By Kelly Dearmore
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Detroit natives Joseph Bruce and Joseph Utsler have come a long way from their humble beginnings in 1991 when they formed gangsta rap duo Inner City Posse.
In the ensuing years, the pair metamorphosed themselves into their now familiar wicked clown personas as Insane Clown Posse, developed their more horror-themed acid rap style, and helped birth a new genre known as "horrorcore." Along the way, the duo, since re-branded as Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope, has released two platinum and three gold records, two feature-length films, started their own wrestling federation (Juggalo Championship Wrestling), and even inspired an episode of Law and Order—not to mention amassing a hyper-loyal fan base affectionately referred to as "juggalos."
But while the whole juggalo phenomenon may seem inconceivable to most, there are actually plenty of good reasons why an ICP concert is just not something a true juggalo should miss.
1. It's cheaper than going to the annual Gathering. According to Violent J, what Mecca is to Muslims, the Gathering is to juggalos. Further described by Violent J as "Juggalo Woodstock," the annual Gathering of the Juggalos is an annual four-day event that involves performances and wrestling matches by all of the artists on the duo's Psychopathic label, as well as carnival games, autograph sessions and seminars. Although the location for the Gathering has changed several times—often due to juggalos leaving behind large quantities of trash—the event, which has been going on since 2000, is still going strong. In fact, the promotional clip for last year's Gathering received so much attention on the Internet that Saturday Night Live made a parody of it in which Jason Sudeikis proudly proclaims that this year's event will include a helicopter that drops STDs.
2. To play with your food. Faygo, the cheap soda whose original flavors were based on cake frosting recipes, is a popular drink in ICP's native Detroit. It's a favorite of ICP's, too; they've rapped about it in several songs. So, of course, it's now also the drink of choice for any good juggalo. At a performance by the group in 1993, Violent J threw an open bottle of the soft drink at a group of hecklers. This has led to the veritable hailstorm of Faygo bottles which typically fly around most ICP shows. In fact, J estimates that the duo tosses 300 to 400 bottles of the soda into the crowd during any given performance. Meanwhile, Shaggy 2 Dope has become so experienced in his Faygo-flinging that he has even pioneered and perfected many new techniques, including launching two-liter bottles like rockets off the tip of his finger. Seriously.
3. To gain a sense of community. On ICP's community-unifying anthem, "Juggalo Family," fellow Psychopathic artist Jamie Madrox raps, "All my life I've been living it alone/I'm like a king with no people and no crown or a throne." It's not all that difficult to see where he's coming from. Outside of the lower-middle-class Caucasian community, grease paint, hatchet-man shirts and backyard wrestling are not typically a recipe for popularity. Sure, one is often able to find a smattering of juggalos hanging out at their local Hot Topics, but ICP concerts have a way of bringing nearly every juggalo in town together for a family reunion of sorts. It's an attitude Madrox expresses best in his rhymes: "I hate everyone, and I hate everything/Except for all the juggalos and the love that they bring."
4. It's a religious experience. Being down with the clowns is more than just enjoying their brand of horror-filled rap; it's an entire state of being. The songs of ICP are based around a mythology known as "The Dark Carnival," which the group revealed to its followers over a period of several years. Seven of the group's albums—known collectively as the Joker's Cards series—are dedicated to specific characters within the "Carnival" that each try to save the souls of juggalos and lead them down the path to enlightenment, a.k.a. Shangri-La. So when the pair spits rhymes like, "I went psychopathic/Chopping throats with a hatchet," they aren't doing so to garner the cheap brand of notoriety that comes with being shocking. Rather, they are genuinely concerned about the souls of their devotees. Or so the story goes. Heartwarming, huh?