By Brad Lopez
By Tom Murphy
By Noah Hubbell
By Inkoo Kang
By Dave Herrerra
By Josiah M. Hesse
By Britt Chester
By Noah Hubbell
When Anybody Killa, a rapper on the Psychopathic label, hit Denver for an autograph signing, they noticed that the tires on the merchandise trailer were hammered. Flava and Ken, who was back from the Army, convinced the tour manager they needed new tires, and arranged for ABK to come to Primos after the signing. They stayed at the shop, even slept there, waiting, but no one showed. When they woke up, Ken and Flava decided to take the tires to Wyoming, where the ABK tour was headed. They found the hotel and changed the trailer's tires by hand. For their efforts, Primos got a bunch of free, autographed merchandise — and a business card with the label's fax number.
"They blew us off, took the tires and ran, and we still had no contract," Kiki says. So he started sending faxes — twenty pages three or four times a week — with pictures of Denver juggalos and lines like this: "This kid wants your clothes. These kids are so sad they can't get your clothing."
"I know they were pissed at us," Kiki says.
When the partners heard that a store in Utah — the now-defunct Juggalo Homies — was selling Hatchet Gear, they took matters into their own hands. Flava had to head that way for a funeral, so he took a couple thousand dollars and brought back as much merchandise as he could. Primos was so small that they had to buy a plastic Tuff Shed to hold all the stuff. "Dude, how ghetto was that?" Kiki laughs. "But we sold it." And they worked out a deal with the Utah store to buy merchandise at a discount while they continued to pester Psychopathic.
But as it turned out, Psychopathic wasn't hating on Primos. It was just a small operation that hadn't figured out how to wholesale its wares. Nathan Extra, the label's spokesman, remembers Kiki's faxes. "Obviously, we appreciate the love and persistence, but when we don't have the answers...it got pretty annoying," he says. And ICP was getting a lot of love from Denver. According to Extra, Colorado is home to at least as many, if not more, juggalos than Michigan, and the Mile High is one of a very few cities where horror rap can fill a venue the size of Red Rocks. That's why on Saturday, the Hatchet Attacks! show — featuring the entire Psychopathic Records label — is coming to Denver, and Denver alone. And on Friday, Dark Lotus — a supergroup composed of the most popular Psychopathic acts, like ICP and Twiztid — will kick off a tour at a sold-out Gothic show. Scum, whose latest album, Dinner's Served, has a cover image of human intestines on a plate, is opening.
"It seems like the Dark Carnival is strong in Denver," Extra says. "Maybe it's some sort of convergence point of the Dark Carnival's energies. Denver's such a vast place, almost remote. This is a place where you had something like Columbine happen. It just proves there's something underneath the surface going on. Columbine is an example of how it can go bad. Wicked shit is an example of how it can go good."
ABK, the beneficiary of the tire change, has no doubt that Denver has the most juggalos of any city. "It's like the juggalo boys' and girls' club," he says of Primos.
In 2004, Primos finally got Psychopathic's approval to buy its merchandise wholesale. "We were first in Colorado, and like the second in the nation, which was a big deal in the juggalo world," Kiki says. Big enough that Primos quit selling gasoline and turned the store's counter into a little display case.
To save money while they grew their business, Kiki and his wife and daughter were living with Ernie and his wife and kids. Flava and Ken moved in, too. In exchange for Faygo and cigarettes and a place to sleep, they worked at the store six days a week. "What more does a person need?" Flava asks. "Any more than that's greedy."
Ernie was managing a run-down trailer park on East Colfax in Aurora. The property had a faux Dutch windmill that seemed like the perfect spot for a second Primos, and they planned to have an autograph signing with some artists to celebrate the official opening once they got their permits. "It was like that game, telephone," Kiki remembers. "By the time it got to the police department, we were going to have ICP there for a free concert and there was going to be a riot." The police came over, told the Primos partners that they would be responsible for any damage to the city — and that they needed to close their store "because out there juggalos are a gang, and someone with a known gang affiliation can't operate a business," Kiki continues. Although by now they had the required Aurora permits, the partners closed the second location a day after it opened and took its contents to the original Primos, where business was booming.
The Aurora Police Department has no record of that encounter, or of any other incidents with Primos — except for the time Flava and Ernie witnessed a burglary in one of the trailers and acted as witnesses. According to Agent Bob Friel, his department doesn't name gangs, and so won't comment on whether it considers juggalos a gang.