Jack White, Juggalo? An Insane Take on Artist Collaborations
The music world is a complicated one these days. Artists seem to be broadening their horizons, and expanding their bodies of work every day while exploring new musical genres and new media of performance every step of the way.
Typically, collaboration between artists is a good thing. Who can forget Aerosmith and Run D.M.C. annihilating MTV with ‘Walk This Way’? Or Eminem’s legendary performance of his hit “Stan” with Sir Elton John. Or Jesse and The Rippers’ groundbreaking performance with The Beach Boys! (If you’re unfamiliar with Jesse and The Rippers please go to YouTube and check out their billboard smash hit “Forever.”)
In recent years we’ve seen the rise of the “supergroup”. Perhaps the best example of this is the band Chickenfoot. The group is the brainchild of Van Halen frontman Sammy Hagar, Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony, and Red Hot Chili Peppers’ drummer Chad Smith. Finally, guitar legend Joe Satriani was added to the mix, helping create the unique vibrant sound that is Chickenfoot. The power of this “supergroup” is unquestionable. I attended a sold out show at Park West that they headlined, and they were selling out venues on this tour before their debut album was even released.
In many cases these unlikely musical pairings do well, however not every one is a slam dunk. When St. Louis rapper Nelly and country giant Tim McGraw collaborated on a track, neither fan base was impressed. For some reason hip-hop and country music don’t seem to fit together, which surprises this music nerd. I thought Wyclef Jean and Kenny Rogers’ version of “The Gambler” was sure to be in the Billboard Top 10. If that wasn’t shocking enough, learning that Ozzy Osbourne’s collaboration with Ms. Piggy on “Born to be Wild” wasn’t the top selling single of all time shattered my world.
It is true that collaborations between artists don’t always generate hits. Sometimes they just generate confusion. Which is why the latest collaboration I heard left me dumbfounded. Superstar Jack White of The White Stripes has recorded a track with the Faygo Spraying, face painted, Detroit horror-core rap duo The Insane Clown Posse.
Unfortunately, I have to leave the title of this song out of this post (for obvious reasons) but feel free to explore on your own.
It features Jack White on guitar, Violent J. and Shaggy 2 Dope on vocals, and an odd sample of a song composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Apparently, a chance meeting between White and Violent J. at an airport sparked the idea. It isn’t the first time that the I.C.P. has used a musical collaboration to their advantage. Their debut album Carnival of Carnage features the granddaddy of Detroit underground horror-core, Esham. It also featured Detroit’s homegrown rapper-turned-country star, Kid Rock.
Considering they were a young group debuting their first album, one should be impressed I.C.P. was able to corral these already popular local artists to boost album sales. Although some would argue that with tracks like “The Juggla” and “Guts on the Ceilin”, there was no need. And it doesn’t stop there, the group has actually been able to secure a surprising amount of other artists to collaborate on tracks. Their album The Great Milenko features a spoken word intro by Alice Cooper and guitar tracks laid down by none other than Slash of Guns ‘N’ Roses. The next album in their joker’s card series, The Amazing Jeckel Brothers, features Snoop Dogg (The Shaggy Show) and O.D.B. (B@tches).
One way or another. the Insane Clown Posse always manages to stay in the spotlight. Their “beef” with rapper Eminem (launched via The Howard Stern show) caused quite a stir, not to mention when Myspace.com juggernaut Tila Tequilla was chased off stage by an angry group of fans at last year’s “Gathering of the Juggalos”. Their album The Wraith: Shangri-La announced their belief in God and their desire for all Juggalos to find him. They were even parodied on a recent episode of Saturday Night Live for their song “Miracles”.
If none of these exploits were enough to keep them in the spotlight after their debut in 1992, there was always the threat of impending doom. The end of the world was predicted to occur as a result of the final installment of their Joker’s Card series, The Wraith. “Six will visit followed by the crumbling of time itself.”
If you are still reading this you probably got the memo that we’re all still here, and so are Jay and Shagz.
I highly doubt that this collaboration with Jack White is a step in a new musical direction for either group. However, it is a testament to the power of hard work and diligence within the music industry (no matter how strange your act may be). The fact that the Insane Clown Posse has been managing their own record label and producing albums and shows for over 20 years should give hope and inspiration to all struggling musicians. Hang in there kids! Maybe you’ll get to work with Jack White someday.
Violent J. once posed the question, “How long will the Juggalos be down with me?” The obvious answer, “Ima be down, Ima be down, down with the clown till I’m dead in the ground.”