I was, among other things, one of the freaks and geeks. Not like the super freaky kid you worried about making bomb lists. More like the friendly outsider who tried really, really hard to not be like anyone else. My group of 5 or 6 friends were the same as me. As hard as we tried to be different from everyone else, we sure did act a lot like each other. We liked most of the same things. Wrestling, video games, making fun of people and copying other people’s homework. One of the things we got hooked on was the Insane Clown Posse. For those that don’t know, ICP is a horror-core rap group from Detroit. They paint their face like clowns (duh) and have some of the most insulting lyrics (but very witty, I might add) of any group on earth. I know what I am about to say is going to offend fans of both groups, but ICP in the late 90’s was what Kiss was to the 70’s. Parent’s didn’t want their kids listening to either group in either decade.
Which is of course what brought us close to them. They identified with the nerdy kids in high school. They once were those kids and they devoted a lot of their lyrics to making fun of jocks, rich girls and the pretty people. We all identified with that (as only a high schooler can) and our obsession ending up running deep. We went to every concert, every in-store signing and bought every piece of merch we could. ICP are no dummies and know about their fans loyal devotion, so they made plenty of product to push. CD’s, posters, shirts, action figures and even high priced hockey jerseys. They knew what they had going and milked it for everything it was worth. Back then I was too dumb to see what was going on. If ICP was releasing something, I had to have it, didn’t care what.
Now that I am an adult (all of 26), I have looked back on my obsession with ICP and wondered what the hell I was thinking. Was their music really that good? I mean this is group that we poured Faygo on ourselves for (for those that don’t know, ICP loved Faygo, a cheap, super sugar soda) and even painted our faces in ICP fashion for “Be Your Favorite Villain” day of homecoming week our senior year. You really have to love something to do things that stupid.
Remembering back on this time of my life, the worst wasn’t painting my face of getting sprayed with the stickiest soda in the world. I think the height of stupidity came on a hot summer day. I was with my friend Chris, we were bored and had a whole bunch of Faygo. We had it mostly in 20 ounce bottles and one or two 3 liter bottles. We thought to ourselves, what can we do with this besides drink it? “I know… we could play baseball with the 20 ouncers!” Yeah, that was my idea and not only was it stupid, it ended up being dangerous. At first we started throwing 20 ouncers to each other and we would hit them with a metal baseball bat. It was kinda fun, the bottles would explode and fly high. Then I had the really good idea. I asked Chris to get the 3 liter and toss it to me. It was orange flavor. That’s not important, but I remember it. Chris threw the 3 liter to me. I got ready and threw my whole body into my swing. I was going to crush this thing and make it fly. Only I didn’t. I hit the bottle smack dab in the middle as hard as I could and with equal force the bat bounced off the bottle and hit me straight in the side of the head. It was almost like hitting the bottle put my arms in reverse and brought the bat back to me the same way it left. Thankfully I only ended up with a major headache. Not a broken jaw or smashed glasses. It could’ve been worse and thinking of it now give me a good laugh.
Since I have been thinking about this so much I had to go back and listen to some of their music again. It had probably been a good 6 or 7 years since I listened to them, so I had almost completely forgot what I knew. Much to my surprise, these guys really aren’t bad. They had two very good CD’s that I enjoy, even in my adult life. The Riddlebox and Great Milenko are funny, well produced and while Shaggy 2 Dope and Violent J aren’t going to our-rap Nas, they were perfect for what they were tyring to do. After the Great Milenko was released ICP’s popularity was rising exponentially thanks to Disney pulling that album off the shelves on the day or it’s release. Once ICP got a mass of fans, they didn’t disappoint and they provided a ton of content for purchase. The only problem was they got spread pretty thin with all of their side projects and rare tracks that the quality declined in their music. So while I can still listen to two of their discs, the remainder of the catalog is hard for me to swallow.
I am sure a lot of people reading this will ask, how can you like these guys at all? Well I loved them then and then was a good time for me. I enjoyed the social aspect of high school and had a good time in my four years. Re-visiting some of my past loves brings back good memories of times when I literally didn’t have a care in the world. ICP may not be going into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, but for what they are, they are very good. Expert marketers and musicians with a funny sense of humor.
I plan to re-visit some of the other stupid times from my youth in the future, so tune in.