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Like Rodney Dangerfield, Insane Clown Posse don’t get no respect. But ICP’s Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope embrace their roles as outcasts and rather than playing victims. In fact, they’ve used the public’s fascination, distaste and sheer confusion as creative kerosene to fuel their careers.
Always wearing a smile, the face-painted “horrorcore” rappers market themselves as “The Most Hated Band in the World.” And whether or not critics, skeptics or scared citizens are willing to admit it, ICP is living the ultimate American dream. In 20 years, the band has notched two platinum and five gold albums and in the past decade, each of the duo’s releases (issued via J and Shaggy’s own label, Psychopathic Records) have hit No. 1 on Billboard’s independent chart.
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And the two have expanded the ICP enterprise beyond music into merchandise, clothing, comic books and action figures, video and film production and their own professional wrestling federation called Juggalo Championship Wrestling. But their greatest accomplishment, certainly culturally, has been the Gathering of the Juggalos — a four-day full-on festival experience with like-minded outcasts cavorting in the woods while some of the country’s biggest bands play (the concert returns to Cave-in-Rock, Ill., this year, kicking off Aug 8).
Indeed, ICP’s fans seem to be the most devoted in the music world. Juggalos and Juggalettes in face paint or “spider legs” hair, with images from ICP’s Dark Carnival theology tattooed to their bodies, are so impassioned that the public has developed a voyeuristic fascination with the movement. While the rest of us media types are life wondering, “What the …?”
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Their notoriety has led to Saturday Night Live parodies, documentaries and magazine covers. And despite relentless mockery, J and Shaggy — laughing all the way to the bank — are as popular as ever.
In preparation of the ICP’s new album, The Mighty Death Pop! (due Aug. 14), which they say is their greatest achievement to date, The Hollywood Reporter sat down with Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope to discuss their outlandish careers and why it’s so good to be a clown.
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