You know what I'm saying?
Nobody has a moderate opinion on juggalos or the Insane Clown Posse, but lately it seems like more people have been able to get down with the clown. Ten years ago, any mention of potentially being interested in juggalo culture or the group in general would be met with complete disgust. But these days, the duo composed of Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope regularly flexes how they still keep up with music, co-signing Danny Brown in the gathering and having George Clinton play way before his Kendrick feature was a glimmer in anybody's eye. Behind the clown paint, you'd be hard pressed to say that the clowns don't have an insane business acumen.
Despite all their triumphs, times are still hard for the two. Juggalos have been deemed a gang under an FBI hearing, and thus it's become harder for the two to be as forward with their music than they'd been previously in some aspects. But not even the combined forces of every government organization on the planet could stop their fucking hustle. In the coming months, Insane Clown Posse are dropping The Marvelous Missing Link: Lost, and The Marvelous Missing Link: Found, a two-part album that adds another layer of intrigue to the already vast Dark Carnival mythos. But beyond that, Shaggy 2 Dope is about having fun and playing until he drops. We talked to him about everything from wrestling to god.
Noisey: Do you know if Coolio ever got that tattoo fixed?
Shaggy 2 Dope: You know what, I have no idea. But it was pretty funny. [Laughs] We were trying to figure out the exact pronunciation of it, and I think we came up with it as “joo-gal-lo.” So yeah. A for effort though for sure. He tried but he wasn’t really hip on it, he was new to all things juggalo, you know what I’m saying. And I doubt he will ever get it fixed, but it’s the thought that counts right?
Do you know of any other celebrities with hatchetman tattoos that people might not expect?
I don’t. I think there’s a couple wrestlers. Not main event WWE wrestlers, but there’s a crew. Who knows with that, if they do, they probably cover it up because they don’t want the stigma behind it. So I don’t know, I’m sure there are but I’ve never seen. I know one celebrity for sure—me! Oh! [Laughs]
Got me there, man. [Laughs] It’s awesome seeing the tattoo in random places. I remember the photographer that took my senior portrait in high school had a hatchetman on his neck.
Yeah it’s always places you’d never expect. It’s nice, actually. One of our lawyers, when we first met him, we had no idea he was a juggalo, and he’s got one and he’s a prominent lawyer. So it’s not just scrubs and shit like that that got 'em, people of positions of power and shit got them up under their business shirts, you know?
Talking about wrestling, I read a lot of interviews with different wrestlers like Scott Hall and X-Pac that have wrestled under JCW (Juggalo Championship Wrestling), and one thing that always comes out from that is not only do you guys pay way more than the other indie promotions, but there’s just a way higher quality of life under yours.
'Cause we have so much respect for it, you know? How you gonna bring Scott Hall in and give him fuckin’ 500 bucks? He’s worth way more than that. We try to give people what we can afford and what we think they’re worth. We always make sure we pay them too. You’re into wrestling, so I’m sure you know how promoters can be. So we be as honest and fair as we can. You know, there’s a lot of prominent wrestling OGs that hate the fuck out of it, like Jim Cornette. Which I can’t understand. “Ah they make a mockery out of it!” All we do is give wrestling so much fucking respect. We used to wrestle before we rapped, independent wrestlers. That was our first dream, to be wrestlers. It’s just like we got a different take on it. Like ECW back in the day was crazy shit, you know what I’m saying? I don’t know where the beef is but we’ve got heat with a lot of people for some stupid fucking reason. Luckily we’ve got more people with no heat than people with heat.
I mean it all totally flows together perfectly. Your stage show as a group shares a lot of theatricality that’s inherent in wrestling, and I don’t think many other groups acknowledge the shared connection between wrestling matches and concerts.
Ah man, the whole music industry is like wrestling. Every band has a gimmick just like every wrestler. Some bands’ gimmick is not having a gimmick, like, “I’m just a no-frills, no-spills kinda guy, just sitting on a stool with an acoustic guitar” that’s a fucking gimmick, man! [Laughs] You got your characters and all that shit. A lot of fucking musicians got storylines going, man. So it’s very, very comparable and a lot of people don’t realize that, but if you really sit back and look at it that’s how it is.
Who was your favorite wrestler growing up?
I mean of course Hulk Hogan growing up, he was like the Michael Jackson of wrestling. Then I got into Ric Flair and Bret Hart from his heel days in the Hart Foundation.
Yeah, he’d be the most hated person in America but he’d cross the border up north and be a walking god.
Right, yeah, his pre-sellout days I guess you could say. [Laughs] He was the real deal.
If you had to pick a favorite out of Sabu, Sandman, New Jack, or Terry Funk who would you pick?
Oh man, it’s a hard toss up between Sabu and Terry Funk. Knowing them both personally, it’s even harder. I wanna say Terry Funk because he’s just the shit, but Sabu in his prime was fucking amazing, he’d come out cutting his fucking arm open in a match and then tape it shut and keep going, so I’d have to say Sabu just based in his prime. But Terry Funk is right there next to him, Sabu’s just a notch more.
Seeing some of the shit Sabu would do, all those high spots and stuff it was incredible how unafraid he was to just ruin his body.
Yeah, and then he’d fuck up half the time but it’d still look sweet as shit. He wouldn’t even get a “you fucked up chant” because he just fucked himself up so bad.
Do you still keep up with WWE?
You know what, I’m so behind. Of course I watched Wrestlemania but like, I’m just not a big fan of this Boflex era. They look more like Bowflex models than wrestlers these days. Their panties are just a little too small for my taste now, you know what I’m saying? [Laughs] I’ll still check it out, but I like TNA a lot just because it’s high action and there’s a little less of the soap opera bullshit. You actually see a lot more wrestling then the supposed cameras the wrestlers don’t know about backstage. But I’m still a mark, I’ve always been a mark through and through, I just don’t watch it like I used to. I’m not really behind on nothing either, cause my homies and I look at the sheets so I still keep up with what’s going on.
What would you say makes JCW the best promotion?
It’s just a no fuck attitude. It’s a mix between smart mark, and kayfabe I guess you could say. I mean kayfabe’s been dead since the 80s and to deny that would be kinda stupid. But we still mix it with the realness of it. It’s hard to describe the balance of it, but I’ll do a lot of commentary now 'cause my body is too fucked up and I had to retire. But I love doing commentary and calling out spots and talking about “ah that’s fucked up, I knew it was going to happen,” but I water it down of course. But when some really rutheless shit happens it’s like “come on man, that was very clearly real!” You can’t fake some shit like that. So we still defend it like a motherfucker, you’re going to get fucked up if you get in there.
If someone’s going through a fucking table, they’re going through the fucking table.
Right, you can’t fake that. You can’t fake getting hit in the head with a steel chair. You can soften it a little bit putting your arms up, but that dent in that chair is real.
What excites you about modern hip-hop, if anything?
Man, that’s rough 'cause not a lot. [Laughs] I don’t know if it’s me being old man music against “whooper-snapper music,” I’ve always been a really big rap head, and generally all music except country and corny R&B. But I’ve always been a big rap head, and where it’s going right now is kind of upsetting. Not that it isn’t what it used to be, of course shit evolves, but what it’s evolved to is just people talking nonsense that’s barely understandable, and thrown together beats. Of course there’s exceptions, there’s a lot out there that’s aight. It could just be a thing when you’re a kid and your parents hate your music because it’s not what they listened to, who knows. But our business is music, so I try to stay on top of everything.
Did you hear the new Kendrick album?
Not yet, but he’s really dope. He’s cool, he’s up there. Super fresh. Him and J. Cole, there’s still people in rap up there just bringing shit.
Moving to the band itself, I’m interested in the mythological aspect of the band and its impact on you, and how religion or spirituality intersected with you growing up. I know you’re half Cherokee, and I’m half Iroquois and growing up my father never really talked about god, but only “the great spirit” so I’m curious what your upbringing was like in that sense.
When I was really, really little—like really fucking little—I’d go to church with my mom. I don’t remember what age we stopped going. Growing up it was always there, but no one would ever bring it up. It’s more than a “religion,” the whole notion of us being a Christian band is just so funny and ridiculous to me. And I think it super stems from a track we did on The Wraith: Shangri-La. It goes into the whole “we believe in god” thing but it’s one track. It’s like we’re so karma-based, and there’s something somewhere, that’s undeniable. There’s gotta be, and that’s pretty much what we’re saying. It could be Jesus and God, Allah, Buddah, whatever. Whatever your belief system is is your belief system and you’re not wrong. But we’re not making whole records hoping people cock their heads back with their eyes shut and wave their arms in the air. [Laughs] It’s not what we’re about. We’re about “let’s go fuck this bitch, let’s cut this dude’s head off.” Which isn’t very Christian unless you’re on that Old Testament shit. It’s basically like we’re preaching “take a look at yourself, who are you as a person, and what will you leave behind when you die?” It’s up to you. We don’t say “do this, do that.” Our music is for entertainment, not shoving messages. But there’s shit sprinkled in there if you want to pick up on it, it’s cool as fuck and that’s why we put it in there. If you want to connect with that, that’s great.
I think the morality definitely cements a lot of different people together to become juggalos, and make others feel welcome in a community. It’s weird seeing people talk shit because it’s always people that are classist and don’t understand what it’s like to have nothing.
Right, I’ve seen kids tell me they had no friends and now they have a whole crew with them hanging out, what’s wrong with that? And that’s exactly people’s whole thing against juggalos, “oh they’re dirty and poor criminals!” No they’re not. Sure, there’s some, but there are dirty, poor crooks that listen to every type of music. And that whole gang thing is fucking ridiculous, like yeah, I’m sure there’s gang members that call themselves juggalos, and I’m sure there’s gang members listening to Willie fucking Nelson, you know what I mean? [Laughs] It’s just ridiculous to me.
Did the classification get dropped yet?
No, it didn’t. The judge just threw our whole shit out of court so we’re appealing it, saying it’s not a federal thing and it’s a state thing. Court, first of all, is a long ass thing, doing anything with the government makes the process ten times slower. So eventually, hopefully, shit turns around. It’s kind of like shitting on our music, our career, and what we’ve built. “It’s not music, it’s gang material.” That’s fucked up, we work hard at what we do for it to just be reduced to that.
Yeah, for everything you worked on for over 20 years to be written off as propaganda is bullshit no matter how you cut it.
Exactly. Snoop Dogg says right in his songs he’s a crip, but nothing bad happens to him. FBI ain’t fucking coming down on him. It’s whatever, we’re part of the world and the world’s unfair, what can you do?
Looking at this new double record, we’re on the second deck of The Dark Carnival and the first album of the set is called The Marvelous Missing Link: Lost. What’s the album title mean, and how does it sort of fit in with the rest of the Dark Carnival? “Vomit” is a pretty straight up story-telling track about people kind of fucking up in their lives.
We’re pretty influenced by the story-telling kind of rap because we grew up with story-telling rappers like Ice Cube and Geto Boys. The concept of The Missing Link is what’s your missing link? Every joker card basically holds up a mirror to the listener. What’re you doing, what are you doing wrong? This one is what’s that missing link in your life. What’s missing from your life that will keep you from Shangri-La? It could be anything. Everybody’s different, it could be meeting a girl that could help you out, or fucking who knows. If something’s missing, you need to find it. There’s two records, this one is the “Lost” record, and the next one is the “Found.” I mean the Joker’s card represents the same thing, the “Lost” record is more heavy and sinister, where “Found” will be more lighthearted. The “Lost” record is a lot of shit like that “Vomit” song. I’d say it’s more old-school concept with newer school production. We kept it pretty simple, and it took a fraction of the time for Death Pop to record. It’s more grimy and fast-paced.
Is there a missing link in your life?
There’s a missing link in everyone’s life, man. You know what I’m saying?
What do you think yours is?
If I knew it, it wouldn’t be missing! [Laughs] Everyone struggles to try and find it, unconsciously and consciously they’re looking forward. Could be in a damn titty bar maybe, or the top of a trail mountain hike. It could be anywhere.
There’s so many different facets to the Insane Clown Posse empire from merchandising to movies, have your goals changed at all from when you started?
You know, it’s the same, just to fucking keep doing it. We don’t know how to do nothing else, this is what we do. We don’t have back up traits, we didn’t go to college or finish high school. We never tried anything before this. Do better than last year, if possible put out better music, a better tour. We always try to stay in competition with ourselves, to do this until we physically can’t anymore. Be the Rolling Stones of this bitch, 80 years old up there rocking and shit.
John Hill has BEEN down with the clown since '92, and is currently planning his summer vacation on Juggalo Island. Follow him on Twitter at @JohnxHill