There are clearly scarier things going on these days then just Halloween, but that’s not going to stop anyone from making regrettable costuming decisions this weekend. Whether you’re joining the Onesies Occult or attempting to make naughty Candace Owens into a fright-fest all your own — this year’s celebration will be full of worm-shaped sweets and, of course, a host of horrifically hype Halloween songs.
Yes, yes, this is the theme for this week’s edition of ESSENCE’s The Playlist. All Hallows’ Eve — where any guy, ghoul, or being from the Necronomicon can escape the spooky zone — is the source of my freaky Friday experiment I wish to share with you all. In this offering, I “double, double, toil and trouble” the spirits with a mix of old and new music unearthed for your enjoyment (and repeat plays) to make your Halloween a spellbinding one.
Listen to these genuinely disturbing choices below to include for your own poltergeist party, and be sure to check out all the past episodes of The Playlist in the archives. Trick or treat!
1. D’Angelo — “Devil’s Pie”
Up first, a dark and moody number from D’Angelo. “Devil’s Pie” offers the allure of heaven filtered through the gates of hell, as only the Black Messiah can describe it. I picked this one to start off with because despite the scary things that surround us, a song like this is a rare moment of witnessing someone looking into the abyss and not blink.
2. HERIZEN — “DEMON”
Herizen, the 23-year-old artist and actress, has taken her signature grungy alt-pop sound and raised the dead. On “DEMON,” the multi-instrument has influenced her creatures of the night to surround her sound on this self-produced number from her project of the same name. Distilling dark pop magic into an R&B sensibility, while also donating the proceeds from this song to organizations that support Black Lives Matter makes this Cuban-Jamaican bruja an extreme worth exploring.
3. Rihanna — “Disturbia”
Unlocking your inner Hitchcock, “Disturbia” is still a surrealistic song to add to any Halloween playlist. Rihanna‘s Thriller-esque track is midnight come alive over electro-pop goodness and certainly a forever classic. With real life scares like tanned-ghouls and Boogaloos Bois threatening the sanctity of your sanity — this bop is still great whenever you’re looking to escape the stressors that threaten your sunny days.
4. Saint Bodhi — “Zombie”
An impressive chameleon, Saint Bodhi has a distinctive perspective that pours out of this G-funk-laced cut called “Zombie”. Fully formed and sharp-edged with the lyrics and structure, this song is another healthy offering from her Def Jam debut album, Mad World. The South Central supernatural superstar-in-training has a fine-tuned ear that will thrill listeners upon first listen. If that doesn’t move your spirit, then play “Gold Revolver” to hear just why this sinner-turned-saint is a standout amongst her peers.
5. DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince — “A Nightmare On My Street”
For those VHS horror movie lovers, this one is right up your alley. I wasn’t even old enough to peep A Nightmare on Elm Street, but every Halloween my local radio station (whattup WZAK 93.1!) would play DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince’s entry into horrorcore infamy. Cheeky and a good scary story to play for friends and new age music lovers, “A Nightmare On My Street” has a storied history worth digging into while playing for those oncoming trick-or-treaters.
6. Seba Kaapstad — “I’m Scared” (ft. Oddisee)
Returning to The Playlist, Seba Kaapstad releases their latest from Konke, called “I’m Scared”. Singer Zoe Modiga infuses a haunting and sadness over Philip Schiebel and Sebastian Schuster’s production that “looks into the vulnerability of sharing the things we most fear.” Featuring Sudanese-American rapper-producer Oddisee with the lyrics, this jazz-hop infused number is for anyone who wishes to acknowledge how reaching for something — no matter how scary — is good work towards a better emotion.
7. Cardi B — “Bodak Yellow” (ONEDYE Halloween Intro)
2020 has been a house of horrors in so many ways, but there is still nothing like dressing up in your favorite Halloween costume (or onesie) and dancing while eating candied apples. Big kudos to DJ Noize and Attic Stein for their “scary rap trap party”-inspired Halloween hip-hop mix called, Halloween Massacre Reloaded. The ONEDYE flip of Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow” is enough to make you make your own “WAP” costume and cut up to this groove on repeat.
8. Marcus Machado — “Shape Shift” (ft. JSWISS & Ahrel Lumzy)
Remember those real-life scary times I mentioned earlier? The otherworldly gifted guitar prodigy Marcus Machado paints the grisly times that we’re living in using sound on his latest cut called “Shape Shift”. With lyrical flourishes from JSWISS and Ahrel Lumzy that detail how a change is much needed in this country for our lives to not be such a nightmare, Marcus Machado’s guitar aids in that through his prolific playing prowess.
9. Billy Danze — “Gotham” (ft. Method Man)
There is a serendipitous story I can share about Billy Danze. The certified hip-hop legend and I had a literal run-in at the Times Square B.B. Kings in New York City (R.I.P.). Bumping into a guy most known for “yappin’ fools,” I wasn’t gonna scare anybody looking like a bootleg Slick Rick, and on his newest cut, “Gotham,” Danzini isn’t letting anyone feel safe. Accompanied by fellow New York Giant, Method Man, this record is a statement about those not-so-safe days in the birthplace of hip-hop.
10. Geto Boys — “Minds Playing Tricks On Me”
First off, prayers up to Scarface and to any ESSENCE reader, please help spread the word about his need for a kidney transplant. When I was a kid, I identified more with Bushwick Bill’s (R.I.P.) “robbin’ little kids for bags” raps over Uncle Brad’s anxiety-filled lyrics. But now, at my newly ripe old age, closing out The Playlist with this classic hip-hop cut continues to remind me that PTSD is scarily real and Scarface will forever — in my mind — be the Southern-fried Edgar Allen Poe of hip-hop.
Catch new editions of ESSENCE’s The Playlist on Fridays and follow @KevitoClark on Instagram and Twitter for all things health + culture related.