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Insane Clown Posse

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Insane Clown Posse
Insane Clown Posse
ICP on 2007
Background information
Also known as ICP
Origin Delray, Detroit, Michigan, United States
Genre(s) Hip hop
Years active 1991–present
Label(s) Psychopathic Records
Website InsaneClownPosse.com
Members
Violent J (Joseph Bruce)
Shaggy 2 Dope (Joseph Utsler)
Former members
John Kickjazz (John Utsler)
Greez-E (Kalyn Garcia)

Insane Clown Posse is an American hip hop duo from Delray, Detroit. The group comprises Joseph Bruce and Joseph Utsler, who perform under the respective personas of the murderous, wicked clowns Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope. The duo has earned two platinum and three gold albums. According to Nielsen SoundScan, the entire catalog of the group has sold 6.5 million units in the United States and Canada as of April 2007, which means that they're fucking mainstream so stop calling them underground.[1] Originally known as Inner City Posse, Bruce and Utsler introduced supernatural- and horror-themed lyrics as a means of distinguishing itself stylistically.

The duo founded the independent record label, Psychopathic Records, with Alex Abbiss as manager, and produced and starred in the feature films Big Money Hustlas and Big Money Rustlas. They formed their own wrestling federation, Juggalo Championship Wrestling, and later collaborated with many famous hip hop and rock musicians. The themes of Insane Clown Posse and other acts on Psychopathic Records center on the mythology of the Dark Carnival, a spiritual force that has revealed a series of stories known as Joker's Cards. These stories each offer a specific lesson designed to change the "evil ways" of listeners before "the end consumes us all."

History Edit

Early history (1991–1994) Edit

ICP 1991
ICP in 1991.

Joseph Bruce, along with Joseph Utsler and his brother, John, formed Inner City Posse in 1989.[2] Seeing a need for a manager, Bruce's brother Robert recommended his friend and record store owner Alex Abbiss, who established the Psychopathic Records record label with the group in 1991. In late 1991 the group invested more money into production than was covered by returns. The group decided that its gangsta rap style was the cause of the problem: Most rappers at the time used similar styles, making it difficult for Inner City Posse to distinguish itself stylistically.[3] Referring to local rapper Esham's acid rap style, Bruce suggested the band adapt this genre, in a bid to have Detroit represent acid rap, much as Los Angeles represented gangsta rap. The group agreed, but not to copying the style of Esham closely. Instead, they suggested using horror-themed lyrics as an emotional outlet for all their negative life experiences. They were also unanimous in deciding not to rap openly about Satan, which Esham often did.[3]

After the change in musical style, the group decided it needed a new name. Utsler suggested keeping the "I.C.P." initials to inform the community that Inner City Posse was not defunct, an idea to which the group agreed.[3] Several names were considered before Bruce recalled his dream of a clown running around in Delray, which became the inspiration for the group's new name: Insane Clown Posse. The other members agreed, deciding that they would take on this new genre and name, and would all don face paint due to the success of their former clown-painted hype man.[3]

Upon returning home that night, Bruce had a dream in which spirits in a traveling carnival appeared to him—an image that would become the basis for the Dark Carnival mythology detailed in the group's Joker's Cards series.[3]

ICP 1994
ICP in 1994.

The group began recording their debut album, Carnival of Carnage, with producer Chuck Miller. After recording only three songs for US$6,000 with Miller, Alex Abbiss made his first major managerial move by finding another producer, Mike E. Clark.[4] The group finished recording the album with Clark, who continued to work with them throughout their career. The album featured appearances from local rappers, including Esham and Kid Rock. Just weeks prior to the release of their album, John left the group because he felt that it was "taking up too much of [his] life."[4] When Bruce and Utsler attempted to call a meeting to talk about the issues, John did not attend.[4]

Carnival of Carnage was released on October 18, 1992, with distribution within a 120-mile radius of Detroit.[4] On its first day of release, it only sold one copy. The follow-up EP, Beverly Kills 50187, sold well and gained a larger audience. During a live performance of the song "The Juggla", Bruce addressed the audience as Juggalos, and the positive response resulted in the group using the word thereafter.[5] The group's second studio album, Ringmaster, was released on March 8, 1994, and its popularity enabled the group to sell out larger nightclubs across Detroit.[5]

Because Bruce and Utsler made reference to the Detroit-produced soft drink Faygo in their songs, they "figured it would be cool to have some on stage with them."[6] During a concert Bruce threw an open bottle of Faygo at a row of concertgoers who were giving them the finger. After receiving a positive response, Bruce and Utsler have since continued to spray Faygo onto audiences.[6] A subsequent national tour increased sales of the album,[5] earning Ringmaster a gold certification.[7] The group's second EP, The Terror Wheel, was released on August 5, 1994. One of the songs from the EP, "Dead Body Man", received considerable local radio play.[5] The same year marked their first "Hallowicked" concert, which has since continued annually on Halloween night in Detroit.[5]

Major releases (1995–1997)Edit

ICP 1997
ICP in 1997.

In 1995 Bruce and Utsler attempted to obtain a contract with a major record label. They eventually signed a contract with Jive Records,[5] which released the group's third studio album, Riddle Box, on October 10, 1995.[8] After Jive Records showed little interest in promoting the album, Insane Clown Posse funded the promotion of Riddle Box independently. This effort led the group to Dallas, Texas, where they persuaded several music retail stores to stock the album. Sales averaged 1,500 copies per week as a result.[9]

Manager Alex Abbiss negotiated a contract with the Walt Disney Company-owned label Hollywood Records, that reportedly paid US$1 million to purchase the Insane Clown Posse contract from Jive Records.[10] The group started recording their fourth studio album, The Great Milenko, in 1996, during which Disney requested that the tracks "The Neden Game", "Under the Moon", and "Boogie Woogie Wu" be removed. Disney also asked that the lyrics of other tracks be changed, threatening to not release the album otherwise.[11][12] Bruce and Utsler complied with Disney's requests, and planned to go on a national tour with House of Krazees and Myzery as their opening acts.[11]

During a music store autograph signing, Insane Clown Posse was notified that Hollywood Records had recalled the album within hours of its release,[11] despite having sold 18,000 copies and reaching #63 on the Billboard 200.[13][14] The group was also informed that its in-store signings and nationwide tour had been canceled, commercials for the album and the music video for "Halls of Illusions" (which had reached #1 on The Box video request channel) were pulled from television, and that the group was dropped from the label.[11] It was later revealed that Disney was being criticized by the Southern Baptist Church at the time because of Disney's promotion of "Gay Days" at Disneyland, in addition to presiding over the gay-themed television sitcom Ellen. The church claimed Disney was turning its back on "family values."[15] Although Abbiss told the press that Disney had stopped production of The Great Milenko to avoid further controversy, Disney claimed instead that the release of the album was an oversight by their review board, and that the album "did not fit the Disney image" because of its "inappropriate" lyrics,[16] which they claimed were offensive to women.[17]

After the termination of the Hollywood Records contract, Insane Clown Posse signed a new contract with Island Records, who agreed to release the uncensored version of The Great Milenko.[18][12] The Great Milenko has been certified platinum with over 1.5 million copies sold.[7] One of the group's first projects with Island Records was an hour-long documentary entitled Shockumentary, which aired on MTV. The station initially refused to play the documentary, but Island Records persuaded them to air it as a personal favor.[18] Shockumentary helped increase album sales from 17,000 to 50,000 copies per week.[18]

National tours and wrestling career (1997-1998)Edit

Two days before their rescheduled "The Great Milenko Tour" in August 1997, Bruce received a telephone call from friends Rob Van Dam and Sabu.[19] They asked if he and Utsler could appear on ECW's second pay-per-view (PPV) program, Hardcore Heaven. Bruce and Utsler were already fans of ECW, as Van Dam had been sending videotapes of the show to them since its first airing.[19] They agreed to appear and went to Florida to discuss the ECW program's content with Van Dam, Sabu, and Paul Heyman. Heyman was pleased that Bruce and Utsler were former wrestlers, which meant that they could surprise the crowd by taking bumps. Heyman also favored the idea of using Insane Clown Posse, because it was unlikely that anyone knew of the relationship the group had with Van Dam and Sabu.[19] Heyman presented his idea to Bruce and Utsler, who agreed to participate. Insane Clown Posse opened the ECW program by performing songs and exciting the crowd. Then Van Dam and Sabu, the main villains at the time, attacked Bruce and Utsler. The top fan favorite, The Sandman, came in and saved them by chasing away Van Dam and Sabu with his signature Singapore cane.[19]

Two days after the ECW program, Insane Clown Posse began their rescheduled nationwide tour with House of Krazees and Myzery. Their first concert, held in Orlando, Florida, was hand-picked by Insane Clown Posse and free to the public.[19] Halfway through the tour, Brian Jones of House of Krazees had a fallout with his band members. Jones left the group, forcing House of Krazees to quit the tour.[19] The success of the tour enabled Bruce and Utsler to purchase new houses both for each other and for their families.[18] Bruce even told his mother to quit her job because he would pay her expenses.[20]

Bruce and Utsler had two months off before their next tour and wanted to resume their involvement in wrestling. Being avid wrestling fans, they owned and were fascinated by the death match wrestling collection Outrageously Violent Wrestling from Japan. Bruce and Utsler decided to create a compilation of their favorite matches, recording their own sports announcing under the personas named "Gweedo" (Utsler) and "3D" (Bruce).[20] The compilation video was released nationwide under the title ICP's Strangle-Mania. The video's success allowed Bruce and Utsler to host their own wrestling show, ICP's Strangle-Mania Live, to a sold-out performance at St. Andrew's Hall. The main event featured Insane Clown Posse versus The Chicken Boys, who were played by two friends of Bruce and Utsler.[20] With local wrestling booker Dan Curtis, other wrestlers such as Mad Man Pondo, 2 Tuff Tony, Corporal Robinson, King Kong Bundy, and Abdullah the Butcher were also booked on the show to wrestle in the same death match style as shown in ICP Strangle-Mania.[20]

The night after ICP's Strangle-Mania Live, Bruce took the members of Myzery to St. Andrew's Hall. Eminem, then an unknown local rapper, approached Bruce and handed him a flyer advertising the release party for The Slim Shady EP. The flyer read, "Featuring appearances by Esham, Kid Rock, and ICP (maybe)."[20] Bruce asked why Eminem was promoting a possible Insane Clown Posse appearance without first contacting the group. Eminem explained, "It says 'maybe.' Maybe you will be there; I don't know. That's why I'm asking you right now. You guys comin' to my release party, or what?"[20] Bruce, upset over not being consulted, responded, "Fuck no, I ain't coming to your party. We might have, if you would've asked us first, before putting us on the fuckin' flyer like this."[20] Eminem took Bruce's response as a personal offense, subsequently attacking the group in radio interviews. Bruce and Utsler responded later in 1999 by releasing a parody of Eminem's "My Name Is" entitled "Slim Anus." Barbs between Insane Clown Posse and Eminem continued.[21]

One month after ICP's Strangle-Mania Live, Insane Clown Posse began their second nationwide tour, "The House of Horrors Tour", with Myzery added as one of the opening acts. While searching for the second opening act, Bruce received a telephone call at his home from former House of Krazees members Jamie Spaniolo and Paul Methric, who told Bruce that the group was officially disbanded and asked to be on the tour.[20] Spaniolo and Methric provided a demo tape containing three songs: "2nd Hand Smoke", "Diemotherfuckdie", and "How Does It Feel?"[20] Bruce was extremely impressed, and immediately had a contract drafted with Psychopathic Records for the new group to sign. Bruce, Spaniolo, and Methric agreed on the band name Twiztid. The House of Horrors Tour thus featured Insane Clown Posse, with opening groups Twiztid, Myzery, and Psycho Realm.[20]

On November 16, 1997, Bruce was arrested on an aggravated battery charge after allegedly striking an audience member thirty times with his microphone at a concert in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Bruce was held for four hours before being released on US$5,000 bail.[22] The January 1998 issue of Spin magazine ran a four-page cartoon lampooning Insane Clown Posse and Juggalos, claiming that the group was offensive "not for their obscenity, but for their stupidity." Spin likened Insane Clown Posse's stage act to "a sort of circus karaoke" and portrayed Juggalos as overweight suburbanites. On the group's website, Bruce responded to the article by stating, "I could give a fuck less."[23]

After a show in Indianapolis, Insane Clown Posse's tour bus stopped at a Waffle House in Greenfield, Indiana. When a customer began to harass Spaniolo and Bruce, a fight broke out between the customer and all of the bands' members.[20] Months later on June 4, 1998, Bruce and Utsler pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct charges (reduced from battery) in an Indiana court and were fined US$200 each. Members of Twiztid, Myzery, and Psycho Realm were charged with battery.[24] The group's tour was briefly derailed in January 1998, when their tour bus drifted off a highway and down an embankment, leaving Frank Moreno of Psycho Realm with a concussion. As a result of the accident, Insane Clown Posse postponed two shows scheduled for Cleveland, Ohio, on January 22 and January 23, but honored their promise to perform on January 25 and January 26.[25]

On April 19, 1998, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Bruce suffered a panic attack during a performance and was carried off stage.[26] Bruce, who later recalled being completely "out of it",[26] found scissors and cut off his dreadlocks.[26] After suffering another panic attack once he returned home, Bruce opted to spend three days in a Michigan mental health program.[26] Insane Clown Posse later cancelled the last two weeks' worth of dates on its United States tour,[26] but subsequently launched their first European tour.[27][28]

After returning from England, Insane Clown Posse received a telephone call from Jim Johnston of the World Wrestling Federation (WWF).[29] The WWF heard that Bruce and Utsler were fans of wrestling and asked them to perform the entrance theme for the wrestling group The Oddities. The WWF also wanted Bruce and Utsler to appear on their SummerSlam pay-per-view (PPV) program in August 1998 and rap live while The Oddities entered the ring. Insane Clown Posse composed the song "The Greatest Show" and agreed to appear on the program. Once the duo arrived at the arena, they realized their wrestling dreams had come true; they had been contacted by wrestling's top company and were now set to appear on their PPV program at the company's most historic venue, Madison Square Garden.[29] Bruce and Utsler met backstage with various wrestlers, including the owner of the WWF, Vince McMahon, and his son, Shane McMahon. Bruce and Utsler paid Mick Foley, a wrestler with the WWF, his royalty payments from the ICP Strangle-Mania DVD, as Foley appeared in almost every match, and a friendship began among the three.[29] Bruce and Utsler were assigned to the locker room with Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Undertaker, who were to wrestle during the main event that night. The duo immediately felt the animosity of the locker room that had previously driven them away from wrestling.[29] Insane Clown Posse performed and was asked to return for the live broadcast of Monday Night Raw the following night. At the broadcast, Bruce and Utsler requested for more than just a rapping role; they wanted to wrestle. McMahon favored the idea and allowed them to participate.[29]

Insane Clown Posse was put in a feud with The Headbangers. In the first wrestling match, The Headbangers were stiff, throwing real punches and kicks.[29] In the rematch, a move was planned where The Headbangers would be flipped over by Bruce and Utsler. When the time came to flip over, however, The Headbangers refused to move, forcing Insane Clown Posse to genuinely flip them over and begin throwing punches.[29] Realizing that the match was getting too heated, McMahon ended the feud after that match.[29] Bruce and Utsler were put into other matches along with The Oddities. McMahon said to Bruce and Utsler, "Make it seem like you don't know anything about wrestling, and you guys keep choking and digging into their eyes."[29] During this time, Bruce and Utsler had no contract with WWF. They, however, did have an agreement that the WWF would occasionally play Insane Clown Posse commercials, and in return, Bruce and Utsler would wrestle for free.[29] Bruce and Utsler knew that airtime cost significantly more than any monetary compensation they would receive and were thus satisfied with the agreement. Bruce and Utsler were told they were to suddenly turn on The Oddities in their match against The Headbangers, then join them in beating up the group. They were also informed that their commercial would air the very next week, which had still not aired after three months of being involved with the WWF.[29] The next week Insane Clown Posse and The Headbangers had a match with Steve Austin. Backstage, Austin made it clear to Bruce and Thrasher that Thrasher would receive the first Stone Cold Stunner, after which Bruce would turn around and receive the second.[29] During the match, Austin gave Bruce the Stunner first, catching him off guard, thus having Bruce sell the move awkwardly. Although disappointed over the events during the match, Bruce and Utsler continued in hopes that McMahon would air the commercial as promised. Bruce and Utsler contacted Abbiss to inquire about the commercial and were informed that it was not aired. Given that McMahon failed to uphold his promise to air Insane Clown Posse's commercial, Abbiss recommended that Bruce and Utsler terminate their agreement with the WWF.[29]

While involved with the WWF, Insane Clown Posse brought Dan Curtis with them. After leaving the WWF, Curtis suggested that Insane Clown Posse start its own promotion while continuing with its music. He came to Bruce's house each night to discuss ideas about the promotion. Curtis convinced Bruce to coordinate another Strangle-Mania Live show, to be followed by an eighty-city "Hellfire Wrestling" tour.[29] Curtis booked the talent and wrote the scripts. Strangle-Mania Live sold out the Majestic Theater in Detroit.[29] Two days after the show, Curtis was found dead in his apartment, due to a sudden diabetic problem.[29] The "Hellfire Wrestling" tour was subsequently canceled.

Mainstream success (1999–2000)Edit

ICP 1999
ICP in 1999.

By late 1998 over one million copies of The Great Milenko had been sold,[30] and Insane Clown Posse was ready for its fifth album, The Amazing Jeckel Brothers. Working with Mike E. Clark and Rich "Legs Diamond" Murrell, Bruce and Utsler developed their album with the highest of hopes. The group was known nationally, but were not taken very seriously. Hoping to receive the respect Bruce and Utsler felt they deserved, they planned to feature well-known, respected rappers on their album.[30] Bruce stated outright that he wanted to involve Snoop Dogg and Ol' Dirty Bastard. They paid Snoop Dogg US$40,000 to appear on the song "The Shaggy Show." Snoop Dogg also helped them contact Ol' Dirty Bastard, who was paid US$30,000 for his appearance. Ol' Dirty Bastard recorded his track in a matter of two days; however, his recording consisted of nothing more than him rambling about "bitches."[30] It took Bruce and Utsler a week to assemble just four rhymes out of his rambling, and had to re-record the track and title it "Bitches."[30] Finally, Insane Clown Posse contacted Ice-T, who charged them only US$10,000.[30] The group felt that Ice-T's song did not belong on the album, and was instead released on a later album, Psychopathics from Outer Space.[30]

To help increase their positive publicity, the group hired the Nasty Little Man publicity team.[30] The team set up a photo shoot for Insane Clown Posse that was to appear on the cover of Alternative Press magazine in Cleveland. On the set of the photo shoot, a member of the publicity team approached Bruce and explained that in the song "Fuck the World", the lyric that stated "Fuck the Beastie Boys and the Dalai Lama" needed to be changed.[30] Insulted, Bruce exclaimed that his music would not be censored again—referring to Disney's previous requirement of censure.[30] Nasty Little Man told Bruce that the Beastie Boys were not only clients of the company but also personal friends, and the Beastie Boys told the company to make Bruce change the lyric.[30] In response, Bruce fired Nasty Little Man and asked its team to leave the photo shoot.[30]

The Amazing Jeckel Brothers was released on May 25, 1999, and reached #4 on the Billboard album charts,[31] and has since been certified platinum by the RIAA.[7] At the same time as The Amazing Jeckel Brothers' release, Island Records merged with Def Jam Records. It quickly became apparent to Bruce and Utsler that Def Jam Records had no interest in them.[30] Eminem, who had begun to gain mainstream success, insulted Insane Clown Posse in interviews, tours, and the song "Till Hell Freezes Over."[30]

On Insane Clown Posse's previous tour (The House of Horrors Tour), they had watched the movie Big Ballers.[30] The group as well as Twiztid loved the video. After Insane Clown Posse finished its The Amazing Jeckel Brothers album, Bruce and Utsler decided to create their own movie, Big Money Hustlas, with the same low-budget comedy style as Big Ballers. Island Records gave them US$250,000 to begin work on the movie.[30] Bruce and Utsler were contacted by John Cafiero, who said that he was a Juggalo, and offered to direct the movie.[30] Insane Clown Posse asked Mick Foley to appear in the movie under his "Cactus Sac" persona. Cafiero retained the Misfits, Fred Berry, and, at Bruce's request, Harland Williams.[30] The script was written by Bruce, and filmed in New York City.[30] Bruce played a crime boss and Utsler portrayed a police detective.[32][33] The stage crew members, which showed their dislike for Insane Clown Posse, were a source of contention. Despite the crew striking twice, the movie was filmed in two months.[30]

While on "The Asylum In-store Tour", Bruce and Utsler were informed by Abbiss that they were offered US$100,000 to perform at Woodstock 1999.[34] They were excited about the offer, as it indicated their impact on the music industry. Some people perceived participating in Woodstock 1999 was a sell-out for the group; however, Bruce and Utsler believed that Woodstock was selling out. As Bruce explains, "[Woodstock] sold out the mainstream style for us! Woodstock never came to us and asked us to change one fuckin' thing about us or our show! They wanted ICP just as ICP is, and nothing else. If that ain't fresh, then I don't know what the fuck is!"[34]

After Woodstock 1999, Insane Clown Posse began its "Amazing Jeckel Brothers Tour", along with musicians Biohazard, Krayzie Bone, Twiztid, Mindless Self Indulgence, and Coal Chamber.[34] Biohazard, Mindless Self Indulgence, Krayzie Bone, and Twiztid were well-received by audiences;[34] however, Coal Chamber was not. Juggalos were not purchasing tickets, as they did not like Coal Chamber.[34] For the three shows that Coal Chamber played, there were multiple ticket refunds.[34] Bruce and his brother, Rob, made the decision to eliminate Coal Chamber from the tour. After doing so, there were no tickets returned for the remainder of the tour dates.[34] Bruce and Utsler claimed that Coal Chamber had been removed from the tour because of equipment problems, but later revealed the true reason for their actions on The Howard Stern Show, which aired August 19, 1999.[34] Bruce continued by saying, "Nobody will tell you that, because everybody's afraid of your crumpet-ass bitch manager."[34] Later that night Stern contacted Bruce and Utsler, asking them to appear on his show the following day to talk with Coal Chamber's manager, Sharon Osbourne.[34]

Before the show went on air, Osbourne bet Bruce and Utsler US$50,000 that Insane Clown Posse's next album would not even sell 200,000 copies—a bet that Bruce accepted.[34] On air Osbourne informed Bruce and Utsler that Coal Chamber filed a lawsuit for breach of contract.[35] Osbourne stated that her group was to receive US$12,500 per show for a scheduled two-month package tour. Bruce reiterated that Coal Chamber's music did not appeal to Juggalos, and that ticket refunds decreased after Coal Chamber had been removed from the tour.[35] Osbourne then made public the bet with Bruce about Insane Clown Posse's next album, also stating that the duo would be subsequently dropped from their distributor. In Osbourne's words, "You're dead. Your career is over."[35] Bruce predicted that the group's next album would sell at least 500,000 copies;[35] however, the bet officially stood at 200,000 copies as agreed by both Bruce and Osbourne backstage.[34] Bruce and Utsler returned to wrestling, competing in every major federation before forming their own wrestling league, Juggalo Championshit Wrestling (JCW), which was later renamed "Juggalo Championship Wrestling."[36]

On January 10, 2000, Utsler collapsed on stage during a performance at the House of Blues in Chicago and was rushed to Northern Hospital. He was diagnosed was flu-related symptoms and abnormally low blood sugar. As a result of the incident, the following week's concert dates were rescheduled.[37] In June 2000, Eminem physically attacked Douglas Dail, an Insane Clown Posse affiliate, threatening him with a gun in the parking lot of a car audio store in Royal Oak, Michigan.[38] Eminem pleaded guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for two years probation and a US$10,000 fine.[39] In July 2000, Bruce and Utsler staged the first annual Gathering of the Juggalos at the Novi Expo Center in Novi, Michigan.[40] Described by Bruce as a "Juggalo Woodstock", the Gathering of the Juggalos was a three-day music festival that featured wrestling, games, seminars, contests, sideshows, and performances by all Psychopathic Records' artists.[40] Also featured at the event were Vampiro—who both wrestled and performed—Project Born, and Kottonmouth Kings.[40]

After the Gathering of the Juggalos, Insane Clown Posse set out to release its sixth and seventh studio albums—Bizzar and Bizaar—as a double album. While recording the albums, the duo had a fallout with long-time producer Mike E. Clark.[40] Bizzar and Bizaar were the last complete albums Clark would produce with Insane Clown Posse until his return in 2007. Bruce and Utsler flew to Denver, Colorado to add the finishing touches to the albums.[40] Bizzar and Bizaar were released on October 31 2000, peaking at #20 and #21, respectively, on the Billboard 200.[41][42] The combined sales were around 400,000 copies, exceeding the bet placed previously with Sharon Osbourne; Osbourne did not come through with payment for having lost the bet.[40]

Two music videos were released from the albums: "Tilt-a-Whirl," from Bizaar, and "Let's Go All The Way," from Bizzar. MTV agreed to play "Let's Go All The Way" on their network.[40] Bruce and Utsler decided to bombard TRL with requests for the video.[40] While on their "Bizzar Bizaar Tour," Insane Clown Posse posted on its website that December 8 was the day for Juggalos request the video. Bruce and Utsler named that day "The Mighty Day of Lienda," meaning "The Mighty Day of All or Nothing."[40] On December 8, Rudy Hill, Robert Bruce, Tom Dub, and six other Psychopathic Records employees and friends drove down to New York City. They were met by nearly 400 Juggalos standing outside in front of the TRL studio window, all with signs supporting the duo.[40] Thirty minutes before the show began, Viacom security guards and New York City police officers were dispatched to remove all the Juggalos from the sidewalk.[40] When some Juggalos, including Robert Bruce, refused to move because it was a public street and no other individuals were asked to move, they were assaulted.[40] All telephone requests for the video to be played were ignored, and Insane Clown Posse was never mentioned during the show.[40] MTV later informed Island Records that the heads of the network must choose the band first before it can become eligible to be featured on TRL.[40]

Independent releases (2001–present)Edit

ICP 2002
ICP in 2002.
Bruce and Utsler left Island Records, signing a contract with D3 Entertainment to distribute every release on Psychopathic Records, which would remain independently funded, produced, and recorded.[36] Insane Clown Posse had their own studio built, called "The Lotus Pod."[40] In the spring of 2001, Insane Clown Posse's road manager William Dail was arrested in Omaha, Nebraska for allegedly choking a man who waved an Eminem t-shirt in front of the band. Dail was charged for misdemeanor assault and battery. The charges were reduced to a US$100 fine after he pleaded guilty on a lesser charge.[43][44]

The second Gathering of the Juggalos was held from July 13–July 15 at the SeaGate Convention Centre in Toledo, Ohio.[40] The event featured the same activities as the first Gathering of the Juggalos, as well as guests such as Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Vanilla Ice, and Three 6 Mafia.[40] On June 15, 2001, Bruce was arrested in Columbia, Missouri for an outstanding warrant in St. Louis stemming from an incident in February 2001. That incident involved Insane Clown Posse allegedly attacking employees of a St. Louis radio station over disparaging remarks that a disc jockey made on the air. The police used several squad cars to detain Bruce, Utsler, and two associates a few miles from a venue where the group had completed a concert. Bruce was transferred to St. Louis the following day and released on bail without charge on June 18.[45] On July 18, 2000, Big Money Hustlas was released direct-to-video.[30]

The face of the sixth Joker's Card is "The Wraith"—or simply, Death. The card featured two "exhibits", Shangri-La and Hell's Pit, which would each be given its own album.[46] On November 5, 2002, Insane Clown Posse released their eighth studio album, The Wraith: Shangri-La, where it is revealed that the hidden message of their music was always to follow God and make it to Heaven.[46] According to Bruce, "We went on an in-store tour right when the sixth Joker Card came out. It was the most moving thing we ever went through in our lives. All across the country, it had such an effect. People would come to the in-stores crying, thanking us. A very, very emotional time. [...] Some people might've been upset by that, but through our eyes all we did was touch a lot of people. We definitely wanted it to be something everlasting. Maybe a 19-year-old might not understand or like that ending now. But later, when he has four kids, he might think, 'That was the shit.'"[47]

The Wraith: Shangri-La debuted at #15 on Billboard's Top Independent Albums.[48] In September 2003, Insane Clown Posse was voted the worst band of any musical genre in Blender, with The Wraith: Shangri-La named as the group's worst album.[49] The magazine also gave the album a positive review for its "charming, good-natured idiocy."[50]

Insane Clown Posse went on the 75-date "Shangri-La World Tour", where they performed across the United States, Australia, and Europe.[46] Bruce and Utsler signed a new contract with Sony BMG's RED Distribution, and launched the Psychopathic Europe record label. Following the release of The Wraith: Shangri-La, Bruce admitted that he was considering not completing the production of Hell's Pit. He is quoted as describing Shangri-La as "the end of the road. It's the end of the Joker's Cards. After this I could do anything I want, for the rest of my life. The positivity was so unbelievable."[51] On August 31, 2004, Insane Clown Posse released their ninth studio album, Hell's Pit, the second exhibit of The Wraith, intended to warn listeners of the horrors of Hell. Bruce described the album as the darkest, most painful work he had ever done.[52] Two versions of the album were released, each containing a different DVD. One release featured a live concert and a twelve-minute music video for the song "Real Underground Baby", and another featured a short film for the song "Bowling Balls", which was the first 3-D film shot in high-definition video.[52] In 2005, D12 and Insane Clown Posse ended their feud, with the help of member Proof.[53] Attempts to officially end the feud between Eminem and Insane Clown Posse have been unsuccessful,[54][55] but Bruce states that the rivalry has ended.[56]

On October 21, 2006, Insane Clown Posse performed at one of twenty benefit shows organized by MySpace as part of the "Rock for Darfur" campaign to raise awareness of the War in Darfur and funds for the region's aid.[57] On March 20, 2007, Insane Clown Posse released their tenth studio album, The Tempest, which debuted at #20 on the Billboard 200 and sold nearly 33,000 copies in its first week.[7][58] In 2008, Bruce and Utsler starred in the film Death Racers. It was released direct-to-video on September 16, 2008 by The Asylum.[59] In December 2008, John Antonelli filed a lawsuit against the group after being struck by an unopened two-liter of Faygo during a performance at the Fargo nightclub The Hub, formerly known as Playmakers. Antonelli is seeking at least $50,000 in damages. The lawsuit also names the venue, Playmakers, as a defendant. An attorney for Playmakers states that only Bruce should be held liable.[60]

Big Money Rustlas and Bang! Pow! Boom!Edit

Filming of Big Money Rustlas, a Western spoof, began in January 2009,[47] and concluded on February 24, 2009.[61] The tenth Gathering of the Juggalos took place at Hogrock in Cave-In-Rock, Illinois from August 6 to 9. The event had the largest attendance in Gathering history with 20,000 people.[54] Over 120 musical artists performed at the event, including the likes of Tech N9ne, Kottonmouth Kings, Ice Cube, GWAR, Coolio, Vanilla Ice, Onyx, Scarface, The Dayton Family, Bizarre, Esham, and NATAS.[62] At the event, the Big Money Rustlas trailer was screened twice.[63] An infomercial for the event was released online by Psychopathic Records.[64] Insane Clown Posse's eleventh studio album, Bang! Pow! Boom!, was released on September 1, 2009. It debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top Independent Albums chart and #4 on the Billboard 200.[65][66]

On December 5, 2009, Saturday Night Live aired a sketch titled "Kickspit Underground Rock Festival", which parodied the Gathering of the Juggalos infomercial.[64] Bruce stated that he was not offended by the parody, and that he thought that the sketch was "hilarious" and "a humongous compliment".[64] On February 17, 2010, Psychopathic Records signed a contract with Universal Music Group's Fontana Distribution.[67] On March 9, 2010, Insane Clown Posse were interviewed by Nightline journalist Martin Bashir. Bruce hated the segment, stating that Bashir took statements made by the duo out of context, pairing one of Bruce's responses with a different question than he had been asked.[68]

The trailer for Big Money Rustlas spawned a parody video called "Juggalo News", which achieved popularity on CollegeHumor and Funny or Die, and was praised by Bruce on his Twitter account.[69] On April 6, 2010, Bang! Pow! Boom! was reissued in a "Nuclear Edition", which featured previously unreleased material and music videos for the songs "In Yo Face" and "Miracles".[70] During this period, the duo won the Detroit Music Award for Outstanding Hip-Hop Artist/Group.[71] On April 17, Saturday Night Live aired a sketch which parodied the "Miracles" music video, featuring host Ryan Phillippe and cast member Bobby Moynihan.[72] Insane Clown Posse responded favorably to the parody, and asked to appear on the show.[69]

Big Money Rustlas will be released on August 17, 2010.[47][63] Bruce and Utsler plan to tour theaters around the country to screen the film before its DVD release.[47]

StyleEdit

Lyrics and musicEdit

Insane Clown Posse's performance style is often described as horrorcore hip hop, which "utilize[s] shocking (and blatantly over the top) narratives to give an over-exaggerated, almost cartoon-like version of urban deprivation in Detroit.", according to author Sara Cohen.[73] The group's early work features a raw, minimalistic sound, which later evolved into a more rock-oriented style.[74] The group's lyrics serve as morality tales,[3] with songs focusing on subjects such as cannibalism,[13] rape, murder and necrophilia.[75] Insane Clown Posse's debut album, Carnival of Carnage, features a politically-oriented focus, criticizing elitism and prejudice against those who live in the ghetto,[76] while the album's liner notes criticize the Gulf War.[76] The group's lyrics have opposed racism, bigotry,[77] domestic violence, and child abuse.[78]

According to Bruce, the group used profanity and references to violence and sex in their lyrics because "to get attention, you have to speak their language. You have to interest them, gain their trust, talk to them and show you're one of them. You're a person from the street and speak of your experiences. Then at the end you can tell them God has helped me out like this and it might transfer over instead of just come straight out and just speak straight out of religion."[79] Bruce also states that "The ending of the Joker Cards, the way we looked at it, was death. Heaven and hell. That's up to each and every juggalo [to decide]. We're not an ultra religious group. I don't go to church or anything. I like to believe in God."[47]

Insane Clown Posse has covered songs by Geto Boys,[80] Sly Fox,[81] and Above the Law.[82] Bruce and Utsler refer to the acid rap style of Esham as an influence on their own music,[3] while Bruce has expressed admiration for Gong,[83] Pearl Jam[84] and Michael Jackson.[85] Kimberly Chun of the San Francisco Chronicle described Insane Clown Posse's musical style as a mixture of "dub, goth, metal, shock rock and hip-hop, with a WWF announcer's delivery and shuffling stoner beats thrown in for good measure."[86] Mike E. Clark's production for the group incorporates elements such as "carnival organ riffs, power chords and shotgun blasts [...] banjolike plucking and Van Halen-esque guitar squeals,"[87] while Bruce and Utsler sometimes alternate between rapping and screaming.[88] In his review of The Tempest, Allmusic's David Jeffries writes that Bruce and Utsler "[rap] in a carnival barker fashion that fits with their circus motif, their Insane Clown disguises, and Mike E. Clark's big top-inspired production."[89] Insane Clown Posse has influenced similar acts, such as Blaze Ya Dead Homie and Boondox.[90][91]

Live performancesEdit

Joseph Bruce
Insane Clown Posse often sprays its audiences with Faygo during its elaborate live performances.
HatchetpediaAdded by Hatchetpedia

Insane Clown Posse is known for their elaborate concert performances. In Marley Brant's Tales from the Rock 'n' Roll Highway, Bruce described a typical performance: "We toss out, kick out, and shoot out into the crowd about three to four hundred two-liters of Faygo soda at every show. [...] We bring with us monsters, dancing clowns, girls, trampolines, and pure and absolute madness to the stage. [...] Shaggy and I know that without all that crazy shit going on around us, we'd just be two more idiots walking back and forth, rapping on stage. [...] ICP's motto has always been 'Fuck keepin' it real: we just keep it entertaining.'"[6] Performances feature backdrops including, among other settings, a game show set and a cemetery.[92][93] Bruce stated, "We always have a different set, not only for Hallowicked but every tour we go out on. We've been around so long that we get to dig up the many cool sets that we used back in the day and then get to use them again on a national level. Something we might've done once in '94 at St. Andrew's Hall, we can go back again and now do it nationwide-style."[47]

On tour following the release of Carnival of Carnage, Insane Clown Posse was scheduled to perform at Big Rapids University in Michigan. After the group was announced by their manager, Alex Abbiss, Bruce remembers that "[w]e came out with no microphones or nothing; we were just right up in the people's faces. Shaggy and I were just fuckin' yelling over our own cassette. The people were staring at us in amazement and bewilderment. They must have been in shock and awe. We finished our two-song set, and the crowd [...] didn't cheer or boo. They just stood there, stunned."[6]

The group was unable to bring the large amounts of Faygo needed for their concerts to their European tours without a sales permit visa because customs believed that the group had intended to sell the soda at their concerts.[27] As a result, the group's European record label purchased similar quantities of another soda and creating fake Faygo stickers to label the bottles. According to Bruce, "The craziness was this: they were not the regular two-liter bottles we're used to; they were some other amount [...] maybe one-and-a-half-liter bottles. Over there, they make their plastic bottles taller and thinner. [...] when you're doing what we do with them—that makes a world of difference."[6] During a performance in England, Bruce recounts that he "rocketed one of them bottles off my foot and that motherfucker shot straight up and out like a guided Patriot missile, right towards the disco ball high above the crowd. [...] The bottle nailed the disco ball, and [...] came falling down [...] on top of some English kid's head. [...] We must've knocked fifteen or twenty people flat-out cold on that tour [...] Shaggy and I both had black eyes and several injuries and bruises ourselves from them things hittin' us."[6]

Bruce and Utsler did not expect many Juggalos to attend Woodstock 1999, and were surprised when thousands of people chanted "I-C-P! I-C-P!" as they waited for the group to perform.[34] Bruce told his stage crew that he would pay US$2,000 to each person who ran around the stage naked, and two people took up his offer. Insane Clown Posse also brought naked women on stage.[34] Bruce and Utsler felt that because the tickets to the event were over-priced, they needed to "give something back."[6] According to Bruce, "We brought along these big beach balls. We announced to the crowd that they each had a hundred dollars taped to them, and then we proceeded to kick about thirty of them into the crowd. Then we rolled out these bigger giant-ass beach balls and announced, 'These ones have five hundred bucks taped to them!' We booted a gang of them into the human sea."[6][34] Bruce also recounts that their set had multiple technical problems, and the audience was not allowed to get close to the stage, which made the duo feel less connected with them.[34]

The group's 2009 tour in support of Bang! Pow! Boom! featured clowns, showgirls, a ringmaster and caged "attractions", including "Ape Boy".[79][94] According to Bruce, "This is actually the biggest tour we've ever brought out, as far as stage theatrics and extras on stage [...] We've got a whole circus. We're touring clubs and theaters, but it's more like an arena show. It's like an arena concert packed into a club."[79]

In wrestlingEdit

Finishing and signature moves
  • Flapjack (Violent J) and Cutter (Shaggy) combination[95]
  • Moonsault (Violent J) followed by the Lotus Cross (Shaggy 2 Dope)[96]
  • [Back suplex (Violent J) and Neckbreaker (Shaggy) combination
  • Double dropkick to a seated opponent's head[97]
Entrance themes
  • 1997–1998: "Oddities", performed by Insane Clown Posse, in World Wrestling Federation.[98]
  • 1998–2000: "Take It", performed by Insane Clown Posse, in World Championship Wrestling.[99]
  • 2000–present: "Chicken Huntin' (Slaughterhouse Remix)", performed by Insane Clown Posse, in Juggalo Championship Wrestling and anywhere else the group competes.[96]

Championships and accomplishmentsEdit

DiscographyEdit

  • 1992: Carnival of Carnage
  • 1994: Ringmaster
  • 1995: Riddle Box
  • 1997: The Great Milenko
  • 1999: The Amazing Jeckel Brothers
  • 2000: Bizzar
  • 2000: Bizaar
  • 2002: The Wraith: Shangri-La
  • 2004: Hell's Pit
  • 2007: The Tempest
  • 2009: Bang! Pow! Boom!
  • 2012: The Mighty Death Pop!

ReferencesEdit

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  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Bruce, Joseph; Hobey Echlin. "The Dark Carnival". in Nathan Fostey. ICP: Behind the Paint (2nd Edition ed.). Royal Oak, Michigan: Psychopathic Records. pp. pages 174–185. ISBN 034544762X. 
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