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Why the Insane Clown Posse is Actually Great!

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Violent J and Shaggy 2 dope. Photo credit: WaeDC

For much of their career, the Insane Clown Posse has been reduced to nothing more than a music industry punching bag, but there is a lot more to ICP than what their reputation would lead you to believe. For me, the Insane Clown Posse was my introduction to class consciousness. 

For me, the Insane Clown Posse was my introduction to class consciousness. 

I first discovered the Insane Clown Posse as wrestlers, not rappers. When I was a small child, I was fascinated with professional wrestling. WWE, (WWF at the time) WCW and ECW were an an escape. Wrestling was an alternate world where disputes were handled with a seemingly endless supply of steel chairs and fluorescent light bulbs. I loved the drama, showmanship and pageantry of it all. While watching WWE(F) I first saw Shaggy 2 Dope and Violent J. They were part of a wrestling group called “The Oddities” at the time. After they won the match against their opponent, they started rapping, and despite all the hate they get, the rapping was good. I don’t recall which song they performed, but I was hooked. 

After an incessant amount of pleading, I was finally able to get my mom to buy me The Great Milenko on cassette. Yes, cassette. I’m 30 years old. This happened in the ‘90s. Shut the fuck up. 

Upon listening to the tape, I was beyond hooked, I was obsessed. This fandom, although now more hidden for social reasons, has followed me into my adult life, and as I grew older, my understanding of their lyrical content expanded. 

As a child, I grew up poor. I lived in East Oakland’s Laurel District until I was 12 years old, my grandparents lived in a trailer park in Concord, and the rest of my family lived in San Francisco or Daly City. After leaving Oakland, my mother and I stayed in a homeless shelter in an industrial part of North Concord before getting approved for low income housing in Downtown Martinez. I didn’t start school until 5th grade and was illiterate. I struggled with a constant sense of alienation and the looming suspicion that I was a fucking idiot. My mother couldn’t read or write and I thought there may have been some genetic component making me less competent than others. And back in those days, living in Oakland wasn’t cool or hip – it was ridiculed. Even the broke white kids at my grandparents’ mobile home park thought they were too good for “ghetto Oakland.” 

I had grown deeply resentful and the Insane Clown Posse’s critique of the wealthy, bigots and what I deemed mainstream society coupled with cartoonishly violent imagery provided me with an outlet for my frustrations. 

I had grown deeply resentful and the Insane Clown Posse’s critique of the wealthy, bigots and what I deemed mainstream society coupled with cartoonishly violent imagery provided me with an outlet for my frustrations. 

Despite my early setbacks with literacy, I became a fairly bookish teenager. The more I read, the more I understood my circumstances and what the Insane Clown Posse were trying to point out in their lyrics beyond the clown paint shtick.

They were raging against inequality, even on their first record, Carnival of Carnage. On the last track of their debut album entitled “Taste,” they literally say “The Time has come for the blood to run into the streets paved with gold And like animals we kill each other for the hatred of others We must move into the suburbs and punish the rich for their ignorance  For the horror of death, that is part of our life in our neighborhood maybe then we will see our situation in a new light And put an end to the chaos in the ghetto and an end to the killings,” among other radical statements.  Considering the Insane Clown Posse is from Detroit, these types of lyrics aren’t that shocking. What American city got fucked harder by capitalism than Detroit? 

Believe it or not, but these songs and videos led me to reading leftist literature and brought me to an understanding that the poverty I grew up in wasn’t something I should be ashamed of, but something all of society should be ashamed of because no one should have to be homeless or hungry when we have enough to provide for everyone.

These themes can be found on every Insane Clown Posse record and show up in a number of the group’s music videos. Most notably in their cover of Sly Fox’s hit song “Let’s Go All the Way” The video depicts an upper-middle class suburban neighborhood being invaded by a multiracial group of people dressed in notably working class attire burning suburbia to the ground. The lyrics of the song speak about ending division and segregation. At one point in the video you have a white dude dressed like a skinhead and a black dude in a friendly dance competition.

Believe it or not, but these songs and videos led me to reading leftist literature and brought me to an understanding that the poverty I grew up in wasn’t something I should be ashamed of, but something all of society should be ashamed of because no one should have to be homeless or hungry when we have enough to provide for everyone. Let’s go all the way. 

In many ways, the Insane Clown Posse was ahead. But who cares? How the fuck do magnets work?

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Abraham Woodliff - Bay Area Memelord

Abraham Woodliff - Bay Area Memelord

Abraham Woodliff is a San Francisco-based writer, editor and digital content creator known for Bay Area Memes, a local meme page that has amassed nearly 200k followers. His work has appeared in SFGATE, The Bold Italic and of course, BrokeAssStuart.com. His book of short stories, personal essays and poetry entitled Don't Drown on Dry Ground will be available early 2022.

1 Comment

  1. Valeria Castaneda
    December 27, 2021 at 3:57 pm — Reply

    Very interesting read! I didn’t know this about ICP (or anything except that they’re Juggalo’s) and it’s really cool they got you into leftist theory. Power to the people!

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