Inventors of horrorcore rap

The FBI suggests they are gangsters, while others call them Christians. According to rapper Shaggy 2 Dope, his Insane Clown Posse is really just misunderstood.

The FBI suggests they are gangsters, while others call them Christians.

According to rapper Shaggy 2 Dope, his Insane Clown Posse is really just misunderstood.

The rapper (also known as Joseph Utsler) said he and his posse partner, Violent J (Joseph Bruce), are constantly thinking up darkly imaginative ways to distinguish themselves from other hip-hop artists, while also showing their listeners a good time.

For more than 25 years, the two white guys in clown makeup have been inventing, and then defining, the horrorcore rap genre through elaborately packaged CDs and gimmicky stage shows. The Detroit duo often chucks bottles of local soft drink Faygo out into the crowd while acting out shocking, over-the-top narratives (sometimes involving monsters and dancing girls) on spooky sets.

The posse is now on a first full Canadian tour in more than a decade.

While Shaggy remains mum about what violent, tongue-in-cheek morality tales are planned for the Red Deer show — on Monday, July 11, at Wild Bill’s Sports Bar — he promised the concert will be “from top to bottom, bigger and better” than ever.

“It’ll be full-on — know what I’m sayin’? We’ll be on the verge of passing out, there’ll be so much energy… We’ve elevated our craft to a science…”

Since forming as a trio in 1989 (Shaggy’s now late brother John Utsler left in 1992), Insane Clown Posse has been emulated by many other hip-hop groups including Twiztid, Ax Murder Boyz, Ill Bill, Boondox, etc.

Lesser artists might consider it copying, but Shaggy finds it flattering. “We’re very humble guys,” he said. “To have something like that happen to us… how can we ever express how grateful we are?” He feels ICP’s legacy should be “coming from nothing and changing the whole f—-ing thing.”

Right now, the duo is probably best known for being hassled by the FBI.

In 2011, the agency publicly called ICP fans (known as ‘Juggalos’) gang members. The duo filed a lawsuit over this label, and it still gets Shaggy’s blood boiling: “It’s the most ridiculous thing in the history of music… To call a nine-year-old rural kid in Montana a ‘gangster’ just because he wears an IC T-shirt is the most f—-ing, asinine sh— I’ve ever heard!”

The Christian label, first mentioned in The Guardian newspaper, seems equally bizarre (a writer decided ICP’s songs about evil people getting punished sends an evangelical message.) Allowing for leeway in song interpretations, Shaggy considers it “not as crazy as the gang thing.”

The rapper, who grew up poor as his stepfather kept getting laid-off from various jobs in the ‘80s, said he’s not a church-goer, but recognizes there are rights and wrongs in the world and evil-doers usually get their just desserts.

ICP’s stage antics are good theatre, he added — not unlike shows by fellow Detroit-native Alice Cooper, which also involve a bad man getting his comeuppance.

The duo’s 13th and 14th studio albums are called The Marvelous Missing Link: Lost and The Marvelous Missing Link: Found.

The first is made up mostly of negative songs (Vomit, Explosions), while the second contains mostly positive ones (The World is Yours, Pineapple Pizza).

While Shaggy and Violent J have previously written tunes that touch on social issues, such as child abuse and racism, Shaggy is completely uninspired by politics, saying “I’ve never voted in my life, so why start now?”

The artist, now a dad in his 40s, would rather encourage kids to stick with their passions. He noted he wasn’t the best rapper when he began the “upward climb… Everybody was rapping, but we were the only two that stuck with it…

“If you quit, if you don’t keep going,” you don’t get anywhere, Shaggy added. “You’d got to keep elevating yourself, you’ve got to evolve with the times…”

Tickets to the 9 p.m. show are $30, if there are any left at the door.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

FILE - In this Aug. 11, 2019, file photo, an iPhone displays the Facebook app in New Orleans. Facebook says it’s going all in to block the spread of bogus vaccine claims. In practice, that means the social network plans to ban a new bunch of false claims in addition to the old bunch of false claims about vaccines or COVID-19 that it has already banned. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)
Facebook says it will pay $1B over 3 years to news industry

Facebook says it will choose which publishers it will support

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
NDP will not trigger election as long as pandemic continues: Singh

NDP and Liberals both promised some kind of pharmacare program

Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy Vice-Admiral Art McDonald is seen during an interview with The Canadian Press in Ottawa, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says Admiral Art McDonald has voluntarily stepped down as Chief of Defence Staff due to an investigation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Admiral Art McDonald steps aside as defence chief amid investigation

Lt.-Gen. Wayne Eyre appointed acting chief of the defence staff

Meteor spotted over Edmonton, Alta., on Feb. 22, 2021 by several, who took to social media to share their surveillance camera captures. (@KixxAxe/Twitter)
VIDEO: Fireball meteor streaks across sky, spotted by early-morning risers in Alberta, B.C.

Videos of the quick streak of light flashing across the sky before 6:30 a.m. MST

Photo radar cameras are supposed to “augment” the work of regular police officers, yet 91 per cent of speeding tickets in the province are connected to the devices. (Black Press file photo).
March photo radar locations

Photo radar, mobile units and intersection cameras will be in action

Mike Ammeter (Photo by Rebecca Hadfield)
Sylvan Lake man elected chair of Canadian Canola Growers Association

Mike Ammeter is a local farmer located near the Town of Sylvan Lake

FILE - The Paramount Pictures gate is pictured on Aug. 23, 2016, in Los Angeles. The studio is joining other major Hollywood studios in slashing the traditional 90-day theatrical window. ViacomCBS on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, announced that the studio’s films, including “Mission: Impossible 7” and “A Quiet Place Part II,” will go to its fledgling streaming service, Paramount+, after 45 days in theaters. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)
‘Mission: Impossible 7’ will hit Paramount+ even sooner

90-day theatrical window reduced to 45 days

Team Canada skip Kerri Einarson yells to her sweepers at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary, Alta., Friday, Feb. 19, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Defending champion Einarson stays unbeaten in Tournament of Hearts

Players suggest a spectator-free debut made it less intimidating

Tiger Woods hits out of a bunker on the 17th hole on his way to winning the Canadian Open Championship at Glen Abbey in Oakville, Ont. on Sunday Sept.10, 2000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘The Tiger I know is a survivor and a fighter,’ Bill Paul weighs in on Tiger Woods

Woods was hospitalized after a single-vehicle crash near Los Angeles on Tuesday

Calgary Flames goaltender David Rittich (33) makes a save on Toronto Maple Leafs left wing Jimmy Vesey (26) as Flames' Christopher Tanev (8) and Joakim Nordstrom (20) defend during first-period NHL action in Toronto on Wednesday, February 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘Misunderstood’ Nylander ties game late, scores winner as Leafs beat Flames 2-1 in OT

‘Misunderstood’ Nylander ties game late, scores winner as Leafs beat Flames 2-1 in OT

Team Canada skip Kerri Einarson yells to her sweepers at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary, Alta., Friday, Feb. 19, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Young Quebec team in the hunt to join Einarson, Homan in Hearts’ championship round

Young Quebec team in the hunt to join Einarson, Homan in Hearts’ championship round

Most Read