How to suckseed in bizness

***Show cancelled. Please see bottom of this story for details and special Current giveaway offers.***

Funny coincidence: ICP stands for Insane Clown Posse, but it also stands for Integral Capital Partners, an investment team that searches out expansion-stage private companies. I can tell you from my overflowing mailbox that the goofy hip hop ICP we know today is just as much about expanding business as it is rapping about magnets and spraying juggalos with Faygo soda. Right now, in my office, there’re approximately five albums, two DVDs, and an assortment of colorful bandanas (promo material for rapper Blaze’s Gang Rags album) all bearing ICP’s Psychopathic label, and I’ve only been at this gig for six weeks, folks. They also had one of 2010’s most viral web successes with their much-parodied “Miracles” music video. I can’t believe I’m about to say this but whatever business plan Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope have cooked up, I want in. Forget Hewlett-Packard and Apple; in this age of fame for the least amount of work (or intelligence), business school kids should consider following in the footsteps of the ultimate juggalos.

Fill a niche: In 1991, two white guys from a Detroit suburb started a rap group called Inner City Posse, but found that the name and gangsta style were hard to distinguish in an already-saturated market. Their solution? The former semi-pro wrestlers used their flair for the dramatic to essentially create horrorcore rap, a blend of ghetto rap, demented violence, and angsty metal, and switched their name to Insane Clown Posse.

Be your own boss: For its very first EP, Insane Clown Posse founded Psychopathic Records, which now houses five other artists and the sub-label Hatchet House. No fewer than three major labels (including Disney-owned Hollywood) have tried and ultimately failed to handle ICP, though they delivered two platinum records for Island and a gold for Jive. In 2001, ICP broke with Island, and has since released all its albums on Psychopathic.

Brand that shit: The other thing ICP had going for it from the get go was its iconic look. By following in the footsteps of Detroit’s most famous shock-rock acts, KISS and Alice Cooper, in all their cosmetic, theatrical glory, ICP created an instantly recognized visual style.

Know your customer: Ah, the juggalos. Most businesses would kill to have loyal customers that self-identify with a snappy phrase. Built on a reference to the ICP song “The Juggla,” these hardcore fans are a subculture so large they’ve been studied in upper-division anthropology courses. Saturday Night Live writer Michael Patrick O’brien, who co-wrote two ICP spoofs last season, theorized to the New York Times about ICP: “They’re just like, ‘Some people like us because of the absurdity, and some find a semi-religious mythology that they follow.’”

Merchandise: Whatever the reason the juggalos (and, we should add, female juggalettes) relate to the chunky Midwestern clowns, they are more than happy to fork over cash to show their appreciation. And ICP gives fans plenty to buy. Backpacks, board games, earplugs, chain wallets, you name it, there’s probably a product out there with the signature Psychopathic Records hatchet man on it.

Diversify: This is perhaps the key to Insane Clown Posse’s nearly two decades of persistent relevance. Beside the swag, the record label, and the 10 full-length albums, are the ICP star-vehicle films Big Money Hustlas and Western prequel Big Money Rustlas, the 11-year-old Gathering of the Juggalos music festival, and a 28-member extreme wrestling league. The extra-curricular activities help the duo survive when album sales dip and keep their name in front of juggalo faces when they’re not promoting their own albums. “We do everything but the actual manufacturing of the CDs,” Violent J told Reuters in 2007. “That’s the only thing we don’t do yet, but we’re getting a damn pressing plant one day.” You’ve been warned. •

Insane Clown Posse
7pm Fri Oct 15
The White Rabbit
2410 N St Mary’s

***Twin Productions announced today that Insane Clown Posse have canceled their October 15 show. Here's what appeared on their MySpace page: "Insane Clown Posse has no choice but to postpone their show on Friday, October 15 at White Rabbit, San Antonio, Texas. This is beyond the band's control and they fully intend to make up this date in December. If you have purchased a ticket for ICP it will be honored at the rescheduled show. We regret any inconvenience this may have caused. Read more:"

Sorry juggalos/ettes. If it would make you feel any better, we have giveaways of: a DVD of the latest ICP film Big Money Rustla ("the decades `sic` most anticipated film"), Blaze's latest album Gang Rags (complete with collectible "gang rag bandana") and the just dropped Medicine Bag from new Psychopathic rapper ABK. Just email me your idea for the next ICP money-making scheme and your address at [email protected]. Top three responses by noon tomorrow get one of the above mailed out to them.***

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