In honor of Juggalo Day and the 30th anniversary of their debut, we bring you a full throated appreciation of Detroit rap’s most misunderstood masterminds and unlikely changemakers
I’m standing at a podium in front of the Lincoln Memorial, less than 100 feet from where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I have a dream…” speech.
Representatives from most of the world’s press are here. They’ve come for the story of the season. It’s September 16, 2017. The day the Juggalos marched on Washington, D.C. And I’m there, right at the center of it.
Somehow, here I am, preparing to read a speech to the few thousand Juggalos that was written for them by Michael Steinberg, ICP’s lawyer at the ACLU, which is representing the Clowns in a lawsuit against the FBI due to the feds referring to ICP fans—Juggalos—as “gang members.” I look out and I can see the Washington Monument reflected in the pool about 50 yards in front of me. We’re at approximately the same spot that Abbie Hoffman was giving his speech in Forrest Gump; in fact, I described the location of the podium to the U.S. Marshalls by using the movie as a reference point.
Before I begin to speak into the microphone I just take stock of the fact that I’m standing here at our nation’s capital where dozens of great people have stood and spoken. And none of this would have happened if I wasn’t a Juggalo.
VIDEO: Shaggy 2 Dope and Violent J speak at the Juggalo March in Washington, D.C.
Being a Juggalo has been one of the biggest blessings of my life. I’ve fallen in love, met friends I love and enemies I respect. I’ve experienced the highs of speaking at Washington D.C. to the lows of being upstairs in a dressing room full of wrestlers sitting on a stool crying my eyes because I felt I couldn’t do anything right at Psychopathic Records, the Juggalo flagship record label where I worked for five years.
This year, ICP turns 30 years old. Yes, they’ve been at it for that long. And as a fan, I’m excited.
You wanna know what it is? You wanna know why a man who counts Prince, David Bowie and Frank Zappa as his musical idols is also the world’s biggest fan–STILL! After all this time!– of the Insane Clown Posse? I’ll tell you all about it. Alright, go back to 1998. At that time, I’m still in Longview, Washington engaged in a long-distance relationship with my internet girlfriend Sofia who’s in Detroit. I’d been turned on to ICP by my friend Rick who worked at Just Music. I’ve been out on my own for a few years, going to school at Lower Columbia College, and working the afternoon shift at Taco Bell. I’m just a kid; 22 years old. My childhood trauma is still quite fresh in my mind and upon my body. My relationship with my Mom and Dad is good, but I’m fully in the throes of PTSD, along with undiagnosed depression and anxiety.
There’s a song on ICP’s 1997 album The Great Milenko called “Halls of Illusions” that ranks among my most favorite songs ever. It’s about exposing the “illusions” that people put up in the world, and the harsh reality behind it. In this song, ICP delves into the same territory that David Lynch and Raymond Carver used to explore–the dark forces that lurk behind a picturesque America. My childhood was so Lynchian. We looked like the all-American family, yet we were one of the most dysfunctional families I’ve ever known. That’s what “Halls of Illusions” captures so brilliantly, that sense of raw, harsh, naked truth breaking down the falsehoods of the masks people wear. I’m not going to quote the lyrics here, but seriously…check them out. They’re fucking deep.
So I’m hearing this song for the first time and it’s like whoa, baby. You know, I could just tell that this band was going to be one of my favorites. Because THEY GOT IT. They captured my childhood and fucked up adolescence in one song.I challenge anybody not to be moved by “Halls of Illusions.” Seriously. Give it a fair chance lyrically, it’s potent as hell.
From 1998 on, I was a full-blown Juggalo. And I still am. Believe me, sometimes I don’t think I SHOULD be after some of the shit I’ve seen over the years, but the truth is the truth. I love Insane Clown Posse and their goofy fans. Seriously. It’s just so much freakin’ fun. I can’t even tell you how satisfying it is to be in a room packed with fellow free spirited misfits, everyone singing along to every word, while getting soaked with Diet Faygo (trivia: They can’t use sugary Faygo on tour because the sugar eats away at the foam rubber sets. There. That’s now a thing you know.). It’s just the biggest thrill there is. Simple as that. Juggalos have more fun than you. And we love it.
I’m a Juggalo because I know if I need food, water, or emergency cash that a Juggalo will come through for me. I’ve seen it. I’ve been the recipient of such kindness. It’s amazing. And coming from a fucked up family, I find that my Juggalo family fills in a lot of emotional gaps. No Juggalo will hurt me. Hit me. Make fun of my stutter. But in the “real world?” All bets are off. I’m 45 and I still get people mocking my speech. Seriously. But would a Juggalo do that? Not if they were a true hatchet-wielding Juggalo.
I’m a Juggalo the same reason most people become a Juggalo: I’m weird as fuck, I’ve got a demented imagination, and I come from a screwed-up background. We all found each other thanks to the music of Insane Clown Posse.
This is why when The Atlantic compared the Trump administration to Insane Clown Posse and Juggalos to “Trumpalos,” it pissed a lot of people off. People who weren’t normally on the side of Juggalos. It was unbelievable reading all the positive things people were saying about Juggalos. These were people who weren’t letting Juggalos be a punchline anymore. It was fucking awesome, I’m not going to front.
The fact is, I’m proud to be a Juggalo. And I really believe if more people became Juggalos, the world would be a better place. No, I’m not kidding.
Juggalos make an easy target, but if you make fun of a Juggalo, you’re an asshole. Most of these kids are dirt poor and there’s a certain classism that accompanies most Juggalo disses in the media. I’d like to think that the world is finally ready for Juggalos. There’s a whole new generation of kids listening to ICP (sorry, elitists) and J and Shaggy are considered bona fide contributors to pop culture. They built an empire without meaning to. And that’s VERY very Juggalo.
VIDEO: Clown Cook-off Valentine’s Day Special 2021
- The Juggalo Variant - August 26, 2021
- PrinceFest ’21—A Firsthand Report from the Purple Underground - June 16, 2021
- Fight The Youth: 30 Years of a Fishbone Masterpiece - April 24, 2021