Merging his loves for metal and hip-hop, American singer/rapper Ghostemane taps the darkest recesses of both genres to create a menacing blend of horror-charged music inspired by black metal, industrial, and Southern rap. Emerging in the mid-2010s, he issued over a dozen genre-spanning efforts within half a decade, from his narcotic 2015 debut, Oogabooga, to his 2018 industrial-influenced opus N/O/I/S/E.
Born Eric Whitney in West Palm Beach, Florida, he started out playing guitar and drums in hardcore punk and metal bands, inspired by groups ranging from the Vandals, NOFX, and Lagwagon to Deicide, Carcass, and Mayhem. In 2015, after graduating college — where he studied astrophysics — he moved to Los Angeles. There, he delved into hip-hop, inspired by artists such as OutKast and Three 6 Mafia. He soon combined both sides of his musical influences, recording early drugged-out efforts such as 2015's spooky Oogabooga and For the Aspiring Occultist. He followed with a prolific string of releases in 2016, issuing the trio of Rituals, Blackmage, and Plagues. The latter album marked a slight shift in his sound. Absorbing industrial-adjacent dissonance and noise, Ghostemane concocted the caustic "Lady Madini" and "Euronymous," which was named after the infamous late member of black metal band Mayhem.
Around this time, Ghostemane linked up with $uicideboy$ and fellow Floridian Pouya, appearing with the latter on the viral 2017 single "1000 Rounds." That same year, he released his sixth effort, Hexada, which pushed him further into metal territory. 2018's corrosive N/O/I/S/E adopted a Nine Inch Nails spirit with tracks such as "Ballgag" and "Inside," resembling that veteran band's Broken EP. By 2019, he switched directions again, going full-on hardcore with the Fear Network EP before dialing it back on the sparse acoustic Opium EP. That year, he also collaborated on standalone singles with acts Health and Ho99o9. ~ Neil Z. Yeung