Denver is known for its creative industries, its proximity to the mountains and its rising home prices. Also, “Denver is the juggalo capital of the world,” says Jake Falli, a 21-year-old second-generation juggalo who will serve as the unlikely opener for Insane Clown Posse, which will player the Boulder Theater tonight, Monday, September 25.
Although gentrification is pushing some Colorado juggalos out, transplant juggalos are coming in, and despite Falli’s irritation as a lifelong Coloradan with transplants taking over the state and a boom in ugly architecture (a gripe that is hardly just his to raise), he’s welcoming the newcomers – at least, those who are juggalos – with open arms. After all, they're family.
Falli is a talented MC, and not a copycat of the killer-clown-style horrorcore hip-hoppers. On paper, he’s a regular Joe – almost a prototype of what a stable nuclear-family man looks like. He has a wife, two kids, and a job in a call center selling tours to national parks. When he hits the stage, he’s an enthusiastic rapper who has garnered a passionate, if not yet huge, following.
It was those enthusiastic followers who made it possible for him to open for ICP at the Boulder Theater. He posted to Facebook asking them to push the booker at the venue to give him a chance to play alongside Insane Clown Posse, which his friends, fans and family did...and did...and did. Clearly Falli was going to bring his own draw, and the Boulder Theater staff finally agreed to give him the opening slot at 8:30 p.m. – a huge break for a little-known artist.
Over the past weeks, Falli has been busy stumping for the concert, traveling up and down the Front Range, selling tickets to juggalos. He’s a booker’s dream: enthusiastic, aggressive and unafraid to promote a show to anybody.
When he went to Denver’s Roxy Theatre this month to see Twiztid, another popular horrocore duo that had been mentored by ICP before breaking away from the act’s Psychopathic Records, Falli noticed the tension between the two groups’ fans; as he offered tickets to the ICP show, some Twiztid fans gave him the stink eye.
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The drama caused by the riff between the two bands has come at an awkward time for a cultural movement that has taken to the streets of Washington, D.C., to decry FBI scrutiny. The juggalo community has been ridiculed by the media and fetishized by counter-cultural movements on the left and right, both wanting to mobilize juggalo energy toward their political aims. Falli, who likens juggalos to Deadheads in the strength of community formed around a band (also noting both appreciate good weed), says there have always been riffs among local juggalo artists – just nothing on this scale.
What does the word "juggalo" describe, exactly? Kids who wear paint and tote hatchets? ICP fans? Twiztid fans? Horrorcore fans?
“Juggalo means family,” says Falli.
When two people wearing Tupac shirts see each other on the street, they don’t necessarily acknowledge each other, Falli explains, but when two people wearing ICP shirts cross paths, they are sure to offer up a hearty “whoop whoop,” a signature juggalo expression of enthusiasm.
Growing up in a family of juggalos, Falli found himself having a natural community, but also a target on his back. Teachers and security officers at the three high schools he attended treated him like a gang member and pigeonholed him as a criminal. At sixteen, he dropped out, put off by the judgmental school brass that had given him grief daily. He doesn’t regret the decision.
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A piece of paper doesn’t mean much when you aim to be an entrepreneur, he says. And even his budding career as an MC isn’t his end game. “Rappers come and go every day,” he points out. He wants something more stable.
His goal: to own a music venue that spotlights local talent across genres and gives people a place to hang out. He’s using his time as an artist to study how the music business works, to make connections and to build toward his dreams.
He’s still young. He’s passionate. And with two kids and a nine-to-five job, he has a lot to figure out to get to where he wants to go – and where better to do that than in the juggalo capital of the world? When better to start than tonight?
Falli opens for Insane Clown Posse, 8:30 p.m. Monday, September 25, Boulder Theater, 2032 14th Street, Boulder, 303-786-7030.