On Sematary, Artemas, 6arelyhuman, and liking artists I think I should hate

From raver-scene trash to hauntaholic bliss, these are artists I enjoy so much that they make me question my own taste.

On Sematary, Artemas, 6arelyhuman, and liking artists I think I should hate

Some of the music I've had the most fun listening to in 2024 has made me ask myself, "should I even like this stuff?"

As an adult with a fully-developed brain, the concept of the "guilty pleasure" hasn't resonated with me in years. I like whatever I like, regardless of whether or not it fits the criteria for being Good or Cool at a given moment. But at the same time, I'm a music journalist and critic, so I do spend a great deal of time thinking about what's Good or Cool at a given moment. I do think that there's a real value in deeming some music good and some bad (and most music meh), and I think there're certain artists and genres that are as close to being objectively bad as something as subjective as music can be.

Some of the music I may have previously lumped into that latter category has been really appealing to me lately. There's a pretty fascinating resurgence of 2008-era deathcore in the hardcore underground right now, and that's made me reconnect with and reconsider a strain of metal that I once loved, but then decided was total ass. It's not...but it also kind of is? (That's for a different article that I'm cookin' on.) I've had a similar relationship with old-school metalcore over the last year.

But then there're the artists Sematary, Artemas, and 6arelyhuman. These are acts who might actually be ass, or at least tread so closely to being ass that I almost feel worried about telegraphing how much I fucking enjoy listening to their music. Does genuinely liking 6arelyhuman invalidate my opinions on all forms of electronic music? Does the degree to which Sematary's music resonates with me on a deep, spiritual level call into question my taste in modern hip-hop? I don't know! Maybe!

I'm gonna go with "no," though. At a time when people are unironically allowed to think Limp Bizkit are good (they've got three tracks), I think I'm allowed to fuck with that Artemas song that's made for 17-year-olds with Zyn packs in their pockets. Wait, you're actually bumping Creed? You're paying money to see Creed's reunion tour this summer? OK, then no, I will not being turning down the volume on Grave Man. I will be smoking out the grave as loud as I damn well please.

I don't know if these three artists are good. Maybe I'm the only writer with a Stereogum byline who genuinely loves some of this shit. But what I do know is that I've been having a blast listening to them, and even more fun thinking about where they fit into the contemporary music landscape. Check it out...

....And if you enjoy what I wrote here, please consider subscribing to Chasing Sundays at the $5/month tier. That money helps me dedicate time to writing longer pieces like this. And even if you hate the subject matter of this one, don't worry, I've got plenty of shoegaze/indie-rock/hardcore/metal articles in the oven.



And then the beat drops. The beat sounds like Salem smoking dust with Three Six Mafia behind a woodshed. It sounds like Osiris sneakers crunching through a forest floor of dead leaves littered with empty Newports packs. The bass is so loud and overdriven that it sounds both powerful and brittle at the same. It's like listening to Chief Keef through a cassette-aux adaptor in your friend's mom's 2001 Honda Odyssey. It sounds like utter shit and also like the best thing you've ever heard.

Sematary's voice is even wilder. He's a skinny white dude from California who raps like if Foghorn Leghorn sipped lean. He sounds like a guy who just had his first spoonful of gumbo and already thinks he's ready to start speaking with a Nawlins drawl. Between the beats and the rapping, Sematary is one of the most bizarre, over-the-top, and suffocating artists I've ever heard. When I played him in the car, my girlfriend asked, "Who is this?" and shook her head in disgust. I fucking love him so much. I've had more fun listening to Sematary than any other artist in 2024.

Sematary, and the Haunted Mound crew he runs, has been around for a number of years now, but he used to sound way more like Bladee rapping over Crim3s beats. His voice was a lot less animated and auto-tuned on 2019's cult-adored Rainbow Bridge, which doesn't really cut it for me after coming in the door through 2023's Butcher House. On that album, he yowls with a gravelly inflection that sounds like he's consciously trying to yank the auto-tune out of key but keeps getting bested by the machine. He takes the same approach on Bloody Angel, the slightly less good (but still pretty great) album he dropped late last month.

On both of these projects, Sematary raps almost exclusively about horror subject matter and getting fucked up. Except not in the way horror-core rappers traditionally approach these topics. Nothing about Sematary is actually scary or intimidating. He's not trying to say the most fucked-up shit or convince you of how twisted his mind is. He raps about horror like a 12-year-old who saw a re-run of Freddy vs. Jason on TV once. Or like that kid from the middle-school lunch table who was a little too into Silent Hill — a game he shouts out with same frequency Pusha-T does cocaine.

In "Mordor" he namedrops the Headless Horseman and says he's "posted in the parking lot like a scarecrow." In "Smoke Machine," a song about blasting cigs, he brags about lighting his cig with a molotov, "smokin' out the graveyard," and "coughin' in my coffin." In the refrain, he likens himself to "a skeleton riding out through the flames." In "Babayaga" he's swerving in hearses, and in "Suffer" he "pulls up with reapers in my Jeeper Creeper."

That's the sort of haunted hayride fare you're getting out of Sematary. It's patently ridiculous, and when I pause to think about how much joy it brings me to run back Butcher House at neighbor-annoying volume, I wonder if I've somehow lost the plot. Is this good in a bad way, bad in a good way, or just plain bad? I genuinely don't know. I feel like I need someone else with superior rap taste to tell me if I'm off-base here. But also, I don't give a shit. I can give you 20 reasons why the new Adrianne Lenker album is a quietly devastating masterwork, but nine times out of ten I'd rather be "posted graveyard with my bloody Haunted bros."


I don't actually like Artemas as an artist, but I really like his new song "I like the way you kiss me," which is currently one of the biggest songs in the entire world (it's currently the most popular song on Spotify). Most of the other Artemas songs I've heard sound like lowercase Frank Ocean. His first TikTok smash from late last year, "if u think i'm pretty," is music for hooking up in an H&M dressing room. Its chorus, "I know that you're shitty and you're bad for me/But I can't stop thinkin' 'bout it," is somehow both wounded and bored, horned-up and sexless. It sounds like one of the Brockhampton songs without rapping on it, or if The Weeknd sung over a Finneas leftover from the first Billie Eilish album.

It's not particularly inspiring stuff, but "i like the way you kiss me" is a tremendous vibe shift into...post-punky hyperpop that a bunch of people think is ripping off Mitski's "Washing Machine Heart"? What a time to be alive. It basically sounds like someone in the major-label space finally learned how to capitalize off the stoic darkwave of Molchat Doma, that Belarusian post-punk band who went viral on TikTok a couple years back. The beat marches forward with a cold, European thump, and the springy synth does kinda sound like Mitski's "Washing Machine Heart." Sorta.

Artemas basically sounds like a different artist on here than he does on "if u think i'm pretty," or any of the songs on his cloyingly anonymous 2024 full-length, pretty, which he dropped back in February. He sounds conniving and ruthless on "i like the way you kiss me," a total role-reversal of the helpless baddie-seeker he played on "if u think i'm pretty." During the chorus, he uses Dennis Reynolds-tier logic to justify his upper hand in an uneven situationship: "I'll hit it from the back, just so you don't get attached." I feel a twinge of embarrassment each time I sing along to that line. It's a special elixir of coarse misogyny and boorish narcissism — and Artemas delivers it with a detached Zoomer deadpan that slips out of his mouth like an Elf Bar cloud ring. It's so dickish, so heavy-handed, like something a pick-me supervillain would say. And it sounds so fucking cool and catchy coming off of his lips.

When he sings that line he sounds like pitched-up Morrissey, and he uses the same English affect (dude is British but sounds like an American who's trying to sound British) for most of the song. There's something brewing here. Psychedelic emo-rap savants Bladee and Yung Lean just released a post-punk album (and it rules, weirdly). Ekkstacy, who looks like the third member of City Morgue, and used to sound like it, too, has a TikTok hit that sounds like Eyedress doing boneless Christian Death (his other songs are much better, but answer the same head-scratching query: What if The Drums tried out for GothBoiClique?)

I'm curious to see if Artemas sticks with this sound on his next release, and where he ends up taking it. Are Sisters of Mercy gonna get the Deftones TikTok treatment? Is MGK gonna wear some hideous battle vest decked out in 4AD band patches? Any of that — including several slightly less interesting versions of this Artemas song running up the charts — makes for a more interesting Top 40 pool than whatever the fuck Teddy Swims is doing.


The fact that I like this is particularly shocking to me. 6arelyhuman is a surprisingly popular TikTok figure who Billboard profiled earlier this year for a story that wondered aloud: Are they "the future of dance music?" However, I first learned of 6arelyhuman last week when I decided to hate-listen to the new song they did with Scene Queen, an artist who I find acutely loathsome for several reasons, but whose music is admittedly similar-ish to 6arelyhuman's. As expected, I didn't like the Scene Queen collab, but I was curious enough about 6arelyhuman's whole deal — a sassy auto-crooner in Hot Topic drag who looks and sounds exactly like a Myspace scene starlet from 2010 — to check out a solo song of theirs.

Their biggest one is "GMFU," a 2023 track they did with producer Odetari (the figure they were profiled alongside in Billboard) that boasts a whopping 176m Spotify streams. Over a pulsing, distorted beat that sounds like an I Love Boobies Bracelet converted into WAV file form, 6arelyhuman sings with an emo-inflected crunk flow that's laced with glitchy "I-I-I-I" and "B-B-B" vocal stutters, telegraphing their dual reverence for "Poker Face" and Millionaires. "Hm," I thought to myself, and then let Spotify run into the next song, "Faster n Harder" (20m Spotify streams since its Feb. 28th release).

After skeptically downing a few more tracks, I realized that my foot was tapping the floor and I already wanted to hear "GMFU" and "Faster n Harder" again. This shit is catchy! It's addictive. It's got that Dorito dust magic to it where you can't stop crunching after the first bite, and even though your tummy hurts after finishing half the bag in one 20-minute sitting, you know you're gonna dip back in for more later in the evening. That's how I feel about my enjoyment of 6arelyhuman. I'm kind of ashamed and actively aware that this is pure musical junk food that's probably making my brain dumber every time I run it back. But also...it tastes good to my ears!

Something I find really fascinating about 6arelyhuman is that they're actually really fucking slick and talented at executing this profoundly absurd form of raver-scene pop. The ancestors of this sound —Kreayshawn, Breathe Carolina, and Blood on the Dance Floor, whose rampant pedophilia certainly sours the way this idiom of Myspace trash-pop is remembered — were never quite good enough to follow Kesha and 3OH!3 into Top 40 stardom. There was an amateurish cheekiness to the crunk-pop of Kreayshawn and Millionaires that was impenetrable to normies, whereas Dr. Luke's sheen on Kesha's Animal gave her similarly rambunctious music a radio polish that was accepted within the average Alpha Sigma abode.

Breathe Carolina's best and most notable track, "Blackout," enjoyed some crossover success from the EDM boom, but Blood on the Dance Floor (and their screamier, trollier peers in Brokencyde, for that matter) were too weird and, well, horrendous (both in appearance and sound) to jump from Warped Tour to Ultra like Breathe Carolina did. 6arelyhuman looks more like Blood on the Dance Floor than Breathe Carolina, but I think they're nailing the tricky balance between being irritating and irresistible, which was the central tension in so much of the best pop music of the first Obama term. And obviously that works well on TikTok, too, where I'm sure many others like myself flipped through 6arelyhuman's videos out of morbid curiosity and then found themselves shaking their heads 30 minutes later as they saved an album called Sassy Scene on Spotify.

There's a level of charisma and dexterity in 6arelyhuman's delivery that accounts for why their music is so popular right now. They have a really instinctual handle on how to shape vocal melodies, they use the perfect amount of auto-tune, and their lyrics pair Project X hedonism ("we got bitches in the back snortin' lines of blow") with Spencer's-lingerie spookiness ("love how you grab my side/I need to be exorcised") — astutely channeling the air-head tenor of their influences, and also echoing our cultural return to Family Guy-era crassness.

Some of their songs are even more explicit in their note-for-note revival of the year 2010 (the 22-year-old 6arelyhuman was nine years old back then). "Take a Pic" is pure Myspace-era nostalgia-bait, with anachronisms like, "I be in my room/Taking selfies with my flip-phone," and rawry huffs like, "I'm lookin' so damn cute I might start a fight." The next song on this month's Internet Famous album is a reverent remix of "Like a G6," possibly the most 2010 song I can think of.

As the last couple years of Y2K nostalgia inevitably march closer to the late Aughts, I imagine that 6arelyhuman's music will only feel more in-tune with the zeitgeist. Which makes me wonder: is 6arelyhuman actually the future of dance music? It's hard to make these one-to-ones because the way we consume music has changed so much over the last 13 years, but it seems like 6arelyhuman's sound is just as — if not more — trendy now than Breathe Carolina's was in 2011. "GMFU" was certified Gold last month, eight months after its initial release date. For comparison, Breathe Carolina's "Blackout" — a sonically similar song from the era 6arelyhuman is mining from — went Gold nine months after its 2011 release, an almost identical trajectory to that of "GMFU."

I don't know if 6arelyhuman will assimilate into mainstream EDM festivals the way Breathe Carolina kinda did, but it seems like the door is open for them to capture a different, more diffuse audience — one that stacks the fanbases of raver-scene, witch house, and hyperpop on top of one another. Streams-wise, 6arelyhuman already has six million more (!) Spotify Monthly Listeners than 100 gecs, whose music (especially the danciest songs on 2019's 1000 gecs) is cut from a similar cloth of Myspace-era mishmashing. (In truth, 6arelyhuman's sound is even closer to the trancey hyperpop that Kid Trash, That Kid, and Alice Gas were making circa 2020. A different breed than the rock-inflected hyperpop of 100 gecs, or the internet rap-based digicore strain of quinn and midwxst.)

6arelyhuman's similarities to hyperpop are pretty surface-level, but I think their music's relation to witch house (or witch house-adjacent stars like Crystal Castles, to be more specific) is more interesting. I see the 2010 era of raver-scene pop as the Chaotic evil to the Chaotic good that was witch house (another scene whose history is marred by the revolting sexual abuse carried out by one of its most prominent musicians). Witch house icons like Crystal Castles and Salem were making music that was just as gaudy and lurid as Breathe Carolina, but was aesthetically tailored toward Fader Fort twentysomethings instead of Warped Tour teens. Crystal Castles and Salem's songs were druggier, artier, and more temperamentally introverted than the brash chintzyness of Blood on the Dance Floor and Kreayshawn (and of course witch house was better than that shit, don't get me twisted).

Witch house and raver-scene were two totally different genres with two entirely different audiences in 2010, but looking back through the post-genre, post-subculture, post-conception-of-time lenses we wear today, I don't know if those distinctions are as meaningful. 6arelyhuman has a million followers on TikTok, an app where Crystal Castles' music has (problematically, of course) run rampant for the last year. Both artists serve up iterations of dark, maximalist electro-pop. I found dozens of TikToks — memes, artist recs, beat plugs, playlists, random commentary — that have have "#6arelyhuman" and "#crystalcastles" in the comments. Some of those vids also drop contemporary witch house revivalists Snow Strippers in the tags, who feel like an even split between Crystal Castles/Ritualz art-pop and 6arelyhuman sleaze-house.

6arelyhuman's proximity to music that's cool (Snow Strippers make music for NYC rich kids who grew up in L.A., whereas raver-scene is exclusively for Cookie Monster-hatted suburbanites) is fascinating to me because basically everything about them is decidedly uncool. Their look, their dopey lyrics, their collaborators, and above all the artists they're channeling, who are (I think reasonably) considered some of the worst artists of the 21st century. So why do I like this shit? Why does "GMFU" put a huge-ass smile on my face despite sounding like Deuce-era Hollywood Undead crossed with LMFAO? Why am I, as a 29-year-old music critic, referencing specific eras of Hollywood Undead to describe an artist I like in the year 2024?

These are questions that ask more of 6arelyhuman than what their music is capable of giving. So I'm just gonna turn my brain off and mouth along to the line, "Cause I'm feeling so scene/And you're just giving John Cena," with the head-empty glee this shit deserves.