The tandem of TheOGM and Yeti Bones detail their musical influences, their initial apprehension in working with Travis Barker, and how merging sounds of hardcore and hip hop is something you just can’t fake.
words by Yvonne Villasenor
Ho99o9 (pronounced “horror”) have obliterated any labels attempting to confine them by being fiercely unapologetic in everything they do since their inception in 2012. Now, with their menacing sophomore album, SKIN, they showcase their elevated talents with the end result being an unhinged and incendiary catalog of songs bound to blow your mind and melt your face.
In their upcoming album — with the title inspired by Ice Cube’s “Skin Is My Sin” — Ho99o9 crank up the chaos to deliver a sound so bone-rattling and mind-boggling, it’ll leave you on the edge of your seat with your subconscious demanding more.
Album singles “Battery Not Included” and “Nuge Snight” are proof that Ho99o9 are completely unbound in their artistry and have paved their own lane with no speed limits and a new standard for punk-influenced hip-hop. Their fresh take on rap metal has earned the respect of iconic and eclectic artists like Mike Patton, The Prodigy, among many others.
TheOGM and Yeti Bones met in 2008, back when Myspace was the only major social platform to be on. As you could imagine, their taste in music has been intrinsically versatile — with theOGM and Yeti Bones growing up on pedigree of Haitian Kompa and Motown soul, respectively.
Into their formative years, they began discovering groups like Wu-Tang Clan, Onyx, Mobb Deep and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. “We from the east coast, so we like all that gutter shit … that was our vibe, you know?” theOGM explains. “We were just getting put up on that — the shit that our parents didn’t want us watching the music videos that you were watching anyway.”
When duo first found their way to one another and became friends, Yeti Bones was still listening to rap but started going to shows in New York and explored the music scenes in Brooklyn. There, he stumbled upon bands like Japanther, Cerebral Ballzy and The Death Set.
But there was one group in particular that caught his attention and would change everything he knew about music.
“One of the bands by the name of Ninjasonik did a Bad Brains cover … I remember going home that night and YouTubing ‘Ninjasonik Attitude’ … and a Bad Brains video from live at CBGB kept popping up,” Yeti Bones says. “I was just blown away. I was like, ‘Who are these Black dudes with dreads doing this super aggressive, fast, hardcore music?’ And they was playing reggae and dub in between that. It was crazy. That moment right there — it just clicked.’”
Bones embedded himself in classic punk bands like Black Flag, Minor Threat and Misfits. “My attention span just went all over these bands,” Yeti Bones says. He went to the punk rock paradise that was CBGB and was instantly hooked upon hearing bands like L.O.T.I.O.N., Dawn of Humans, Crazy Spirit and Hoax.
This scene would go on to influence the energy and sound theOGM and Yeti Bones would create with their own music years later in 2012. But not without some criticism for merging hip-hop and punk — two genres that inarguably share the same kind of defiant energy.
“I feel like in the metal world, there’s a lot of gatekeeping because I see a lot of people comment, like, ‘Damn, I hate rap,’ or ‘If it’s not metal, it’s not working,’” Yeti Bones says.
He continues, “You just got to have an open mind. Our likings and influence of rap, hip-hop, and punk — and what punk brings to the table — [we think] how we can mash it together and make it sound good, cohesive and not corny. A lot of people try to do it or it’s copycats, and it’s just like you’re trying too hard. It’s got to flow. You got to be with it … It’s all about being free and open minded and willing to accept new things and new sounds, you know?”
Fast forward to 2022, and Ho99o9 have found new levels to their talents and have created their noisiest, rawest and most wrathful work to date. With legendary drummer Travis Barker producing the album, Ho99o9 continued to do what they do best — keeping listeners on their toes guessing what might come next; not just from one track to the next, but from one verse to the next.
“Initially, SKIN wasn’t supposed to be an album,” theOGM says. “We met Travis in 2019, and we linked up just like, ‘Yo, let’s catch a vibe, and we’ll see where it goes from there.’”
Mutual friends encouraged Ho99o9 to collaborate. The duo, theOGM says, decided to do so and were intrigued (albeit, a bit apprehensive too) about how everything would work considering Barker’s pop-punk background.
“We’re a hardcore band. If we tell people that without hearing the music that we’re about to do a record with him, automatically they’re just like, ‘Bro, what y’all about to do?’” the OGM says. “That was our mindset too. Initially, it was just like, ‘I don’t know. What is this gonna sound like? What are we trying to do here?’”
He continues, “One thing about us is that we’re always going to stand on our shit — our brand and who we are. So, when we [and Barker] linked up, it was first to just catch a hang, and we caught a hang. He’s a very cool dude. He felt like a homie and felt like somebody that we already knew.”
Ho99o9 thrive on good energy in the studio and any feedback that can help them deliver their best work — all areas in which Barker was incredibly supportive and helpful in supporting their vision for the record.
“If he [Barker] hears something that could add to the track or it’s not good, yo, we’re open to it. It was good energy, you know?” theOGM says.
Going into their collaboration with Barker, theOGM says, “We was just making music. We wanted to challenge him because we know what he’s used to making.”
But the hip-hop/punk duo didn’t just want to challenge Barker with making the new record. They also wanted to challenge themselves, theOGM says.
“We wanted to bring that energy when you come to a live Ho99o9 show into the music because I feel like that’s been a challenge,” he says. “With United States of Horror, for me, it’s like, when you listen to the record, you’re like, ‘Okay, cool.’ When you go see the record, you’re like, ‘Whoa, these motherfuckers is turnt. This shit lit.’ So, I want when people listen to the record, they’re like, ‘Yo, this shit is lit. Now when I go see this shit, I’m fucking in flames, like I’m burning up! That’s the vibe.”
Collaborating on “just a few songs” was the plan. That is, until the pandemic hit. With everyone at home, Ho99o9 were able to make more music. After some time passed, they realized they had made a lot of songs — so many, in fact, that they could “actually pick some songs and make this an album.”
The 12-track assault features several of Ho99o9’s biggest influences and acclaimed supporters, including Bun B, Saul Williams, Jasiah and none other than Corey Taylor.
“For our first album, we really didn’t have any features besides our close friends. So, coming with the second album, it feels refreshing to get some people on the album that we really appreciate and look up to as artists,” Yeti Bones says. “It’s good to have them for every track that it’s the feature. All the tracks sound different from each other and they fit within that place … It’s all genuine and nothing’s forced or was rushed. It all just came from a place with like, ‘Okay, this fits comfortably.’”
Each artist featured on SKIN brings what they do best to the table, whether it’s Houston hip-hop from Bun B, spoken word from Saul Williams, aggressive energy from Jasiah or brutal vocals from Corey Taylor.
It’s this kind of versatility that makes Ho99o9 unlike any band you’ll ever hear. SKIN is an incomparable collision of sounds and artistry that represent the originality seeping from theOGM and Yeti Bones. It’s their ode to authenticity; a body of work that captures who they are.
“What the album represents to me is two young Black males growing up in America through difficult times. I mean, times always been difficult, but you got to make it your best,” Yeti Bones says. “I just feel like it’s us. This record is just our soul. It’s about us, our heritage, our culture, our background, us speaking our mind. ‘Skin’ is self explanatory.”
TheOGM weighs in, “It’s like a combination of being unapologetic about who I am, our brand, what we stand for and what we doing. Of course, we raging against every suit man, the system … but then again, it’s also about having fun.”
In the darkest and most serious of times, theOGM says there’s beauty in going outside and appreciating the sun, drinking water, taking care of your body, etc.
“When you come to our show, you might be having a hard week … you come to our show, and you leave everything there,” he says. “You come in, this is where you get your relief; you bump the shit, and you’re just like, ‘Damn, finally. I just got 30 minutes in. I don’t know what that was, but wow, thank you for that.’ That’s what that is to me. It feels like a playlist you just put on that you go work out to, and you just feel like you got the best workout. Now, you’re ready for the day — like a spiritual workout.”
As theOGM and Yeti Bones reflect, they’re grateful to be where they are today. “We from New Jersey where our circle of people, crowd of people, just our people — we don’t really make it out this far. A lot of my homies never seen the world like I seen the world. My mom, my dad never seen the world like I’ve seen the world, but it’s dope,” theOGM says. “I’m doing it with one of my friends. It’s not like we started the band like I’m just jumping in a band. This is my boy first, and then we started the band together. So, that shit is amazing.”
“I want fans to just go out and bump it — and bump it loud — because this shit is meant to be bumped loud,” theOGM says with a laugh. “You can’t listen to Ho99o9 on low. Fuck your neighbors. Get some babysitters, drop the kids off, bump this shit loud in the crib. If you in the car, bump that shit loud as fuck. Wherever you at, fuck the neighbors, fuck whoever — bump that shit loud. This shit is meant to be bumped loud.”
Yeti Bones adds, “Come to the show to see it live so you can get the real experience in person.”
“Yes, drink a lot of water. Before you come to the show, drink a lot of water and get ready to sweat because even if you’re not moving, you still gonna be sweating,” theOGM says. “… We going hard all summer.”
Ho99o9 will kick off their U.S. spring headlining tour with special guest N8NOFACE on April 15 before they join Slipknot and Cypress Hill for the second leg of the Knotfest Roadshow tour.
Get your tickets — HERE.