The stylistic origins of horrorcore can be traced to acid rap, a fusion of hip hop beats and death metal lyrics created by Detroit rapper Esham, who helped contribute to its popularization as a solo rapper as well as a member of the group Natas, and was an influence on the work of Insane Clown Posse, who have performed in this genre along with other artists on the Psychopathic Records label. Kool Keith claims to have "invented horrorcore".
Gravediggaz are frequently cited as "ushering in" or popularizing the form with their debut album 6 Feet Deep, released in 1994. The term was also appended to and popularized by Flatlinerz. The genre quickly faded from public attention, but has thrived in internet culture and sustains an annual "supershow" in Detroit called "Wickedstock". According to the January 2004 BBC documentary Underground USA, the subgenre "has a massive following across the US" and "is spreading to Europe". By contrast, Rolling Stone referred to it as a "short-lived trend" which "generated more shlock than shock". NME agrees, labeling the movement as "rap music's brief fling" while at the same time noting that the genre is subject to revival in its review of Snoop Dogg's 2001 soundtrack, Bones. Horrorcore has caused controversey, when reports were found saying the shooter of the Red Lake School shootings was a fan of Mars and Mike E. Clark's Project Deadman.