The Jeers of a Clown

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

With a touch of disingenuousness, Violent J swears that he saw Hollywood's maneuver not as a marketing opportunity but as a disaster. "Insane Clown Posse always gets fucked. That's just the way it is. So me and Shaggy and a couple of friends just got in the car and drove down to Myrtle Beach. I was just like, 'I'm gonna sit on the beach and fuckin' die.'" He changed his plans after receiving a phone call from his manager the next morning: "He said, 'Hey, it's on the front of the L.A. Times, it's in every single news outlet, and every single magazine in the world is calling us.' I couldn't fuckin' believe it."

Island wasn't the only record company eager to capitalize on the barrage of press: Interscope and several others also made offers. But, Violent J says, "they were the only ones who weren't just talkin' about Milenko; they were talkin' about the whole structure of the six joker cards. They were totally into it, you know what I mean? They even got us a distribution deal with Polygram for our first two albums. So they're really behind us. They're the shit."

The Great Milenko, featuring guest appearances by Alice Cooper and Slash from Guns N' Roses, returned to stores in August, complete with the three songs Hollywood had attempted to excise. Because of the controversy, most articles written about the Posse since then have dismissed the music as an attention-getting novelty. In Violent J's opinion, such criticism is mired in ignorance. "These people are tryin' to step into my world, and they don't know a fuckin' thing about it. It's like, you shouldn't let me review an opera record, because I don't know shit about it, you know what I mean? I'd take the greatest opera singer in the world, whoever he is, and I'd tell you he sucks, because I don't know good opera from bad opera. And most of these reviewers don't know the dark carnival from fuckin' corn. USA Today said Milenko was a 'sorry joke.' But it's already sold over a hundred-fuckin'-thousand units. So how can that be a 'sorry joke'?"

In other words, Violent J subscribes to the popularity-denotes-quality point of view--and he doesn't back away from it even after he's reminded that taking this theory to its logical extension means that the Spice Girls are a swell group, too. "They sold three million records, so they must be doin' somethin' right. You and I might not like them, but it's perfect for a twelve-year-old kid, 'cause that's their world. We don't understand why Barney's popular, either, but kids love him."

A lot of kids will probably love the Insane Clown Posse as well; the band's cartoonish exterior and faintly dangerous air have youth appeal written all over them. But how young is too young to listen to the Posse? Violent J chews that one over for a microsecond or two before responding, "As soon as he's face-to-face with the things that we talk about in our music. A kid who's seven years old, he hasn't dealt with any of the issues we deal with, so he shouldn't listen to it, you know what I mean? But a kid who's thirteen is dealin' with the shit we're dealin' with all the time. So I'd say twelve or thirteen is fine to listen to our music--because kids that age are a lot more advanced than most people think. Like, I learned about sex education way before they tried to teach me about it in school. I was havin' sex, you know what I mean?

"The way they teach sex education is bullshit anyhow," he goes on. "About a year and a half ago me and my whole crew went and had HIV tests, because we wanted to be smart or whatever. And we're sittin' in the lobby in the fuckin' doctor's office and they're showin' us a video on the TV. So we're watchin' as these two fuckin' dorks come on the screen. And the guy says"--he affects an Eddie Haskell voice--"'Come on, Jill. Let's have sex. Everybody's doin' it.' And she says"--his voice shifts into Marsha Brady mode--"'Gee, I don't know, Bobby. That might not be the thing to do.' And I'm lookin' at these fuckin' idiots on the TV and thinkin', if I was a kid and saw this, the first thing I'd want to do was to run out and have unprotected sex, 'cause I wouldn't want to be anything like those fuckin' dorks. The people who make these films need to wake up and smell the fuckin' coffee. They oughta let us do a video like that. We'd show them how it should be done."

Although this offer may strike terror into the hearts of moms and dads out there, Violent J doesn't think it should. After all, he says, "ninety percent of our music isn't educational, but the other ten percent is. I just say things in a language that's interestin' to kids. You think Nancy Reagan sayin' 'Say no to drugs' ever made any fuckin' high-school kid not smoke a joint? Nancy Reagan? I mean, who the fuck is that? That's gonna make me want to smoke a joint, you know what I mean? So I don't get up all corny and say, 'Don't be a racist. That's not cool.' I say, 'I'm gonna cut a fuckin' racist neck from ear to ear.' And then the kids are like, 'That is cool.' I get kids comin' up to me sayin', 'My parents are bigots and shit, but I ain't gonna be nothin' like that.' And that makes me feel like maybe I'm doin' somethin' good."

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