It’s almost as if Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope are a Faygo-soaked Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, powerless to effect the drama in the world around them, forced to carry out actions that were predetermined without their consent or approval. Forced to content themselves with being psychopathic pawns on a chessboard they can barely see.
Insane Clown Posse, due to the fiercely independent nature of their career, have done all of their growing up in public. After two EPs of generic gangsta rap under the moniker Inner City Posse, the crew was struggling to differentiate themselves from other Detroit rap groups. Two key things happened to make that possible. The first was hooking up with Mike E. Clark, who produced much of their debut full length, Carnival of Carnage. The second was a dream Violent J had, in which spirits from a traveling carnival appeared before him. J and Shaggy 2 Dope were charged with warning the world of the Dark Carnival’s approach. That new mission–and the new name–gave the Insane Clown Posse more than enough to differentiate themselves from the other local crews.
The mid-90s were a time when kids in Michigan needed someone to look up to, too: the closure of the GE plant in Flint started a ripple effect of poverty across the state. Detroit itself had long since stopped booming, the industrial districts largely abandoned and left to rot. In the suburbs, places like Zug Island were mythical destinations you didn’t quite believe were real. Detroit was a distant continent one only visited for brief glimpses of culture. Eight Mile Road was the dividing line.
Don’t you miss the halcyon days of the sample, the good old early 90s, where commercial rap artists based new pop hits around elements of earlier hit singles? Don’t you get a sick satisfaction when a tune comes on in the store, and you can’t tell right away if it’s the “original,” or the later sample? Here are six samples that do their source material justice.
From Insane Clown Posse’s 1999 classic “Bitches,” to D.R.A.M.’s perfect debut full-length, Big Baby D.R.A.M., here are 7 things we’re into this week.
What you don’t understand about suburban Detroit, if you’re not from there, is that, in the 80s and 90s, there was nothing about Detroit to be proud of. We knew about Motown, but it was our parents’ music. The Stooges and the MC5 have never been household names. Jack White was years away from taking over alternative rock music (for better or for worse). There were Bob Seger and Ted Nugent to look up to, which, “Thanks, but no thanks,” and “Jesus Fucking Christ,” respectively.