Friday, 8 October 2010

The 1st Joker's Card

The Carnival Of Carnage..

Carnival of Carnage was released on October 18, 1992, with distribution within a 120-mile (190 km) radius of Detroit. Allmusic reviewer Stephen Thomas Erlewine compared the group's performance on the album to "a third-rate Beastie Boys supported by a cut-rate Faith No More, all tempered with the sensibility that made GWAR cult heroes—only with ... more sexism and jokes that ... wind up sounding racist." The follow-up EP, Beverly Kills 50187, sold well and gained a larger audience. During a live performance of the song "The Juggla", Bruce addressed the audience as Juggalos, and the positive response resulted in the group using the word thereafter.[11] The word has been the subject of criticism from both Ben Sisario of Rolling Stone and Allmusic's Erlewine, who suggested the term is similar to the racial slur jigaboo.

The 2nd Joker's Card

The Ringmaster.. 

The group's second studio album, Ringmaster, was released on March 8, 1994, and its popularity enabled the group to sell out larger nightclubs across Detroit. Because Bruce and Utsler made reference to the Detroit-produced soft drink Faygo in their songs, they "figured it would be cool to have some on stage with [them]." During a concert in 1993, Bruce threw an open bottle of Faygo at a row of concertgoers who were giving them the finger. After receiving a positive response, Bruce and Utsler have since continued to spray Faygo onto audiences. A subsequent national tour increased sales of the album, earningRingmaster a gold certification. The group's second EP, The Terror Wheel, was released on August 5, 1994. One of the songs from the EP, "Dead Body Man", received considerable local radio play. The same year marked their first "Hallowicked" concert, which has since continued annually on Halloween night in Detroit.

The 3rd Joker's Card

The Riddle Box.. 

In 1995, Bruce and Utsler attempted to obtain a contract with a major record label. The duo eventually signed a contract with the short-lived Jive Records sub-label Battery Records, which released the group's third studio album, Riddle Box, on October 10, 1995. After Battery/Jive Records showed little interest in promoting the album, Insane Clown Posse funded the promotion of Riddle Box independently. This effort led the group to Dallas, Texas, where it persuaded several music retail stores to stock the album. Sales averaged 1,500 copies per week as a result.

The 4th Joker's Card

The Great Milenko.. 

Manager Alex Abbiss negotiated a contract with the Walt Disney Company-owned label Hollywood Records, which reportedly paid US$1 million to purchase the Insane Clown Posse contract from Battery/Jive/BMG Records. The group started recording its fourth studio album, The Great Milenko, in 1996, during which Disney requested that the tracks "The Neden Game," "Under the Moon," and "Boogie Woogie Wu" be removed. Disney also asked that the lyrics of other tracks be changed, threatening to not release the album otherwise. Bruce and Utsler complied with Disney's requests, and planned to go on a national tour with House of Krazees and Myzery as their opening acts.
During a music store autograph signing, Insane Clown Posse was notified that Hollywood Records had recalled the album within hours of its release, despite having sold 18,000 copies and reaching #63 on the Billboard 200. The group was also informed that its in-store signings and nationwide tour had been canceled, commercials for the album and the music video for "Halls of Illusions" (which had reached #1 on The Box video request channel) were pulled from television, and that the group was dropped from the label. It was later revealed that Disney was being criticized by the Southern Baptist Convention at the time because of Disney's promotion of "Gay Days" at Disneyland, in addition to presiding over the gay-themed television sitcom Ellen. The Convention claimed Disney was turning its back on "family values." Although Abbiss told the press that Disney had stopped production of The Great Milenko to avoid further controversy, Disney claimed instead that the release of the album was an oversight by their review board, and that the album "did not fit the Disney image" because of its "inappropriate" lyrics, which they claimed were offensive to women.
After the termination of the Hollywood Records contract, Insane Clown Posse signed a new contract with Island/PolyGram Records, which agreed to release the album as intended. Entertainment Weekly music critic David Browne gave the record a C-minus rating: "[With] its puerile humor and intentionally ugly metal-rap tunes, the album feels oddly dated." The Great Milenko was certified platinum with over 1.7 million copies sold. One of the group's first projects with Island Records was an hour-long documentary titled Shockumentary, which aired on MTV. The station initially refused to play the documentary, but Island Records persuaded them to air it as a personal favor. Shockumentary helped increase album sales from 17,000 to 50,000 copies per week. Island also rereleased the group's first two albums.

The 5th Joker's Card

The Amazing Jeckel Brothers.. 

On April 19, 1998, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Bruce suffered a panic attack during a performance and was carried off stage. Bruce, who later recalled being completely "out of it", found scissors and cut off his dreadlocks. After suffering another panic attack once he returned home, Bruce opted to spend three days in a Michigan mental health program. Insane Clown Posse later cancelled the last two weeks' worth of dates on its United States tour,  but subsequently launched their first European tour.
By late 1998 over one million copies of The Great Milenko had been sold, and Insane Clown Posse was ready for its fifth album, The Amazing Jeckel Brothers. Working with Mike E. Clark and Rich "Legs Diamond" Murrell, Bruce and Utsler developed their album with the highest of hopes. The group was known nationally, but were not taken very seriously. Hoping to receive the respect Bruce and Utsler felt they deserved, they planned to feature well-known, respected rappers on their album. Bruce stated outright that he wanted to involve Snoop Dogg and Ol' Dirty Bastard. They paid Snoop Dogg US$40,000 to appear on the song "The Shaggy Show." Snoop Dogg also helped them contact Ol' Dirty Bastard, who was paid US$30,000 for his appearance. Ol' Dirty Bastard recorded his track in a matter of two days; however, his recording consisted of nothing more than him rambling about "bitches." It took Bruce and Utsler a week to assemble just four rhymes out of his rambling, and had to re-record the track and title it "Bitches." Finally, Insane Clown Posse contacted Ice-T, who charged them only US$10,000. The group felt that Ice-T's song did not belong on the album, and was instead released on a later album, Psychopathics from Outer Space.
To help increase their positive publicity, the group hired the Nasty Little Man publicity team. The team set up a photo shoot for Insane Clown Posse that was to appear on the cover of Alternative Press magazine in Cleveland. On the set of the photo shoot, a member of the publicity team approached Bruce and explained that in the song "Fuck the World", the lyric that stated "Fuck the Beastie Boys and the Dalai Lama" needed to be changed. Insulted, Bruce exclaimed that his music would not be censored again—referring to Disney's previous requirement for censorship. Nasty Little Man told Bruce that the Beastie Boys were not only clients of the company but also personal friends, and the Beastie Boys told the company to make Bruce change the lyric. In response, Bruce fired Nasty Little Man and asked its team to leave the photo shoot.
The Amazing Jeckel Brothers was released on May 25, 1999, and reached #4 on the Billboard album charts, and has since been certified platinum by the RIAA. Stephen Thomas Erlewine gave the album a "four out of five stars" rating, stating that "[Insane Clown Posse] actually delivered an album that comes close to fulfilling whatever promise their ridiculous, carnivalesque blend of hardcore hip-hop and shock-metal had in the first place". Rolling Stone writer Barry Walters gave the album a "two out of five stars" rating, writing that "no musical sleight of hand can disguise the fact that Shaggy and J remain the ultimate wack MCs." At the same time as The Amazing Jeckel Brothers' release, Island Records merged with Def Jam Records. It quickly became apparent to Bruce and Utsler that Def Jam Records had no interest in them. Eminem, who had begun to gain mainstream success, insulted Insane Clown Posse in interviews, tours, and the song "Till Hell Freezes Over."

The 6th Joker's Card

The Wraith: Shangri-La..  

The face of the sixth Joker's Card is "The Wraith"—or simply, Death. The card featured two "exhibits", Shangri-La and Hell's Pit, which would each be given its own album. On November 5, 2002, Insane Clown Posse released their eighth studio album, The Wraith : Shangri-La, where it is revealed that the hidden message of their music was always to follow God and make it to Heaven. Ben Sisario criticizes the series' ending in the Rolling Stone Album Guide, writing "the whole thing was some bland divine plan ... Is this man's final dis of God, or His of us?"  Some critics perceived the spiritual element of the storyline as a joke or a stunt. Allmusic writer Bradley Torreano wrote that "Even if it is a joke, it isn't a funny one, or even a clever one." According to Bruce, "We went on an in-store tour right when the sixth Joker Card came out. It was the most moving thing we ever went through in our lives. All across the country, it had such an effect. People would come to the in-stores crying, thanking us. A very, very emotional time. ... Some people might've been upset by that, but through our eyes all we did was touch a lot of people. We definitely wanted it to be something everlasting. Maybe a 19-year-old might not understand or like that ending now. But later, when he has four kids, he might think, 'That was the shit.'"

The Wraith: Shangri-La debuted at #15 on the Billboard 200 and #1 on the Top Independent Albums chart. In September 2003, Insane Clown Posse was voted the worst band of any musical genre in Blender, with The Wraith: Shangri-La named as the group's worst album. The magazine also gave the album a positive review for its "charming, good-natured idiocy." Insane Clown Posse went on the 75-date "Shangri-La World Tour", where they performed across the United States, Australia and Europe. While in Australia, customs confiscated all the group's Faygo, assuming that they were bringing it for commercial purposes. Insane Clown Posse tried to explain that they are performers and that the soda was part of their act, but were still unable to use the Faygo and forced to use a different form of soda for their Australian tour.
Bruce and Utsler later signed a new contract with Sony BMG's RED Distribution, and launched the Psychopathic Europe record label.