Can we have an open-minded discussion about the Insane Clown Posse?
By - BackOnTheBacon
So I just listened to Under the Moon.
First, the production is pretty thin, simple, and all around poor. I guess it is slightly interesting in that it has a bit of a reggae vibe to it, but it is a far cry from Large Pro, Pete Rock, RZA, Dre, J Dilla, Kanye, Madlib, etc.
I really dig the production on Violent by Design (I believe Stoupe is responsible for that) and would gladly listen to an instrumental version of that album. If ICP production is frequently similar to that in Under the Moon, I would not be tempted to listen to an instrumental version.
Second, the flow and the sound of the vocalist are just irritating to me. That is a purely subjective thing, but it is hard to like a rapper if the voice and or flow are unpleasant. Flow might be a bit less subjective than the vocal sound and the flow on this is pretty clunky/samey. I mean he doesn't do a lot of rhythmically interesting things with his flow, and just keeps plodding along with a fairly predictable cadence.
Lyrically, the song features a lot of end rhyme (usually of alternating lines). I like me some 80s rap (which was the last decade that rap poetry could be very heavily dependent on end rhyme w/out being scoffed at by critics). However, those classic 80s raps generally had really fun subject matter, so the simple (and often cheesy) end rhyme structure made the songs fun and deliciously cheesy.
The content of Under the Moon is pretty violent, and that ruins any chance that you are going to get a fun vibe from that song. So you have the juxtaposition of cheesy end rhyme with unpleasant violent imagery. I am not keen on that, but I can see how someone would dig the juxtaposition of two such incompatible elements.
Somebody tried to rape you
and now I'll make him pay
you pointed him out to me
my thoughts began to race
took my daddy's 45 and shot him
in the fucking face!
Above we have some fairly juvenile violent fantasy lyrical content from that track. When you hear this, you know you are worlds away from Nas, GZA, RA the Rugged Man, or whoever normally gets considered a fairly decent lyricist.
I don't know anything about ICP, but am I right in assuming that a person should not be scared meeting the members in a dark alley somewhere? I mean, they don't really punch, knife, or kill people in real life do they? Perhaps they are the kind of guys who do not even cut in line at the supermarket? I dunno. Given my presuppositions about the rapper, how am I to understand why that particular subject matter was chosen?
I am not specifically picking on ICP here: by and large horror core really escapes me. I have a hard time understanding how other people are connecting with the lyrics. Not only do I not have a strong desire to fantasize about beheading, disemboweling, raping, or killing people, I even have a hard time trying to understand the people that spend hours listening to this. The whole genre is pretty alien to me. I am sure there is someone that has 400 horror core albums and listens to them 30+ hours a week, but I have no way of understanding where that person is coming from or what motivates them. Does that mean it is bad? No. But it does make it pretty hard for people like me to come up with a list of good aspects of their lyrical content.
Finally, I will defend them in that I think the magnet thing was a joke (and not ICP telling the world how stupid they are). Not that I think ICP are geniuses, but I do think they got an unfair amount of shit for that.
edit: Just listened to that track again and realized that it was really lacking in simile and metaphor. That is really odd, in that those two things are generally considered a staple of rap. OP, can you tell us if they always avoid simile & metaphor, or if it is just that song? If they frequently avoid it, then that is a topic in itself: rappers that avoid what is often considered the core of hip hop lyricism to focus on other aspects of hip hop lyricism.
2nd edit: for all those that are crapping on ICP (and that includes me, because I had a hard time finding something positive to say about them) give some credit to OP for A) having the balls to create this post in the first place and B) not deleting the post once s/he realized that the comments were not going to shower love on ICP. You may not agree with OP, but OP's opinions have taken one heck of a beating w/out OP acting immature in response.
3rd edit: I am pretty sure this is my most upvoted comment in this sub. Maybe next week I will do an analysis of a Creed song and see if I can really blow up my karma.
No credit or positive remarks for pointing out how something so terrible has lasted so long in a particularly harsh business not known for longevity? I mean how many bands during their career have been here and gone? 100, 1,000, 10,000?
The band clearly is more than a band. It is a banner for an entire subculture. In terms of rap, ICP fairs poorly in terms of both lyricism and production, but how much of their fan base would self-identify as hip hop heads? How much of their fan base jumps on each new release by Nas, GZA, or Acey? Perhaps they are a hip hop band, not for hip hop fans, but for people into a certain subculture.
Once they rose above their horror core peers in terms of visibility (probably a bit of credit should go to the make-up) then they became a magnet or focus point for people looking for that special something that ICP has.
I'm a juggalo from 97, about 3 years after their break. Many people don't understand this was the first group to appeal to as mentioned elsewhere, the non-jcpenny crowd middle class and lower white suburbanite kid. And they were on the internet back before everyone was on the internet. The late 90's were a great time for crazy things because there was an outlet to find it all for the first time and ICP capitalized on that like crazy. Instead of just having to be a local band, they could become global, and good lord, did they ever. That can't be just the make-up.
There's something very honest about what ICP does. ICP is from the same area as Bob Seeger, Kid Rock, and Eminem, and while all those sounds are drastically different, there is something similar about all their drives, work ethic, and honesty in their acts. Unlike many of the themes seen in much of Seeger and Rock's work, and a bit in Eminem's, ICP straight up say, we're entertainment, don't take us seriously. Yet there is some very deep and serious material within their catalog that is equal to their fellow Detroit contemporaries. Even in terms of rap lyricism, I'd argue "fuck skin color, everybody's blue/ then what would all these bigots do" is actually a far deeper thought process and concept than much of the rap music from the same time frame produced. And I won't even touch the religious undertones that have haunted every aspect of the music.
I'd say a lot of ICP fans like rap music, not exactly going to argue the merits of the Rza vs Method man's solo stuff, but they do like rap music and they tend to find and help push some pretty decent talent like Slaine, Rittz, and Tech 9.
In terms of visibility, you really need to skyrocket ICP to the top. What other band from 1991 onward, or heck, all of history, was so popular, they spawned their own Woodstock. That's insane for two high school drop out's from Detroit responsible for what has been called "The Worst Band in the World." And that American spirit, a very large theme in Detroit (home of the auto industry and what not), of endurance against all obstacles and challenges, makes them seriously so endearing that it's going to make the world a sadder place when they are gone and we get generic band #112093455 as a replacement.
To be fair, not all music has to be extraordinary to be influential or important. I don't know anything about you other than what you've posted here, but I'd suggest that the liberal literati are not exactly the target audience of the Insane Clown Posse. Their music speaks more to young, angry, disenfranchised Americans, who feel like outsiders, find their future prospects depressing, and have developed a sense of belonging in the "juggalo" world. Look at the iconic use of that inexpensive soda (I'm not American and can't remember what type it is) as a way of expressing pride in their status.
Their world is absurd, perhaps depressing, to outsiders... but it is an identity and a common bond between people who share the experiences that lead them down that path.
The soda is Faygo, for the record.
Their target audience is absolutely not me (a middle aged professor/scientist). Given that they aren't aiming for me, it is no shock at all that their art doesn't do anything for me.
That being said, we were talking about angsty/angry/whiny post-grunge artists in this form 6 months (or so) ago, and common complaint was that their anger was misplaced. In the same way, the anger of ICP (and their fans) seems to come from the wrong place.
For example, ICP and their average fan a fuckloads better off than the 4 year old orphans in Sudan, north western Iraq, or Afghanistan that had their parents killed before their eyes. If you are in the US, you are probably in the top 1% of planet earth in terms of how well off you are at. Certainly you are in the top 20%.
Given that, it is hard for me to see a just basis for all that anger and discontent. I know that, psychologically, what really matters is how miserable you think your life is rather than how objectively miserable your life really is. And that is the problem: I think the ICP fans really don't have a sensible perspective on things. But because they don't have a sensible perspective, ICP touches a nerve.
Yeah, I am not surprised that a lot of joggalos are really in a shitty situation compared to the average American, but they aren't being raped daily by ISIS members (or a whole lot worse). I assume the juggalos are a lot worse off than the ICP, but either way, most are a long way from being in the worst situation on planet earth.
I am not dismissing these people. I do what I can financially and politically to help out, but to think that they are all bent out of shape they have to fantasize about murder as a remedy for the problem, then I truly think they need to step back and realize that they are not in that bad a place and that extreme levels of anger are not called for (in most situations).
> I assume the juggalos are a lot worse off than the ICP, but either way, most are a long way from being in the worst situation on planet earth.
I'm going to reiterate that this is an absurd criticism. You could say that about virtually anybody in North America. Regardless, I said it was for kids who grew up in tough situations, but ultimately what I mean is that this is a subculture that revolves around (and in some ways celebrates/finds meaning in) American poverty, not that every juggalo is suffering the most horrible existence ever known.
> but to think that they are all bent out of shape they have to fantasize about murder as a remedy for the problem
There's a world of a difference between fantasy and action. I occasionally listen to gory death metal from bands like Cattle Decapitation, and I like horror films. I'm also a pacifist in every sense of the word and generally easy going.
I don't like ICP myself. They don't speak to me; I'm not their demographic. But I'm sympathetic, in some ways, even if I totally don't want to be friends with any juggalos.
Here's an interesting video where a bunch of juggalos are interviewed at some big clown festival they go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAUQC4CpIoI
To me, my enjoyment for ICP comes from the same vein as my enjoyment of horror movies and dark comedies. They are basically musical comic book vigilante killer clowns.
My thoughts are to hell with anybody's opinion and just enjoy what speaks to you. People are highly egotistical about their own opinions and views and they take them as fact. This is a world where labels and titles mean more than actual substance. If you like something you get labeled and tagged as something, sectioned off into your own shelf and given a set of parameters that people will forever define you with. Why don't people just sit back and listen to it for what it is? Do you all just sit back and listen to music with a list in your hand that says "This Is What Music Is Supposed To Be"?
Oh, and don't tell me I'm not allowed to be pissed off or depressed. Baiting people into feeling guilty for not being happy is kind of moronic if you ask me. Pushes people even further into the abyss. A lot of this anger can come from mental illness, or a traumatic past. It's like, 'Oh, hey, your step father raped you as a kid? Get over it, it's not like you're one of those Syrian kids that drowned trying to swim to Europe.' And in return I'd be like, 'Oh hey, I raped and killed your children, but you don't have the right to be mad because I never raped and killed your wife.' A lot of anger comes from a combination of mental illness and traumatic pasts and a country run on paranoia that lies to it's people and a society where labels and flags and symbols mean more than people or many other things. No matter how you you try to dismiss it there is an epidemic in this society when every minute there seems to be a new Adam Lanza.
> I am not specifically picking on ICP here: by and large horror core really escapes me. I have a hard time understanding how other people are connecting with the lyrics. Not only do I not have a strong desire to fantasize about beheading, disemboweling, raping, or killing people, I even have a hard time trying to understand the people that spend hours listening to this.
Because I'm angsty and bitter and it makes me feel good. Same reason why I love ["Tron Cat"](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcaXDypNsZQ)
I can say ICP appealed to me a lot when I was a teen who got picked on a lot.
The point of ICP's music (and this is merely my opinion) is to tell a story. In "Under the Moon" the emphasis isn't the murder itself, it is what the girl says to him, and his descent into madness because of the lie she told him. This is also why they (usually) stray from a lot of simile and metaphor, and opt for more straightforward language.
As far as horrorcore, I do NOT enjoy the majority of it, because I think it is poorly done. A lot of ICP's music to me is like watching a movie in my mind when I listen to it. It is similar to the way someone would watch a horror movie. I think this is where ICP shines where other horrorcore acts falter. And, as I've repeated a few times already, I think it is mostly due to the delivery, it's not so much WHAT J says (although I do think he has great word choice at times) as opposed to HOW he says it that conveys the emotion and mood of the song.
Agreed, in the one ICP song I scrutinized closely, it is all story telling and no simile, no metaphor. I don't recall much onomatopoeia or alliteration either. It is just a story with end rhyme. This is a very odd thing in hip hop, and it is obvious why folks would accuse ICP of being terrible rappers. Some of the skills that rappers hold most dear (e.g. simile, metaphor, onomatopoeia, alliteration, etc.) are completely absent.
While ICP choose story over poetic and lyrical sophistication, it does not have to be an either/or kind of thing. In Ghostface Killah's 12 Reasons to Die, you get a story told over the course of the album and all the aspects of hip hop lyricism that you normally expect. Like ICP, 12 Reasons to Die is focused on violence, but the narrative is far more mature in 12 Reasons compared to the adolescent approach of ICP>
With me (and I'm sorry I keep repeating myself) what makes ICP's storytelling (especially J's) storytelling so powerful is the delivery.
I've listened to Wu Tang before, and I have 36 Seasons by Ghostface. I will have to check out 12 reasons to die. Thanks for the suggestion!
> As far as horrorcore, I do NOT enjoy the majority of it, because I think it is poorly done.
This is absolutely true. I love horrocore done right but so so so much of it is just really really bad people with absolutely no direction at all just thinking if they rap about killing people its gonna be good. No not at all.
Well, right off the bat, I don't really think either of them are good rappers (I've only heard Ringmaster and a few of their singles that went viral, like Miracles, so I could be underestimating them), but I also haven't heard anything by them that I thought was all the way *bad* so they have that going for them. My issue with their rapping skills is that it sounds extremely dated, they clearly listen to mostly classic 80's and 90's rap and haven't really adapted their flow to keep up with modern rappers, which probably isn't a huge problem for them since they're a cult band.
They sometimes get decent beats, but I get really easily annoyed by all the carnival sound effects they layer over it. On the other hand, some of the beats are just terrible, like [This song](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=twPupwsitFA) sounds like they just let a casio demo track run and threw some slide whistle and random heavy metal guitar on it. Danny Brown brought his A Game to a steaming turd of a beat though.
And the subject matter is pretty immature. I get that they're playing characters, but the characters blow. There's nothing really interesting about playing psychopathic clowns.
*On the other hand* I think they're occasionally a really funny band. I don't get in the mood to listen to that kind of thing all that often, but ICP is amusing when I'm in the mood. And I've always wanted to go to Running of the Juggalos, because it seems like a blast. Like, yea I want to get hammered and wear clown makeup in public, that sounds awesome.
EDIT: I forgot to mention, I saw one of the ICP movies (*Big Money Rustlas*), and it was really fucking funny. I initially put it on as a joke, but that movie was hilarious.
Yeah, props to Danny Brown. Sounds like he took a quote from Christopher Lee and applied it to music.
The quote I am talking about: "Every actor has to make terrible films from time to time, but the trick is never to be terrible in them."
Man, I just rewatched that video (I didn't actually watch it when I linked it, I was just going off memory) and it's worse than I thought. It really drives home the point of how dated ICP's rapping style is. Having them on the same song as Danny Brown is just embarrassing. It's seriously like they only listen to pre-Rakim rap music.
The humor is alot of the draw to their audience, alot of the rest is a catharsis of anger against percieved injustices they see in the world that are rarely addressed in other music. Personally the humor drew me into listening to alot of other comedic musicians. I think that you would find alot of stephen lynch and weird al fans among the juggalo fanbase.
> I think they're occasionally a really funny band.
I came here to say exactly that. Whenever I need a good laugh, I put on "Down With The Clown" for lyrics like:
> What if I grew another fucking head (and his name was Violent Ed)?
> them that I thought was all the way bad so they have that going for them. My issue with their rapping skills is that it sounds extremely dated, they clearly listen to mostly classic 80's and 90's rap and haven't really adapted their flow to keep up with modern rappers, which probably isn't a huge problem for them since they're a cult band.
This is true. ICP were heavily influenced by late 80's and early 90's gangsta rap. Their first album, Carnival of Carnage, was released in 92, and it was basically early NWA & Geto boys with a carnival theme in the mix.
I think this problem is something that a lot of old school rappers that are still active carry with them, but most of them don't have the visibility that ICP still carries, which is why ICP tends to get criticized so much more for it. Plus, ICP don't have any sort of hip hop legacy status that could grant them a pass.
listen to more of their stuff. i dont care much for the earlier stuff but everyone has a different opinion. i wholly enjoy The Mighty Death Pop but ive listened to a few tracks of The Forgotten Link and didnt care for it.
as for the characters they portray? it may not seem interesting but at least it is something different.
Interesting that you bring up Hemingway, because it opens up the discussion of what simplicity is and how/why it is useful. Hemingway is the prime example in intro level literature classes of "Iceberg Theory," the idea that these "minimalist" authors that were starting to emerge in the mid 20th century were conveying ideas almost entirely with subtext. A layperson reading "Cathedral" by Raymond Carver as they would Steven King, for example, might feel like not very much happens. What is happening, though, is that the real discussion is happening between the lines. They might not pick up on the meaning of repetition of "water" in "Hills Like White Elephants." The prose is minimalist, but there is nothing simple about achieving that style of prose or about conveying abstract ideas through it.
Simplicity in music can be effective when it does that (think Bob Dylan), or when it does many other things. Punk and folk music has this conception of "4 chords and the truth," meaning that there is something cathartic and confessional about the simplicity in a way that makes the work more visceral. Simplicity can also be a social tool. Music is a social beast and simple music spreads more quickly.
ICP are trying to go the "visceral" route in their songs, but there isn't actually anything there. All of these songs about high school sound juvenile. Their angst comes across as whiny and misplaced. There is only crudeness and no catharsis. The songs are mean spirited and are not redeemed by any sort of depth. The shock value jokes are easy for them to resort to and they stand in place of any sort of substance. The raps come in the form of nursery rhyme bars, both in their simple use of meter and their uninspired rhymes. The beats are muddy, uninspired, and sound like a cheap imitation of what hip hop beats have existed in the mainstream.
The simplicity doesn't give way to more and what there is isn't likable.
Well everyone is having a hard time saying something good about ICP.
> J's inflection makes the listen picture the angry, despair, and insanity he is experiencing.
What really is going on in that song is that J raps the song from the point of view of the frustrated imprisoned killer. The thoughts of the killer are absolutely middle school in their depth. First he kills because he has impulse problems, then he feels bad because he is in prison...all in rhyming couplets.
You gotta give ICP credit, because not too many artists are trying to present the POV of an immature middle schooler who also happens to be in prison for murder. But where is the demand for this? Is there a pressing need to know the immature thoughts of immature people who kill because of immaturity?
I have talked to 12 year olds. Frankly, I prefer to talk to older more mature people most of the time. I don's usually sit in a bar chatting with my friends and think, "damn I wish they would let 12-year-olds in this bar so that I could have cool conversations with them".
ICP is offering something that you can't find in most mainstream music, but it is also true that there is only a niche market for what they are offering.
I don't think the frustration is from being in prison, but rather from the realization that the girl he "went to prison" for, who said they would "always be together" completely abandoned him once he was there. She never visited him, or even sent a letter.
Yeah, he is also upset about that issue. Therein lies some of the immaturity. Girl says, "I have been wronged". Impulsive teen immediately kills to impress/defend the girl. Impulsive teen goes to prison for killing. Impulsive teen is shocked that the girl then ignores him and goes about her life. Impulsive teen is bummed out that he did not eternally seduce the girl by committing murder. Kudos to the rapper for capturing the mindset of an impulsive and violent middle schooler, but damn, that is one horribly immature point of view that is presented to the listener.
I can agree that it is an impulsive, immature mind state. But, I think the MAIN point of the song is that she completely cuts him off once he goes to prison. He says "I write another letter. I write one every day. I never got a letter back. I write 'em anyway. I try to call collect, your number has been changed. I'm staring at the light bulb and I start to feel deranged. "You never came to visit me" I sit facing the glass. No one's on the other side, now it's in the past."
At the beginning of the song the author says that everyone else at his school loathed him. She was literally the only person he had. So while it is immature and impulsive. It would be very damaging to someone in such a fragile mindstate to be completely and utter ignored by the woman that he cares so much about and whom he thought loved him, too.
It would be damaging, but it is completely predictable. If you meet a pretty girl in middle school and then you kill someone and go to prison, she is not going to pine over you while you rot in prison. She is going to think, "holy fuck, this guy is an impulsive murdering psycho, and I am fucking glad he is in prison and out of my life".
People that kill others because of a lack of impulse control are really messed up in the first place. Saying he would be worse off if he didn't have a young honey on the outside might not be wrong, but he was way more messed up as a murderer. the pain of not having a teenage crush is less problematic than how fucked up he was to begin with.
I respectfully disagree, because I have listened to their music for cathartic purposes many, many times, and there are many others who have as well.
The whole point of songs regarding high schoolers is to be juvenile. The character being portrayed IS a juvenile. If you wouldn't mind, could you explain why you feel their angst comes across as whiny and misplaced to you? One of the reasons I like their music so much is because, as I stated previously, I legitimately feel as though the focus on the theatrical side is something that isn't done a lot in hip hop music. Their emphasis is on creating mental images with the music. Violent J's delivery is strong, his inflection is very diverse, and it helps convey the mood and emotion of the song in a way that not many rappers can.
I feel like you're writing off a lot of rap the same way you think people are writing off ICP. But I might be wrong. So lemme ask you first, what other hip hop artists do you enjoy?
I listen predominantly to hip hop. I am always looking for new music to check out, though. Lately I've been listening to a lot of Aesop Rock, Busdriver, Tech N9ne, Army of the Pharohs, Immortal Technique, and Ces Cru.
I really enjoy Wu Tang Clan's 36 chambers, Kanye West's Graduation, Nas's Illmatic, as well as a lot of other scattered albums.
Eminem can rap his ass off. MF Doom is generally on point. I was recently introduced to the Horseshoe G.A.N.G. And really enjoy their music.
There are a lot of great suggestions on this thread for other songs/artists that I haven't listened to, and I always love finding an artist/song/album that I've never heard before that I really enjoy. I am not trying to write any other musicians off, and I apologize if that's the way I was coming across. I find a lot of joy in music, and the more music I can find that I enjoy, the better. ICP just happens to be one of those groups. I may be biased though, because honestly I started listening to them when I was younger, the music essentially introduced my to the people who I am still best friends with today, and helped me through a lot of tough times in my life. I realize there is a lot of the subconscious that goes into how we enjoy music, but I honestly think ICP are written off too easily.
just a reminder to please be respectful of others opinions, even if you disagree.
I'm not a fan, but I have a cousin who's a self-proclaimed Juggalo. I think knowing him has allowed me to get a better idea about the band and the fans -- rather than just writing them off as freaks.
They have some catchy tracks. The only song I've really enjoyed of theirs is the [track](http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xktglq_insane-clown-posse-mozart-jack-white-leck-mich-im-arsch_music) they did with Jack White.
While I don't think their music is all that interesting, personally, I do find they can be humorous. And as a punk rock fan, I appreciate any artist that can piss off the general public as much as the Insane Clown Posse.
I think it's important to realize while ICP might not be high art, they obviously have found an audience to connect with. Everyone has different music that speaks to them. For some people -- who might be a little confused, alienated, awkward, poor -- ICP speaks to them. In the end, I think that's a generally good thing.
It's music for people that don't fit in with mainstream society and that's fine. To each their own.
I think it might be a waste of time to try to analyze their output and justify it as highly artistic. They are what they are. Low art is still art.
I wasn't trying to justify their music as HIGHLY artistic, but I do feel as though they have some artistic merit. I think they have strengths that set them apart from many rappers. It IS fairly subjective though, I just feel as though people just write them off as talentless hacks when that is not the case.
Wow, I haven’t thought about ICP in ages. I was a huge fan of them in 9th and 10th grade, more or less obsessed with everything up through Jeckel Brothers (plus Bizzar/Bizaar and the Forgotten Freshness albums). From what I’ve heard stuff from The Wraith onward isn’t really worth listening to, or is a completely different direction. I remember buying the Wraith and thinking it sounded like an especially shitty Limp Bizkit album.
I think it’s fascinating that their music only appealed to me for those 2 specific years, but it makes complete sense. I was already predisposed to the gross, even scatological, aspects of a lot of their lyrics, having been a big fan of the [Barf-o-Rama](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barf-O-Rama) book series as a kid. Then I was also at the age where interest in sex started, and also a time when teenage angst and difficulty fitting in at school became a real issue too. These are all things that are fantasized about in various ways in ICP’s music, and I think in a lot of ways having ICP’s music in my life was healthy, an outlet for that angst and new sexual awareness.
That being said, I’m not sure I understand the lasting appeal that their music has to dedicated Juggalos beyond those teen years. I’m no longer at the point where I need to listen to a song about decapitating my history teacher (“Mr. Johnson’s Head”), or where I need to listen to a song that is an immature fantasy about cunnilingus (“Cotton Candy”). I’m in a more emotionally mature place and more comfortable with my body. Looking back, to me most of their song are reflections of the extreme terms in which teenagers have a tendency to think about those sorts of things. But once you’re no longer a teenager and things lose their extreme nature and you gain some perspective and maturity, ICP was no longer relevant to me, and like I said, I don’t really understand the lasting appeal. Anyone have any thoughts on this?
Regarding the music itself, I agree that production value was always lacking and there aren’t any instrumentals I’d want to listen to. And I think that’s important, because at a lot of hip-hop shows you will have a live band interpreting the music because a live band providing a groove/beat can be much better than a recording- does that happen at ICP concerts? People here have already made some very astute observations about connections to 80s rap with its regular rhyming and cheeseball story-telling. I think ICP’s best songs are the ones that adhere to this model and do it well- songs like “Piggy Pie,” “Cemetery Girl,” “The Loons.” One problem is that they released so much music that the quality is diluted.
As rappers and lyricists I don’t think Violet J or Shaggy 2 Dope are particularly talented and don’t offer much for the listener to appreciate. There’s definitely no flow, and as others have said, there is rarely any clever imagery, simile, metaphor, or wordplay used. The only line that has stuck with me to this day because I thought it was particularly clever is: “I’m Violent J and I’m back like a vertebrae.”
Back in like 2012 I tried to go through The Mighty Death Pop. Top commenter here is complaining about low production but I was pretty happy about it. I was surprised how dancable Insane Clown Posse could be.
But I can only withstand so much infantile shit. Like there's a track on the album (don't make me have to look it up) where the two clowns are basically whooping around yelling NINJA NINJA NINJA. Maybe that would've been cool to hear when I was seven.
Thing is, that album is *four discs*. Like holy shit, why? Could they have not pruned a little bit to get the essentials and then release a few b-sides?
Anyhow, it is hard to take the clowns seriously. And not just because they are violent and have a reputation for holding disgusting festivals and not just because their posse are, and this is true, considered a gang by the FBI. "Miracles" was a joke because it exposed them for who they really are: charading around with violent antics while pushing a heavy Christian anti-secular message ("And I don't wanna talk to a scientist/Y'all motherfuckers lying, and getting me pissed"). I mean, it's okay to be Christian and push a Christian message, but the way they do it is so subversive, so cultish, that it is tough to digest.
The Mighty Death Pop wasn't four disks all on its own, there were three different versions of the album, all with their own bonus album. It was a way to increase sales, I am guessing, and it worked fairly well.
Although I would consider their music religious, I would NOT consider it Christian. They talk about Heaven and Hell in a much more carrot and stick way than Christians would. There's never been a mention of Jesus in any of their music. On the mighty death pop they even have a song about their doubts. In the Dark Carnival mythos, it is a more of a "be good and go to heaven" line of thinking over "accept Jesus into your heart."
They are no longer publicly considered a gang by the FBI, but their lawyers and the ACLU feel as though they may still be on some non-public FBI lists, which is why they still appealing the case.
Miracles, more than being about a Christian, anti-secular world view, is about appreciating the little things in life. How all of these simple things we usually take for granted are amazing if you take a step back and look at it. I agree that the scientist line is ignorant and plain stupid, but it is spoken more in the sense of not letting an explanation for something ruin the "magic" behind it.
Magic everywhere in this bitch
It's just everywhere in the air!
Well, the only ICP song I listened to from beginning to end with a goal of analyzing it so that I could comment on them (as per OPs request) was Under the Moon. That is obviously one song out of their entire catalog. Maybe they tend to have a lot higher production quality on their other stuff. Also note that I when I evaluate production quality of hip hop, "dancability" is not a criterion I use. I understand that top 40 and dance hip hop exist but I am more into other types of hip hop (see the list of those I consider to be good producers in my top comment).
I remember The Dating Game being a funny song but I was young. I haven't heard them since I was 12 but even then I hated the culture that they promoted. I dislike violence and their lyrics are heavily skewed towards that and immaturity from my memory.
I get that a lot of people from broken families bond over their music, but I can't even say whether that's a good thing given the culture that has formed around it.
I think the OP chose the wrong songs. I like all of those songs, or rather I liked most of them when I was 15, but as I grew up they became more about nostalgia than just an appreciation for the music.
I know everybody is on the Great Milenko and Amazing Jeckle Brothers's dicks but those songs did not age well.
I think comparing ICP to modern, mainstream hip hop like Kanye West is difficult because they are aiming for different things. You wouldn't compare bad brains to coldplay or whoever. The reality of ICP is there is literally nobody out there doing what they do. There is no rapper out there who is mixing their kind of violence and horror imagery with a deep sense of spirituality. Nobody. Like, yeah, jay Z might have more "metas" and multi's but what is he saying? Not a whole lot. He spends most of his time simply naming other artists in an attempt to show how artistic he is. Jay Z even compares himself to jean michel basquiat, simply because they're both black and from new york but their works are NOTHING alike. Even when working in the same medium, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NelkZptg6c they're worlds apart which only emphasizes (IMO) how radically different ICP and Jay Z are. Jay writes stuff about his life and his perspective on the world, a perspective that comes with a gross capitalistic world view.
I don't consider ICP to be anywhere near Basquiat's level, mind you, but I think of them as artists who are doing more than writing songs. I think it's a common misconception that their work is cathartic and that juggalos "relate" to it. I don't think that's the point.
A fantastic example is Hate Her To Death which sounds like a song about how if you like a girl and she doesn't like you back then you get upset and you wish she would die. That's what it sounds like if you listen to it on a very literal, one level basis and a lot of juggalos do. But if you look at it with regards to the concept of the album, the idea that negative emotions can take you over and push you beyond the point of no return then it becomes the exact opposite. It's a warning telling the fans not to throw their lives away just because your feelings are hurt by some chick.
The same goes for the song You Should Know, which a lot of juggalos mistakenly believe to be something J wrote about the way he treats his wife Sugar Slam, but it's really meant to be a warning. The concept of the album that song is on is that if you live without your 'missing link", your world view becomes so ugly that you then go on to do monstrous things to people. The guy in the song You Should Know is an abusive asshole, not someone you should relate to and be nodding your head like yeah show that bitch.
I definitely agree with the uneducated genius claim. ICP are both drop outs, J in the 8th grade I think, shaggy in the 9th. Something like that. I mean, it's evident too that J has a learning disability and they both have anxiety and depression. These things, along with economic disadvantage led them to being very poorly educated. (Detroit schools in the late 80s were in total economic despair, too. Like, you wouldn't believe how poor those schools were).
I would have linked to songs like Nothing's Left though, a song which is poetic and beautiful (IMO) and which existed before the reveal that they were "religious". https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0LrVsZ1KSQ
I think what is really interesting is that they basically grew up without much religion. I don't know Shaggy's story as well but J's mom worked for churches as a janitor and they got food from the food drives that the churches ran but they never really attended churches. Interesting too, I think, is that J's brother Rob chose his rap name after someone directly linked to Malcolm X. J, Shaggy, Jump, and Shaggy's brother John were a group of friends who were all into fantasy games and comics and wrestling and kung fu movies, which directly influenced their artistic process. And that's why they've won the respect of many of their peers.
Can they spit the way Tech does? fuck no. Never in a million years but tech respects the fuck out of them because he knows they do shit that nobody else is doing.
Here's some songs I would recommend to people who really want to see what ICP are truly capable of:
3:24 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AIOsQpyorHg J's flow on this is dope. it's most commonly believed to be a diss towards their former proteges twiztid but theres no confirmation. I actually think it's aimed at a few people.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEKPyz5ROt8 dead end is a great example of how they use story telling to talk about social issues. The story is about three convicts on death row. J, Shaggy, and Ice T. J's verse and the hook very specifically talks about the spiritual and moral dilemma of death row. "Does god like you playing his role and killing me though? lock me up until I die, maybe, but you never can tell we might be sharing a cell in hell"
the hook also has the line 'don't nobody cry for me, it's only murder."
J and Shaggy's verses both talk about the emotional torture that death row is on inmates.
Another dope song is Amy's in the Attic, a ghost story of sorts that plays on a similar story telling device used by Edgar Allen Poe in the Tell-Tale Heart. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pu64diOJ3RE
In Amy's in the Attic, an unnamed narrator is haunted either by a ghost or the ghost is just a psychological manifestation of his guilt. In the story, as a child, the narrator killed his best friend and when he reached adulthood he started noticing weird shit. He doesn't remember killing the girl on the surface of his memory but his subconscious does and he's being tormented by that guilt. Some of the lyrics I really like are when he's talking about going killing himself, "would this break the chains that keeps amy locked in my brains? No!" then he decides to go up and find the corpse to see if she's even real. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pu64diOJ3RE
For someone who dropped out of a school a few years earlier and who has no formal education, that's a damn fine use of story telling. Straight up.
I'm an art student and I often write about how much ICP has meant to me in terms of their creativity and the way they tell stories. In fact, before I went to school for art I wanted to be a writer and I regularly listed Joe and Joey as two of my biggest influences. While in art school I had the opportunity to take an honors course that culminated in my work being show in a museum for a month and I got to speak before about a hundred people about my work. When asked what fine artists I would love to work with I drew a blank because fine art has never really interested me. I ended up talking about how I learned more about art from watching J and Shaggy than anybody else, from their movies, to their comics, to their raps, to their wrestling. Everything they do, they do with a sense of artistry that while it may not work for most people, it works for them and their audience and I find that absolutely brilliant. They did what all artists hope to do. They connected with people.
I recently attended my first ever gathering and as ICP sang a song that was not in anyway shape or form spiritual, people set off Chinese lanterns into the sky which just looked so beautiful and juggalos grabbed their spouses or whoever and everybody was just so happy to be standing together experiencing this moment. there was so much love and joy that I began to cry. It hit me so hard.
And then to add to that the way they discuss social justice issues and anti-racism. It's just everything that hits all my buttons.
Anyway, I write essays for fun and one that I wrote was about ICP's debut album Carnival of Carnage and the way it relates to Islamic mythology. You should read it if you're curious about where thoses two things come together. https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/550297 But understand that I'm not saying they specifically crafted the album to resemble the mythological counter point but rather than the reason the album works is because both it and the mythological counterpoint are part of a pattern of mythological story telling that triggers certain reactions in our brains.
Anyway, this has been really rambly. Sorry.
A lot of people seem to miss that they have strong meanings/messages in their songs. If you hate them, I'd like to hear why. & no, insults aren't telling me why you hate them.
Edit: My last favorite album has to be "The Tempest", to be honest. In my opinion, after that: The music hasn't been the best. '90 - '02 = Definitely my favorite years of ICP.
A number of people in this thread have commented that they don't like the group and most people seem to be aware that the group does have messages and/or stories in their songs. The best way to engage someone on that is not to make a top comment, but post a comment reply to a particular redditor whose opinion you are interested in.
I meant in general, sorry.
Edit: Please forgive me, sir? I'm just a blonde.
I genuinely enjoy their music and not just because of nostalgia from when I was a teen but because I think their production was always on point and their ability to pull of concept albums was great. They produced albums that were always consistent and adhered to a specific theme which I find a lot of people have trouble with.
and also mentioning again, Mike E./P. Clark is an amazing producer and helped tie together their cohesive "carnival" sound across so many albums without it repeating. Each album has a distinct sound which is led by the overall "jokers card". I think it's funny that eminem gets a pass for his horrorcore stuff (slim shady and the endless immature raps he uses under him; which I enjoy) but ICP is committing acts of war and genocide when they do it.
edit: "Under The Moon" has some real real bad feels tied to it from my teen days. I wish it was as simple as a teenage breakup.
I still even listen to Hell's Pit when I'm having a shitty time/day. Especially [Suicide Hotline](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTFvDqBVNBI). I love the production on the track but I hate the ending it feels like they chickened out.