Our tale begins not unlike many other New York rap legends. In the early to mid 1980s, future Flatlinerz Tempest, Gravedigger, and Redrum were being swept up into the burgeoning golden age of rap like the rest of us. For Redrum, nephew of Def Jam co-founder Russell Simmons and rap icon Run of Run-DMC, one would assume there would be more of a personal connection, but this is the first of many misconceptions of the Flatlinerz' history. "I didn't meet my father until I was 11 years old," Redrum tells us, "and Run and Russell were my father's younger brothers, so I didn't have any access to that side of the family. By that time, I already had a relationship with hip-hop and my mother and my stepfather were not into rap."
From there, the widespread misconception is that Flatlinerz were rappers who adopted the "horrorcore" gimmick. Like with horror movies, the truth is far more interesting than the fiction. Longtime Brooklyn neighborhood friends, Redrum and Gravedigger opted to start a gang long before the three future Flatlinerz had any interest in rapping. Only they didn't want to go through the beatdown hazing initiations of other New York gangs at the time, so they started the Flatlinerz. Their neighborhood was heavily policed, and the young collective began making a nearby cemetery their hangout. It was only at the cemetery that the group began rhyming, and as Redrum told us, the occult topics were there from the start. "I was learned by a gentleman name Malachai York -- [he] always touched on a lot of esoteric topics, so I was always pointed in the occult and ancient knowledge. From that foundation, coming up into rap, I was enjoying mythology and horror and it gelled into who I am as a person." From there they linked up with Queens producer Tempest, and Flatlinerz the rap group was spawned.