‘Yum Yum Bedlam’- Review

The past few months have been a rollercoaster for the Juggalos—and that’s not meant to be a carnival joke. Back in October of 2020, during one of the Patreon streams they hosted to stay engaged during the pandemic, ICP announced that their next Joker’s Card, ‘Yum Yum Bedlam’, would be released on Christmas Day of that year.

There was much to be excited about. Not only is the release of a new Joker’s Card a momentous event for any Juggalo—as evident in our previous reviews, such as that for the most recent Joker’s Card, Fearless Fred Fury—this was to be the first female Joker’s Card, and wild speculations abounded.

The fifth card of the second deck, Yum Yum Bedlam (YYB) was said to be about loyalty. YYB represented temptation, and all the lurid things which drive us away from what really matters. It was a fascinating concept, fitting in well with the more individual morality-based themes of the second deck.

Loyalty has been a significant topic at Psychopathic Records as well, with the departure of several acts still looming large. Further, Violent J’s recent breakups hang over the album, promising a personal touch to the themes of betrayal, loss, and seduction.

As the first female Joker’s Card, the album also holds an important role for the Juggalette community. While ICP have been accused of misogyny over the years, their countless female fans would be quick to challenge those assumptions, rallying behind the inclusivity most often discussed in relation to the Juggalo family. With a female Joker’s Card, ICP would have a great opportunity to explore those themes and more.

Christmas came and went however, and while this writer certainly hopes that all the Juggalos and Juggalettes shared some wonderful memories and got some memorable gifts, Yum Yum was not among them.

On February 17th of 2021—colloquially known as Juggalo Day—ICP released Yum Yum’s Lure, a teaser EP for the perpetually delayed Yum Yum Bedlam.

As the year wore on, news came at the Gathering of the Juggalos that Violent J was suffering heart problems, and ICP would soon have to step back from their regular schedule. The details of that announcement are covered here.

Finally, it was announced that YYB would make its long-awaited debut on Halloween night, 2021. This time, the Clowns didn’t disappoint.

-Click Here to get your copy of ‘Yum Yum Bedlam’-

Yum Yum Bedlam arrived—almost a year late—and the Juggalo world was more than ready. As is my custom, I listened the first time in the dark, with a good pair of headphones and my expectations soaring.

The first thing that jumped out was the arrangement. YYB didn’t follow the Joker’s Card prototype of Intro song, Character song, then shit-talking song before moving into sex songs, ghost stories, and other Juggalo staples.

The Intro—a well-performed ambience and voice piece followed by eerie chanting to reinforce the character—was followed by a high-energy, classic sounding song, ‘Here Comes the Carnival’, which was deceptive in its sound. The happy vibes and bouncing rhythm did nothing to betray the dark undertones of the lyrics, which described people being maimed and killed at a violent, destructive carnival ground.

While the content itself is fairly typical fare around here, the discordance between the content and sound felt fitting given the themes of temptation, betrayal, and deception woven into the album. After a few spins of the album, this song strikes me as one of the most important on the record, which will be expanded on later.

‘Wretched’ is one of the more heinous tracks they’ve recorded in a while content-wise, while ‘Clown Drippin’ is a fun if content-light comedy song. On an album with a more traditional arrangement for the Clowns, this might have fit as a more typical third track shit-talk type song, but YYB is not a traditional sort of album.

‘Gangsta Codes’ is a classic ICP story song, with a message similar to some of their older material, such as the classic, ‘Murder Go Round’.

In ‘Queens’, ICP pull no punches in addressing directly and without the cover of heavy metaphor the thematic question many Juggalos assumed had to be addressed on this album. As the first female Joker’s Card, what did it have to say about relationships in general, especially given J’s recent struggles?

It proves to be a refreshing take, delivering on ICP’s astute moral insight and—to those less familiar—surprisingly progressive outlook. The song reminds the listener to cherish their loved ones, and those who help increase their shine, or risk the brutal pain of loss.

‘Panic Attack’ covers familiar ground for J, but does so with an energy that’s reminiscent of songs from two decades ago or more. While Shaggy arguably remains the standout on the second deck, J has shown up with a new fire. His choruses are better, his screams are louder, his lyrics are more creative and on-point. It reads like a good sign for the beleaguered Violent J, and perhaps if he doesn’t yet have his demon’s conquered, they may be well corralled.

A special mention must go out to Richard Cheese for his contribution to the outro of this song. His lounge-style crooning of ‘Fuck the World’ from the original fifth Joker’s Card is a hilarious touch.

‘Fuck Regret’ turns the tone of the album towards a forward-looking perspective, while ‘Insomnia’ takes a trippy journey through the titular struggle. Part way through the song, the beat changes and the song slips into a more psychedelic beat calling back to the classic song ‘Joke Ya Mind’. This mid-song tonal shift is employed several times throughout the album, and felt like a return to the longer, more committed approach to songs of old.

While ‘Heart and Soul’ continues with the more encouraging message that permeates the album, ‘The Drunk and the Addict’ is a surprisingly personal tune, with both J and Shaggy being comedically direct about their addictions—past and present. This impressive song continues the trend of being more honest about themselves in the second deck of Joker’s Cards, which treats J and Shaggy more as real people—as Joe and Joey—then as the cartoon characters they often portrayed in the original six.

We’re around two thirds through the album now, which is an interesting time for a Joker’s Card character song to turn up, but ‘Don’t Touch that Flower’ is exactly that. With a bouncy hook and catchy refrain throughout, is does a fine job of furthering the story of the Yum Yum Flower.

It occurs to me at this point that more than any other album, this has been reminding me of ‘The Wraith: Shangri-La’. The unusual arrangements, rich and varied sounds, bombastic energy, and enduring positivity brings a similar vibe to that essential Juggalo classic.

‘The Joksta’ brings us back to more humourous, light-hearted trash-talking, with a subtle approach to examining our inner nature that brings a darker subtext to the song. That’s contrasted perfectly by ‘Bitch I’m Fine’, which hilariously describes the endless maladies the aging duo claim to have suffered, then breezily brushing it off with a playful chorus boasting the track-title.

As the album approaches it’s long close—this happens to be the longest Joker’s Card by several minutes—the song ‘Carnival of Lights’ brings us to an unexpected high-point. With an inviting description of the inclusivity inherent to the Juggalo world, the song assures the listener that they have a perfect place within the embrace of the Carnival. With it’s equally catchy music, this song forms a beautiful counterpart to the similarly titled second song, ‘Here Comes the Carnival’. Both invite the listener to a Carnival with high-energy beats and pleading voices. Both have a positive sound and an invasive beat, but what each deliver couldn’t be more different. While the earlier song grants only pain and loss, ‘Carnival of Lights’ brings us love, inclusion, and unconditional support. This stark dichotomy is reminiscent of the side-opening tracks from YYB’s sister album, ‘The Amazing Jeckel Brothers’, which were positive and negative versions of the same song, titled ‘Jake Jeckel’ and ‘Jack Jeckel’ respectively.

It’s a timely and well-appreciated reminder that love is a two-sided coin, and while there’s a lot of pain and hurt in the world if we aren’t careful, there are also brilliant joys and experiences which can make all the rest worth it if we can only achieve them.

The penultimate ‘Ain’t No Time’ gives us a deep look into some of Violent J’s inner turmoil, and delivers in spades. It’s a touching, brutal song that reminds us of the journey the album has taken us on before ushering us into the finale, ‘Something to See’.

This song explores the idea of what a person might choose as their last vision before going blind, and reminds us of the countless treasures there are in the world if we can only shake off the temptations that blind us. The chorus concludes that the Juggalos, live at a show, would be the greatest sight to choose.

It’s a love letter to the family, and a fine closing to an impressive album.

The mastering on the final song seems a bit off, but the rest of the album sounds consistently fantastic, especially the notable return to basslines that have some kick to them.

I’d be remiss to not mention the ubiquitous producer tags throughout. It seems like a modern trend that can’t be avoided, and while they didn’t ruin my experience the way some listeners say they did, it can hardly be denied that tags on every song—and sometimes two on one song—feels like overkill.

In the end, ‘Yum Yum Bedlam’ is a fantastic release. ICP have really improved their chorus game on this album once again, and whether they’ve nailed the perfect balance themselves or just knew when to bring in assistance, there isn’t a single tacky chorus on the album.

YYB may be one of the most impressive albums the Clowns have released since 2009’s ‘Bang Pow Boom’, and sets up for the next sixth Joker’s Card perfectly.

That’s still good while away though, as the liner notes of YYB confirm earlier announcements that this will be the most heavily supported album yet. In addition to the preceding ‘Yum Yum’s Lure’ EP, three more EP’s will follow. The booklet announced the dates and names of each, and is shown below.

-Click Here to get your copy of ‘Yum Yum Bedlam’-

Yum Yum Bedlam’ is still fresh, but in many ways it already feels like a classic. While years of repeat listens will be the only way to fully appreciate the depths of the album and reveal its final place in the story, its’ quality, intrigue, and plain old fun mean those listens will be an absolute treat.

Yum Yum.

-Brad OH Inc.

(Schisobe)

Guest Appearance on the BoomBastiCAST Podcast!

Guest Appearance on the BoomBastiCAST Podcast!

Just when you thought our days of casting pods were over, we’re here to prove you wrong! While the official Gentleman Juggalo podcast does remain on hiatus, I have a guest appearance this week on the ever stellar ‘BoomBastiCAST’ podcast.

BoomBastiCAST covers all things pop culture, and is hosted by my friend—and fellow Juggalo for life—Mathew Fisher. On this episode, he hosts myself and our friend Kandis to discuss the new ICP album, Yum Yum Bedlam. Click Here to listen now.

That’s not all though—check right back here in two weeks for the official Brad OH Inc. review of Yum Yum Bedlam.

Until then, stay down, much clown love!

-Brad OH Inc.

(Schisobe)

‘Flip the Rat’- Review

Last week, we reviewed ‘Fearless Fred Fury’, the fourth Joker’s Card of the Second Deck by the Insane Clown Posse. This week, we are exploring its companion EP, ‘Flip the Rat’.

Flip feeds off the fear instilled by Red Fred, and opens with a series of songs describing Fred’s character, and the destructive power of violent fury. These were perhaps attempts at album openers, eventually replaced by ‘Red Fred’ and ‘Fury’ as the Joker’s Card’s introductory songs.

They feature varied and interesting rap-styles, and one of the biggest disappointments of either album is that ‘Revenge’ was not a 6-minute song.

The middle section of the album features many of the ICP standards one might expect on a Joker’s Card—sex songs, shit-talking songs, and guest features.

‘Friend Request’ depicts terrible people reaching out for connection, putting a comical spin on the darker aspects of our world before calling these into a clearer focus and calling them out directly.

The fact that these standards appear on Flip is an obvious result of the more focussed nature of Fearless Fred Fury in both sound and tone.

-Click Here to Purchase the Album-

Moving into the final third of this impressively lengthy EP, ICP deliver some long and very interesting songs, exploring new territory and key connections to the main album alike.

‘Hawking’ in particular is an fascinating piece. Covering every imaginable conspiracy theory about controlling groups and lack of hope—this song takes the idea behind FFF’s ‘Satellite’ and Flips it on its head. The songs compliment each other well, showing us that when looking at the big picture, the lens makes all the difference. While ‘Satellite’ looks at the wonder of being alive and gives a sense of unlimited potential, ‘Hawking’ looks at the paralyzing fear of feeling out of control and victimized.

‘Tha Dogg’ is a gritty rocker of a song, telling the story of an abused child growing up to seek violent revenge on his parents, and anyone else in his way.

Either of these two songs may have found a place on the main album—perfectly capturing the precipitous balance between taking actions to change your life, and losing yourself to violence and self-loathing.

The EP closes with ‘Be Safe’, a love song to Juggalos and to each other. It’s an anthemic ode to friendship, love, and togetherness, stressing the importance of key connections in life, and driving home the wisdom of eschewing the dangers and violence depicted throughout the preceding albums.

In a particularly moving moment, J gives a shout out to Cannibal, a Juggalo who died in 2015 defending a mother and her infant child from a violent mugger.

It’s a testament to the beauty of life, and all the things that can keep us from the self-loathing and desperation the rest of the albums take aim at. It’s a fitting ending to the series, and show the importance both of Flip the Rat as a balancing companion to Fearless Fred Fury, as well as the import of the decision to close FFF with ‘I Like it Rough’ rather than ‘Be Safe’.

Taken as a whole, ‘Fearless Fred Fury’ and ‘Flip the Rat’ cover a lot of ground, and work in tandem to present a compelling perspective on self-efficacy and empowerment, contrasted with the desperate, violent, and loathsome results of a failure to appreciate them.

It’s a powerful Joker’s Card and EP combo, and heralds a thrilling era that brings back much of the anger and hard-hitting tracks that some Juggalos have felt were lacking on previous albums. It goes all-in, and gets pretty dark at times, but as is the case with most Joker’s Cards, it has a crucial thread of positivity and appreciation sewn throughout for those who care to search.

665!

-Brad OH Inc.

(Schisobe)

‘Fearless Fred Fury’- Review

When I was just a young Juggalo, there was one expression beyond all others I truly could not stand. “Life’s not fair,” would be my father’s familiar refrain whenever I fell into complaining about some perceived slight or rejection. When I grew older however, I understood the wisdom behind it. There’s no use complaining about things beyond our control—better to focus on the things you could change.

Sometimes life was unfair—would that make you bitter and hateful, or would adversity help you grow stronger?

The same questions are the driving force behind ‘Fearless Fred Fury’ (FFF), the new album from the Insane Clown Posse, and the Fourth Joker’s Card of the Second Deck. FFF is a being of toxic anger, punishing souls who fail to live with dignity—those who put off all responsibility for their life, and feed on blame and resentment.

Fred’s job is to avenge the bitter dead—doling out punishment to the recently deceased who have wasted their lives with impotent complaining to the chagrin of the dead who had no more opportunities to waste. The message behind this Joker’s Card is ‘Fite Back’—but how to do that is a concept explored throughout the card and its companion EP, ‘Flip the Rat’—which we’ll review next week.

Fred’s targets are those who blame fate, whine about poor luck and unfair circumstances, and take no control over their own lives. The dead are angry, and Fred is ready to punish such people. Flip meanwhile, feeds off the fear instilled by Fred. Together, they encourage the living to fight back against whatever is holding them back and find their true power and passion.

Anger is a funny thing however, and with the Wicked Clowns established approach of showing the good by shining a light on the bad, we are left with a strange dichotomy between wasting your life in sorry resentment, and the equally dangerous path of falling into toxic anger and destructive rage.

-Click Here to Purchase the Album-

This balance is defined clearly in the intro song for the character, ‘Red Fred’, which describes Fred’s anger towards those who never took control of their own lives, and the destructive power of fury.

… YES! Fred’s the revenge you never got…
NO! Fred’s all your dignity shot…
YES! Fred’s all the drive you didn’t know…
NO! Fred will burn these into your soul…

The album has an unusually personal aspect to it, as its long production time was marred by delays, and fuelled by the toxic anger of Violent J as he dealt with the loss of album mates and betrayals he struggled to process. There is a sense that the album started off as a pure revenge piece—focussed on violence and hatred, but morphed into something more nuanced and deep as J himself slowly processed his anger and put it in its proper place.

While songs like ‘Fury’ and ‘West Vernor Ave.’ tell stories of violent revenge and fury turned into violence, others stand on somewhat higher ground. ‘Satellite’, for instance, starts off with the quote,

“Your life sucks, is that what you said man?

Try and tell that to a dead man.”

The song is an important reminder of the better things in life, and the beauty of simply being alive. It encourages us to putt off bitterness and revenge, trading those for an appreciation of life and a determination to make the most of our opportunities.

The song creates a fascinating contrast with a song from Flip the Rat, ‘Hawking’, but we’ll talk more about that in next week’s review.

This sentiment repeats in songs like ‘Freedom’, which reminds us that we are free to live any way we want—that the world is truly ours.

These are exceptions however, and the majority of FFF is spent on toxicity and the impacts thereof. ‘Game Over’, ‘Low’, and ‘Hot Head’ tell the stories of people lost to the world due to their own resentment and fear, while ‘Nobody’s Fault’ drives this theme home by describing the horrendous impacts of such withdrawal from society, while reminding us of the source of this suffering: ‘it’s nobody’s fault but mine’.

‘Night of Red Rum’ provides a murder-fuelled horror story that may settle among some of ICP’s best of that particular topic, while ‘Shimmer’ is a ghost-story that may claim the same.

The penultimate song on the album, ‘Beware’ is a warning—a disclaimer of sorts about the disturbing content of the final song. It challenges the listener to make a choice whether to proceed or not. It’s a bit of a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ approach, and sets up a fascinating ending to the album.

Not unlike the choice between the 6th Joker’s Cards of the first deck, ‘The Wraith’, which encouraged us to choose between ‘Shangri-la’, which was for the special few, and ‘Hell’s Pit’, which was for the many.

FFF closes with ‘I Like it Rough’, a depraved exploration of sexual violence and control—the noxious ending of a life defined by bitterness, rage, and resentment for society coupled with a lack of personal agency and responsibility.

It’s a dismal ending, focussed on mutual pain and suffering, with no hope at all offered within. This is an interesting and novel approach by ICP—as the vast majority of their albums end on a positive note encouraging us to appreciate what we have, love those deserving, and move beyond that which hurts us.

Nothing of the sort here—suffering and pain are the only offerings of the closing track, which is a fitting cap on an album driven primarily by themes of toxic anger and isolation. The right choice—perhaps, would be to obey the warning, and stop the album at ‘Freedom’—a more classically fitting end-point.

Of course, then we’d miss out on this powerful statement on toxicity—which the album did so much to establish.

Ultimately, the album makes it clear that life truly isn’t fair. There are moments when we’ll feel betrayed, forgotten, or unappreciated, and most likely, they’ll happen again and again.

It also tells us that it is only ourselves who can dictate our reactions to these setbacks—and reminds the listener to avoid falling into isolation and resentment, all while displaying the dangers of toxic anger and violence.

It’s a more layered theme than many of their efforts, and pays off with a strong sense of style and consistency. Ultimately, ‘Fearless Fred Fury’ is a terrific addition to the Dark Carnival saga, and Juggalos around the world are slathering over this new era of energy, empowerment, and a return to the classic ‘wicked shit’ of old.

Fite Back!

-Brad OH Inc.

(Schisobe)