The weather is typical March-in-Austin: balmy springtime turned epic storm. Lightning crackles across the sky and rain pours buckets as I head to an outdoor SXSW showcase featuring the hip-hop outfit Ho99o9. The name is pronounced “horror,” and the triple 9s are an upside-down nod to the number of the beast.
Core members theOGM and Eaddy founded ho99o9 in 2012, blending hyper aggression and cinematic gore into an unusual form of performance art. The duo moved to LA in 2014 and eventually added a live drummer to their lineup. I find theOGM and Eaddy before their show and stick around for the wet and very cathartic main event.
“Essentially [Ho99o9] stems from our upbringing as far as the music and the lifestyles we were exposed to, which was rap and then ’hood and an urban community,” Eaddy explains. “And then, later in our teen years, we discovered there’s more to music than rap, which is like rock-and-roll and punk rock and metal and all this other shit. Going to local shows, that’s what really got us overflowing and… aroused.”
And Ho99o9 is pretty damn arousing. Both Eaddy and theOGM radiate intensity, though in very different forms—theOGM playing the showman to balance out Eaddy’s quieter force.
The guys cite influences ranging from Rob Zombie to Prince to Old Dirty Bastard to David Bowie. The result is music that’s as hectic as it is hypnotic.
“It’s like a tranquilizer,” says theOGM, explaining Ho99o9’s sound. “It’s like we have this mutant tranquilizer, and we’re going to inject it into the earth’s crust. And from there, things are going to get rugged.”
“It’s like you’re on drugs but you’re sober, and the music is just speaking to you,” he continues.
“You’re high off life, and the noise is like a calling,” Eaddy says.
I’m surprised by the appearance of New Age-adjacent words like “speaking” and “calling” in the conversation, but the pair’s obvious sincerity keeps sucking me in. So does their humor, which breaks the surface as they describe a woman in Amsterdam who described them as “primitive” after a show.
“She was like, ‘I like this about you, you primitive man,’” theOGM says, laughing.
“Two primitive chocolate men,” Eaddy adds, “ready for war.”
“We are all about erotic free expression. Letting yourself out,” theOGM says. “It’s like, you know when people go to church and they fake-catch the Holy Ghost and shit? It’s like that. You’re just like ‘Argh, the spirits got me! Let them out!’”
At this point in the evening, I am ready to speak in tongues. So is everyone else.
The preceding acts have warmed up the soggy crowd, but Ho99o9 takes everything to a totally different level, whipping us into a balls-out frenzy. True to our previous exchange, theOGM is quite the character, with an even further outer-limits look and gut wrenching howls. Eaddy’s demeanor shifts dramatically though, our mild-mannered conversation long gone as he rages, both at the crowd and with them.
The duo pass a makeshift Kanye West mask back and forth, “999” scrawled across Yeezy’s forehead. Clips from vintage-looking horror films play behind them as a fluffy-haired drummer beat the shit out of kit. theOGM tears at his shirtless chest like a man possessed, while Eaddy surfs above the frothing pit.
The entire thing is metal as fuck.
Chauntelle Tibbals, PhD, is the author of Exposure: A Sociologist Explores Sex, Society, and Adult Entertainment. Follow her at @drchauntelle.