It's kind of funny when a publicist for Insane Clown Posse gets nervous about them being interviewed by VICE because they're worried about their clients being made fools of. But you can’t really blame them. Insane Clown Posse has been a punchline ever since the duo was hoofing it out in the bowels of the Detroit underground way back in the early ‘90s. Today, several gold and platinum albums later, they proudly call themselves "The Most Hated Band In the World," but make no mistake — ICP may be the most loathed rappers in history but these guys built a veritable entertainment empire without any mainstream support or radio airplay. It’s a rap-to-riches story that Horatio Alger would have loved … if he didn’t mind being splattered with Faygo brand cola.
VICE caught up with ICP co-founder Shaggy 2 Dope to discuss their forthcoming album The Mighty Death Pop! which comes out this summer.
VICE:So tell me about The Mighty Death Pop. What is his role in the Dark Carnival?
Shaggy 2 Dope: Well, this is the second hand of Joker’s Cards and the Death Pop is like about how you want to live your life. You never know when he’s just gonna pop up and fuck up your shit. You know what I’m sayin’? You could be smokin’ weed or drinking and all of a sudden—BAM!—he’s there. So you gotta slow down a little bit and enjoy life because you never know when he’ll be there in your face.
Tell me about this new song "Chris Benoit." I listened to it last night and it's creepy as hell. What inspired you to write a song about the Benoit murder-suicide?
It’s actually not about Chris Benoit at all. We just use his name as a reference because the song is about just snapping and going crazy and out of control. You know what I’m sayin’? ‘Cause that’s what (Benoit) did. That’s one of our favorites from the new album. We’ve been working on Death Pop for over two years and it was really cool doing it because we didn’t have any deadlines, so we were able to put all of our heart and energy into each song and then go back and retweak it until it was perfect. We put our heart and soul into that record and I don’t wanna say it’s the best thing we’ve ever come out with, but we always think the new one is the best one. You know what I’m sayin’?
On one of the bonus discs for this album, you recorded a cover of "Beautiful" by Christina Aguilera? Wow.
Yeah, with that album (Covered, Smothered, and Chunked) we wanted to do shit that no one expected ICP to ever do. So we got shit on there from Christina Aguilera, Tears for Fears (“Shout”), Michael Jackson and Mick Jagger (“State of Shock”), the Geto Boys (“Mind Playin’ Tricks On Me”). It was just about us doing crazy shit that would make everybody go “What the fuck?!” You know what I’m sayin’?
You also do a version of Too $hort's classic song "Freaky Tales," but your version clocks in at 64-minutes. Was the final version recorded in one take?
No, no, it took us many, many, many days to do that. For each 16-hour session, we’d try to get like three minutes worth of the song out of it. We’d be working on all these other tracks and so we could only work on “Freaky Tales” a little bit at a time. It took us a while to do that record because it wasn’t recorded like a normal song. Each day we’d have to pick where we’d been the day before and it was a really long process. Wasn’t easy. Far from one take.
Last year you recorded a Mozart composition called "Leck Mich Im Arsch" (Lick Me In the Ass) with Jack White. How did that come about? A lot of people heard that and were like “What the eff?!”
That was the plan. Jack approached us and of course, we were flattered, but that’s the response he was looking for—to make people go “What the fuck is going on here?” You know what I’m sayin’? But it was a really cool experience though, because we didn’t know what the fuck we were doing or what we were walking into. We went down to his studio in Nashville and it was a real old school recording, all reel-to-reel tapes and shit. It made us feel like we were back in the early ‘90s. Very déjà vu. But we thought Jack was the shit for inviting us to do it because we totally thought “He’s probably gonna lose some fans over this.” But it was just us having a good time together. You know what I’m sayin’?
Over the years you've used gay slurs in your lyrics. For the record, do you have a problem with gay people?
Oh, absolutely not, man. It’s all about context and what you really mean. Take TV, for example. You can say the word “dick” or “asshole” but only if you’re calling someone an “asshole” or a “dick.” It’s the same thing with the word “fag.” When we say it, it’s the same way as calling someone as “asshole” or a “fuckhead.” You know what I’m sayin’? But it’s not trying to slam gay people. I know plenty of gay people and they’re cool as hell, and I’ve got no problem with gay people at all. Hating gay people is like being racist — it just doesn’t make any sense.
Juggalos may be the most hated fanbase in the history of music. The FBI now considers them a gang on the same level as Bloods and Crips. What is the biggest misconception about Juggalos?
Ah shit, man, being a Juggalo is a hard thing. But at the same time, it’s the closest love you’re ever gonna have. Juggalos are a family; sometimes the only family a person has ever had There’s never been anything like Juggalos in the history of music and there never will be again. Forty or fifty years from now, people are gonna look back and just be like “Holy shit! What the fuck was that?” But the biggest misconception is that (Juggalos) are a gang. That’s so fucking ridiculous. Just the dumbest fucking shit ever. Just by declaring that, they’ve put so many fucking kids in danger. You know what I’m sayin’? Some fucking kid from Asshole, Nebraska is a Juggalo from a town of like a thousand people and then he goes into a real city and the mall, like a Hot Topic or whatever, and he’s gonna get approached by a security guard or a cop just for having an (ICP) tattoo. It’s so insane and stupid.
You had a big cult hit in 2009 with your song “Miracles.” So I have to ask — fucking magnets. How DO they work?
Magnets? I don’t fucking know. You know what I’m sayin’? People act like we're stupid ‘cause we fucking said it, but c’mon, how do they work — no one really fuckin’ knows. It’s like in Journey to the Center of the Earth when they were talking about different layers of the Earth and stuff and they can’t figure out why the Earth has magnetism because they don’t know what the fuck is in the core. So no, I don’t know (how magnets work) and I don’t fucking care. I just know they hold up my kids’ pictures on the refrigerator and I’m happy with that.
In your 1999 song "Fuck The World" you said "And fuck Lyle Lovett – whoever the fuck he is." Did you ever discover who Lyle Lovett is?
I think he’s that big chicken-looking guy who was like married to some actress. He’s some country singer, right?
The Mighty Death Pop! will be released August 14.