On August 14, Insane Clown Posse will deliver their 12th studio album, The Mighty Death Pop! The last time Detroit’s finest punching bags released a full-length original album, September 2009’s Bang! Pow! Boom!, they gave the world “Miracles,” an unintentionally hilarious viral-video ode to giraffes, “fucking rainbows,” and the magic of natural phenomena that brought the wicked harlequins a flood of renewed mainstream attention/derision. Throughout the ultimately favorable 18 months that followed — as Insane Clown Posse went from mean-spirited meme to unlikely Jack White collaborator to Kitchen-sponsored performance-art indulgence — the facepainted white-rap scrubs haven’t had a new traditional product to sell. So the Saturday Night Live ribbing, the George Lopez cameo, the recent Tosh.0 appearance has mostly been a result of ICP’s evergreen existence, bolstered by those unbelievably unbelievable YouTube clips and the band’s annual tradition of staging the Gathering of the Juggalos — a primal, affordable, independent, and somewhat hazardous music festival that atrocity-minded tourists could easily infiltrate.
So what to make of the fact that Insane Clown Posse will finally have a new product on shelves of your local Best Buy? One with guest appearances by Color Me Badd, Ice Cube, and Kreayshawn, plus covers of Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” and Tears for Fears’ “Shout”? One with tracks entitled “Juggalo Juice” and “Scrubstutite Teachers”?
Let’s not answer that now. Let us instead examine The Mighty Death Pop!‘s contents.
The Supernatural Backstory to The Mighty Death Pop!
The Mighty Death Pop! is about the untimely consequences of reckless hedonism. “Some people play games with their own mortality,” Violent J recently explained to Psychopathic’s esteemed in-house publication, the Hatchet Herald. “They try and impress their friends by doing outrageous stunts and taking stupid chances with death. They gamble. Playing with your life certainly can be attractive because of all the attention, the pats on your back, and everybody saying how brave and fuckin’ crazy you are! Almost seductive in some ways. He continues, “When you take big chances with your life you’re obviously not considering the very real possibility of The Death Pop enough. It’s all good and exciting until POP! Then the fun instantly dies. SHUT OFF. The Sudden Black Out. The Death Pop doesn’t torture these reckless souls; he just suddenly pulls their plug out.”
A Brief Primer on ICP’s Joker Card Phantasmagoria
ICP’s homespun theology is a purgatorial afterlife called the Dark Carnival. Violent J, the Penn to Shaggy 2 Dope’s Teller, claims that many years ago, he had a nocturnal vision of a jester teleporting him to a scary fair where a white-gloved clown tossed down six Joker cards. This dream, he insists, was the inspiration for ICP’s six concept albums, each one based on a different character that embodied six evil aspects of human nature. “You see yourself in different reflections, and you have a chance to change yourself before your ending comes,” VJ once explained to shock-rocker Alice Cooper, who guested on The Great Milenko. When the last album in the series came out, a weirdly serious nu-metal release called The Wraith, it revealed that the figure behind Insane Clown Posse’s theology was God. The hymnal’s chorus rallied: “And may the Juggalos fiiiiiiiiiiind Him!” [We’ve said this before.]
The Joker Card parables were supposed to end there. But J and Shaggy found themselves essentially blocked after having devoted a decade to the amusement-park supernatural. So Bang! Pow! Boom! became the first avatar of a second deck, followed by this August’s 17-track bonanza, The Mighty Death Pop!.
2. “The Mighty Death Pop”
3. “Night of the Chainsaw”
4. “Chris Benoit”
5. “The Blasta”
6. “Kickin’ Kickin'”
7. “Bazooka Joey”
8. “Shooting Stars”
9. “Juggalo Juice”
10. “Hate Her To Death”
11. “SKREEEM! (feat. Tech N9ne and Hopsin)”
12. “Ghetto Rainbows”
13. “When I’m Clownin'”
14. “Dog Catchers”
16. “Where’s God?”
A Breakdown of The Mighty Death Pop!‘s Three Versions
Each copy of The Mighty Death Pop! is one of three versions: “Red Pop,” “White Pop,” and “Black Pop.” “Red” is all-new ICP cover songs. “Black” is a 64-minute track. “White” is outtakes, remixes, and guest collaborations with Ice Cube, Tech N9ne, Hopsin, Fred Durst, Color Me Badd, Kreayshawn, Scarface, Willie D, and Bushwick Bill, Three 6 Mafia, Kottonmouth Kings, Swollen Members. The only guest stars on the main album are Juggalo favorite Tech N9ne and his acolyte Hopsin. (“Oh they put Hopsin on it? I didn’t know,” Tech N9ne told us when we spoke with him earlier this summer. “I just know that they sent me a beat, and I rapped, and I sent it back.”)
Even the clowns don’t deny that three versions of the same record is good for business, especially for an act whose fanbase has their own Facebook. But last summer, J and Shaggy insisted their intentions were also to entertain. “If you’re a Juggalo, that shit’s fun,” Violent J told me last summer. “It’s not just because there’s a sticker with it, or something stupid. It’s actually cool. And fun to sit there and research it buy the three different versions. That’s why there’s three different bonus discs–three different whole albums. Are we trying to sell more records? Absolutely. Juggalos–there aren’t millions and millions of them. But we gotta try to hang, try to sell records, try to survive.”
“This is what we do for a career,” added Shaggy. “That’s the ultimate goal of a musician that does it for a career–to get it to as many people as possible.”
“It’s all about being underground and being real,” insisted J. “But at the same time, [our] kids can’t put realness on for diapers.”
Version 1: “Red Pop”
Bonus Disc: Smothered, Covered, and Chunked!
The title of this first bonus disc adheres to classic ICP naming conventions: grossly evocative language, earnest use of exclamation points, repulsive double meanings. But Smothered, Covered, and Chunked! is actually a reference to Waffle House hash browns (smothered = sauteed onions; covered = melted cheese; chunked = diced ham).
The restaurant chain occupies a special place in Psychopathic folklore. Back in the late ’90s, ICP and 11 of their tourmates (including Twiztid‘s Jamie “Madrox” Spaniolo and Paul “Monoxide” Methric) got arrested outside a Waffle House in Greenville, Indiana after brawling inside the restaurant with a mouthy stranger. They spent a night in jail, but after getting bailed out, ICP miraculously performed in Ohio the next day. Two years later, Violent J dissed the diner in Bizaar‘s “Still Stabbin,'” a goofy inventory of people, places, and things his murderous alter-ego likes to slice. “I love Waffle House, I stab people there / They’re so shitty and dumpy they don’t even care.”
To this day, Juggalos wear Waffle House shirts at the Gathering. Like this guy.
“Red Pop” Track List
1. “Prelude (feat. Psychopathic Family)”
2. “Jump Around” (House of Pain cover)
3. “Shout (feat. Blaze Ya Dead Homie)” (Tears for Fears cover)
4. “Ain’t No Future In Yo Frontin” (MC Breed cover)
5. “Hold Still feat. Downtown Brown”
6. “Bitch Betta Have My Money (feat. Fred Durst)” (AMG cover)
7. “Night Of The Living Baseheads” (Public Enemy cover)
8. Beautiful (Indestructible) (Christina Aguilera cover)
9. “Mind Playin’ Tricks (feat. ABK and Lil Wyte)” (Geto Boys cover)
10. “State of Shock” (The Jacksons feat. Michael Jackson and Mick Jagger cover)
11. “Love For Dem Gangsters (feat. Cold 187)” (Eazy E)
12. “Guess My Religion” (possibly a twist on Willie D’s “Playin’ With God”)
Other covers mentioned in The Mighty Death Pop! infomercial:
Yo Gabba Gabba, “Hold Still”
Version 2: “Black Pop”
Bonus Disc: Insane Clown Posse’s Freaky Tales
“Black Pop” re-imagines Too $hort’s rap-classic “Freaky Tales” as one 64-minute marathon. The eight-minute original is a loping laundry list of Too $hort’s carnal affairs with sweet young things like Joan (rhymes with “bone”), Red (matched with “head” and “bed”), Mary (“scary”), Denise (“beast”), and 30-plus other lovely ladies. Or as Violent J’s baby mama Sugar Slam puts it in the MDP! infomercial, “Freaky Tales” is “non-stop [sic] hoe flows” about “chick after chick and what they did with the dick.” Ok!
For their tribute, ICP squared the original’s length, recording four minutes a day over the course of eight-to-10 hours. “It was such a great idea when we started doing it, but it turned out a lot harder than we thought,” Shaggy told me last summer. “But it turned out fucking awesome.”
“There’re so many things you don’t factor in until you start doing a project,” added Violent J. “We wrote four minutes every night. We come in the next day and spit four minutes, no chorus, no hook.”
In the infomercial, Sugar Slam pitches this version as “perfect for long rides or any serious smoke-out session.” (They know their audience.) The road-trip angle was part of the plan all along. “I put that shit in and I get to wherever I’m going with a quickness,” Violent J told us last year.
Version 3: “White Pop”
Bonus Disc: Mike E. Clark’s Extra Pop! Emporium
Insane Clown Posse’s “White Pop” is a 13-track collection of cutting-room floor outtakes and remixes that have been, in Psychopathic-speak, “tweaked, spanked, and freaked.” Over the years, ICP has paid everyone from Alice Cooper to Slash to Ol’ Dirty Bastard (price: $30,000 in 1999) to show up on their records. This time, they provide Ice Cube, Kreayshawn, Three Six Mafia, Fred Durst, the Geto Boys, and Color Me Badd.
Also, something called “Up Ya Ass.” But of course.
“White Pop” Track List
1. “Traveling Circus”
2. “Chris Benoit (Kuma’s Crub remix feat. Ice Cube and Scarface)”
3. “When I’m Clownin’ (Kuma’s Clownin’ Remix feat. Kreayshawn)”
4. “Lost In The Music (feat. Swollen Members)”
5. “Up Ya Ass” (outtake)
6. “Ghetto Rainbows (Soft Ass R-N-B remix feat. Color Me Badd)”
7. “Birthday Party” (outtake)
8. “Scrubstutite Teachers (feat. Twiztid and Willie D)”
9. “Playin’ In The Woods” (outtake)
10. “Pass It To The Sky (feat. Kottonmouth Kings)”
11. “Shugston Brooks 1959-2004” (outtake)
12. “Night Of The Chainsow (Joe Strange remix feat. Three Six Mafia)”
13. “Forever (Extended Geto Mix feat. The Geto Boys)”
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