From the gothic-hued hip-hop of rappers like Lil Uzi Vert to the spooky sinisterness of the beat on “Bad Guy” by Billie Eilish, there’s a rising trend of horror-inspired sounds in popular music. While this isn’t so much a new trend—some cite Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” as the genesis of the phenomenon—it’s taken a stronger hold over the past few years, spurring some of the most intriguing and exciting music in recent memory.
And now, the Kentucky-based brother duo Rags And Riches have taken their stab at blending the classic pop sound with a spooky atmosphere. On April 30, the brothers dropped “The Beast,” a dancey track featuring an eerie xylophone, a head-bopping beat and lyrics exploring the struggles of mental illness.
“We wrote this song because there are millions of people battling mental illness and feeling helpless on how to control their inner demons,” Tanner Whitt—half of the duo along with his brother Peyton—told American Songwriter. “We wanted to show that they are not alone and there is hope.”
While “The Beast” isn’t nearly as horror-inspired as some of the more prominent songs in this wave, there’s still a really cool effect going on with its groovy uncanniness. See, by channeling the ominous-yet-whimsical atmosphere of something like a horror film, artists are commenting on the horrors of our times. For rappers, this usually alludes to the effects of systemic racism and a broken criminal justice system. For Rags And Riches, this alludes to the lack of access to mental healthcare faced by so many Americans.
“The overall feel of the song is eerie, but it still makes you want to dance,” Tanner explained. “It’s a weird combo, but it feels just right.”
Considering that the American Psychological Association reported that members of Generation Z are “significantly more likely” than previous generations to report fair to poor mental health, there’s certainly an unfortunate trend bubbling up throughout the nation. While progress might be slow on building better infrastructure to adequately respond to this uptick, artists like Rags And Riches are doing their part in trying to offer a sense of solace to anyone who needs it.
“Stay positive and keep fighting for stability,” Tanner said. “Don’t be afraid to seek help or guidance from a counselor or therapist when life gets overwhelming or too heavy. We hope our music can be a foundation to lean on when it seems like everyone and everything else is too far away.”
Rags And Riches new single “The Beast” is out now and available everywhere. Watch the music video for it below: