The Jeers of a Clown

A major label tried to muzzle Violent J of the Insane Clown Posse. Here's why.

At this point, more people have heard of The Great Milenko, the fourth CD by the Insane Clown Posse, than have actually heard it. The disc gained notoriety earlier this year when powerful agents of Disney-owned Hollywood Records, the firm that originally agreed to issue it, balked at putting their corporate stamp on a collection of songs stuffed to the gills with lurid imagery, abundant profanity and random misogyny. On the day of Milenko's scheduled release (and roughly a week after an organization representing the nation's Southern Baptists announced a boycott of Disney), the album was removed from stores. The blizzard of publicity this move provoked led to a bidding war ultimately won by Island Records, but it also suggested to the nation's broadcasters that giving airplay to the Posse might be more trouble than it was worth. As a result, neither MTV nor most radio outlets are taking the combo for a spin. So how does Violent J, the Posse's lead offender, feel about that?

"I don't give a fuck," he blusters in a blue-collar voice somewhere between that of Joe Pesci and Andrew "Dice" Clay. "I know a lot of bands say that shit, and maybe they don't really mean it. But I mean it. I really don't give a fuck. I really don't care. We're an underground thing--directly band to the people. We're like a cult. We live on our own. We play on our own. We do our own fuckin' thing."

Chutzpah like this is hard to ignore, and so is the shtick favored by the Posse, which also includes Violent J's partner, Shaggy 2 Dope. The two refer to their stage show as a "dark carnival," and to that end, they use face paint to turn themselves into menacing-looking clowns. The makeup angle is such a creaky concept that Violent J feels compelled to joke about it: "KISS got that shit from us," he insists. "I don't know how it happened, since we only came out a few years ago. But that's how I see it, you know what I mean?"

No one will mistake the act's tunes for the work of Gene Simmons, however. Musically, Milenko mates purposely cheesy circus sounds with hip-hop beats and rhymes that will seem like enjoyable curiosities to some, like boneheaded manure to others. Typical are "Piggy Pie," a gamey nursery rhyme about a porker who "likes to fuck his sister and drink his moonshine/A typical redneck filthy fuckin' swine," and "Boogie Woogie Wu," concerning the maniac impressionable kids fear is hiding under their beds. In telling the latter tale, the Posse is not above tossing overt humor into the mix: Midway through, the title character sputters, "Ouch! Fuck! I stubbed my toe!/If you'd stop leavin' your shit all over the fuckin' floor." But this couplet is followed by the lines "Fuck it--you're dead anyway/And I'll leave your head smack dead in the hallway."

According to Violent J, these sentiments didn't thrill Hollywood executives. "They said the song was about killin' kids," he gripes. "Now, I have to admit, it may sound like that. But as God is my witness, that is not how I intended it, not how I see it, not how I feel it. To me, it's just like a horror movie--a scary movie, you know what I mean? And I don't know why the fuck it is that there's a problem when something like that's on a disc instead of a movie. I mean, in a fuckin' movie, you can fuckin' see guys gettin' their heads blown off, but in music, you just hear about it. So you'd think people should be protestin' movies way more than they do music, you know what I mean? But instead, they're protestin' me, even though most of what we do is just entertainment. I don't want people to work all week and then come to a show to get preached at, like fuckin' Rage Against the Machine. I want them to have fun. So when I say, 'Yo, I fucked that bitch and blah, blah, blah,' I'm not doin' it to piss somebody off. I'm doin' it because it's funny. We make funny songs, you know what I mean? A lot of it's tongue-in-cheek, but these dumb motherfuckers can't figure that out.

"That ain't stoppin' me, though," he continues. "There could be fifty million protesters outside my concert, but I don't give a fuck, you know what I mean? Nobody is ever gonna stop me from doin' what I'm doin'. I don't care if I have to drive around with a bullhorn and yell it from the top of my car. I'm always gonna say what I say, and I don't give a fuck who I offend. Besides, all the times where we talk about killin' somebody, it's always a bigot or a greedy rich guy or a racist drunk or somethin'. So for you to be bothered by that, you got to be a bigot or a racist. I don't know why people don't understand that."

In contrast, Violent J knows precisely why the general public is so clueless about the Posse's background--because the bandmembers and the labels with which they've been affiliated have worked overtime to prevent biographical information from leaking out. It's little wonder, then, that the official version of the act's founding reads more like legend than fact.

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