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.

The Juggalo Gang Designation

The Gentleman Juggalo LogoThe Insane Clown Posse (ICP) (Link) are no strangers to hate and controversy, and have even gone so far as to proudly wear the label of ‘World’s Most Hated Band’ (Link) like a badge of honour. But recently, things were taken in an unimaginably strange direction, when the FBI took the absurd action of labelling the Juggalos (the dedicated followers of ICP’s music) as a hybrid gang (Link).

The move was a very serious one, and has needlessly affected countless Juggalos since (Link). By labelling the Juggalos a gang, the FBI and United States government have created a near insurmountable obstacle for many law-abiding music-lovers. At present, having a ‘Juggalo’-related tattoo, merchandise, etc. could prevent a person from joining the military, could be considered a breach of probation terms, has been cited to affect custody agreements between parents, and extend sentences for minor crimes—reclassifying them as gang-related crimes (Source).

Even the self-styled ‘Most-Hated Band’ sees this as a step too far. While they’ve borne the brunt of media scorn with an optimistic grin, the ICP have taken the FBI Gang-ruling to court. Backed by the ACLU (Link), and toting a long list of grievances reported by Juggalos to stem from the ruling, ICP have invested a great deal of time and capital into suing the Federal Government to justify or overturn the ruling.

…Not bad for a couple of Clowns.

Thus far, the lawsuit has met with little success, initially being thrown out of court, and continuing to languish under delays and red-tape. But say what you will about ICP’s music, their fight against this ruling is entirely justified, and potentially one of the more important debates of our time in the realm of art and music.

You see, a gang is something which essentially functions to create meaning for an individual who suffers a desperate lack of such. It can provide a place of belonging, an identity, even a sense of purpose and community. Unfortunately, these perceived benefits tend to come—in the case of organized, criminal gangs—with their share of drawbacks—ranging from risk of injury or death, to the harm of others, and of course criminal charges.

But gangs aren’t the only way for a wayward person to find meaning. As discussed in our article, ‘The Metaphorical Imperative’ (Link), stories and art can also serve this function. By finding a sense of acceptance, guidance, and structure in the confines of a well-constructed metaphor, people throughout history have escaped from the dismal confines of their daily life and been elevated to something far greater.

In the case of ICP, this is quite literally what happened. As discussed in our article, ‘Circular Journey’ (Link), Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope initially founded ICP (then ‘Inner City Posse’) as a legitimate (if somewhat unimposing) street-gang. Rapping was just a small part of that identity. But as Violent J shares in his book, ‘Behind the Paint’ (Link), the Inner City Posse quickly fell prey to the more dangerous gangs of inner city Detroit at the time, experienced myriad legal conflicts, and all but fell apart. Violent J, ultimately finding himself in a jail cell, came to the epiphany that the gang life was not for him, and resolved thereafter to focus his efforts on music.

The Inner City Posse soon became the Insane Clown Posse, and the rest was history. ICP’s musical career is what raised them out of the gang life and gave them purpose. Likewise, many of their colleagues at their self-founded ‘Psychopathic Records’ came from similar backgrounds, and as such ICP stand as a true bastion against the gang life in Detroit. They have been a source of reprieve for anyone seeking something more meaningful for their lives. In fact, they have created purpose and employment opportunities in the poverty stricken city of Detroit, where the government has only lamented for the lost.

This effect continues today. When asked exactly what ‘Juggalos’ are, the most common answer you can expect to get is ‘family’. ICP have created for their fans a sense of unity and belonging rarely achieved—whether in music, community organizations, or even religious institutions. They have fostered a sense of meaning and purpose for countless youth—often as disenfranchised and wayward as the two Clowns were in their early life.

It is true that throughout their music, there have been themes of violence, misogyny, and even gang affiliation. In point of fact, in the song ‘Gang Related’, Violent J states it in unambiguous terms: ‘Do you rep the Hatchetman—you’re in a gang!’.

Now surely to the wise men and women of the US court system, this is as clear a confession as you could ever ask for. But the funny thing about art is that what is said is not always meant to be taken literally—that’s the beauty of metaphor after all. This point is not some foreign notion, nor is it a stretch to expect the good people of the judicial system to maintain this basic understanding of the creative process. In his song ‘Nebraska’, Bruce Springsteen admits to the mindless killing of ten individuals, but it’s unlikely he will ever be summoned before a jury on those charges, isn’t it?

Ultimately, the ‘Gang’ designation placed on the Juggalos is an affront to freedom of expression. What’s more, considering the incredible work ICP have done to improve the city of Detroit, and how their work has saved innumerable people from the gang life, it seems rather akin to striking at the hand that’s doing your work.

If the government had the clairvoyance to provide for its citizens in an informed and just way, it may be we would see far fewer people so devoid of meaning and desperate to belong. As it is however, we must simply embrace the power of music (and all metaphor) to provide these intrinsic human needs, and fight doggedly against any judicial ruling which seeks to punish the well-intentioned for fear that their decency would unveil the system’s own complacency.

So fight on ICP! The Juggalos—and the artistic world moreover—are behind you. The Wicked Clowns will never die!

-Brad OH Inc.

The Real Magic of ‘The Gathering’

The Gentleman Juggalo LogoAmong the greatest experiences of my life, many have come at the infamous and maligned ‘Gathering of the Juggalos’ (Link), which I have had the privilege of attending three times so far (2002, 2010, and 2012).

The Gathering of the Juggalos (GOTJ) is the annual festival held by the Insane Clown Posse (Link) and their record label, Psychopathic records. It features all the artists of the Psychopathic label, as well as hundreds of other bands. But music is not the only draw for potential GOTJ attendees—wrestling shows, talent competitions, auctions, merchandise booths, autograph tents, band seminars and carnival attractions represent only a small fraction of the entertainment to be had at one of these strange and wonderful events, which historically range from 3-5 days, and tend to occur at the most isolated campgrounds to be found in the American Midwest.

The event has become something of an internet phenomenon of late, with countless articles (Link) being written each year by media interlopers hoping to drop in for one day and capture the essence in a way that can be packaged and explained to the world at large.

As yet, few have come close to accomplishing this goal—at least in its truest sense. Given, these articles have been successful in whipping up the group-think frenzy which the internet makes so common-place, placating the masses with pictures of exposed breasts, faces deranged with excitement, and other unusual sites suitable to inspire the condemnation and ridicule of those who have never experienced the true magic of the GOTJ.

And that journalistic failure is unlikely to be corrected anytime soon. Because the truth is, the Gathering isn’t something that can rightly be comprehended by the curious voyeur, and photographs or video taken at The Gathering capture its essence with no greater efficiency than they would that of a mountain vista or a roaring crowd. That is to say, not at all.

The Gathering isn’t meant to be read about (and the irony of this typed statement is not missed by the author), it’s meant to be experienced. And while I make no claim that an open-minded visitor would be unable to have an incredible time there so long as they were willing to cast aside their biases and take it in with a fresh and open mind, the Gathering of the Juggalos—as implied by the title—is truly meant for the Juggalos alone.

This isn’t to say that there’s any hostility to a well-intended outsider—quite the contrary in fact—but the true magic of this strange event is not in the entertainment scheduled, or the sights to see, but rather in the nuance of the people, and the incredible, tribal culture in which to revel.

At its heart, each GOTJ is nothing more than a campground laid out into sections, with myriad sources of entertainment interspersed among the wooded confines of whatever campground it presently occupies. But within this spread of humanity, an amazing cultural phenomenon can be observed—if one knows where to look.

Really, each Gathering can be viewed almost as a series of tiny villages—microcosms of various aspects of the Juggalo world living in harmony under the greater whole. A quick walk through the grounds, and a trained eye can pick them all out. There are the more old-school Juggalos—with their painted faces, dreadlocks, and Milenko jerseys. Across from them are the ‘Techalos’—juggalos who are primarily inspired by the works of Tech N9ne (Link)—all with their hair waxed into sharp spikes, and white contacts in their eyes. In another direction you might find a group of new generation Juggalos, decked out in more of a ‘scene’ style, and sporting the latest ‘Hot Topic’ shirts of their favourite artists. There are the wrestling kids, the drug crowd, and plenty of Juggalos motivated by the commonly held and generally apt rule that at the GOTJ, there is plenty of ‘love’ to go around.

Despite the differences however, the Juggalos of GOTJ are united under a common identity—that of the former misfit who has learned through adversity and inspiration in equal measure to appreciate the world for their own take on it, rather than forcing it (and themselves) into the pre-defined moulds prescribed by an often uncaring society.

Meeting any of these strangers is no difficult task, and it will soon become evident why so many Juggalos consider the Gathering to be a homecoming. Everyone you talk to is friendly, and all are overwhelmed with a sense of resplendent joy simply for having the privilege to be there. Talk to someone, and they will inevitably invite you to hang out at their campground—leading you through strange twists and turns to their own little tribe among the masses. Personally, I’ve never travelled to the Gathering with anyone beside myself, but I’ve never for a moment felt alone at one. This is the hidden pearl of the GOTJ that inexperienced reporters so often miss out on—as the name implies, it’s really about the people.

So the question becomes—if the GOTJ is such a friendly and welcoming place, a place of open minds and hearts, where does the pervasive feeling of fear and loathing so often associated with the event come from? With no corporate sponsorship or police presence, the Gathering represents a true sense of freedom—a utopian getaway where attendees can truly do as they want and be what they please. As such, it’s only natural that a quick glance around the grounds will reveal an incredible variety of predilections, vices, and lifestyles on offer. It’s a true smorgasbord of people—from every possible walk of life.

You’ll see drunks and druggies, sex and nudity. You’ll hear every curse known to man, as well as every imaginable profession of affection. People will stroll through the grounds naked, filthy, and not giving a damn. You will see madness you’ve never dreamed of—after all, when left to our own devices, us people (and this is by no means limited strictly to Juggalos) are a wild, sordid bunch, capable of great and terrible things.

Of course, the most common reaction to this for internet tourists is abject disgust. People love to look at this free and arguably utopian society and stand in hateful judgement of all they see. They’ll call names, and criticize choices. They’ll eagerly cast aspersions at an entire group of people for not fitting into their own insular worldview. But what does this really say about the person judging? If they find themselves in a place where they have the ability to be anything at all, and end up only being angry, judgemental prudes, then truly what has been revealed is not about the majority of Juggalos in attendance, but rather what rests deep within themselves.

If you can be anything at all—don’t settle for merely being hateful. This isn’t the high goal held for humanity, and it isn’t the intention of the Gathering. Like Yoda’s cave, what you find at the Gathering is more often than not only what you bring with you. That’s the magic that few beyond the Juggalos can ever fully comprehend, and that’s why the Gathering will and must always be, above all else, the true home to those strange, unwieldly, open, caring, earnest, and unusually strange men and women who proudly call themselves Juggalos.

-Brad OH Inc.

Album Review: Insane Clown Posse’s ‘The Marvelous Missing Link: Found’

The Gentleman Juggalo LogoOn April 28th of this year, the Insane Clown Posse released their album- ‘The Marvelous Missing Link: Lost’. This album was the first part of the 3rd Joker’s Card of the Second Deck. That’s a lot of jargon to sort through, but we here at Brad OH Inc. have you covered—just read our review of ‘The Marvelous Missing Link: Lost’ (Link) to help you sort it all out.

For now, suffice it to say that ‘The Marvelous Missing Link: Lost’ was one half of the two-part series known as ‘The Marvelous Missing Link’. The titular ‘Missing Link’ refers to our internal link to belief—our connection to and faith in whatever keeps us on the right track.

As such, ‘Lost’ was an exceedingly dark album both sonically and thematically. It described the existential horrors of living with no grounded set of beliefs—no sense of purpose to keep one rooted in positivity or faith. In our review of that album (Link), we discussed how this desperate state was represented in the genesis of the Insane Clown Posse themselves (Link). More to the point, the formation of the band may have been the moment when Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope’s Missing Link was first ‘Found’.

This brings us to Part 2 of ‘The Marvelous Missing Link’—‘Found’.

The_missing_link_FOUNDClick image above to buy the album.

 ‘Found’ is a very different album from its predecessor, ‘Lost’. While ‘Lost’ focused on the absence of meaning in one’s life, ‘Found’ is the very opposite. With a theme of deliverance and hope, the positive basis of ‘Found’ is heard not only in its lyrics—which tend towards meaning and connection—but also in the sound of the album itself. Where ‘Lost’ was sonically a very dark and sinister record, dominated by industrial-loops and repetitive DJ scratches, ‘Found’ takes a different path entirely.

In fact, fitting to the subject matter, this release may stand as ICP’s most ‘mainstream’ sounding effort to date—with several songs (most notably the lead single, ‘Juggalo Party’) sounding not too dissimilar from the sort of jams you might expect in your typical nightclub. The content isn’t quite the same to be sure—it’s significant that this album sees the return of the Wicked Clown’s sinister sense of humour, which had been conspicuously absent on ‘Lost’—but the gentle rhythms and upbeat tempo provide for a much gentler aural experience.

Once again, this album has been produced without long-time collaborator Mike E. Clark. However, the now familiar team of Mike P, Michael ‘Seven’ Summers, Brian Kuma, and James ‘Young Wicked’ Garcia return to bring a fresh and effective sound to the album. The standout this time is ‘Seven’, whose smooth and flowing beats bring a reflective sense of peace to the album which is truly fitting for the subject matter at hand.

With the positive outlook and comforting tones of this album, the band is successful in bringing their audience a fun and reassuring experience. Song topics range from parties with friends, comfort in belief, and appreciating the time we have; all fitting well with the theme of the album. Others seem slightly less on point however, with songs such as ‘Lost at the Carnival’ or ‘Pineapple Pizza’ having little bearing on the overarching theme of the album, yet contributing in a broad Gestalt effect to deliver the familiar humour and style that the Juggalos demand.

‘Lost’ was certainly a more focussed album, never erring from its morose themes. ‘Found’ bounces around a bit more, providing for a more scenic if slightly distracted jaunt through many of the expected sights for those familiar with the band.

Similar to the track ‘Hell’s Forecast’ on the ‘Shangri-La’ album, the scattering of darker themed songs on this offering remind us how reticent ICP are to put out a wholly positive album. They know that the root of their fan base lies in ‘the Wicked Shit’ that started them off, and they are always more than happy to deliver. While this may ultimately mean that ‘Lost’ will stand as the greater artistic output of the two, ‘Found’ has an undeniable charm, and its positivity is unapologetically contagious—which is surely the point here.

Standout tracks include ‘OK’, ‘Lost at the Carnival’ (providing you have a system with good bass), ‘Juggalo Party’, ‘The World is Yours’, and ‘Time’. Other songs of note include the return to form ‘Shit-Talking’ song, ‘Get Clowned’, and the country-infused comedy track ‘Dreams of Grandeur’, which shows some heavy inspiration from their 2011 Jack White collaboration, ‘Mountain Girl’.

‘Mr. White Suit’ is something of a slow burner, but has been growing on me with repeated listens. The most direct ‘God’ allegory on the album, it’s a catchy track on its own, and an important departure from their standard fare of songs which does much to bring out the intended emotional effect of the album.

Still, while the narrative promise here was to explore the things which keep people connected to a sense of meaning or purpose, this album was less overt in its talk of higher powers than was ‘Lost’, particularly in the respective intros.

One important but subtle effort here is the distinction between the liner notes in each album. While ‘Lost’ was filled with images of violence and strife, in ‘Found’ we find images of friends and lovers, cooperation and progress. Similarly, while the Clowns (thankfully) avoid being too on the nose with their message, they do a good job throughout the album of incorporating themes of belonging and connection, while illustrating how little things such as friends, family, humour, and purpose can lift us out of the doldrums of a life devoid of meaning.

This mix of introspection and irreverence makes for a slightly off-focus, yet impressively poignant package. Too strong a focus on meaning may have left the album feeling heavy-handed. But by combining these topics with songs that are merely for fun, ICP accomplish their intentions with a more roundabout, show-don’t-tell delivery.

In our review of ‘Lost’ (Link), we explained why that album was not the one the Insane Clown Posse likely ‘should’ have released at the moment. ‘Found’ is much closer to that imaginary ideal. With its mix of upbeat bangers, comical irreverence, and anthemic crowd-pleasers, ‘Found’ is an album which—while it may not garner the level of media attention that 2009’s ‘Bang Pow Boom’ did (Link)—is certain to provide plenty of entertainment and meaning to the Juggalos.

And what better testament of success for this album? For just as the band itself acted as the ‘Missing Link’ for two young men in inner-city Detroit, so too have their musical efforts been the ‘Missing Link’ to countless people since—people who often have little else by way of meaning or purpose in their lives. To the Juggalos, the Insane Clown Posse have always been an opportunity to find that sense of purpose, and to that end, ‘The Marvelous Missing Link: Found’ is a terrific success.

-Brad OH Inc.