Insane Clown Posse Explains Insane Clown Posse

In light of their new TV show premiering July 24, one of the rap duo clears up some of their mystery

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Insane Clown Posse Theater
Scott Gries / Fuse

Shaggy 2 Dope (l) and Violent J

If you’re a Juggalo, here’s all you need to know: Insane Clown Posse Theater is premiering July 24 on Fuse. The show will feature Mystery Science Theater 3000-style videos, of the sort ICP already does online, along with special guests and sketches. But you probably already knew that.

If you’re not a Juggaloor, as is more likely the case, don’t even know what a Juggalo is—here’s what you need to know. A Juggalo is a fan of the rap duo Insane Clown Posse…but more on that later. Insane Clown Posse, the love-‘em-or-hate-‘em pair that perform as Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope, practice the love-it-or-hate-it rap variant known as horrorcore…but more on that later. Theirs is an insular world and non-fans might be understandably overwhelmed trying to process their complicated backstory and attendant subculture, even as the band’s mainstream presence is bigger than ever. Though ICP has been rapping for about 25 years, their transition from the underground to having their own TV show has been less of a steady climb than a sudden leap.

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“It’s all relatively brand new. All our lives we figured that when the band gets a little bit older, we’re going to start doing stuff on TV. What we were going to do on TV we had no idea,” Violent J tells TIME. “Next thing you know, somehow, due to the turning of the clouds and the planets aligned, [Fuse] called us and said come out to New York and talk about a TV show.”

Of course, we had some more (and more basic) questions for him—like:
What is “horrorcore”?

“It’s a lot like when you used to go to a Blockbuster video for movies: there’s romance movies, there’s action-packed movies and there’s horror movies. Music is a lot like that,” explains Violent J. “There’s super high-speed rock, there’s ballads, and believe it or not—it’s a small section and not very many artists do it— there’s horror music.”

What’s with the face paint?

Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope are characters in the horror story, the former explains, which allows them to sing about horrific topics. “It’s all fake; it’s not real. You don’t actually think we’re murderers but we rap about it,” he says. “We rap about dark, grim things but it’s storytelling. I play the role of Violent J, my partner plays Shaggy 2 Dope, and we’re wicked clowns from the dark carnival, but there are many secrets beyond that and  many clues to unlock as you go.”

Like…? 

Some ICP albums are “Joker’s Cards,” all of which are supposed to fit together to reveal a message. And the liner notes are meant to make listeners ask questions. “The messages were ways of looking at yourself before it’s too late, asking you to take a look at yourself in the mirror: Are you good for the planet and people in general? Or are you bad for the planet and people?” he asks. (And though he admits that the message is one that meshes with spirituality, he says it has nothing to do with any specific religion.)

What’s with the Juggalos?

The fans, says Violent J, are the real Insane Clown Posse story; he calls ICP fandom “the Juggalo movement.” He says that the music is directed at people who perhaps, like the duo themselves, dropped out of school, or are bullied or simply misunderstood. The annual festival for ICP fans is called the Gathering of the Juggalos; this year’s takes place in Cave-In-Rock, Ill., from Aug. 7–11. But, says Violent J, the music isn’t really the point: “Listening to our music is hard to do. You get picked on just for listening. When you get to the Gathering, there’s all these people that share your interests, this euphoria comes over you, you can go up to anybody and they’ll give you a cheeseburger. We just provide the soundtrack to it all.” (There is a history of violence at the Gathering, too, but Violent J—ironically—claims that problems are more likely to come from “hotdog vendors” and other outsiders than from the Juggalos themselves.)

Why would fans get picked on?

It’s not just that they wear face paint too: Insane Clown Posse calls itself the most hated band in the world; just this month GQ named them the worst rappers ever. Violent J believes out that when ICP did a song with Jack White in 2011, it only made news because nobody could believe Jack White would associate himself with the group, and he says that the group has always received completely negative reviews. “What we do is so easy to pick on,” he says, adding that when the band does receive respect it’s often in the form of a backhanded compliment. “People look at us and say, ‘These guys have gotta be creative geniuses, because how else could they sell that music?’”

But now you have a TV show. What changed? 

Violent J’s theory: the Internet. One of the first hints that ICP would be getting a lot more mainstream attention was the response to the 2010 music video for their song “Miracles”:

The trippy clip merited an SNL spoof—proof, says Violent J, that enough people would get the joke to make it worth airing, which he attributes to the power of YouTube. (The video has clocked 12 million views.) “Back in the ‘90s, only the biggest, die-hardest fans had actually seen our videos,” he says. “Nowadays, we operate in this glass office where anybody can see us. ‘Miracles’ wasn’t anything different; that was just another ICP video. You don’t have to be a super die-hard fan to dive into our world.” And once people start watching their music videos on YouTube, they might watch ICP comedy clips…which eventually leads to a TV show.

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And what’s next?

The duo does have one idea for what they could do if astronomical wealth comes their way. “We always talk about, ‘Wouldn’t be great if we could get a giant apartment complex and we owned them all and all the Juggalos could live together?'” Violent J says. “What if it 20 years we could put the money down? Everybody smiles when they think about it.”

31 comments
chrisjmatta
chrisjmatta

I know close to nothing about this band, but caught some of this video review show on FUSE, and I found it very entertaining.  The pair (especially the heavier guy) prove to be very insightful.  He is also witty and, darn it, hes like-able!!  I find myself wanting to hang out with him.  

GeorgeEure
GeorgeEure

im a juggalo and this article makes me happy im glad to see that people want to hear about us now instead of degrading us for being different watch icp video miracles its inspiring for everyone juggalo or not ty all

Trap12
Trap12

Music's equivalency programming comparative to "reality" programming. 

buffalo.barnes102
buffalo.barnes102

This article goes more to the state of television than it does to the "creativity" of these two clowns...sorry. Barnum was right: "You'll never go broke underestimating the taste of the American public." Cut the Cable!

flossmore
flossmore

Probably thee most untalented bunch of morons ever to be called a group.....yeah a group of ass-wipes!

SukeMadiq
SukeMadiq

If you want to see obese, stupid, ugly girls, The Gathering is the place.

cb5979
cb5979

Wow that was the worst music video and song EVER! I was never a fan of this group but man I didn't expect them to suck this bad.

cjh2nd
cjh2nd

in future news, FUSE just canceled ICP Theatre after they realized that most juggalos can't afford a TV

Stupidog
Stupidog

Stupid clowns.  Get some talent and a life.


LeelaR6
LeelaR6

They came to the haunted house I worked at when I was 18. They kept trying to get me to leave with them and go to their hotel, their camera man kept trying to put his camera up the skirt of my costume. They were trying to do the same to some of the girls who were not even 18 yet. They then brought food into the house, which they were told was forbidden due to the location and when I told them this, told me to "eat a f***ing taco and to shut my c***sucker." When I refused they threw a taco at me. They then tried to persuade me to go back to their hotel again, so I could "find out how great it is to f*** a clown." They finally left after hours of hell. Their gross fans had disrespected our haunted house, tagging it, throwing trash, and harassing our actors. The only consolation was half of them misspelled 'Juggalo.'

Seola1
Seola1

What, no mention of the fact that the FBI classifies Juggalos as a gang?  All the violence they perpetuate both at the festival and at home?  None of that in the fluff piece?

UngabaIntrepid
UngabaIntrepid

Wow, so I watched the entire thing.  The fact that people 'follow' this is surely a sign of the apocalypse.

stannd
stannd

Bill Nye the Science Guy could pull off a better music video than these turkeys.

stannd
stannd

This is friggin horrible.

JohnSmith18
JohnSmith18

Worst music and worst fan base ever. Just watch one their lousy videos and be happy you are not from the Midwest. 

lollollolllo
lollollolllo

"There is a history of violence at the Gathering, too, but Violent J—ironically—claims that problems are more likely to come from “hotdog vendors” and other outsiders than from the Juggalos themselves."

How is this ironic?

WhisperedWords
WhisperedWords

ICP, creating the most uneducated fans since their inception.

cjh2nd
cjh2nd

@Seola1  

what do you expect? doing research and asking tough questions are some of the building blocks of good journalism. as such, you'll never see it on this site

rylesg74
rylesg74

@JohnSmith18 What does this crap have to do with the Midwest? Tell you what, I'm sure as sh$% happy I live in the Midwest versus anywhere else in the US. 


LisaRodriguez
LisaRodriguez

You are right! I'm from Arkansas but staying in idaho. They are so many ass clowns you can SMELL THEM a mile away!