|Nate "Igor" Smith|
|The faces of Juggalo justice: "Juggalo lawyer" Farris Haddad, Violent J, and Shaggy 2 Dope|
"At first, I laughed! Just like everybody else," Insane Clown Posse's Violent J admits, seated on his tour bus. "Now I just realize how fucked up it is." It's this past Friday afternoon at the Gathering of the Juggalos and the Detroit horrorcore emcee is recalling his initial reaction to the news that the federal government officially considers his band's fans a national security threat. Less than 30 minutes ago, Violent J and his partner-in-rhyme Shaggy 2 Dope announced their plans to sue the FBI at their annual seminar and they're both still visibly reeling from the audience's joyously moving reaction. (Shaggy got goosebumps. Violent J's hand visibly shook.)
Spend an hour wandering around the Gathering and you'll hear story after story after story about cops, schools, and bureaucracies discriminating against Juggalos for wearing Insane Clown Posse gear and their label's Hatchetman logo. There's the guy who lost his kids to a foster home because of his tattoo. There's the Juggalo who was discharged from the United States military for having a Psychopathic Records CD. There's the Wisconsin kid who was forbidden from wearing Insane Clown Posse shirts to school, but didn't have money for new clothes, so he kept getting suspended.
"I know it's just Juggalos and to a lot of people out there, that's the lowest life form," acknowledges Violent J. "But they're being fucked with heavily. And this is some extraordinary shit that's happening to us."
The FBI's distinction also has personal and professional implications for the two entertainers: If their fanbase is a gang, that effectively makes them kingpins. For two fathers and ruthlessly independent company owners with real families and real names (Joe Bruce is Violent J, Joey Utsler is Shaggy), the 'gang' stigma could have seriously crippling consequences.
"You're trying to grow love in your country and shit," says Shaggy 2 Dope. "Then the head of your country--the FBI--just turns around and fucking kicks you in the nuts. How are you supposed to respond to that?" He and J could only identify one option. "We're doing the American thing--we're suing."
An edited excerpt of our conversation follows.More »