Sound — 7
The band originally formed under the name of the street gang they were a member of in Detroit, Michigan called Inner City Posse. They changed their name in 1991 to Insane Clown Posse, when they also changed their style from gangsta rap to horrorcore rap and began their career as is known today. The band has only had two full time members - Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope. ICP has also had a career in professional wrestling across many different leagues, including WWF, WCW and ECW - they currently still wrestle in their own league/federation called Juggalo Championship Wrestling. They personally won me over as a fan with their 4th album, "The Great Milenko." They have a very dedicated fan base that refers to themselves as Juggalos and has annual conventions where they also celebrate their specific counterculture that has grown around the label, Juggalo. "The Marvelous Missing Link (Lost)" is the group's 13th album release, contains 14 tracks and clocks in at around 54 minutes. The album was released on Psychopath Records and the lead single from the album is "Vomit."
The album opens up with the track "Intro," which just sets the stage for the album, which is supposed to be about feeling lost without any hope, and how your only hope is to find something to believe in. The track kind of melds into the title track, "Lost," which is characterized by a steady slow beat and lyrics that are mostly delivered like a mantra, until well past the halfway point there is a conventional verse. "Apocalypse" opens up with an audio sample from a televangelist, I think it is John Hagee but I might be wrong. The song is about the apocalypse actually occurring, with all the chaos that would ensue. "Shock" has probably my favorite beats from the album, using some industrial sounds to help create parts of the beat. "Confederate Flag" starts out with a redneck voice saying "I'm a good Christian white man, I fly my rebel flag high and with pride, boy," and from there the song is just condemning the rebel flag and arguing that it only symbolizes racism and slavery. The lead single, "Vomit," opens up with some crazy audio ample with someone questioning a demon. The song tells the story of a few different people living wicked lives and ending up in hell. "Falling Apart" actually opens up with some guitar, as well as some storm sounds. The lyrics are about someone's life "falling apart" happening as an actual physical manifestation with body parts falling apart - it does a good job of expressing the emotions related to feeling like you're losing control of your life.
"How" is a song about trying to figure out how to live life right, especially when the world is so flawed. "Explosions" opens up kind of like an electronic song, with a touch of dubstep. "Explosions" seems to really just be about blowing things up. "I'll Keep My Hatchet" has lyrics about preferring a hatchet over any high tech guns or weapons, because the group prefers close work, with the lyrical hook being, "I'll keep my hatchet, swing and go chop." "Neighbors Are Fighting" opens up with a little skit talking about neighbors getting into a fight. The lyrics primarily revolve around busting somebody over the head with different implements. There are a lot of old martial arts movie sound effects used on the song. "You Should Know" opens up with a strong female voice singing the line "you should know," but followed up with verses about how the streets taught the songwriter to treat women - really, one of the darkest songs on the album in a lot of ways. "Flamethrower" is pretty weird, musically, and uses the well-worn lyrics "we don't need no water/ let the mutha f--ker burn" for the lyrical hook. The lyrics deal with hunting down specific racist targets and burning them to death with a flamethrower, with the group dying in the end as they turn the flamethrower on the cops who've cornered them. The album ends with the track "I See the Devil," which transitions over clearly from the end of "Flamethrower." "I See the Devil" has lyrics about seeing the devil whenever we do anything wrong or bad. The band actually has an actual "sang" chorus, and the song attempts to be "pretty" and sad, and it does pull off being both of those things. The last minute of the track is basically an acoustic guitar with Shaggy 2 Dope and Violent J singing about their "link" is, which they explained in the song "Lost" to mean what they have faith in. The album is very heavily themed, and sometimes heavy-handed, as well.
Lyrics — 7
Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope provide the vast majority of all the lyrics on the album, though they do use a lot of gang vocals and such as well. Guest vocalists included on the album are Big Hoodoo, Sugar Slam, Chop, Mean Dean, J-Webb, and Ominous The Klown. The album's lyrics definitely follow the theme of the album pretty strongly, for the most part, which is that the world can be a dark place, and that it is a lot darker if you don't believe in anything.
Overall Impression — 7
ICP has previously been accused of being "secret evangelists" and this album almost justifies that accusation, except they don't seem to be pushing a specific dogma or religion, but instead only that each individual finds something to believe in to give them a purpose in living. They use their own dark themes and language to express their ideas, and honestly it is just fun to listen to. That is the bottom line - ICP is fun to listen to, and this album is no exception. I'm not saying I'm going to get "Juggalo" tattooed on me, but I can't complain about any work by ICP, and that includes this album. My favorite tracks would probably be "Vomit," "Falling Apart" and "Shock."