All About Insane Clown Posse
Insane Clown Posse
Also known as
Inner City Posse
Detroit, Michigan, United
Ya Dead Homie, Boondox, Dark
Clay, Esham, Kottonmouth
Villainz, Twiztid, Mike
J (Joseph Bruce)
2 Dope (Joseph Utsler)
John Kickjazz (John Utsler)
Greez-E (Kalyn Garcia)
Clown Posse is an American hip hop duo from Detroit, Michigan. The group is composed of Joseph Bruce and Joseph Utsler, who perform under the respective personas of the "wicked clowns" Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope. Insane Clown Posse performs
a style of hardcore hip hop known as horrorcore and is known for its elaborate live performances. The duo has earned
two platinum and five gold albums. According to Nielsen SoundScan, the entire catalog of the group has sold 6.5 million units
in the United States and Canada as of April 2007.
Originally known as Inner City Posse, the group introduced supernatural- and horror-themed lyrics as a means
of distinguishing itself stylistically. The duo founded the independent record
Records with Alex Abbiss as manager,
and produced and starred in the feature films Big Money Hustlas and Big Money Rustlas. They formed their own professional
wrestling federation, Juggalo
Championship Wrestling, and later collaborated with
many well-known hip hop and rock musicians. The group has
established a dedicated following, often referred to as Juggalos.
The songs of Insane Clown Posse center thematically on the mythology of the Dark
Carnival, a metaphoric limbo in which
the lives of the dead are judged by one of several entities. The Dark Carnival is elaborated through a series of stories called Joker's Cards, each
of which offers a specific lesson designed to change the "evil
ways" of listeners
before "the end consumes us all."
Formation of the group
Bruce (Violent J) and Joseph
Utsler (Shaggy 2 Dope) met in Oak
Park, a suburb on the North border
Michigan. Along with Utsler's brother,
John, and friend, Lacy, they wrestled in backyard
rings that they had built themselves.
In 1989, Joseph Bruce, as Jagged Joe, Joseph Utsler, as Kangol Joe, and John Utsler, as Master J, released the single titled
at the Top of the Hill" under the name of JJ Boys,
but the group did not pursue a serious career in music. Poverty and a difficult home life drove Bruce to move in with Rudy
"The Rude Boy" Hill in River
Rouge, a city
near the industrial southwest side of Detroit.
Feeling a sense of home and belonging, Bruce formed a gang called Inner City Posse, which was composed
of Joseph Utsler, Rudy Hill, other friends of Bruce, and a number of other connections he had made in Southwest Detroit. Bruce was jailed for ninety days in 1989–1990 for death threats, robbery, and violating
probation;this experience convinced
him to reduce his involvement in gang life.Bruce began his professional
wrestling career after getting out
of jail, and it was at his first show that he met Rob
Van Dam and Sabu, two other
first-timers with whom he became very good friends. During this time Bruce brought Utsler backstage with him, and all four became close friends.
Bruce became frustrated with the backstage politics of the wrestling business and began searching for another
career. Back on the streets, Bruce began listening to hip hop with Utsler and with Utsler's brother, John. The trio performed
at local night clubs, using the stage names Violent J, 2 Dope, and John Kickjazz, under the name of their gang, Inner City
Posse. Seeing a need for a manager, Bruce's brother Robert recommended his friend and
record store owner Alex Abbiss, who established the Psychopathic
Records record label with the group
in 1991. Later that year the group released the self-produced EP entitled
Dog Beats. Growing popularity in the local music scene turned negative for the group's gang, which became the target of growing
violence. After receiving jail sentences, the group members abandoned gang life.
In late 1991, the group invested more money into production than was covered by returns. The group decided
that its gangsta
rap style was the cause of the
problem: Most emcees at the time used similar styles, making it difficult for Inner City Posse to distinguish itself stylistically. Referring to local rapper Esham's acid rap style, Bruce suggested
the band adapt this genre, in a bid to have Detroit represent acid rap, much as Los
Angeles represented gangsta rap.
The group agreed, but not to copying the style of Esham closely. Instead, they suggested using horror-themed lyrics as an
emotional outlet for all their negative life experiences. They were also unanimous in deciding not to rap openly about Satan, which
Esham often did.
After the change in musical style, the group decided it needed a new name. Utsler suggested keeping the
"I.C.P." initials to inform the community that Inner City Posse was not defunct, an idea to which the group agreed. Several names were considered before Bruce recalled his dream of a clown running around in Delray, which became the
inspiration for the group's new name: Insane Clown Posse. The other members agreed, deciding that they would take on this
new genre and name, and would all don face paint due to the success of their former clown-painted hype
man. Upon returning home that night, Bruce says he had a dream in which "spirits in a traveling
to him"—an image that would become the basis for the Dark Carnival mythology detailed in the group's Joker's Cards series.
Carnival of Carnage and Ringmaster
The group began recording their debut album, Carnival of Carnage, with producer Chuck Miller. After recording only three songs for US$6,000 with Miller, Alex Abbiss made his first major
managerial move by finding another producer, Mike
E. Clark. The group finished recording the album with Clark, who continued to work with them throughout their career. The album
featured appearances from local rappers, including Esham and Kid
Rock. Just weeks prior to the release of their album, John left the group because he felt that it was "taking up too much
of [his] life." When Bruce and Utsler attempted to call a meeting to talk about the issues, John did not attend.
Carnival of Carnage was released
on October 18, 1992, with distribution within a 120-mile (190 km) radius of Detroit. Allmusic reviewer Stephen Thomas Erlewine compared the group's performance on the album to "a third-rate Beastie Boys supported by a cut-rate Faith No More, all tempered with the sensibility that made GWAR cult heroes—only with ... more sexism and jokes that ... wind up sounding racist." The follow-up EP, Beverly Kills 50187, sold well and gained a larger audience. During a live performance of the song "The Juggla", Bruce addressed the audience
as Juggalos, and the positive response resulted in the group using the word thereafter. The word has been the subject of criticism from both Ben Sisario of Rolling Stone and Allmusic's Erlewine, who suggested the term is similar to the racial slur jigaboo.
The group's second studio album, Ringmaster, was released on March 8, 1994, and its popularity enabled the group to sell out larger nightclubs across Detroit. Because Bruce and Utsler made reference to the Detroit-produced soft drink Faygo in their songs, they "figured
it would be cool to have some on stage with [them]." During a concert in 1993, Bruce threw an open bottle of Faygo at a row of concertgoers who were giving them the
finger. After receiving a positive
response, Bruce and Utsler have since continued to spray Faygo onto audiences. A subsequent national tour increased sales of the album, earning Ringmaster a gold
certification. The group's second EP, The Terror Wheel, was released on August 5, 1994. One of the songs from the EP, "Dead Body Man", received considerable local radio play. The same year marked their first "Hallowicked" concert, which has since continued annually on Halloween night in
In 1995, Bruce and Utsler attempted to obtain a contract with a major record label. The duo eventually
signed a contract with the short-lived Jive
Records sub-label Battery
Records, which released the group's third studio album, Riddle Box, on October 10, 1995. After Battery/Jive Records showed little interest in promoting the album, Insane Clown Posse funded the promotion of
Riddle Box independently. This effort led the group to Dallas,
it persuaded several music retail stores to stock the album. Sales averaged 1,500 copies per week as a result.
The Great Milenko
Manager Alex Abbiss negotiated a contract with the Walt
Disney Company-owned label Hollywood
Records, which reportedly paid US$1 million
to purchase the Insane Clown Posse contract from Battery/Jive/BMG Records. The group started recording its fourth studio album, The Great Milenko, in 1996, during which Disney requested that the tracks "The Neden Game," "Under the Moon," and "Boogie Woogie Wu" be
removed. Disney also asked that the lyrics of other tracks be changed, threatening to not release the album otherwise. Bruce and Utsler complied with Disney's requests, and planned to go on a national tour with House
of Krazees and Myzery
as their opening acts.
During a music store autograph signing, Insane Clown Posse was notified that Hollywood Records had recalled
the album within hours of its release, despite having sold 18,000 copies and reaching #63 on the Billboard 200. The group was also informed that its in-store signings and nationwide tour had been canceled, commercials for the album
and the music
video for "Halls of Illusions"
(which had reached #1 on The
Box video request channel) were
pulled from television, and that the group was dropped from the label. It was later revealed that Disney was being criticized by the Southern
Baptist Convention at the time because of Disney's
promotion of "Gay Days" at Disneyland, in addition to presiding
over the gay-themed television sitcom Ellen. The Convention claimed Disney was turning its back on "family
values." Although Abbiss told the press that Disney had stopped production of The Great Milenko to avoid further controversy,
Disney claimed instead that the release of the album was an oversight by their review board, and that the album "did not fit
the Disney image" because of its "inappropriate" lyrics, which they claimed were offensive to women.
After the termination of the Hollywood Records contract, Insane Clown Posse signed a new contract with
Records, which agreed to release
the album as intended. Entertainment Weekly music critic David
Browne gave the record a C-minus
rating: "[With] its puerile humor and intentionally ugly metal-rap tunes, the album feels oddly dated." The Great Milenko was certified platinum with over 1.7 million copies sold. One of the group's first projects with Island Records was an hour-long documentary titled Shockumentary, which
aired on MTV. The station
initially refused to play the documentary, but Island Records persuaded them to air it as a personal favor. Shockumentary helped increase album sales from 17,000 to 50,000 copies per week. Island also rereleased the group's first two albums.
Two days after the Extreme
Championship Wrestling (ECW) program, Insane Clown
Posse began its rescheduled nationwide tour with House of Krazees and Myzery. Their first concert, held in Orlando,
Florida, was hand-picked
by Insane Clown Posse and free to the public. Halfway through the tour, Brian Jones of House of Krazees had a falling out with his band members. Jones left the group,
forcing House of Krazees to quit the tour. The success of the tour enabled Bruce and Utsler to purchase new houses both for each other and for their families. Bruce even told his mother to quit her job because he would pay her expenses.
In late 1997, Bruce took Myzery to St. Andrew's Hall. Eminem, then an unknown local emcee,
approached Bruce and handed him a flyer advertising the release party for The Slim Shady EP. The flyer read, "Featuring appearances by Esham, Kid Rock, and ICP (maybe)." Bruce asked why Eminem was promoting a possible Insane Clown Posse appearance without first contacting the group. Eminem
explained, "It says 'maybe.' Maybe you will be there; I don't know. That's why I'm asking you right now. You guys comin' to
my release party, or what?" Bruce, upset over not being consulted, responded, "Fuck no, I ain't coming to your party. We might have, if
you would've asked us first, before putting us on the fuckin' flyer like this." Eminem took Bruce's response as a personal offense, subsequently attacking the group in radio interviews. Bruce and
Utsler responded later in 1999 by releasing a parody of Eminem's "My
Name Is" entitled
"Slim Anus". Barbs between Insane Clown Posse and Eminem continued.
The House of Horrors Tour
One month after ICP's Strangle-Mania Live, Insane Clown Posse began their second nationwide tour,
"The House of Horrors Tour", with Myzery added as one of the opening acts. While searching for the second opening act, Bruce
received a telephone call at his home from former House of Krazees members Jamie
Spaniolo and Paul
Methric, who told Bruce that the
group was officially disbanded and asked to be on the tour. Spaniolo and Methric provided a demo
tape containing three songs: "2nd
Hand Smoke", "Diemotherfuckdie", and "How Does It Feel?" Bruce was extremely impressed, and immediately had a contract drafted with Psychopathic Records for the new group to
sign. Bruce, Spaniolo, and Methric agreed on the band name Twiztid. The House of Horrors Tour
thus featured Insane Clown Posse, with opening groups Twiztid, Myzery, and Psycho
On November 16, 1997, Bruce was arrested on an aggravated
battery charge after allegedly striking
an audience member thirty times with his microphone at a concert in Albuquerque,
New Mexico. Bruce
was held for four hours before being released on US$5,000 bail. The January 1998 issue of Spin magazine ran a four-page cartoon lampooning Insane Clown Posse and Juggalos, claiming that the group was offensive "not
for their obscenity, but for their stupidity." Spin likened Insane Clown Posse's stage act to "a sort of circus karaoke"
and portrayed the group's fans as overweight suburbanites. On the group's website, Bruce responded to the article by stating,
"I could give a fuck less."
After a show in Indianapolis, Insane Clown Posse's tour
bus stopped at a Waffle
House in Greenfield,
Indiana. When a customer began to
harass Spaniolo and Bruce, a fight broke out between the customer and all of the bands' members. Months later on June 4, 1998, Bruce and Utsler pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly
conduct charges (reduced from battery) in an Indiana court and
were fined US$200 each. Members of Twiztid, Myzery, and Psycho Realm were charged with battery. The group's tour was briefly derailed in January 1998, when their tour bus drifted off a highway and down an embankment,
leaving Frank Moreno of Psycho Realm with a concussion. As a result of the accident, Insane Clown Posse postponed two shows
scheduled for Cleveland,
Ohio, on January
22 and January 23, but honored their promise to perform on January 25 and January 26.
The Amazing Jeckel Brothers
On April 19, 1998, in Minneapolis,
Minnesota, Bruce suffered a panic
a performance and was carried off stage. Bruce, who later recalled being completely "out of it", found scissors and cut off his dreadlocks. After suffering another panic attack once he returned home, Bruce opted to spend three days in a Michigan mental health
program. Insane Clown Posse later cancelled the last two weeks' worth of dates on its United States tour, but subsequently launched their first European tour.
By late 1998 over one million copies of The Great Milenko had been sold, and Insane Clown Posse was ready for its fifth album, The Amazing Jeckel Brothers. Working with Mike E. Clark and Rich "Legs Diamond" Murrell, Bruce and Utsler developed their album with the highest
of hopes. The group was known nationally, but were not taken very seriously. Hoping to receive the respect Bruce and Utsler
felt they deserved, they planned to feature well-known, respected rappers on their album. Bruce stated outright that he wanted to involve Snoop
Dirty Bastard. They paid Snoop Dogg US$40,000
to appear on the song "The Shaggy Show." Snoop Dogg also helped them contact Ol' Dirty Bastard, who was paid US$30,000 for
his appearance. Ol' Dirty Bastard recorded his track in a matter of two days; however, his recording consisted of nothing
more than him rambling about "bitches." It took Bruce and Utsler a week to assemble just four rhymes out of his rambling, and had to re-record the track and
title it "Bitches." Finally, Insane Clown Posse contacted Ice-T, who charged
them only US$10,000. The group felt that Ice-T's song did not belong on the album, and was instead released on a later album, Psychopathics from Outer Space.
To help increase their positive publicity, the group hired the Nasty
Little Man publicity team. The team set up a photo shoot for Insane Clown Posse that was to appear on the cover of Alternative Press magazine in Cleveland. On the set of the photo shoot, a member of the publicity team approached Bruce and explained that
in the song "Fuck the World", the lyric that stated "Fuck the Beastie Boys and the Dalai
to be changed. Insulted, Bruce exclaimed that his music would not be censored again—referring to Disney's previous requirement
for censorship. Nasty Little Man told Bruce that the Beastie Boys were not only clients of the company but also personal friends, and
the Beastie Boys told the company to make Bruce change the lyric. In response, Bruce fired Nasty Little Man and asked its team to leave the photo shoot.
The Amazing Jeckel Brothers was
released on May 25, 1999, and reached #4 on the Billboard album charts, and has since been certified platinum by the RIAA. Stephen Thomas Erlewine gave the album a "four out of five stars" rating, stating that "[Insane Clown Posse] actually
delivered an album that comes close to fulfilling whatever promise their ridiculous, carnivalesque blend of hardcore hip-hop and shock-metal had in the first place". Rolling Stone writer Barry Walters gave the album a "two out of five stars" rating, writing that "no musical
sleight of hand can disguise the fact that Shaggy and J remain the ultimate wack MCs." At the same time as The Amazing Jeckel Brothers' release, Island Records merged with Def Jam Records. It quickly became apparent to Bruce and Utsler that Def Jam Records had no interest in them. Eminem, who had begun to gain mainstream success, insulted Insane Clown Posse in interviews, tours, and the song "Till
Hell Freezes Over."
Big Money Hustlas
On Insane Clown Posse's previous tour (The House of Horrors Tour), they had watched the movie Big Ballers. The group, as well as Twiztid, loved the video. After Insane Clown Posse finished its The Amazing Jeckel Brothers
album, Bruce and Utsler decided to create their own movie, Big Money Hustlas, with the same low-budget comedy style as Big Ballers. Island Records gave them US$250,000 to begin work on the
movie. Bruce and Utsler were contacted by John
Cafiero, who said that he was a fan
of Insane Clown Posse, and offered to direct the movie. Insane Clown Posse asked Mick Foley to appear in the movie as "Cactus Sac", a parody of his "Cactus Jack" persona.
Cafiero retained the Misfits, Fred
Berry, and, at Bruce's request,
Williams. The script was written by Bruce, and filmed in New York City. Bruce played a crime boss and Utsler portrayed a police detective. The stage crew members, who showed their dislike for Insane Clown Posse, were a source of contention. Despite the crew
striking twice, the movie was filmed in two months.
While on "The Asylum In-store Tour", Bruce and Utsler were informed by Abbiss that they were offered US$100,000
to perform at Woodstock
1999. They were excited about the offer, as it indicated their impact on the music industry. Some people perceived participating
in Woodstock 1999 was a sell-out for the
group; however, Bruce and Utsler disagreed. As Bruce explains, "[Woodstock] sold out the mainstream style for us! Woodstock
never came to us and asked us to change one fuckin' thing about us or our show! They wanted ICP just as ICP is, and nothing
else. If that ain't fresh, then I don't know what the fuck is!"
Brothers Tour troubles
After Woodstock 1999, Insane Clown Posse began its "Amazing Jeckel Brothers Tour", along with musicians
Bone, Twiztid, Mindless
Self Indulgence, and Coal
Chamber. Biohazard, Mindless Self Indulgence, Krayzie Bone, and Twiztid were well-received by audiences; however, Coal Chamber was not. Insane Clown Posse fans were not purchasing tickets, as they did not like Coal Chamber. For the three shows that Coal Chamber played, there were multiple ticket refunds. Bruce and his brother, Rob, made the decision to eliminate Coal Chamber from the tour. After doing so, there were no
tickets returned for the remainder of the tour dates. Bruce and Utsler claimed that Coal Chamber had been removed from the tour because of equipment problems, but later
revealed the true reason for their actions on The Howard Stern Show, which aired August 19, 1999. Bruce continued by saying, "Nobody will tell you that, because everybody's afraid of your crumpet-ass bitch manager." Later that night, Stern contacted Bruce and Utsler,
asking them to appear on his show the following day to talk with Coal Chamber's manager, Sharon
Before the show went on air, Osbourne bet Bruce and Utsler US$50,000 that Insane Clown Posse's next album
would not even sell 200,000 copies — a bet that Bruce accepted. On air Osbourne informed Bruce and Utsler that Coal Chamber filed a lawsuit for breach
of contract. Osbourne stated that her group was to receive US$12,500 per show for a scheduled two-month package tour. Bruce reiterated
that Coal Chamber's music did not appeal to Insane Clown Posse fans, and that ticket refunds decreased after Coal Chamber
had been removed from the tour. Osbourne then made public the bet with Bruce about Insane Clown Posse's next album, also stating that the duo would
be subsequently dropped from their distributor. In Osbourne's words, "You're dead. Your career is over." Bruce predicted that the group's next album would sell at least 500,000 copies; however, the bet officially stood at 200,000 copies as agreed by both Bruce and Osbourne backstage.
Bizaar and Bizzar
On January 10, 2000, Utsler collapsed on stage during a performance at the House
of Blues in Chicago and was rushed to Northwestern
Memorial Hospital. He was diagnosed with flu-related symptoms and abnormally low blood
sugar. As a result of the incident,
the following week's concert dates were rescheduled. In June 2000, Eminem physically attacked Douglas Dail, an Insane Clown Posse affiliate, threatening him with a gun
in the parking lot of a car audio store in Royal
Oak, Michigan. Eminem pleaded guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for two years probation and a US$10,000 fine. In July 2000, Bruce and Utsler staged the first annual Gathering
of the Juggalos at the Novi Expo Center in
Michigan. Described by Bruce as a "Juggalo Woodstock", the Gathering of the Juggalos was a three-day music festival that featured
wrestling, games, seminars, contests, sideshows, and performances by all
Psychopathic Records' artists. Also featured at the event were Vampiro—who both wrestled and
Born, and Kottonmouth
Kings. On July 18, 2000, Big Money Hustlas was released direct-to-video.
After the Gathering of the Juggalos, Insane Clown Posse set out to release its sixth and seventh studio
albums—Bizaar and Bizzar—as a double
album. While recording the albums,
the duo had a fallout with long-time producer Mike E. Clark. Bizaar and Bizzar were the last complete albums Clark would produce with Insane Clown Posse until his
return in 2007. Bruce and Utsler flew to Denver,
Colorado to add
the finishing touches to the albums. Bizaar and Bizzar were released on October 31, 2000, peaking at #20 and #21, respectively, on the Billboard
200. In The New Rolling Stone Album Guide, Ben Sisario wrote that the albums "qualify as ICP's masterworks of both
merchandising and music." Both albums were given a "three out of five stars" rating. The combined sales were around 400,000 copies, exceeding the bet placed previously with Sharon Osbourne; Osbourne did
not come through with payment for having lost the bet.
Two music videos were released from the albums: "Tilt-a-Whirl," from Bizaar, and "Let's
Go All The Way," a cover of a Sly
Fox song from
Bizzar. MTV agreed to play "Let's Go All The Way" on their network, airing it once in the late evening. Bruce and Utsler decided to bombard Total Request Live (TRL) with requests for the video. While on their "Bizaar Bizzar Tour," Insane Clown Posse posted on its website that December 8 was the day for their
fans request the video. Bruce and Utsler named that day "The Mighty Day of Lienda," meaning "The Mighty Day of All or Nothing." On December 8, Rudy Hill, Robert Bruce, Tom Dub, and six other Psychopathic Records employees and friends drove down
to New York City.
They were met by nearly 400 Insane Clown Posse fans standing outside in front of the TRL studio
window, all with signs supporting the duo. Thirty minutes before the show began, Viacom security
guards and New York City police officers were dispatched to remove all the fans from the sidewalk. When some fans, including Robert Bruce, refused to move because it was a public street and no other individuals were
asked to move, they were assaulted. All telephone requests for the video to be played were ignored, and Insane Clown Posse was never mentioned during the
show. MTV later informed Island Records that the heads of the network must choose the band first before it can become eligible
to be featured on TRL.
Bruce and Utsler left Island Records, signing a contract with D3 Entertainment to distribute every release
on Psychopathic Records, which would remain independently funded, produced, and recorded. Insane Clown Posse had their own studio built, called "The Lotus Pod." In the spring of 2001, Insane Clown Posse's road manager William Dail was arrested in Omaha,
Nebraska for allegedly
choking a man who waved an Eminem t-shirt in front of the band. Dail was charged for misdemeanor assault and battery. The
charges were reduced to a US$100 fine after he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.
The second Gathering of the Juggalos was held from July 13–July 15 at the SeaGate
Convention Centre in Toledo,
Ohio. The event featured the same activities as the first Gathering of the Juggalos, as well as guests such as Bone
Ice, and Three
6 Mafia. On June 15, 2001, Bruce was arrested in Columbia,
Missouri for an outstanding warrant
Louis stemming from an incident
in February 2001. That incident involved Insane Clown Posse allegedly attacking employees of a St. Louis radio station over
disparaging remarks that a disc
jockey made on
the air. The police used several squad cars to detain Bruce, Utsler, and two associates a few miles from a venue where the
group had completed a concert. Bruce was transferred to St. Louis the following day and released on bail without charge on
The Wraith: Shangri-La
The face of the sixth Joker's Card is "The Wraith"—or simply, Death. The card features two "exhibits",
Shangri-La and Hell's Pit, each of which would be given its own album. On November 5, 2002, Insane Clown Posse released their eighth studio album, <_shangri-la title="The Wraith: Shangri-La">The Wraith: Shangri-La, which debuted at #15 on the Billboard 200 and #1 on the Top Independent Albums chart. The album was notable for its explicit acknowledgment of ICP's belief
in God. However,
critical reception was mixed.
Ben Sisario criticized the album in the Rolling Stone Album Guide, writing that "the whole thing was some bland divine plan" and asking, "Is this man's final dis of God, or His of us?" Some critics perceived the spiritual element of the storyline to be a joke or stunt. Allmusic writer Bradley Torreano
wrote that "Even if it is a joke, it isn't a funny one, or even a clever one." In September 2003, Insane Clown Posse was voted the worst band of any musical genre in Blender, with The Wraith: Shangri-La named as the group's worst album. However, the magazine also gave the album a positive review for its "charming, good-natured idiocy."
According to Bruce, "Some people might've been upset by [spiritual themes in The Wraith: Shangri-La],
but through our eyes all we did was touch a lot of people. We definitely wanted it to be something everlasting. Maybe a 19-year-old
might not understand or like that ending now. But later, when he has four kids, he might think, 'That was the shit.'" Following the release of The Wraith: Shangri-La, Bruce and Utsler signed a new contract with Sony
Distribution and launched
the Psychopathic Europe record label.
The duo went on the 75-date "Shangri-La World Tour", where they performed across the United States, Australia and Europe. While in Australia, customs confiscated all the group's
that they were bringing it for commercial purposes. Insane Clown Posse tried to explain that they are performers and that
the soda was part of their act, but were still unable to use the Faygo and forced to use a different form of soda for their
Pit and post "Joker's Cards" era
Following the release of The Wraith: Shangri-La, Bruce admitted that he was considering not completing
the production of Hell's Pit. He is quoted as describing Shangri-La as "the end of the road. It's the end of
the Joker's Cards. After this I could do anything I want, for the rest of my life. The positivity was so unbelievable." On August 31, 2004, Insane Clown Posse released their ninth studio album, Hell's Pit, the second exhibit of
The Wraith, intended to warn listeners of the horrors of Hell. Bruce described the album
as the darkest, most painful work he had ever done. Two versions of the album were released, each containing a different DVD. One release featured a live concert and a
twelve-minute music video for the song "Real Underground Baby", and another featured a short film for the song "Bowling Balls",
which was the first <3-D_film" title="3-D film">3-D
film shot in high-definition
video. In 2005, D12 and Insane Clown Posse ended
their feud, with the help of member Proof. Attempts to officially end the feud between Eminem and Insane Clown Posse have been unsuccessful, but Bruce states that the rivalry has ended.
On February 1, 2006, Insane Clown Posse fan Jacob
D. Robida attacked individuals in a
gay bar in New
Bedford, Massachusetts with a handgun and a hatchet—a
weapon featured in the logo of the group's record label, Psychopathic Records. Robida had a swastika tattoo and flaunted Nazi insignias and paraphernalia on his website. On February 5, Robida shot and killed a traffic officer during a routine stop. When police pulled Robida over during
a later stop, he killed his girlfriend, Jennifer Bailey of Charleston,
West Virginia, then opened
fire on the police. Robida was shot twice in the head during the shootout with the police, and later died in the hospital. On February 7, Insane Clown Posse released a statement on the Robida attacks. The group's manager Alex Abbiss extended
Bruce and Utsler's condolences and prayers to the families of the victims, stating that "It's quite obvious that this guy
had no clue what being a Juggalo is all about. If anyone knows anything at all about ICP, then you know that they have never,
ever been down or will be down with any racist or bigotry bullshit."
On October 21, 2006, Insane Clown Posse performed at one of twenty benefit shows organized by MySpace as part of the "Rock for
Darfur" campaign to raise awareness
of the War
in Darfur and funds for the region's
aid. On March 20, 2007, Insane Clown Posse released their tenth studio album, The Tempest, which debuted at #20 on the Billboard 200 and sold nearly 33,000 copies in its first week. In 2008, Bruce and Utsler starred in the film Death Racers. It was released direct-to-video on September 16, 2008, by The
Asylum. In December 2008, John Antonelli filed a lawsuit against the group after being struck by an unopened two-liter of Faygo
during a performance at the Fargo nightclub
The Hub, formerly known as Playmakers. Antonelli is seeking at least $50,000 in damages. The lawsuit also names the venue,
Playmakers, as a defendant. An attorney for Playmakers states that only Bruce should be held liable.
Money Rustlas and Bang! Pow! Boom!
Filming of Big Money Rustlas, a Western spoof, began in January 2009, and concluded on February 24, 2009. The tenth Gathering of the Juggalos took place at Hogrock in Cave-In-Rock, Illinois from August 6 to 9. The event had
the largest attendance in Gathering history with over 20,000 people. Over 120 musical artists performed at the event, including the likes of Tech N9ne, Kottonmouth Kings, Ice
Cube, GWAR, Coolio, Vanilla Ice, Onyx, Scarface, The
Dayton Family, Bizarre, Esham, and NATAS. At the event, the Big Money Rustlas trailer was screened twice. An infomercial for the
event was released online by Psychopathic Records.
Insane Clown Posse's eleventh studio album, Bang! Pow! Boom!, was released on September 1, 2009. It debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top Independent Albums chart and #4 on the
Billboard 200. The album was later revealed to be the first of a "second deck" of Joker's Cards. The Detroit News music critic Adam Graham gave the album a B rating, describing it as "the best material the Clowns have touched since
1999's The Amazing Jeckel Brothers."
On December 5, 2009, Saturday Night Live aired a sketch titled "Kickspit Underground Rock Festival", which parodied the Gathering of the Juggalos infomercial. Bruce stated that he was not offended by the parody, and that he thought that the sketch was "hilarious" and "a humongous
compliment". On February 17, 2010, Psychopathic Records signed a contract with Universal
Music Group's Fontana
Distribution. On March 9, 2010, Insane Clown Posse were interviewed by Nightline journalist Martin
hated the segment, stating that Bashir took statements made by the duo out of context, pairing one of Bruce's responses with
a different question than he had been asked.
The trailer for Big Money Rustlas spawned a parody video called "Juggalo News", which achieved popularity
on CollegeHumor and Funny
or Die, and was praised by Bruce
on his Twitter account. On April 6, 2010, Bang! Pow! Boom! was reissued in a "Nuclear Edition", which featured previously unreleased
material and music videos for the songs "In Yo Face" and "Miracles". During this period, the duo won the Detroit
Music Award for Outstanding Hip-Hop Artist/Group. On April 17, Saturday Night Live aired a sketch which parodied the "Miracles" music video, featuring host Ryan
Phillippe and cast member Bobby
Moynihan. Insane Clown Posse responded favorably to the parody, and asked to appear on the show.
Big Money Rustlas was released
on August 17, 2010. Insane Clown Posse are planning on returning to Europe and Australia for a tour in 2011. The group also plans to release a three-disc compilation of their guest appearances with other artists called "Featuring
Freshness" in the summer of 2011. Also set for the compilation are new songs with artists Paris, Above The Law, and Tone Tone.
The Mighty Death Pop!
At their 2010 Hallowicked concert, Insane Clown Posse announced that the second new Joker's Card
would be The Mighty Death Pop! They have stated that the album will be "the bombest, most devastating thing we've put out yet," and that it will be
a release for the anger that they feel from recent criticisms of themselves and their fans. The album will have two faces, the first of which was revealed at the Hallowicked concert.
At the 2011 Detroit Music Awards, Insane Clown Posse received the Distinguished Achievement Award. In June, Insane Clown Posse issued a cease and desist notice to the Upright
Citizens Brigade, threatening legal action
over a planned performance, "The Gathering
of the Juggalos For A Mother Fucking Baby
Lyrics and music
Insane Clown Posse's performance style is often described as horrorcore hip hop, which "utilize[s]
shocking (and blatantly over the top) narratives to give an over-exaggerated, almost cartoon-like version of urban deprivation
in Detroit", according to author Sara Cohen. The group's early work features a raw, minimalistic sound, which later evolved into a more rock-oriented style. The group's lyrics serve as morality
tales, with songs focusing on subjects such as cannibalism, murder and necrophilia. Insane Clown Posse's debut album, Carnival of Carnage, features a politically oriented focus, criticizing elitism
and prejudice against those who live in the ghetto, while the album's liner notes criticize the Gulf
War. The group's lyrics have opposed racism, bigotry, domestic violence, and child abuse.
Insane Clown Posse has covered songs by Geto
Fox, and Above
the Law. Bruce and Utsler refer to Ice
Cube, Awesome Dre, Geto Boys, and Esham as influences on their own music, while Bruce has expressed admiration for Gong, Pearl
Jam, and Michael
Jackson. Mike E. Clark's production for the group incorporates elements such as "carnival organ riffs, power
chords and shotgun blasts ...
banjolike plucking and Van
Halen-esque guitar squeals," while Bruce and Utsler sometimes alternate between rapping and screaming. Bruce has stated "We do our own genre of music". In his review of The Tempest, Allmusic's David Jeffries writes that Bruce and Utsler "[rap] in a carnival barker
fashion that fits with their circus motif, their Insane Clown disguises, and Mike E. Clark's big top-inspired production." Insane Clown Posse has influenced similar acts, such as Axe
Murder Boyz, Blaze
Ya Dead Homie and Boondox.
Insane Clown Posse often brings the entire
lineup out to end its elaborate live performances.
Insane Clown Posse is known for their elaborate concert performances. In Marley Brant's Tales from the
Rock 'n' Roll Highway, Bruce described a typical performance: "We toss out, kick out, and shoot out into the crowd about
three to four hundred two-liters of Faygo at every show. ... We
bring with us monsters, dancing clowns, girls, trampolines, and pure and absolute madness to the stage. ... Shaggy and
I know that without all that crazy shit going on around us, we'd just be two more idiots walking back and forth, rapping on
stage. ... ICP's motto has always been 'Fuck keepin' it real: we just keep it entertaining.'" Performances feature backdrops including, among other settings, a game
show set and
a cemetery. Bruce stated, "We always have a different set, not only for Hallowicked but every tour we go out on. We've been around
so long that we get to dig up the many cool sets that we used back in the day and then get to use them again on a national
level. Something we might've done once in '94 at St. Andrew's Hall, we can go back again and now do it nationwide-style."
On tour following the release of Carnival of Carnage, Insane Clown Posse was scheduled to perform
at Ferris State University in Big
Rapids, Michigan. After
the group was announced by their manager, Alex Abbiss, Bruce remembers that "[w]e came out with no microphones or nothing;
we were just right up in the people's faces. Shaggy and I were just fuckin' yelling over our own cassette. The people were
staring at us in amazement and bewilderment. They must have been in shock and awe. We finished our two-song set, and the crowd ...
didn't cheer or boo. They just stood there, stunned."
The group was unable to bring the large amounts of Faygo needed for their concerts to their European tours
without a sales permit visa because customs believed that the group had
intended to sell the soda at their concerts. As a result, the group's European record label purchased similar quantities of another soda and created fake Faygo
stickers to label the bottles. According to Bruce, "The craziness was this: they were not the regular two-liter bottles we're
used to; they were some other amount ... maybe one-and-a-half-liter bottles. Over there, they make their plastic bottles
taller and thinner. ... when you're doing what we do with them—that makes a world of difference." During a performance in England, Bruce recounts that he "rocketed one of them bottles off my foot and that motherfucker
shot straight up and out like a guided Patriot
missile, right towards the disco
ball high above
the crowd. ... The bottle nailed the disco ball, and ... came falling down ... on top of some English kid's
head. ... We must've knocked fifteen or twenty people flat-out cold on that tour ... Shaggy and I both had black
eyes and several injuries and bruises ourselves from them things hittin' us."
Bruce and Utsler did not expect many of their fans to attend Woodstock 1999, and were surprised
when thousands of people chanted "I-C-P! I-C-P!" as they waited for the group to perform. Bruce told his stage crew that he would pay US$2,000 to each person who ran around the stage naked, and two people
took up his offer. Insane Clown Posse also brought naked women on stage. Bruce and Utsler felt that because the tickets to the event were over-priced, they needed to "give something back." According to Bruce, "We brought along these big beach balls. We announced to the crowd that they each had a hundred
dollars taped to them, and then we proceeded to kick about thirty of them into the crowd. Then we rolled out these bigger
giant-ass beach balls and announced, 'These ones have five hundred bucks taped to them!' We booted a gang of them into the
human sea." Bruce also recounts that their set had multiple technical problems, and the audience was not allowed to get close to
the stage, which made the duo feel less connected with them.
The group's 2009 tour in support of Bang! Pow! Boom! featured clowns, showgirls, a ringmaster and caged
"attractions", including "Ape Boy". According to Bruce, "This is actually the biggest tour we've ever brought out, as far as stage theatrics and extras
on stage ... We've got a whole circus. We're touring clubs and theaters, but it's more like an arena show. It's like
an arena concert packed into a club."
Themes pertaining to Bruce and Utsler's occult leanings appear throughout
their work with Insane Clown Posse and side projects, including Dark
Lotus. The themes of God's presence and the final judgment of individuals are explored in multiple Insane Clown Posse songs.
Throughout their career, the group has used parables set within the Dark Carnival mythology to warn of the ultimate consequences
of immoral behavior. Their 2002 album <_shangri-la title="The Wraith: Shangri-La">The Wraith: Shangri-La, which ended the first set of Joker Card albums, explicitly revealed that the hidden message of ICP's music was always
to follow God. Joseph Bruce remarked that "The ending of the Joker Cards, the way we looked at it, was death. Heaven and hell. That's
up to each and every juggalo [to decide]."
Several journalists have commented on the apparent conflict between the group's sexualized and
often violent lyrics and their stated spiritual message. In a June 2010 interview with The Columbian's Alan Sculley, Bruce explained, "[Sex and violence is] the stuff that people are talking about on the streets...to get
attention, you have to speak their language. You have to interest them, gain their trust, talk to them and show you're one
of them. You're a person from the street and speak of your experiences. Then at the end you can tell them God has helped me
out like this and it might transfer over instead of just come straight out and just speak straight out of religion."
In an October 2010 article for The Guardian, Jon
the Insane Clown Posse as "evangelical Christians" who have "only been pretending to be brutal and sadistic to trick their
fans into believing in God." In an interview with ICP conducted for the article, two of Ronson's queries referred parenthetically to ICP's "Christian
message" and to the members' identities as "[secret] Christians." Several papers, including The Washington Post, published summaries of Ronson's claims.
Eight days after publication of the Guardian article, Joseph Bruce tweeted "I think [it's] crazy
how some press say we're a christian band and act like we're all religious [...] I'm proud that we believe in God but I haven't
been to church since I was like 10. I don't even know if [Utsler has] ever been to church!" Christianity
Mark Moring also challenged Ronson's characterization, writing that "The guys in ICP haven't used the word 'Christian' or
'evangelical' [...] so let's not call them anything that they're not claiming for themselves."
In 2011, Insane Clown Posse appeared on Attack of the Show! and refuted claims that they were a Christian band. Bruce explained that their Dark Carnival mythology "comes from the basic principle of right and wrong, you know; evil
and good. That’s all. We’re just trying to say that there’s bad guys out there and that there’s good
guys out there [...] We were taught there’s a heaven and a hell, but that’s all we were taught. We weren’t
taught about the [Ten]
Commandments [... or] what’s in
the Bible and all that. We just [...]
want to see good people hopefully go to heaven, which we refer to as <_shangri-la title="The Wraith: Shangri-La">Shangri-La." Joseph Utsler explained in a 2002 interview with Craig Markley that "God is in your heart [...] In my definition, it
doesn’t matter what creed, religion, or group you belong
to. If you’re doing what’s right and are a good person, then you're right with God."
Main article: Professional
wrestling career of Insane Clown Posse
Both Bruce and Utsler began wrestling as single competitors in 1983 in their backyard
wrestling promotion Tag Team Wrestling,
later renamed National All-Star Wrestling. The two moved on to compete in various independent
promotions in Michigan from 1990 to 1997 before
making an appearance together in Extreme
Championship Wrestling (ECW) as Insane Clown Posse. In 1998, the team had a three month stint in World
Wrestling Federation (WWF) where they wrestled
alongside The Oddities and, later, The
After leaving the company, they went to wrestle for World
Championship Wrestling (WCW) with The
Dead Pool and The Dark Carnival between
1999 and 2000. On December 19, 1999, Bruce and Utsler created their own wrestling promotion, Juggalo Championshit Wrestling
(now known as Juggalo
Championship Wrestling). In 2004, they briefly wrestled in NWA
Total Nonstop Action. The duo continues to wrestle today in Juggalo Championship Wrestling as well as in various independent promotions.
Insane Clown Posse gained fame for being both professional musicians and professional wrestlers. Overall,
they are two-time JCW
Tag Team Champions. Additionally, Bruce is a
one-time JCW Tag Team Champion with <2_Tuff_Tony" title="2 Tuff Tony">2
Tuff Tony, and Utsler is a one-time
Heavyweight Champion. Bruce and Utsler are also
founding members of the Juggalo
of Carnage (1992)
- Ringmaster (1994)
Great Milenko (1997)
Amazing Jeckel Brothers (1999)
- Bizaar; Bizzar (2000)
- <_shangri-la title="The Wraith: Shangri-La">The
Wraith: Shangri-La (2002)
Pow! Boom! (2009)
Mighty Death Pop! (2011)
Money Hustlas (2000)
- A Family Underground
Money Rustlas (2010)