This year’s performers include ICP, Busta Rhymes, Ice Cube, Bobby Brown, Paul Wall, Lil Jon, Xzibit, George Clinton, Vanilla Ice, Saliva, Twiztid, ABK, MC Hammer, CKY, Paris, E-40, Tech N9ne, DJ Quik, Mastamind, Mystikal, Juvenile, Kottonmouth Kings, dark Lotus, Hed PE, Kittie, Blaze, Boondox, Dayton Family, Prozak and Dope.
To hold true to the Juggalo Gathering’s promise of 24-hour action for four days straight, numerous outrageous events and activities have been planned including: JCW matches, Ms. Juggalette contest, carnival rides, Violent J’s Prince vs. Michael Jackson BBQ, Faygo Wet T-Shirt contest, midway games, 3 way DJ Battle between Shaggy 2 Dope/Mike E. Clark/DJ Clay, autograph signings, karaoke, seminars, Lovetrain, free style contest, Hogdaddy’s Hellfire, WFuckOff Radio live, sideshows, ABK’s Wake and Bake BYO Breakfast Bash, among others.
Violent J, who is joined in ICP by Shaggy 2 Dope, spoke to SoundSpike about the Gathering, why it’s so difficult to be a Juggalo and the duo’s forthcoming album.
Are you looking forward to the Gathering of the Juggalos?
Violent J: Yep, yep, yep. I’m just hoping I can hold out, that my voice can hold out. It’s funny because at the Gathering, the last couple days, everybody’s missing their voice. The only thing that sucks is we’re the very last official event of the Gathering. We have to have good voices. Yet it’s total chaos. It’s not only because you’re yelling all weekend and doing several concerts and several different shows, it’s also because of the heat, you’re up all night, you’re partying, you’re smoking trees, everything that adds to you losing your voice. I think the positive side of it is I think Juggalos understand that if you sound a little bit like shit. [They say,] “Dang, because I don’t have a voice either.”
It sounds like it’s a lot of fun.
Crazy, insane, ludicrous fun.
Why do you think it’s so difficult to be a Juggalo?
ICP isn’t the coolest thing on the block. so if you go to school or you go to work and you got an ICP shirt or tattoo, everybody’s like, “What are you listening to that shit for?” “Oh you listen to those idiots?” I think the reason people listen to begin with is that we’re clowns, and people might see a part of themselves as a clown. We don’t rap about having money; we rap about not having money. We rap about not being cool. I think some people out there can relate to that. I think they hear us and they can relate to it a little bit. maybe they consider themselves the underdog sometimes. maybe they consider themselves on the other side of the coin — not so much how cool and fresh you have, what kind of cars you have, how much money and hos you have. I think they hear us rapping and they can relate to that more — that we’re rapping about being the underdogs and being clowns. you do all that shit. when you come to the Gathering, you realize you’re not alone. All of a sudden, you’re not the underdogs. Just for that weekend, you’re this powerful force of 10, 15,000 people that are just like you, people that love you, people that have your back.
There’s something weird going on when you’re at the Gathering. Everybody loves each other. First of all, in our 11 years, I don’t ever remember hearing about one fight. You’re talking about four days and four nights of everybody walking around drunk, high. nobody fights because it’s not on that flavor like that. nobody has that kind of feeling. It’s so misunderstood it’s sick. those who go will never forget it. It’s such an awesome feeling right when you park your car, everybody going “Whoop Whoop” to ya. Everybody’s offering you cheeseburgers hot off the grill. you realize you’re not alone. you might spend the whole year alone and battling being the underdog, and facing all that stress. but then when you get to the Gathering, you’re this overwhelming force and you’re partying in the middle of nowhere. you and all these friends you never knew you had. All these people just like you. some of them are rich, some of them are poor. some of them come from loving rap music, some come from loving rock, but they’re all just like you. you realize that when you’re there. it creates this euphoria of awesomeness. That’s the real magic of the Gathering. It’s not about Ice Cube’s going to play or the Kottonmouth Kings are going to play. All that’s cool. but I don’t think that’s the real ticket. That’s not the real meaning of it all. It’s the all-around specialness of it. The all-around camaraderie. when we do our infomercials, we try to tell people about it. but it’s one of those cases where you have to be there to experience it. There was a lot of press that went last year. my favorite thing about reading all their quotes and stories when the articles came out, they all said, “I was really worried I thought if you’re not a Juggalo and you’re at the Gathering, you’re going to get your ass kicked and they’re going to point you out. It’s nothing like that. Everybody was so welcoming and so nice to me and so cool. I realize these are real people.” Coming from ICP, I hear people say, “They sold this many records, but those people are Juggalos.” Wait a minute, Juggalos are real people. What makes Juggalos any less people than the president? What makes Juggalos any less important than John Mayer’s fans or Nicki Minaj’s fans or Lil Wayne’s fans? What makes Juggalos any less important than anybody’s fans? Juggalos are people. They’re human beings. They’re awesome. If anything they’re better, they’re higher brand of human beings because they have an open mind. it takes a little more to get their creative energies going. they like a little more to their music than a catchy single and a cool riff. they like more to entertain them. they like the whole stage show. but we could talk about that shit all night.
Why do you think Juggalos and ICP are so misunderstood?
Everybody’s painting their face. at first listen, maybe for the first 100 listens, all you hear is the cuss words in our music and you don’t really get what it’s about because you’re not really listening. You’re just listening for the next cuss word. You’re listening with a negative ear instead of a positive ear. I think when people hear our music, automatically they’re like, “That shit sucks,” and they totally miss what it’s really saying. for example, if we have a song about incest, about killing a guy who rapes his daughter or some horrible topic like that. when it comes out, when people review the record, they’ll say, “They have songs about incest.” They’ll make it sound like it’s pro-incest. it is about incest, it’s about killing the guy who’s committing incest or whatever. It’s just the way they turn it around because they’re not listening with a positive ear. They’re listening with something to tear it up with. That’s all they’re looking for is something to say negative about it. these people that are really loving it, they find comfort in it, they find relief in it. they don’t want to go out and kill somebody, but they’ll let the music do it for them. maybe they can unleash anger through the music because it’s all fantasy. It’s a release. Everybody says that rap should keep it real. well, we’re all stuck in the real world, so it’s good that something can take you away like a good horror movie, or a good action movie or pro wrestling or something like that. That’s what our music does. It’s an escape from the real. It’s entertainment. It’s enjoyment. It’s a step out of the real for once.
You do have an amazing group of performers this year. How did you end up getting Charlie Sheen?
We went on “The Howard Stern Show” and someone on there said, “You guys should get Charlie Sheen.” We were saying, “Man, that would be awesome, that would be the shit.” We got back to Detroit and somebody called and said, “Hey man, I know Charlie Sheen’s manager. you guys should try to get him.” We called and they were into it. I didn’t think we had Charlie Sheen money, but I don’t think Charlie Sheen is doing it for money. I don’t think he needs the money. I think he’s doing it because he wants to be part of something cool. something cutting edge something different. something very exciting. People do understand what the Gathering is. they realize that it might not be there forever. it really is an independent music festival. It’s not sponsored by Budweiser. It’s not sponsored by a deep ass multi-million-dollar bank account. It’s just us. We don’t know how to throw a festival. Psychopathic Records isn’t made up of a bunch of people who used to promote Lollapalooza or used to promote Bonnaroo. We’re a bunch of high school dropouts that grew up together. We just learned how to do it. As for picking the acts, we sit around and we brainstorm. We say, “You know who would be the shit? We should go for this guy and that guy.” We sit there and write names down. then we send people to start looking them up and calling them. Asking them how much they cost and are they down, would they want to play it. It’s no different than you and your friends sitting around thinking up a dream concert. who would be the ultimate show? you think of what you think would be dope. We like to think that the Juggalos have a similar opinion than we do because we’re Juggalos, too. so chances are if we like it, the Juggalos will probably like it because we’re Juggalos. We tend to think we know what most Juggalos would dig. We’re not always right. We get it wrong. We thought they’d like Tila Tequila and that didn’t go so well. [Laughs] We make a lot of mistakes, I’ll be the first to admit it. We do our best.
I hear you’re recording a new album. How’s it going?
It’s going good, you know. at this stage in our career, we’re not just going to release [just] anything. We want it to be bombastic. We take a great amount of joy, it’s overwhelming joy, a great amount of pride in trying to release the best album we’ve ever done. every time we do an album — we only release an album about once every two and a half, or once every three years — we try to do the best record we’ve ever had, each and every time we do it. That’s where we’re at. We’ve recorded a shitload of songs and we’re picking the best ones [for the album]. now we know what’s missing and we still got some more songs to record, so we can add those missing elements. It’s frustrating. when you’ve done so many albums as we have, you don’t want to repeat yourself. you don’t want to do a topic you’ve done before. you don’t want to cover ground you’ve already covered. you want to keep digging those tunnels and keep exploring new grounds. Luckily, as far as concepts, this album’s been a real blessing because the concepts are coming to us left and right. We’re getting to the end of it. it always gets harder toward the end of it. you don’t just take any beat that’s awesome. at this point in the album you’re looking for certain beats. when you start off an album you can listen to a batch of music and say, “Give us that one, give us that one.” when you’re down to the nitty gritty, you’re looking for certain things. so that’s where we’re at. it gets a little more frustrating when you’re looking for a certain-sounding song — a song to create a certain feeling that you know you can do — but you haven’t done yet on this album. That type of stuff.
Are you at a point where you can play new material at the Gathering?
No. We never play new material before it comes out because we consider every album that comes out, that that’s album era. right now we’re in the “Bang! Pow! Boom!” era, which is our latest record that came out. We don’t premiere songs. We don’t play it for anybody. nobody hears the new music until that new era begins. That new era starts when the new album comes out. right now, this is the “Bang! Pow! Boom!” era, and everything is still “Bang! Pow! Boom!” even though we’re secretly recording the new record, the only stuff we’ll do live is “Bang! Pow! Boom!” and before it.