: Def Jam Recordings

It has been three months since I have done anything for this site. I haven’t been up on my stuff lately. I even had plans not too long ago, and they are still on the table, too, but I have not gotten around to it. Also, I must note that I had planned on writing about this subject around this time last year, in honor of Halloween, even though I am sure that the sub-genre for this album has quite a catalog that it isn’t necessary (More on this later), but I still wanted to do it during this time of year.

Why would I have to do this album around this time, especially with horrorcore being a somewhat common sub-genre in rap? Well, the main reason is that I wanted to, and another is that this album sort of kicked off the genre to some degree. Yes, I know that there were other horrorcore rappers that existed before this album came out, like Brotha Lynch Hung (Sacramento represent!) and Esham, but it could be argued that this album was an attempt at making it mainstream. I will also note that I remember watching some special on MTV in 2001 (Yes, even in that time, there were still programs related to music, even though reality shows were also common on that channel then) about hip-hop and mentioned the genre of horrorcore rap and mention the Flatlinerz. Months later, I read a review of the Bones soundtrack and the writer made a reference to this album, as well as the Gravediggaz.

Years ago, I went and bought this album, and I have to say that it was a definitely worthy of my money. But why is another question. After listening to a lot of the tracks on this album, some of them reminded me of songs from Onyx. Truth be told, a lot of this album may have the feel of your basic hip-hop album, at least when hearing the beats. The lyrics, on the other hand, had more of horror-like feel. For example, when hearing “Good Day To Die,” “718,” and “Flatline,” the beat seemed reminiscent to some songs from Redman or EPMD. Then you had tracks like “Sonic Boom,” which sounded like an Onyx track with some of the background yelling. Funny notes on that song, I kind of liked the minor reference to the Number 12 song from Sesame Street and if you listen closely to the end of the song, you can hear a sample “Sonic Boom” from “Street Fighter II.” The producers did a good job on that bit.

For the most part, the album felt like a street-style rap album with the musical production, but the lyrical content had more of the horror elements to it, at least in some ways. There was some violent content in the lyrics, but it’s really not that much different than hearing some violent lyrics in gangsta rap. If you want to talk which songs had more of a horror-like vibe, look no further than the album’s three singles, “Satanic Verses,” “Live Evil,” and “Rivaz of Red.” Actually, it was more in the second half of the album when the horror-like elements as a whole started to really kick off. “Takin’ ‘Em Underground” is a good example of a horrorcore song. The rappers’ verses combined both lyrics related to the subject matter, along with the delivery to make it sound a little scary. The beat even sounded like it came from a horror film. The rest of the album had a similar feel, that is also including the interludes along the way.

Now that I think about it, being that this was released during the days when cassettes were still relevant, I wonder if the songs were split into halves to depict what to expect on one side and what to expect on the other side. Then again, I wonder about “Scary Us,” which was one of the first songs on this album. That one had a horror vibe, but it was also mixed with street-like hip-hop beats used for it.

I read in the liner notes for “Rivaz of Red” that the song had a sample of “Tonight’s Da Night” from Redman, as well as “Thriller” from Michael Jackson, but I swear that I hear the intro bit to “Don’t Be Cruel” from Bobby Brown in the sample. It sounds just like it that it has to be the bit in the intro to that album.

I read how that was some controversy about this album. Apparently, there was some speculation how these guys were Satan worshippers and it really put a damper in the sales for this album. It’s a shame, really, because this album kind of mixed styles of East Coast NY hip-hop with the horrorcore genre, when talking about some graphic violent depictions of murder, as well as some references to the occult. It really isn’t that much different from anything from the east coast at that time, and it was nice touch in adding horrorcore elements to it.

If you want to read the article on how this group and album was “misunderstood,” click here.

Before I close out this review, check out the music videos for the three singles. I also must note that the intro of the “Satanic Verses” video was the intro to “Live Evil.”

I highly recommend this album.

4/5

Top Five Tracks:

  1. Satanic Verses
  2. Live Evil
  3. Rivaz of Red
  4. Takin’ ‘Em Underground
  5. Good Day To Die

Honorable Mentions: “Scary-Us” and “Flatline.”

 

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One thought on “Album Review: Flatlinerz – U.S.A. (Under Satan’s Authority)

  1. Pingback: Album Review: Gravediggaz – 6 Feet Deep | e-squared's hip-hop blog

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