By Courtney Harrell
By Kyra Scrimgeour
By Jena Ardell
By Mary Willson
By Bree Davies
By Tom Murphy
By Tom Murphy
By A.H. Goldstein
While he was still in high school — bouncing from Manual to East to Overland when he'd get in trouble — he recorded songs with a group called Down Syndrome. He used the word "fuck" excessively, not just because he liked it, but because he had a small vocabulary. "What's going to piss off the person that's parked next to you in traffic when your windows are down and you're playing it? Let's talk about that," he says. "I love pissing people off. I love getting dirty looks."
At seventeen, Scum was living on his own when a kid named Sevill came knocking on his apartment door, looking for a joint. He thought the kid with long hair who blasted death metal probably smoked. "It turned out we were the same age, listened to the same type of stuff," Scum says, citing the horror rap of Esham and ICP. "He didn't really have no family, and I had very limited family...no blood relatives in this country aside from my mother. We were two troubled teens with no families and big dreams."
They decided to form a rap duo. "He made some crappy beats, I made some crappy raps, but we had fun," says Scum, who quit going by Ivan about that time. When no label showed much interest in their music — the content was a problem, but so was the fact that the music wasn't that good, Scum admits — they started their own label, Lyrikal Snuff Productions, in 2001. Getting the CDs pressed was still a challenge, though, because no company wanted to print artwork like that of Enter the Asylum, a CD that has shots of Scum stabbing and slitting the throat of a naked woman.
Scum didn't cross paths with Primos until 2005, when a friend gave Flava a copy of one of Scum's CDs. The Primos partners liked it, and invited Scum to sell his CDs and merchandise in their store. But that wasn't all: They wanted to work with Scum, and not just because his dark music fit their genre. He was clearly someone who knew that it took hard work to promote shows and was willing to do the work. Scum had been building his fan base for years, playing mostly 21-and-over shows at bars like Cricket on the Hill that would draw fifty people at most and piss off a lot of the venues' regulars. When Primos invited him to be part of the Mile High Massacre, it was Scum's first all-ages show, and he quickly realized that he'd been missing a huge market. The kids loved him.
Together, Scum and Primos took BVK and DCK on a six-state tour. Most of the acts' members had never been outside of Colorado, and it was like their first family vacation, even though they were sleeping in tents and showering at rest stops. In 2006, the scene got a big boost when a Denver act that Primos had been promoting, Axe Murder Boyz, won a Psychopathic contest and got a one-year contract. (AMB is now back in Denver doing its own thing, because Primos and other local groups felt the rappers had abandoned them during their fifteen minutes.) And they've hosted three consecutive GoreFests at the Aztlan Theatre that attract horror-core (or gore-hop, as Scum likes to call it) artists and fans from around the country.
But they've had setbacks, too. Last summer, Sevill — Scum's best friend and longtime business partner — died unexpectedly. He'd been working behind the scenes and backing the label financially from Indiana, where he'd moved. His death was a huge blow to Scum, who went from putting on shows every few weeks to doing nothing for months.
When he finally got back to work, he and Primos organized a big November show at Cervantes', bringing in Anybody Killa as a headliner. Cervantes' was one of the few venues willing to book their kind of music, but it was an uneasy relationship. Juggalos wear red, which makes them an obvious target for the Crips who hang out in Five Points, and some of them don't shy away from starting a fight. The Suicidal Killaz are the closest thing to an official juggalo gang. Back in 2004, when Franky was fifteen, two juggalo groups joined forces to become SK. "Next thing you know," he remembers, "we're sixty soldiers deep, every one of us pushing drugs. My specialty was robbing stores. I gave the plans, told them what stores to hit."
After Franky got caught and put on house arrest, he got into rapping. "It was like we were forced out of all the shit we were doing, thank God, and we were kind of pushed more towards the music," he says. But as DCK was building a following, fans started saying they were SK — which also became the name of DCK's label. "People in my crew were running up on fans, like 'You ain't Suicidal,'" says Franky, who calls himself the leader of SK. He had to get it in their heads that they weren't that kind of gang anymore.
Franky now refers to SK as an "organization." Kiki calls it a gang, while Flava — who used to be in a real west-side gang — says it's not. But Flava and Kiki agree that the SK fans can start trouble. "When they get together, it's a goddamn nightmare, just total mayhem," Kiki says. "They go psychotic. It's hard to control them."