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Members are Shaggy 2 Dope (born Joseph Utsler, c. 1974) and Violent J (born Joseph Frank Bruce, c. 1972). Addresses: Record company--Island Records, 400 Lafayette St., 5th Floor, New York, NY 10003. Website-- www.insaneclownposse.com.

The Insane Clown Posse, two Detroit rappers with a devoted Midwestern following, garnered substantial national media attention during the summer of 1997 when their label, Hollywood Records, shipped The Great Milenko to record stores and then six hours later recalled it. Apparently, label executives--Hollywood is a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Corporation--learned a bit late of the obscenity- laden and, in some cases, violence-advocating songs and became nervous. The Insane Clown Posse controversy was an unusual one on several fronts, but most interestingly because many record stores simply ignored the recall order. Also, the anti-Disney backlash served to elevate two rappers known for their crude lyrics into unlikely First-Amendment heroes. Though critics lambasted Milenko artistically, the Insane Clown Posse, known to fans as ICP, has attracted a massive cult fan base, comprised primarily of suburban youth. Detroit Free Press writer Brian McColum termed them "Halloween hip-hop," but also reflected that they remain "just possibly the wildest show to come out of the Motor City since Iggy Pop contorted himself and frolicked in busted glass two decades ago."

The Insane Clown Posse, whose records have also earned comparisons to those of the early Beastie Boys, is the creation of two Detroiters, Joseph Bruce ("Violent J") and Joseph Utsler ("Shaggy 2 Dope"). Both grew up in poor, single-parent households in a rough section of Detroit, that by the late 1980s was attracting a mix of residents. Whites of Southern origin, Hispanics, and African- Americans shared shaky ground in Detroit's notorious Southwest corner, and the evident tension could be charted by the plethora of teen gangs that sprang up. Allegedly, Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope formed a gang known as the "Inner City Posse," which soon evolved from a social fraternity into a rap act. Using the same name, they began making homemade tapes of rap songs they penned themselves that reflected their violent and tense surroundings.

In time Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope were performing live; but in a subterfuge against retribution from other gangs, they wore heavy black and white clown paint, which was also a nod to the appeal of their rap genre across color lines. "We put on the makeup because people in the suburbs view gang kids in the city as clowns," Violent J told Detroit Free Press reporter Carol Teegardin in 1994. From basement-made tapes Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope progressed to self-released records on their own Psychopathic label. These included 1992's Carnival of Carnage, the 1993 EP Beverly Kills 50187, and the 1994 EP Terror Wheel. The lyrics were disturbing and gory, and attracted many teen male listeners. Tracks like "Crime Pays, "Guts on the Ceiling," "Ghetto Freak Show," and "For the Maggots" reflected their preoccupation with carnage, mass murder, and other typically scream-flick fare. "The music we do is horror rap," Violent J told Teegardin. "It's extremely violent. We use four-letter words, and we get hate mail. But some people like us because we rap about the anger you feel in your everyday life. It's not a pretty thing."

Yet it was also partly because of their outrageous live shows that ICP gained local renown. Playing all-ages shows, Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope offered a form of adolescent performance art, tossing rubber chickens into the audience--made up of devoted fans who showed up for concerts dressed as their favorite ICP rapper simply to wait in line hours beforehand--and spraying them with bottles of Faygo-brand carbonated soft drink, a Detroit- made product. The Faygo became a focal point of the entire ICP act, and soon the promotion-savvy company was trucking up to 150 two-liter bottles to the stage doors, free of cost. Other ICP crowd-pleasers include jumping from a trampoline into the audience, but when the act was signed to Jive Records in 1995 and was sent on a national tour, the red-soda-pop-and-clown look did not translate. "In some cities, we still get booed off," Violent J told the Detroit Free Press's McCollum in 1995. On that tour, they opened for Onyx and Das EFX.

ICP's Jive/Battery release, 1995's The Riddlebox, did well both locally and nationally, selling over 80,000 copies. But Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope were dissatisfied with the label's marketing efforts, and managed to terminate their contract in 1996. They were then signed by Hollywood Records, a former suitor before the Jive/Battery deal. When they questioned the Disney-owned label's policies on lyrics and content prior to inking the deal, ICP and their management were assured complete artistic freedom. After studio sessions with renowned Detroit producer Mike Clark, ICP submitted the completed The Great Milenko to the label. Hollywood Records executives then requested that some lyrics be revised. Violent J told Billboard writer Chris Morris that at that point, he informed executives "'I'm not gonna change it,' and they said 'Then the record's gonna be shelved until you do.'"

But he and Shaggy 2 Dope held out until "the pressure got to us," Violent J admitted to Billboard. They capitulated and changed the lyrics, and in June of 1997 Milenko, after a large promotional effort, was shipped. Six hours later, after Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope came home from autographing copies of it at a local record store, they received a call that Hollywood had recalled the album because Disney had deemed its contents "inappropriate for a product released under any label of our company," according to a press release. ICP had been assured that Disney played no role in its music division's decisions, but supposedly Disney chair Michael Eisner personally gave the word to recall the record.

Interestingly, many record stores did not comply with the unprecedented recall, and The Great Milenko became a top seller in Detroit. The story was even more complex and at times slightly baffling: supposedly one Hollywood Records executive, Joe Roth, had been shown a video for one of The Great Milenko's tracks--a song in which ICP urges brutal retribution for men who abuse their wives. In essence, the two rappers, both raised by single moms, were speaking out against domestic assault. Yet Roth spoke to Eisner and voiced concern about the entire LP, and the flap grew from there. Other events also conspired against ICP--just the day before, the powerful Southern Baptist Convention, convening nationally in Florida, condemned Disney for its "anti-family value" stance, sparked in part by the television sitcom Ellen (ABC is also part of the Disney entertainment empire). Coincidentally, there was a song on The Great Milenko mocking preachers who ask for money from their flocks.

There was more on The Great Milenko than just controversial lyrics, however. Violent J, Shaggy 2 Dope, and Clark, their producer, had invited some outstanding musicians to help out, including the original shock-rock star, Alice Cooper, along with one-time Sex Pistol Steve Jones, and Slash of Guns 'N' Roses. It was soon at No. 63 on the Billboard Top 200 album chart, and became one of the best successes for the Hollywood label--which had become infamous in the music industry for its notorious string of failures. (The back catalogue of British pop- rock act Queen is its only moneymaker.) Yet executives remained determined to wash their hands of ICP, and canceled all scheduled tour dates and the band's contract as well, which incited a huge bidding war. Hollywood Records then tried to block ICP from negotiation talks, and eventually forced them to pay $1 million of the act's $2.5 million deal with Island Records, ostensibly to recoup production and marketing outlays.

Critics have never been kind to ICP. In the Detroit Free Press, McCollum noted that "while purporting to rail against the evils of racists, rednecks and suburban gang poseurs, the group rolls around in heavy-duty death, misogyny and scatological, um, humor." A December, 1997 Spin magazine piece, drawn by Detroit artist Mark Dancey and written by Spin contributor and onetime Detroiter Mike Rubin, lambasted the group and its devoted fan base. More trouble plagued Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope as a rough year came to a close. Around Thanksgiving, an overzealous Albuquerque, New Mexico, fan came onstage and grabbed Violent J's hair and reportedly would not let go; the singer then hit him with a microphone and afterward was arrested on aggravated battery charges, but was later released on bail. And in early 1998 the ICP our bus slid down an embankment near the Indiana/Ohio border, although no one was seriously injured.

by Carol Brennan

Insane Clown Posse's Career

Band formed as Inner City Posse in Detroit, MI, c. 1989; signed with Jive Records, 1995; released The Riddlebox on Jive/Battery, 1995; negotiated out of Jive contract, signed with Hollywood Records, c. 1996; released The Great Milenko, June 1997; record pulled from stores the same day; negotiated release from Hollywood Records and signed with Island Records, July 1997; re-released The Great Milenko on Island, August 1997.

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Insane Clown Posse Lyrics

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Visitor Comments Add a comment…

over 5 years ago

ICP ... I just became a juggalette . I never even heard of you guys && never heard of juggalos or the fam . I started dating this boy 1 year ago && he' s the biggest juggalo ever , He got me to listen to some of your song' s && now im hooked . I listen to nothing but your songs all dayy every dayy && am now a true juggalette for lifee<3 .

almost 6 years ago

im a juggalette and madly in love with you guys never stop doing what your doing!!! WHOOP WHOOP

over 7 years ago

MAGIC MAGIC NINJAS WHAT!!!!!! WHOOP WHOOP TO ALL TH LO'S AND LETTE'S! MCL!

over 7 years ago

My brothers got me hooked... Im a Juggalette for Lyfe.. WHOOP WHOOP Never gonna stop listining!!! IM JUST SHOWING SOME WICKID CLOWN LUV.. yeah im the only girl in my school that has even heard of it besides my bestie...

over 7 years ago

I'm a Juggalo 4 life. One of my friends introduced me to ICP and when I heard the music I was dragged in. I am starting to get more and more of the Juggalo's cd's and I'm going to listen to ICP forever and ever. MMFWCL!!!

almost 8 years ago

MMFWCL to all you ninjas! Whoop Whoop. Stay true! For life.

about 8 years ago

I got love for all my famm!!! WHOOP WHOOP!!!!!!

about 8 years ago

Whoop whoop

almost 9 years ago

yall is sexy beasts ....sexy juggalos

almost 9 years ago

My sis is the one who originally introduced me to the wonderful world of juggalo/ette music for the masses. I.C.P was the first juggalo band I had ever heard, and I quickly came to love it. However, my sista decided she couldn't take the commitment to a juggalette life..she threw away the icp cd. It was a sad day for me. But now that I'm with my juggalo of a boyfriend, I can't help but spread the clown love to all the ninjas out there in there in the world who need it! Keep it real, Clown love to ya all.

almost 9 years ago

DUDE JUGGALOS FOR LIFE BOGGIE OGI MAN

almost 9 years ago

Insane Slow nose you are the SHIT! I am one of your biggest fans and so is my baby! Never stop doing what you do!

about 9 years ago

hey, im a keep the music comeing dont stop. by Violent J- ALL JUGGALOS/LETTES READ!!! JUGGALOZ- Sorry to be all deep and serious but i got lots of shit on my mind. I'm tired of everything and everybody. The only thing i give a shit about in this hell we call a world is my Juggalo Family. The Carnival saved my life and my soul. My Juggalo Pride is the best thing that ever happened to me. It's starting to scare me for the fact when I sit back and actually observe the juggalo world, It seems like its going down hill. It seems to me that a lot of ninjas are out for self and trying to prove whos a bigger juggalo that who. There is no big or small juggalo. We are all the same. It doesn't take $4, 000 is psychopathic merchandise to be a juggalo. Just because I got an old school mostastless jersey doesn't make me any better than a ninja with only one t-shirt. Being a juggalo is whats in your heart not whats on you clothes. I've seen juggalos callin each other juggahoes over spots in line at shows. That's BULLSHIT! Does anyone else realize this? Does anyone else feel the pain I do when my heart bleeds as I watch my family fall apart? We are all equal. Juggalos shoud not fight with one another! Remember? We are suppose to love each other! We need to be reunited as one once again. Just as we were before. "From the first jokers card, Carnival of Carnage, to the latest card. The Wraith: Shangri-La, we have been united as one by the powers of the Dark Carnival, the power that brings us together and makes us who we are, never again must you care what people think of you or what you do, this is our world and we live for each other!" If you own a copy of Dark Lotus, as soon as you get a chance, I want you to sit down and listen to ..15 enititled, "Juggalo Family." When the song is over, think about what it means and think about how it makes you feel. If yall want to laugh than go ahead but personally, When i sang the song i really didnt listen to the words but when I heard that song for the first time I was at The Gathering of The Juggalos 2001 and when I listened to the words and took a look around at all the juggalos face, tears slowly came from my eyes and I thought to myself, "this is my family." It felt so good to know that the only thing I care about is right here with me. My juggalo family is the only thing true in my life. Nothing else has ever made me feel good. No person place or thing has ever looked at me as a part of their family. If you own a computer, get on a website such as realjuggalos.com and click on the icon "juggalos" search through the page and take a look at all of them and just think, each of them consider you family, each of these people can be trusted with your life just as they trust you with their life. We shouldn't be fighting, we should be giving each other hugs and saying, " I clown love you ninja!" to any of you that have web sites, i would greatly appreciate it if you could post this on your site. If you happen to have access to a copy machine please make copies and give this to as many juggalos as possible. I want to make sure every juggalo world wide reads this letter I'm goin to do my damnest to save our juggalo world and reunite it, not only that but make our family bigger. We have over two million dedicated juggalos in the world but we must also be dedicated to each other. My heart, mind, body and soul goes out to each and every one of you. If you dont remember anything from this, at least remember this, "mass murder makes me happy, dead bodies make me happy, say what you will of me, I'll always have juggalo family" please repost this and help our sick family find there way back - Violent J

about 9 years ago

hey icp i am your fan and samething with my boyfriend we got some of your cd's but we are going to get some more like you guys very much ... we live in woonsocket rhode island what have you guys been doing

about 9 years ago

keep keepin on dont stop come on!! MMFWCL

about 9 years ago

I am the biggest ICP fan.... Im a true juggalette unlike these juggahoes. I hope to meet these two sweet ass juggalo's soon.

over 9 years ago

i am a big ICP fan and i was very sad 2 hear that ICP were NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK please tell me its not true ?

over 9 years ago

keep keepin on ICP