RL Grime’s Halloween mixes aren’t just a staple for the haunting holiday, but hold up as a quintessential part of electronic music. The hour-long mixes both dig deep into the archives of the underground and also represent the music trends at the time in both hip-hop and dance music.
The Sable Valley label head is widely acknowledged as the king of trap in electronic music for a reason. RL Grime’s ear for music, curation skills, and ability to blend hip-hop and EDM so seamlessly is something that influenced this generation of bass producers. Even though his releases aren’t as prolific as previous years, there’s no denying he’s a trendsetter in music—and his respect goes far beyond the trap scene.
Every year, we look forward to hearing guest features from iconic celebrities who introduce the mix, and we even hear from the person that the producer gets his name from, RL Stine.
To celebrate Halloween X, we took some time to listen through the nine years and nine hours of the past Halloween mixes. We took into account how spooky the mix sounded, how it flows, and how eclectic or deep the selections were. Here is ThisSongIsSick’s official ranking of RL Grime’s Halloween mixes from best to… still good. Enjoy!
RL Grime’s Halloween coup de grace. The spooky vibes are present throughout the full hour, and RL really digs deep, genre-wise. The transitions are flawless yet he also takes his time with them to really blend the music. Halloween III featured at least two RL Grime debuts (“Monsoon” and his “Acrylics” Edit) and contains the still elusive “Jungle War Dub” from C.Z. This was not only his best work but also came at perhaps the most crucial part of his career. Two weeks after its release he would drop VOID, his revered debut album.
Introducing this mix with the terrifying sound of Eprom’s “Beasts of Babylon” is setting the bar high early on, but RL rises to the occasion. There’s a plethora of club music contained in on Halloween II from the likes of Swizzymack, DJ Funeral, DJ Yolo Bear, and more. This is mix was RL Grime’s best effort and blending electronic, trap, club, and hip-hop. He even does it one further with the inclusion of tracks like Purity Ring’s “Odebear.”
The cherry on the top of this one was also the fact that RL enlisted the original Goosebumps illustrator for the cover art. Oh—and that Lil Wyte track is one of the best closers we’ve ever heard.
With hype increasing for each year’s Halloween mix, RL Grime goes ahead and grabs Hannibal Burress for the first-ever non-R.L. Stine intro (although he’s still in there). If that wasn’t enough of a flex, the following tracks feature some of the darkest and heaviest sounds we’ve heard from the series, eventually leading into a ridiculous mashup of Hurricane Chris and Machinedrum. Continuing from Halloween III, Halloween IV features some more melancholy moments like OZZIE’s “Trophy” and Baauer’s “10 Days Falling” remix.
Two brilliant, show-stopping moments in this one were the “Know What I’m Doing”-into-“solutions” transition and the GENER8ION track.
We wanted to put this one higher, but we didn’t want to let our nostalgia get the best of us. This mix is easily the most consistently spooky out of all them, with RL rinsing ghoulish tracks from the likes of Teeth, Three 6 Mafia, Amber London, and DJ Funeral. RL was also weaving in experimental bass like Paleman’s “Destroya.”
Even though the first-ever Halloween mix from RL Grime came out in 2012, there are still tracks like TNGHT’s “R U READY” which remain unreleased today.
We wonder if RL Grime knew what he was starting when he originally released his first Halloween mix.
Making the most out of quarantine, the RL did something pretty different for 2020. For the first time ever, RL Grime’s Halloween became a whole experience, including live visuals and an opening set from Heimanu. The mix starts with T Pain spitting bars about Halloween to the tune of “Buy You A Drank” and gives a nice twist by ending it with, “shoutout RL Grime ‘cuz it’s Halloween.”
While he veered pretty far from his hip-hop roots on this one, the mix itself stayed powerful throughout and introduced a lot of trap’s creepy, atmospheric brother, wave. It’s probably the spookiest mix since 2015’s Halloween IV, taking advantage of plenty of scary samples scattered throughout each song. FATE’s “GHOSTS” vs. Drake and Giveon’s “Chicago Freestyle” was incredible. The mix has massive replay power based on this edit alone.
We remember everyone freaking out when Guy Fieri opened up Halloween Ocho. He even threatens to call the “Flavortown Fire Department” for it being too spicy. The mix also starts off with an edit of Luniz’s “I Got 5 On It,” which was used for the trailer for Jordan Peele’s Us.
Halloween VIII is legendary in its own right, especially since 2019 was the first year of Sable Valley, but it lands further down on the list for being the third year in a row the mix feels more like a live set recording than his usual gritty Halloween mixes. The opener, plus being one of the heavier Halloween mixes definitely kept this one higher in the list.
You can’t deny RL Grime’s star power when he pulls an opening feature from Pharrell. While his message isn’t as memorable as other mixes, it’s still pretty dope to see the mainstream crossover into electronic music. And incorporating Stranger Things into the intro was also a great move.
Halloween V is a great example of a classic Halloween mix for its ability to mix electronic music and hip-hop so seamlessly—Mobb Deep’s “Shook Ones Pt. II” over “Hexifornia” by Hex Cougar was genius—but what was missing for us here was the underground tracks we’ve come to love from these mixes.
2017 was a game-changer for the Halloween mixes for sure, bringing more of a live set journey to listeners. The mixing and mash-up style edits take the forefront of Halloween VI, which would take prominence in the next years to come. Although it gave us something unexpected, the live set approach took away from the series’ usually raw, gritty energy. It was powerful and well mixed but doesn’t give the spooky vibes we desire from a Halloween mix.
However, there are some highlights that can’t be missed. Tony Hawk “doing a 900 into old age” made us laugh our asses off. There was a huge spotlight on underground producers. And if it wasn’t marketed as a Halloween mix, it would just be considered an all-around top-tier mix.
Halloween VII isn’t bad by any means, but the reason it takes the final spot on this list is because, unfortunately, it’s just not that memorable. Shaquille O’Neal aka Shaq aka DJ Diesel comes in with a great opener, poking fun at RL Grime for ghosting him when he sent in some tracks for the mix, but there aren’t many standout moments in the mix for us.
The material was absolutely there. Tails’ “Skeletons” and Hex Cougar’s remix of “Chemicals” were some of the most important electronic tracks of the time (and perfect for spooky season), but the vibe of the mix didn’t give you the usual eerie feel that you hope you get out of these mixes. We do appreciate all the IDs that would be later inaugurated in Sable Valley, though.
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