Detroit rap duo Insane Clown Posse first took on the currently hot-button issue of the Confederate flag in 1992 with the song Your Rebel Flag on their album Carnival Of Carnage.
Group members Violent J (Joe Bruce) and Shaggy 2 Dope (Joe Utsler) again set their sights on what they see as a divisive symbol on the Confederate Flag from their recently released 13th studio album, The Marvelous Missing Link: Lost.
“The sound is more new school, but the message is still the same,” says Shaggy 2 Dope. “I get offended when I see a rebel flag, and I wasn’t even around in slave days. The gall that people have to slap that thing on their cars or porches – it’s like a big ‘fuck you’ to so many people. So we’re giving it right back to them. It’s crazy to me that people stand by a flag that represents pure hate. Time for that to end.”
For those keeping score at home, The Marvelous Missing Link: Lost is the third Joker Card in the second deck of the Dark Carnival saga – ICP began this series with Carnival Of Carnage. We don’t do Joker’s Cards in a straight row, though – we like to record other stuff between all that,” Shaggy 2 Dope explains.
“We were doing some new music recently, and one day we said, ‘Oh, shit, this is another Joker’s Card.’ So here we are, putting a new Joker on you all.”
Unlike other ICP releases that feature broad comedy, the lyrical content of Lost is dark and serious, which will be lightened to some extent on the album’s companion piece, Found, due out July 31. “Lost is straight-up real all the way,” Shaggy 2 Dope notes.
“It’s bumpin’ ass sinister. On the first ride, we talk about missing in your life, and Found is going to be the answer; it takes place after you discovered the secret. So this is the heavier record, and Found will be more lighthearted.”
Active since 1989, ICP have established a loyal audience of fans known as “Juggalos,” and the duo plan to reward the faithful with shows going into the fall. Their 16th annual Gathering Of The Juggalos is set for July 22-25th in Thornville, Ohio. “That should be a super-duper good time,” Shaggy 2 Dope enthuses.
"We’ve got a big history, and we aim to celebrate it. We see our influence, but we’re hungry and we’ve got our ear to the street.
"If young bucks roll with our old stuff, that’s cool, but it’s not gonna stop us from staying fresh all the time.”
Insane Clown Posse’s The Marvelous Missing Link: Lost can be purchased on iTunes. On the following pages, Shaggy 2 Dope runs down the 10 records that changed his life.
Old Dirty Bastard – Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version (1995)
“It’s a classic, man. Know what I’m sayin’?
"The first time you heard him with Wu-Tang Clan, before he was in videos, you had no idea what he might look like – he came on like this wild-ass guy. Then you saw him rapping, the way he moved, his whole style, and you just got it, you know? He could freestyle like nobody else.
“Every song on this record is a mind-blower. Talk about a guy who just comes correct all the time, every cut. Where does he get it from? I just love him. He’s clearly one of the all-time greats.”
Geto Boys – Grip It! On That Other Level (1989)
“Here’s some stuff that really influenced ICP. They had Mind Of A Lunatic, Scarface, all that shit. They spawned out so much from this, all kinds of solo records – it’s crazy, man.
“The record’s a little sloppy at times. It sounds like it was made in a basement or something. But that doesn’t matter – they’re comin’ at you for real.
"This was almost the birth of horrorcore. When we heard this, our jaws dropped. You gotta step up your game after you get with this.”
The White Stripes – Icky Thump (2007)
“This isn’t a record that influenced us or anything, but it’s a personal favorite of mine. Conquest – that’s the shit, you know what I mean? When my sons were younger, I’d be bumpin’ it in the car. They’d be like, ‘Turn that down!’ And I would just say, ‘Nope. Here it is!’
“Jack White plays the guitar like nobody else. He’s an original. Same with his voice, the way it fluctuates – he sounds like himself. It was cool getting to work with him; it was a definite honor. We only worked for a couple of days with him – he’s fast. He’s different from everybody else in the studio, too: Everybody uses Pro Tools and shit, but he’s still doing it old school with the vintage gear.
“I’m a massive White Stripes fan, man. I love Jack and what he does. He does his own thing his own way. I never get tired of crankin’ his shit. Icky Thump’s a dynamite album if you like things that kick it hard.”
NWA – Niggaz4Life (1991)
“This is the first record they did without Cube. You might think that losing a key member like him would’ve put the brakes on the whole damn thing, but they kind of rallied, I think, and they managed to find this super groove.
“Everything on it – the production, the lyrics, the delivery of the raps – it’s all top-notch stuff. You listen to this and you stand back. It’s like, ‘Damn, I get it right off the bat!’
"Some things are ‘un-fuck-with-able,’ and this is a big-time example. You can’t argue with it. I mean, you could try, but you’ll lose fast and hard. This record wins the game.”
Eazy-E – Eazy Duz-It (1988)
“Back in the day, Eazy was seen as the leader of NWA, so when he came out with this record, it was all him and his voice. It hit people right away.
"Gangsta rap was so new, and everything he was saying was shocking. Between his voice and the production – Dre doin’ his thing – it’s like he created an instant masterpiece.
“Everybody listened to this record. It wasn’t just city kids, but you also had burn-outs in the suburbs checkin’ it out. It united people, man. Talk about a true crossover record. Rest in peace, Eazy-E. He was the man.”
NWA – Straight Outta Compton (1988)
“This record is when NWA really figured out who they were as a group. You’ve got the original members – Ren, Dre, Cube, Eazy-E and Yella – and they’re all just super, man.
“It’s got Fuck Tha Police, Gangsta Gangsta, all that shit. When this record came out, it bubbled – way more than the record that came out before it. People started hearing NWA, and they responded.
"NWA didn’t invent the genre of gangsta rap, but they took it hard and brought it to light. Things got really hot after this one. We ate it up like you wouldn’t believe.”
NWA – NWA And The Posse (1987)
“One more from NWA, their first one. It’s kind of a weird record in that it’s NWA with a host of other rappers. You’ve got Arabian Prince and some other dudes. They do that Wino song and all kinds of shit. It’s a good, good record.
“The first version of Boyz-N-The Hood is on this record, and it’s the standout track, for sure. Arabian Prince does Panic Zone, which is a very weird song in a way; it’s old-school, like Egyptian Lover.
“This set up NWA and gave people a taste of what was to come. Then they came out with Straight Outta Compton and busted that bitch right off the hinges. You know what I’m sayin’?”
Awesome Dre' & Hard Core Commitee – You Can't Hold Me Back (1989)
“Awesome Dre is a local guy in Detroit. He wasn’t a gangsta rapper, and he wasn’t a conscious rapper, either, but he was very articulate with his words.
“We did a lot of work with Awesome Dre. We used to collect a lot of amazing Detroit shit. He was another “un-fuck-with-able” guy.
"We’d see his videos on Yo! MTV Raps, and every time he’d come on we’d just pop with that shit. Awesome respect for the man.”
DJ Magic Mike – DJ Magic Mike And The Royal Posse (1989)
“Man, it’s so hard to pick just one Magic Mike record, because all his old-school shit is so awesome.
"You can put down his first one, but I love everything. When I was a teenager, I started cuttin’ and DJing, and he was a big influence to me on that tip. Truly a pioneer guy.
“Back then, before the field became crowded, he was so nice and ill with the shit. He had the whole booty sound, but he did it his own way as a DJ. It’s nuts the way he combined cuttin’ with the production. It had a big influence on me.”
Westside Connection – Bow Down (1996)
“When this record came out, it’s like no one saw it comin’. It was a real wig blower.
"Ice Cube did Mack 10’s record the Chickenhawk, and that shit was like, ‘Whoa.’ But here you’ve got Cube, Mack 10 and WC, and it takes it to a whole new level.
“WC shines on this record, I gotta say. In my opinion, he makes Cube and Mack 10 sound like shit. They’re still great, but WC just rips it. WC doesn’t get the recognition he deserves. He’s one of the all-time greats, and he’s totally astounding here.”