By Jef With One F
By Bob Ruggiero
By Corey Deiterman
By Marco Torres
By Angelica Leicht
By Angelica Leicht
By Charne Graham
Jeers of a clown... "It's like a little kid with a chemistry set. He may be really on to something, but then his dad comes home from work, goes into the garage and says, 'Dammit Timmy, I told you not to fuck with my tools,' and he smashes up the kid's project."
That's how Violent J explains away the major stink he and his partner, Shaggy 2 Dope, created at Hollywood Records earlier this summer. J (a.k.a. Joe Bruce) is the more talkative half of the Detroit rap duo Insane Clown Posse, whose latest CD, the locker-room crude, obscenity-laced wonder The Great Milenko, was recalled from the shelves by Hollywood hours after its June release. The label was under orders from its parent company, Disney, and it surprised no one -- including Violent J -- that the move came less than a week after Southern Bap-tists threatened a boycott of Mickey's empire.
"We make albums with one type of person in mind: an 18-year-old, 19-year-old kid on the streets hanging out with his boys," says J, a city-bred punk who dropped out of school in the ninth grade. "He's out there getting bitched at by his parents, trying to find a job or whatever -- that's how ev-erybody talks at that phase. There's a lot of cussin'. I speak in that language."
Actually, it's hard to imagine The Great Milenko's rampant potty talk and ludicrous horror-show scenarios -- spewed over a flimsy backdrop of guitar licks, hokey sound effects and canned break beats -- appealing to anyone but those within that shiftless teen demographic. And obviously, there's a lot of them out there. The more die-hard among the ICP flock come to the group's concerts wearing black-and-white pancake makeup just like their idols, pushing their way to the front of the stage to be doused in the sticky spray from the 600 liters of Faygo -- a dirt-cheap soda from the duo's impoverished, white-trash youth -- showered over the audience at each show. As for the fans in Houston, Violent J doesn't know what to expect, given that Wednesday's show at Westpark Entertainment Center is ICP's first ever here. But J hardly seems worried.
"We've sold 100,000 records by ourselves -- out of the trunk of our car," he says. "There's no stopping us, man."
Apparently so. The duo found a new, more expletive-tolerant label, Island Records, within weeks of being dumped by Hollywood, and a situation that could have been lethal for an artist without ICP's underground support network wound up being a boon for the Posse. Just last month, Island released a revised version of The Great Milenko that includes three tunes the band's former label had unceremoniously snubbed. Meanwhile, the supposedly unavailable Hollywood pressing of The Great Milenko has to date sold more than 50,000 copies. What's more, sales from the group's four independent releases are already in the neighborhood of 300,000 units.
And contrary to what Disney might claim, says J, ICP is about mocking racism, violence, hedonism and other self-destructive stereotypes, not perpetuating them. Still, tell that to the group's fans, whose horizons, J admits, might be considerably more limited than his own.
"Most people who listen are just listening for the next cuss word," he says. "That's the only thing that they're listening for. They don't really hear what we're saying. Like if you said, 'Hey, I need a fucking pizza. I'm hungry,' chances are, the guy on the other line would be like 'fuck you,' and he wouldn't get you the pizza, 'cause all he hears is fucking."
The same, of course, goes for ICP's detractors, those "opera-loving" types -- Disney included -- whom J says will never get the point.
"Disney got caught being on the cutting edge, they got caught making money off wicked shit," says J. "They can't see through the bullshit. The kid on the street, though, is seeing all the right signals."
Once he gets the Faygo out of his eyes, that is.
Settled, but not quite fair and square... Well, it appears this summer's legal tussle between Miss Molly and her estranged manager Dickie Malone has reached what resembles a resolution. The two parties settled their differences out of court on September 8, but on orders from the attorneys involved, no one is speaking about the conditions of the deal -- though it's rumored that Malone has been cleared of all alleged debts, including those to Molly and her backup band, the Whips. Something tells me the show ain't over yet, so stay tuned for the encore.
Etc.... Make no mistake, Vince Converse's wicked Stevie Ray Vaughan impersonation was damn near the only reason to love Houston's Sunset Heights. Even the band might have acknowledged as much when, late last year, they replaced Converse with not one, but two singer/guitarists (Jorge Castillo and Jackie Hibbard). And while both new members are competent technicians and showmen, neither has the charisma of Converse, who has left town and is presently working on material for an upcoming solo release on the Viceroy Music label. If all goes well, expect a new Sunset Heights release in 1998, though unlike past efforts, it won't be on Viceroy. It seems the German label had its eye on Converse all along. Imagine that.
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