Insane Clown Posse

Interview with Violent J
By David Friedman
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You’re about to release "The Wraith: Shangri-La," the final album in Insane Clown Posse’s series of six Joker’s Cards. But isn’t there some other huge news that Psychopathic Records has been waiting to drop on the world?

Man, I’ve got fuckin’ news for you. Listen, I’m gonna tell you some shit, man. And I’m telling you this because it matters to me and it matters to a lot of fuckin’ people – a lot of people. When I started rappin’, when I fuckin’ picked up a microphone, there was Esham the Unholy. We started Psychopathic Records and we patterned it on Reel Life Productions, the way they did their shit. The way they ran their outfit, they taught us the ropes. Psychopathic built itself and we looked at the fact that Esham would release album and EP, album and EP. So anyway, for 10 years, we’ve been doin’ what we’ve been doin’. For 10 fuckin’ years, we’ve been doin’ what we’ve been doin’. Fuckin’ the wicked shit! We never sold out. We’ve been doin’ the fuckin’ wicked shit for 10 years. That’s what we believe Detroit is about. That Esham, ICP, Twiztid, the House of fuckin’ Krazees – all of that shit. Natas. What is it? It’s the wicked shit. That’s what we believe Detroit’s about. Well finally, after 10 years of the House of Krazees and fuckin’ all this other shit and all these other labels, we’ve all aligned just in time for the Sixth Joker’s Card. The missing link has signed with Psychopathic Records. Esham the Unholy is with us. That’s it. That’s like the missing like. That’s like Rubik’s Cube is completed. And you don’t understand. For 10 years, Detroit’s entire wicked shit has been branched off in so many different directions, starting with the main seed that was Esham and (then) us and the House of Krazees. But now we’ve all aligned. There’s nobody left worth mentioning. All the dons of the wicked shit (are together). I’m talking about the wicked shit worldwide. They ripped it off from us everywhere. They all ripped it off from Detroit, from the minds of ICP and Esham and the House of Krazees and the whole scene in Detroit. We are the wicked shit and we have come together. Right now, we’re all under the hatchet. And it’s not about the hatchet, it’s not about Reel Life Productions, it’s not about Latnem or whatever the fuck – Platnem or whatever the fuck. It’s about the wicked shit. And we’re all putting it down just in time for the Sixth Joker’s Card. It’s about the Dark Carnival. We are the rulers of the wicked shit, man. We put all of this bullshit aside. We have all merged as one – one unstoppable force. Undeniably. You’ve always had Esham and you’ve had us. And we’re together now. It’s official. And you’re the first muthafucka’s ear holes to hear it in the world. This is gonna rock the entire juggalo nation, which might not mean anything to people, but it means a lot to us.

That’s some major news without a doubt and definitely an historic announcement when it comes to Detroit rap and rap in general. I know you’ve been down with Esham since day one. I guess that’s why this means so much to you, right?

Man, because he structured every muthafuckin’ thing we do. He laid the foundation for Eminem. He laid the foundation for all of us. And I’ve said it a million times. I would have never had the balls to come out on stage in clown makeup if I would have never seen Esham come out in a coffin. That was the foundation. Even though a lot of people say that came from fuckin’ Geto Boys and ‘Assassins.’ However, when you take that certain flavor that they might have experimented with in a song, and you create a whole style of music out of it, then you create a whole masterpiece around it like we have. Everybody’s hollerin’ ‘Keep it real, keep it real.’ What the fuck? Man, we are keepin’ it real every day. Our music keeps it entertaining, man. You can vent your frustrations through the wicked shit. We’ll let our music do the murdering for you. And now, all the heavy hitters, the dons, the kings, the Soopa Villains have come together.

Now that Esham and ICP are together on the same label, what can fans look forward to? What’s going to happen now?

We’re gonna saw the planet in half. I don’t give a fuck what happens now. I don’t care if nothing happens. To us, it matters. To the juggalo nation, it matters. To the fans of the wicked shit, to the underground... And a lot of bands have the gall to sit there and call themselves underground, but they ain’t shit. We’re the fuckin’ underground. We’re under the fuckin’ underground. Even us, ICP. And we’re all over. Everybody just laughs at us. We’re like a joke to the mainstream. But you know what? That’s all good. That don’t even matter. ’Cause what’s going on underneath the underground, it’s so dope. This is
Esham and ICP, man. I’m talking 1991, when it all started. It’s full circle.

Will Esham be on the Sixth Joker’s Card? And, if he is, can you talk about his involvement with the project?

Esham, my friend, will be on the Sixth – rapping. I’m giving you super-exclusive knowledge here, man. He’s on a song called ‘Soopa.’ Because Esham aka the Boogieman, Violent J aka the Juggla and Shaggy 2 Dope aka the Southwest Strangla, make up the trio known as the Soopa Villains. But that’s a whole other story.

Some people feel like Kid Rock and Eminem should have helped Esham out after they made it big, sort of as a sign of respect. But it seems like ICP is the only group that ever gives Esham credit in interviews and invites him out on tours. What has made you so loyal to Esham over the years?

Because I can admit that he laid the foundation and I can respect that. I’ve always respected that. It’s the same reason I respect Paris. It’s the same reason I respect Ice Cube. What is ICP known for? We’re the wicked clowns. Even the word wicked (or wicket in Esham’s case), I was exposed to it by Esham. And I’ve always known that and I’ve always respected that. It’s kind of like, how the fuck can Esham not get his dues, man? It just doesn’t make sense. And I’ve told him to his face and I’ve said in interviews in the past, I think it was his bad business moves. That’s what I think. There’s a lot of snakes out there.

In addition to Esham’s forthcoming album, "Acid Rain," will you be releasing Esham’s whole back catalog, totaling somewhere around 15 albums, on Psychopathic?

Yes. They’re gonna be all available. But right now, ‘Acid Rain’ is coming out. And ‘Acid Rain’ has got about four, five, six or seven new songs on it. It’s a piece of art. And I guess you can chop it into as many songs as you want, but also it’s a mix of his old shit dating all the way back. It’s narrated by us, just to let any juggalos know the history of the wicked shit. We’re not even really concerned with the history or anything because now that the Sixth Joker’s Card is coming out on November 5th and Esham is here, Twiztid is here, Blaze is here, Anybody Killa is here, ICP is here. This is going down. The future is all that matters. Everything is where it needs to be. It’s our turn to hold the matrix.

When you make reference to the future, I’m wondering what will happen after the Sixth Joker’s Card. Since this is the final installment in the series, what comes next?

Well, see, it’s the end of the world. Right now, when the Sixth Joker’s Card comes, the world’s over with. And it’s the beginning of a new one. There’s no more nothing. I feel like my whole fuckin’ head is gonna explode. I mean, if you knew the spirit world and the underground, it’s like there’s so many fuckin’ spirits whippin’ around this room I’m in right now because it’s goin’ down. We’re connected to something beyond and it’ll all make sense when you hear the Sixth Joker’s Card. I can tell you about the Sixth Joker’s Card. What would you like to know about it?

I’d like to know whether it’ll be anything like the Dark Lotus album and the other projects that have been released on Psychopathic in the last two to three years, or whether it will be more like "The Amazing Jeckel Brothers" and the four previous Joker’s Cards. How would you describe the style and sound of the album?

I would say, musically, it moves at the same pace as ‘Riddlebox.’ But it’s way more diverse than ‘Riddlebox’ was. There’s more styles of music on this album – rock ’n’ roll down to old school gangsta rap. When I say old school, I’m talking about like ‘Compton’s N the House.’ I don’t give a fuck what’s popular out there or what the fuck is on the radio or MTV or any of that. We straight up made the bombest sounding piece of music you could make, the bombest album there is. We did the old school ‘Dope Man’ shit from N.W.A. – those kind of influences. Bangin’ ass ghetto shit, mixed right in with rock ’n’ roll songs, mixed in with pure ICP classic flavor, featuring tracks with ICP and Esham, from straight up ‘Carnival of Carnage’ era.

When you mention "Carnival of Carnage," that is of course ICP’s First Joker’s Card from back in 1992. Are you remaking songs from the early days?

No. It’s all brand new.

So when you say you’ve got stuff from the ‘Carnival of Carnage,’ what do you mean?

Sound-wise. Songs – like you think ‘This reminds me of Carnival of Carnage’ up to ‘This reminds me of Dark Lotus.’ Everything. It’s such a complete barrage of sounds. It’s such a complete mix of sounds, but it moves real fast.

You were explaining to me a while back that Mike P makes the beats and then ICP produces the tracks. Usually the producer is the person who makes the beats. Could you clarify this a bit?

Mike P would make a track. A beat would be playing, he’d make a drum loop, add some dope-ass bass, maybe take a wah-wah guitar, whatever. That’s it. The rest is us. We come in and we make the song. We create it. We say we’re gonna create a chorus here. Let’s add this keyboard, let’s add some guitars right here, let’s add some 808. All right, let’s
switch back to the verse now. Let’s call it this. Let’s add this to make it sound more like the song now that it’s called this. Let’s do it up. It’s like with a skeleton. We give it ribs and a stomach and a chest and lungs and then a body and then skin and then hair and then clothes. And then it’s a fresh-ass song!

According to D3, the label that’s releasing the Sixth Joker’s Card with Psychopathic, the first single for the album is "Homiez." Could you tell me about the song?

It’s a song I made about giving it up for my homies. We made it for our boys. It’s featuring Twiztid. Those are like my best friends. I don’t know what the fuck their first single is, or their last single. That’s totally their shit. We totally let them run with that. I made radio edits for them because I want as many people to hear the Sixth Joker’s Card as I can. Print this: I made not one, not two, but FIVE radio edits. Attention all juggalos: We sold out. We made five radio edits. Fuck anybody that don’t like it. This is the Sixth Joker’s Card. I want as many people to hear this as possible. And if that means I’ve gotta
turn a ‘fuck’ into a ‘frick,’ I’ve got no problem with it.


What are some of the other songs on the Sixth Joker’s Card?

There’s on song called ‘The Pain’ and that’s about the pain that comes with not murdering, not being able to kill – like when you hear the voices. If you’re a serial killer, you know what’s calling you out to do those murders. And if you don’t do it, it’s kind of like a heroin addiction. Then, there’s another song called ‘It Rains Diamonds,’ which is about more realistic (things). It’s about life right now. It’s raining diamonds all over our face. It’s such a fresh time, we’re over here beaming. We look like we’ve got flashlight eyeballs we’re beaming so hard. Everything is so fucking dope, man. It doesn’t really matter what happens. It’s so fuckin’ dope to so many hundreds of thousands of
juggalos that Esham is finally here. It’s the end of an era, man. The Sixth Joker’s Card is coming out.


Will you miss this era in your life and music career now that that chapter is about to come to an end?

Yeah. But everything runs its course. And us not being together has ran its course. We’re the Soopa Villains, man. ICP and Esham together are known as the Soopa Villains. But we’re not known as that yet. I’m telling you first-hand shit.

In addition to "The Wraith: Shangri-La," there’s another version of the Sixth Joker’s Card called "The Wraith: Hell’s Pit." That second version is coming out about a year from now, although no exact release date has been set. Why are there two versions?

Because two versions needed to be told. There’s two places you’re gonna go when you die, one or the other. That’s what we believe. That’s what mama taught me.

With Esham being on Psychopathic now, what’s the status on Natas, which of course is Esham, TNT and Mastamind?

Don’t think Natas ain’t family, too. Don’t think Mastamind and TNT ain’t right here. They’re family.

Will the Natas albums be re-released through Psychopathic?

Esham owns all of that. That’s all Esham’s music and that’s all merging together with us. So Esham will put out what he wants to put out. Like Esham will say, ‘I want to put these old records out’ and he’ll pick the ones he wants to put out. But all of his catalog, like you said, there are a million juggalos that want to buy all of that. We’ll release his whole back catalog eventually. But he’s coming into Psychopathic not as an artist; he’s coming in as a don. He’s coming in as a shot-caller. It’s like Twiztid. They call all their shots. Nobody here is eating for free. Everybody is bringing something to the picnic at Psychopathic. Everybody’s bringing their own flavor, everybody’s bringing their own
shit and we’re all just barbecuing together, running this shit. And undeniably, that’s the shit. We won’t lie, man. It took us 10 years to do it. But it’s the beginning of a new era right now. Muthafuckas are young. All them rappers, all them Ice Cubes and Dr. Dres, they’re fuckin’ old, dog! We’re young over here. We’re ready to take the matrix. They need to pass that over here.

Are Mastamind and TNT on Psychopathic?

Yes. We’ve signed Esham and Esham is Natas. He handles Natas. So yes. Put it like this. When Esham’s ready to do a Natas deal, another Natas album, Natas will be released on Psychopathic because Esham is on Psychopathic and he’s with this company. So why would he have Natas be released on another label somewhere when he’s on this label. When you hear the Sixth, you’ll understand why Esham’s here. You’ll understand why Natas is here, when Esham’s ready to do another Natas record.

Did Esham contribute to the Sixth Joker’s Card in terms of production?

Yes, he did some production on the Sixth. He’ll be doing production in the future. Esham’s even a member of the Psychopathic Rydas now. Would you like to know his Rydas name?

Sure.

Converse. You’re getting hellified information, bro.

Is Esham a part of Dark Lotus now along with ICP, Twiztid, Blaze and Anybody Killa?

I don’t know because we don’t have any plans of making another Dark Lotus album yet. There’s so much other shit. Like Twiztid, they have to do ‘The Green Book.’ That’s a major thing for Psychopathic. Esham’s new album, that’s gonna be a major project for Psychopathic. The Sixth Joker’s Card is next up at bat and that’s major shit.

What do you hope fans get out of "The Wraith: Shangri-La" album when they get a hold of it?

Shangri-la. I hope they get heaven out of it. I hope they get the message that that’s where they want to be. That’s my goal. That’s the whole goal of the six Joker’s Cards, man. That’s all it was saying. ‘Get your shit together, man.’ We’re just entertainers out here. We’re rappers. We’ve been telling it 10 fucking years. In this long-ass thing we say at the end, we do an unveiling. And I’m not gonna do the unveiling right now, but it’s on the Sixth Joker’s Card. It all makes sense. But the bottom line, the basic goal, is to see you in heaven. That’s it. The wicked shit is entertainment. That’s how we live, that’s how we like to laugh, that’s how we like our shit – wicked. But it’s goin’ down, man.

Are there any other songs you’d like to talk about from the "Shangri-la" album?

There’s a song on there called ‘Bitch Slappas’ featuring Blaze Ya Dead Homie.

Do you have any guests on the album other than Psychopathic artists?

Fuck no. The ‘Hell’s Pit’ record, we’re gonna have guests. The ‘Shangri-La’ record is a very juggalo-oriented record. It’s really kind of for the juggalos. The ‘Hell’s Pit’ record, we’ll do it with some outside special guests, some people that helped me put my word out. We will be doing some shit with Paris. Paris has already done some production for the ‘Hell’s Pit’ record. ‘Hell’s Pit,’ a lot of it is done. It’s not totally done yet because I’ve got time to work with that later. But there were a lot of songs that were recorded and they just belonged on the ‘Hell’s Pit’ record.

Given the choice, which versions of "The Wraith" would you go with – "Shangri-La" or "Hell’s Pit"?

‘Shangri-La.’ I wish I didn’t have to put the ‘Hell’s Pit’ record out because the ‘Hell’s Pit’ record is dark and horrible and it’s about hell. But it has to be said. You’ve gotta understand that when you go to hell, you really do go to hell. This is the ending of my story. The ending is ‘The Wraith.’ That’s the name of the Sixth Joker’s Card, ‘The Wraith.’ The ending is the grim reaper, death. What’s at the end? Death. And then where do you go? You either go to shangri-la – and for that I made the sweetest, freshest, harmoniest, juggaloniest album possible. Blissness in your earlobes. We fuckin’ molest your eardrums. It’s like 12 naked bitches lickin’ your balls because that’s what I tried to make it sound like, shangri-la. And then on ‘Hell’s Pit,’ it’s the darkest, grimmest, ruthlessest album ever made. But that’s for the world. That’s for everybody. That’s why it features outside special guests that aren’t immediate family – because it’s saying to the world, ‘If you don’t get your shit right, you’re going to hell.’ It’s just saying ‘Fuck off’ with crazy ruthlessness. But the ‘Shangri-La’ record is more like a celebration for the few that get in.

Back when you started ICP, it stood for Inner City Posse. Were there really 20 people in the group?

Sure. Not as rappers, but on the streets it was 20 people.

As far as the rap group went, you and Shaggy have held it down ever since "Dog Beats" came out in the early ’90s. What was it like working with Chuck Miller, who produced some of the tracks on the first Joker’s Card, 1992’s "Carnival of Carnage"?

It fuckin’ sucked dick, man. He would snake the fuck out of us. He would yell at us for squeaking in our chair, man. We went in there and we didn’t know nothin’ about studios. And we’d squeak in our chair and he’d say, ‘Hey! I’m trying to hear the music.’ He was horrible, man. We’d go in there and he fuckin’ sucked, man. He would take forever. He would build a beat and it would take him forever to sample something. He would get a snare out and then he would sit there and equalize it and ask us, ‘Do you like this one better?’ We were like, ‘Motherfucker, just get a snare. Loop up a fuckin break beat. We’re coming off the streets.’ But he was a fuckin’ bastard.

From "Red Neck Hoe" and "Wizard of the Hood" all the way through the album, "Carnival of Carnage" still came out great. Wouldn’t you agree?

Yeah. Because we’re the shit.

When I first heard about Insane Clown Posse and I read about you on your Web site, you guys have song titles that make people just have to hear the song. I’m talking about "Fat Sweaty Betty," "Amy’s in the Attic," "Santa’s a Fat Bitch" – stuff like that. How did you guys come up with this stuff?

Well, it’s very comical and painted up, very entertaining looking. It’s all just there, man, when you’re a clown. It’s the shit. That stuff is the shit because we didn’t really know what we were doing. And that adds to the freshness of it. We didn’t have any fans tellin’ us or influencing us or swaying us from one direction to the other. We were just making the music. So we just went in the studio and said, ‘Let’s make it and let’s make it how we want it.’ We didn’t have any mail or anything. We didn’t know if songs were supposed to be eight minutes long or two minutes. We didn’t know. And I think that’s pure. That’s the shit.

Were you doing shows back when "Carnival of Carnage" was out?

Hell, no. Well, when we had ‘Carnival of Carnage’ out, we did a show with Esham. I met him at a radio station. Him and his brother were doing an interview at a radio station, so we ran down there to meet him. I was fascinated about his shit because I collected local rap. I collected all local shit.

I’ve been learning more about the groups that were out between 1988 and 1994 in Detroit. Who were some of the early Detroit rap groups and artists you liked back then?

Fuck, yeah, brother. Awesome Dre, Kaos & Mystro, A.W.O.L. I never liked Detroit’s Most Wanted, but Merciless Amir was the shit. Fuckin’ Papa J. Smoove had a good song out. Smiley – she was the shit. Man, I had all of that shit. Triplex, Detroit Box, there was fuckin’ a lot of dope shit. It just blows my mind how much talent there is everywhere. It’s just all about who you know and there’s so much politics, man. You wouldn’t believe the stories I’ve heard about the music industry. Like Kaos & Mystro were so fresh, man, but they just never blew up. Look at Esham. His shit never got a Grammy, but look at how dope the shit is – I mean that whole flavor of music, the wicked shit in general. (It’s) rap that’s not about everyday shit. It’s so dope. But look at Scarface. I keep seeing this quote that Haystak said. They asked him, ‘What would it be like if you won a Grammy?’ And he said, ‘I could never accept a Grammy knowing that Scarface ain’t never got one.’ That’s the truth, man. I look at Awesome Dre. He was one of the greatest of all time in my book. Fuck that, he was the shit. I brought him back and put him in front of the juggalos and they booed him off stage, straight up. I had him open up the show. That was in 1995. I don’t know what the deal was, man.

When "Carnival of Carnage" came out in ’92, were you even referring to it as the First Joker’s Card back then?

Well, that’s the thing. We don’t even say the word ‘juggalo’ on that record. We were calling it a Joker’s Card because that was the idea of the cover. It kind of took its own. The own thing manifested after that.

Did you ever think in the early days that you’d eventually release six Joker’s Cards?

I mean, it just seemed like it was forever away. It seemed like I would never get to that point.

How did things change for ICP when the Second Joker’s Card, "The Ringmaster," came out in 1994?

We started playing shows and we started selling more records. A lot more, you know? ‘Ringmaster’ is one of my favorite records. I love every Joker’s Card like you wouldn’t believe. I represent everything I’ve ever said. I don’t regret one lyric, especially on the Sixth.

One of the classic ICP songs, "Chicken Huntin," first appeared on "The Ringmaster." How come ICP has dissed rednecks on several songs over the years?

Fuck rednecks, straight-up, because 99 percent of them are racist fucks.

What inspired "Chicken Huntin"?

It’s about killin’ racist rednecks because they’re fuckin’ bigots, man. I’ve seen it, man. I’ve got friends that are from the South that slip up. Rednecks, they just slip up and say racist things that are wrong with me. And I’ll just be like, ‘Whoa, dog. What the fuck?’ And they’ll be like, ‘I didn’t mean for it to come out like that.’ And it’s just in the nature of rednecks, these racist fuckin’ rednecks. I mean, if you’re a redneck and you’re not a racist, then obviously you know that I’m not talkin’ about you. So there’s no reason to get heated. But I’m talkin’ about the racist fuckin’ rednecks that fuck their daughters. It just
makes me sick.


Why is "Mr. Johnson’s Head" your favorite song from the "Ringmaster" album?

That’s my shit. Even today, they say Columbus discovered America. It’s just crazy. I’ve seen rebel flags hang at schools. And rebel flags, in the Civil War, were fighting for the right to have slavery. This is what’s going on in school and this kid goes crazy so he murders his teacher, Mr. Johnson, and puts his head in his book bag. And he just keeps going to school all week, while they have substitutes. And he’s laughing about it while they make up lies and say (why) Mr. Johnson isn’t in. He’s like, ‘Bullshit. I left that muthafucka dead last night in the hallway. He’s dead.’ So it’s a fresh-ass song, man.

You and Shaggy 2 Dope are two of the most creative rappers going today in terms of the story lines in your songs and the stuff you come up with. Every song from the first five Joker’s Cards are so memorable that I could quote many of them to this day. Why do you think your songs have that quality?

Because it’s got a magic to it. And if you don’t know what the magic is, when you hear the Sixth it puts it in plain old English.

When "Ringmaster" was out, you played concerts roughly once every other month in Detroit. How did things change with the era of the Third Joker’s Card, "The Riddle Box"?

That’s when we set our sights outside of Detroit because we said, ‘Man, we think we’re as big as we can get in Detroit.’ We had sold like 60,000 ‘Ringmasters.’ We were like, ‘Fuck it.’ We threw a dart on a map and it landed on Dallas, Texas. And we said, ‘Let’s go to Dallas and blow up.’ We had all our samplers of ‘Riddle Box’ and we painted up our ‘Riddle Box’ vans and we went to Dallas. We stayed there for a couple months,
blowing up, putting it in all the stores, going to high schools, handing out samplers, going to the strips, going to the clubs. We’re geniuses.

How did you end up getting a record deal with Jive for the Third Joker’s Card, "The Riddle Box"?

We sold enough records. We had some guy shopping us, trying to find a deal. And Jive came in and put their dick in our butt. You’re not supposed to put a dick in a butt. You’re supposed to put it in a neden. And that’s where the whole problem came in. They fuckin’ sucked. Every record label sucks. And it all sucked before we were able to do what we
wanted to do. We were on Jive and they didn’t know how to market our shit. They sucked.

If I had "Riddle Box" in front of me right now, I’d definitely put on "Ol’ Evil Eye." That song was tight. What inspired that song?

I pulled it out of the Dark Carnival. It’s one of the meteors floating around. Check this out, man. If you sit there and think, ‘Man, the new stuff, it isn’t like the classics. It’s different’ – that’s because they’re not classics yet. Wait about 10 years and then you’ll be like, ‘Yeah, that’s the shit.’ I’m tellin’ you.

What’s your favorite song on "Riddle Box"?

‘12.’ Because I love it. It tells a fresh story. It only kills 11 people. It’s supposed to be the whole jury dies. It convicts a man innocently of murder and (condemns) him to the electric chair. And then he comes back to life and kills the 12 jury members but he only kills 11 and he kills the 12th on the ‘Hell’s Pit’ record. It’s fresh.

The whole controversy surrounding the Fourth Joker’s Card, "The Great Milenko," helped ICP gain national attention. And the fans who caught on in 1997 ended up going back and buying all your previous releases. Why do you think ICP albums are so collectible?

Because it’s bomb-ass. And it’s got the Dark Carnival in it. It’ll all be explained on the Sixth. Everything, all of that, why it’s so dope, will be explained on the Sixth.

When you went gold and then platinum with "The Great Milenko," you were the first rap group to come out of Detroit and do that. In the next few years, Kid Rock, Eminem, D12 and Uncle Kracker followed that success. Does it amaze you that ICP did it first?

It blows my fuckin’ mind. It freaks me out. Every day everything freaks me out. Every day I look at my situation, especially now – the last eight months or so. Man, forget about it. It’s just raining diamonds all over my face. The positivity is so crazy, man, I can’t even begin to explain it. It’s like nothing can go wrong. Even if it went wrong, it’s
still all to the good. I don’t have no beef with Eminem or none of them. I don’t give a fuck. I don’t got time for beef in my life. Fuck all of that. I just want to fuck hoes and do shows.

Do you like any of Eminem’s songs?

I like that new single he’s got a lot. I think it’s the shit. That beat’s the shit. I think it’s awesome. I wish it wasn’t that faggot rapping. I think the single’s off the hook.

What about D12? Do you like their music?

No. I don’t like any of that shit. I never listened to that shit. I knew they were punks. They were all part of that Hip Hop Shop or whatever. A bunch of emcees with backpacks battling each other... Fuck off!

Going back to "The Great Milenko," beyond the controversy, people had to like what they were hearing on the album for it to go platinum. What made that release so solid?

I think it was learning the game, learning how to work in the studio and come up with ideas. And hearing juggalos and what they like and don’t like and mixing it in with the new music I was getting into just made it all evolve into what it is now. As we’re going through, (we’re) picking up things, applying them here and there. When you discover a new sauce for your teriyaki burger, you learn that shit’s good and you start eating that. You just start learning and you pick it up like a snowball. Right now, we’re about a muthafuckin’ avalanche.

Psychopathic Records has got some of the best merchandising strategies and product in the music industry. So many times, I like a particular band but I can’t even find a decent T-shirt of theirs to wear because they’re all bland. When did you start putting out the shirts, hats, jackets and all the rest of it?

It was always there. We never did it any other way. We always had massive merchandise. We never said, ‘Let’s have massive merchandise.’ We always assumed that’s how you do it. We just assumed you have 25 different kinds of shirts. I always assumed every band did. I always assumed every band, at their concerts, had 35 different kinds of shirts. I just never looked. Now, I realize they don’t. But that’s just always how we worked.

Take Kid Rock, for instance. I have all his albums, but he doesn’t have merchandise that’s as cool as Psychopathic’s stuff. Why wouldn’t he have more merchandise for his fans when he could make a ton of money from it?

Because none of his fans really give a fuck enough to buy his shirts. They’re all part-times. They’re just radio fans. They don’t want to represent him like that. He doesn’t mean enough to them. When it’s on the radio or MTV, it’s everybody’s. It’s not yours, it’s not personal, it’s not your discovery. It’s everybody’s shit. You’re just a peon to them. People don’t feel the urge to represent Kid Rock and wear his shit, tattoo his name.

It seems like I’m always seeing ICP fans wearing your T-shirts. What does that mean to you?

I feel great because it’s all explained in the Sixth. People feel the urge to represent it because they’re representing themselves. It’s a juggalo world. It’s like we put it down for the juggalos. It’s all for the juggalos.

The Fifth Joker’s Card was "The Amazing Jeckel Brothers." What was your goal with that album being that you’d just gone platinum on your last one?

Our goal with the ‘Jeckel Brothers’ was to say, ‘Fuck it, man. We’re gonna show you just how we do things.’ Now that we’re platinum, everybody (thought) are we gonna switch our sound up, are there gonna be radio-friendly singles, what’s the deal? Boom. The first radio single is ‘Fuck the World.’ We just showed everybody what time it is, right up in their bitch ass. Two feet dropkick style.

What was your favorite song from the "Jeckel Brothers" album?

Man, there’s so much dope shit on there. ‘Play With Me,’ that’s the shit. ‘Nothing’s Left,’ that’s the shit. There was a gang of bomb-ass shit on there.

The songs on "Jeckel Brothers" were great live as well as on the album. Was that what you were aiming for?

Yes. Big time. Now, I’m in a touring mode. Ever since ‘Milenko,’ it’s like, ‘Man, I know how to rock a crowd.’ And that’s all I gave a fuck about – that I’m able to come out and that we rock.

A good number of ICP songs that never made it onto a Joker’s Card are still classics. How come you never did more with songs like "Pumpkin Carver," "Fat Sweaty Betty" and "Southwest Strangla"?

We recorded gangs of songs on every album. Some of them just don’t fit into the formula, some of them just ain’t good enough, some of them you just don’t want to put on there. As an artist, you just don’t want to use that color. But you had the urge to make the song. But it might not necessarily go on your pizza. The world is like a bitch and I can finger-fuck her from the back, I can flick her nipples, I can fuckin’ do what I’m gonna do to her. But I’m not gonna go ahead and twist her nipples just yet. I’m just gonna go ahead and hit it from the back and spank her ass a lil’ somethin’. But I’m gonna leave her left nipple alone. Tomorrow, I’ll go ahead and get again on that left nipple. That’s how it is when you make songs and you make an album. You say, ‘I’m gonna hit them up with this a little bit later on its own. This ain’t gonna be on an album.’ You just feel when something don’t belong there. It ain’t right. You just can’t stop thinking about it when it ain’t right.

Since you were a fan of Esham’s music even before you knew him, what are some of your favorite Esham albums?

‘Judgment Day,’ ‘Dead Flowerz,’ just everything, bro. It’s a damn shame it took 10 years, but it’s a damn shame that it’s the ending of this era. It was fun, we can write books about it, make movies on it. Whatever. Its time to do our thing. It’s all fine and gravy. The struggle, ‘Remember when Twiztid was House of Krazees,’ blah, blah, blah. It’s fine. It’s interesting. It’s time to put the shit down.

You talk about the start of a new era. What do you picture the new era being like?

Beautiful. Awesome. Like so much skins, man. So many bitches and just so much weed and just rollin’ with my homies. Freshness. We’re all moving to the same neighborhood in Detroit so our girls can hang out when we’re on tour. And we’re just gonna go out and fuck hoes and make zeros and rock shows. After the Sixth is out and the cat’s out of the bag about everything, we can make any kind of music we want. And the freedom to just say, ‘Fuck it. I can do anything I want now.’ ... We can come out with the Soopa Villains album – anything we want. It’s the shit. We’re finally all together, contract-wise, legitimately. It’s time to tell another story.

When you said earlier that the Sixth will mark the end of the world, are you talking about the juggalo world or the Dark Carnival or something else entirely?

I’m talking about the mystery. Everything that is the mystery about us, the Dark Carnival, everything. It all is exposed.

Where do you see your music career going after the Sixth? Will you be rapping for another 10 years?

I see me making music for the rest of my life, straight up. I’ll be doing rap. I’ll be rapping muthafuckas’ heads off. Whatever styles come, I’ll flip ’em. I smack emcees.

In terms of production, this will be the first Joker’s Card and the first ICP album without your longtime producer, Mike E. Clark. What is the real story as far as the split between he and ICP?

Mike Clark and I parted ways just at the right time, man. He got a place up north and he’s doing his own thing now. He’s all to the good. He’s off living his life. I love Mike and we have no beef or nothin’. It’s just that, man, we needed a new sound, a new everything for the Sixth Joker’s Card.

Did you feel like you needed a new sound because of the "Bizaar" and "Bizzar" albums that came out in 2000?

No. I loved "Bizaar" / "Bizzar." See, I could slap you through the phone for that. I love everything I ever put out. I don’t regret none of it. I don’t think Mike Clark’s skills lacked. I didn’t think he had the ability to take us where we needed to go, in the direction we needed to go.

Do you still talk to Mike Clark?

Not really. We never really talked outside the studio anyway. As much as I’ve known him throughout all the years, we never went on any fuckin’ camping trips, believe me.

Is there any chance that you and Mike Clark would work together in the future?

Well, no because we do our own shit now. We don’t really need him for nothin’. Mike Clark was an awesome thing, but some things run their course.

You were quoted a few years back saying something like: Without Mike E. Clark, our music would sound like crap. Is that accurate?

Oh, I said a gang of shit like that. That’s just giving Mike love. I’ve also said that I fucked Alyssa Milano and I have herpes in my face. I’ve said a lot of shit, brother. I don’t regret any of it. I was just giving Mike love, hoping Mike would read that and be like, ‘Oh, man. Hell, yeah.’

But you meant it at the time, right?

I don’t really think so because I just made the greatest album of my life without Mike. Maybe I did mean it at the time. Maybe I thought it. I probably did think it at the time.

All your friends who you name in your songs have become larger than life in the juggalo world. I’m talking about Billy Bill, Nate the Mack, Rude Boy, Jump Steady, Tall Jess. What do you make of that?

Believe me, man. Come to the Gathering. They’re fuckin’ famous. That’s crazy, too. But that comes from old school Sir Mix-A-Lot, when he would give his homies shout outs. I always thought it was the shit. And you’d always hear about Kilo G on N.W.A.’s records. So I was like, ‘I’m gonna give my boys shout outs.’ And my boys are still my boys. They haven’t gone anywhere. Just because time’s gone by, I still know my crew. We stay tight like that.

Through ICP shows and albums, you’ve introduced fans to rappers Greeze-E, Capitol E, Marz, Project Born, Psycho Realm, Kottonmouth Kings and the Phunk Junkeez. How come you don’t work with these guys?

No. I don’t do things with people that can’t bring something to the table anymore. I feel like Kottonmouth Kings sold the juggalo world out when they toured with D12.

Project Born used to be on Psychopathic from 1994 to ’95. Weren’t they supposed to do a song for the Sixth?

We were gonna do a song with them, but then they opened their mouths up and bragged about it to everybody and they fucked it up. We were gonna do a song with everybody. We were gonna try to get Marz, everybody from our past – down to Capitol E – on the Sixth Joker’s Card. We were gonna get everybody, but it all fucked up when they opened their mouths up. They fucked the whole song up because the song wouldn’t have been
complete without them. The whole idea was shot if anybody talked. They were the first ones we called and they were the first ones to talk. So that’s how that went.

Is there any thought of possibly working with The R.O.C. from the House of Krazees?

No. Like I said, you’ve gotta be able to bring something to the table. I think we’re done building our family. It’s the shit right now. Everybody that matters is here, as far as I’m concerned, for what we need to do.

I recently interviewed James Smith, Esham’s older brother who used to run the business side of Reel Life Productions. Will he have any involvement with Psychopathic Records down the road?

No. I don’t think so. Probably not. Well, he could be.

Why haven’t there been more than a few Esham and ICP collaborations over the years?

Because we were from two different companies. After awhile, we were going for our own and we were doing our thing.

Being that you and 2 Dope have signature voices, I wonder why ICP hasn’t collaborated with other artists, outside of the Psychopathic roster, more often. Any ideas?

Because a lot of people don’t want to fuck with us because we’re so fuckin’ tarnished, man. ICP’s got such a bad name. Radio stations, magazines, everybody – they hate us. Some fans in St. Louis destroyed a radio station that was dissin’ us. That’s spread everywhere. Radio stations don’t even want to play our shit. And then there’s other
juggalos that call radio stations that do play us and say, ‘Fuck you. Don’t play it. It’s for us.’ It’s crazy. We’ve got a really bad reputation that’s spread through the management to these artists. And they don’t want to fuck with us. They don’t want to fuck with ICP
because they’re like, ‘Man, that’s just bad news.’ But then there’s other artists that don’t give a fuck, like Three 6 (Mafia) and shit, that are the bomb. I’d rap on anybody’s shit if they asked us to.


What else would you like to say to all the ICP fans who are looking forward to picking up the Sixth Joker’s Card?

Man, 10 years. Ten fuckin’ years, man. Do you know how long that is? Ten years, we’ve been tellin’ everybody to wait and it’s worth every minute of it. Esham, ICP, Zug Izland, Blaze Ya Dead Homie, Natas, Twiztid, Anybody Killa, the Psychopathic Records family, Dark Lotus, the Psychopathic Rydas, Soopa Villains. We’re all up in this bitch balls deep, forever. It’s the end of the world and the beginning of a brand new one. Now let’s ride this muthafucka till the wheels fall off, in the words of Martin Lawrence. And I’m out like Vanilla Ice’s high-top wave hair.


BG
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