‘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)

Something Wicked

‘Tradition’ is not likely a word commonly associated with Juggalos, yet when it comes to that odd and often maligned little subculture, there does exist a unique sense of custom, ceremony, and certain things which might even be considered sacred.

This past Tuesday, Oct. 31st, Juggalos from around the world gathered at the Russell Industrial Center in Detroit, MI, for a double dose of Dark Carnival sacrament, coming in the form of the 24th annual Hallowicked Clown Show.

Hallowicked—the annual Halloween-night concert put on by the Insane Clown Posse—is one of the longest running traditions among the Juggalos. Halloween has always been the most beloved holiday in the Juggalo world; it’s reliance on masks and face paint fits right in with the whole clown thing, after all. It’s a night about self-expression and freedom, which are some of the most crucial ideas behind the Juggalo culture. That’s why the night has been celebrated with the annual Hallowicked Clown Show since 1994.

This year however, Juggalos gathered anticipating even more than the yearly celebration and family reunion. At this year’s Hallowicked, ICP will be unveiling the 4th Joker’s Card of the Second Deck.

Admittedly, that does warrant a bit of explaining.

The Joker’s Cards are the central albums of ICP’s mythology—each one expanding on the key themes of the culture while providing enough shocks, laughs, and groans to keep the masses content until the next release. The albums—each a fairly simplistic face on a (usually) black background—fast become icons of the Juggalo community.

While the original set was capped at 6 cards (7 albums), ICP began a second deck of Joker’s Cards with 2009’s phenomenal ‘Bang Pow Boom’.

Since then, they have released ‘The Mighty Death Pop’ (2012), and ‘The Missing Link’ (2015), among other non-Joker’s Card releases.

The Joker’s Cards simple symbolism makes them easy rallying banners for the uninhibited passion of the Juggalos, and their more often than not highly theatrical unveilings rank among the most anxiously anticipated events short of their actual release.

The faces and names of future Joker’s Cards have been revealed by phone numbers obtained by solving riddles on side-project Eps, hidden in the liner notes of other albums, and other such creative methods. More recently however, the custom has shifted towards huge public unveilings.

At Hallowickeds, Gatherings, and other such events past, ICP unfurl giant banners revealing the names and faces of their next project, and enthusiastic chants ensue. This is the sort of event Juggalos will travel for. Sure, they’ll travel just to see the band, or to hang out with other Juggalos, or to buy Faygo—but the unveiling of a Joker’s Card—that’s something truly special!

Which brings us back to the matter at hand. At Hallowicked this year, ICP promised to share the face of the fourth Joker’s Card of the second deck, just as they did for ‘The Mighty Death Pop’ (Revealed at Hallowicked 2010), and ‘The Missing Link’ (Revealed at Hallowicked 2014). The combination of the annual Hallowicked Clown Show, and the revealing of a new Joker’s Card makes this a truly thrilling event for Juggalos worldwide.

And so, they gathered; with painted faces and countless variations of clown-themed t-shirts. With lines forming at the crack of dawn, the Juggalos descended en masse upon the Russell Industrial Center in Detroit, MI. Naturally, this was an all-day event—with myriad musical acts, wrestling matches, exhibits, and countless other attractions throughout the day. Of course, it was to be capped off at the end by the main event—the Insane Clown Posse.

So when the time came, the eager Juggalos packed together tightly, and waited. Then, they waited some more. But the stage time came and went. So did midnight.

Not until nearly 1:00am local time, with Halloween technically behind them, did the ICP take the stage and the epitome of Hallowicked begin. As soon as they appeared, the wait seemed of little concern to the frantic Juggalos.

The Clowns rocked the audience with live standards such as ‘Hokus Pokus’, and ‘Chicken Huntin’, while adding in some scary surprises befitting the occasion, covering rare Halloween singles such as ‘Halloween on Military Street’, and ‘Sleepwalker’.

As the intro to 2015’s ‘Falling Apart’ teased in the background, Violent J took centre stage to proselytize that while Juggalos are usually weirdos and outcasts, on Halloween it’s cool to be scary. Its our night!

Late in the show, ICP broke into the old family favourite, ‘Dead Body Man’, bringing the congregation to a fever pitch.

Then, all went silent.

A cryptic chanting oozed from the speakers, and the first banner fell, bearing the name, ‘Fearless Fred Fury’.

The next banner held the face.

Juggalos roared their excitement for this new chapter of Dark Carnival lore.

The beat for ‘Real Underground Baby’ began—a rare song live, this closed the gruesome 2004 album, ‘The Wraith: Hell’s Pit’. This choice of closer may prove meaningful, as both the name and face of this new Joker’s Card forebode wicked times ahead.

‘Real Underground Baby’ continued as the party raged, with confetti, smoke, and eventually a full blown Faygo Armageddon—a storming of the stage and massive Faygo war which has become the traditional ending to any ICP event.

As the music faded away and the final Faygo flew, the crowds began to dwindle at last. Halloween was long over, but the feeling of Hallowicked still held strong as soaking and exhausted Juggalos filed out, dancing between chants of ‘Family’ and ‘ICP’, with grateful smiles beneath the smeared remains of their clown paint.

-Brad OH Inc.

The Canadian Juggalo Weekend

On the days of April 7th and 8th 2017, the Marquee Beer Hall in Calgary, Alberta was the scene of the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend. From all across this great northern nation and beyond, painted faces converged on Cowtown to revel in the frenetic madness that is the Juggalo world.

Featuring live JCW Wrestling, carnival freak shows, and countless live music acts including the likes of Swollen Members, Onyx, 2-Live Crew and the one and only Ice T, each night was capped off in the blaze of Faygo drenched glory that only the Insane Clown Posse can provide. Night one featured a cover to cover performance of their seminal album, ‘Riddle Box’, while night two featured a raucous ‘hits’ show—both with more than enough Faygo to drown several dunk-tank carnies.

As if that wasn’t enough, each night included an after party, which saw ICP back on stage again to play the Juggalo equivalent of an acoustic set (sans Faygo) of rarely played songs like ‘I Get Mad’, ‘Get Off Me Dawg’, ‘Falling Apart’, ‘Santa Claus…’, and ‘Everybody Rize’. Needless to say, this made quite the impression on the eager Juggalos in attendance.

Of course, like any event put on by Psychopathic Records, the main event highlight was the Juggalo Family itself. If Juggalos live up to their reputation as a wild and crazy bunch, so too do they stay true to their own creed as a supportive and inclusive group of nut-jobs who would be hard pressed to fit in anywhere else besides an event such as this. Playful chants, wild mosh pits, crowd-surfing wheelchairs, and a greater sense of kinship and camaraderie than you’ll find at most real family reunions made the weekend a special treat both for those long acquainted with the ICP and their Juggalos, and first-timers alike.

While far from an inclusive list, much love goes to our good friend Hal for showing the gumption to check the scene out, and to Rick and Kim for being such fine compatriots and outstanding representatives of the Juggalo world. Much love to ICP and all of Psychopathic Records for bringing their one of a kind madness to Canada.

For so many songs and memories I could never have anticipated, and will now never let go, much clown love goes to ICP, Psychopathic Records, and the entire Juggalo world.

-Brad OH Inc.

Brad OH Inc. Featured on ‘GonzoToday’

cropped-cropped-blogbanner13.jpgToday on Brad OH Inc., we have a special item for all our dear readers. Rather than a new weekly post, we’re happy to share this article we’ve published through our good friends at GonzoToday.

Writing about the Insane Clown Posse and their ongoing legal battle against the FBI is nothing new for us, but when we were offered a chance to write something for a site like GonzoToday, we were happy to take the opportunity. Needless to say, this is a GonzoToday exclusive, and cannot be posted here (see publishers…we’re open to negotiations!), so follow the link below and check out our new article, ‘The Clown in Chief and the Juggalo Army’.

Click Here for Article.

-Brad OH Inc.

There Are Clowns?

The Gentleman Juggalo LogoThere are Clowns,

Among the trees,

In fields and bushes,

Where nobody sees. 

There are Clowns,

Out for the young,

Bent on killing their songs,

Long before they are sung.  

There are Clowns,

Outside of the school,

Their hellish grins asking,

Just who is the fool?

But there are Clowns in police cars,

And Clowns in the courts,

Clowns on the TV,

Reading news reports.

There are Clowns on the left,

And Clowns on the right,

Clowns that will lie to you,

Or tell you to fight.

 There are Clowns in the papers,

And Clowns at the prow,

Of our ship as we ponder,

Where we’re to go now.

There are Clowns who will promise,

Everything is fine,

And Clowns who will tell you,

Not to waste your time.

Clowns that will claim,

It’s all under control,

But those Clowns are demure,

When it’s time to console.

There are Clowns on the streets,

Clowns under our beds,

Clowns running our countries,

Clowns filling our heads.

Yes there are Clowns,

In all sorts of places,

But the Clowns I fear most,

Do not paint their faces.

 

This poem was inspired by the recent ‘Time’ Article by Violent J, which you can read here (Link).

 

-Brad OH Inc.

On Juggalos and Fanaticism

The Gentleman Juggalo LogoNothing I do elicits more abject disdain than my passionate enjoyment of the Insane Clown Posse. ‘Enjoyment’ may be a slight understatement mind you, I am a self-proclaimed Juggalo, and that comes with some pretty loaded implications.

Childish insults and hateful slurs aside, Juggalos are known for taking their musical-affections a step beyond most other fan-bases. In fact, I’ve heard it justly claimed that for Juggalos, the term ‘fan’ is short for ‘fanatical’. It’s as apt an analogy as any I could come up with, so I’m happy to appropriate it here—it’s true, Juggalos almost to the last are entirely fanatical about their love of ICP.

But behind this trend of obsession and fanaticism lies a deeper insight into the nature of the music—one perhaps that can be applied more broadly to all those things which bring some small sub-sect of people to their knees while being lost entirely on everyone else. A key part of this is the high entry point of the music, due to its very nature.

ICP are often accused of being vulgar, juvenile, or much worse. None of these labels are entirely untrue, but they also miss a big part of the picture, and the entire context. One of the chief reminders I give to people attacking the artistic merit of ICP is to consider what the letters stand for—they advertise it right up front; they are clowns.

So the silly and obscene is all a part of the act, but it’s the larger theme of this act which represents the buy-in, and that comes only to listeners who hang around long enough to read the brightly coloured writing on the big top walls.

You see, beneath the greasepaint and pantomime there is a much greater sense of sincerity that most casual listeners miss completely. It was Oscar Wilde who once claimed ‘give a man a mask and he’ll tell you the truth,’ and there could be no more perfect proof of this platitude than ICP. By donning their outlandish personalities and presenting their ideas as revelations from the ‘Dark Carnival’, ICP create a farcical mirror of reality through which they can comment on the deeper realities of life.

Each album is created around a central, all-encompassing theme: usually grounded in notions of facing your own sin after death, karmic retributions, and personal accountability. On each album, these themes are explored through songs shifting in perspective, point of view, and more often than not, even through the eyes of briefly encountered and little explored alter egos. Some songs will be bright, cheery, and seemingly of little substance, while others will be aggressive and dark—with the clowns claiming in the first person to commit heinous acts and hold despicable beliefs.

Seldom is the intention spelled out plainly, and the ICP leave it up to their listeners to sort out the clues and piece together the bigger picture. A lifetime of listening can certainly make this an easy process, but if a song like ‘You Should Know’ (Link) is your first introduction to the band, it’s understandable you’d be left with a pretty bad taste in your mouth.

Truly, to hear any single song out of context, one could easily assume some pretty awful things about the motivations and beliefs of the duo—and their fan-base. A thorough understanding requires a listener to immerse themselves in the lore of the band, the story of each album (Joker’s Cards), and eventually the Juggalo culture itself to fully suss out the depth of meaning in ICP’s music.

But herein lies the rub, and to my mind one of the most incredible things about art presented in this once-removed way. The high buy-in level acts as a sort of built-in gate-keeper for the music itself. It’s kind of like an ‘extreme’ sport. You really don’t see a lot of people merely dabbling in the hobby of wingsuits, and listening to ICP is no different.

It’s exactly why there is such a sharp divide between people who like ICP’s music (‘like’ being an admittedly weak description), and those who don’t (…or inevitably hate it with a passion). It’s an all or nothing situation. If you hear a bit and get turned off, you’ll think little of them ever again, and potentially fear their dedicated following. But if you do the work needed to understand them, you’ll emerge from the other end with a more secure understanding of the art of metaphor in general, and a ‘family’ of Juggalos banded together all the more tightly by their outlier status and shared vision. At that point, it’s only a matter of time before the baptismal Faygo shower makes it official—welcome to the family ninja!

-Brad OH Inc.