From Rah-Rah To Blah-Blah

Snoop Dogg and Ol' Dirty Bastard guest.

I want to address this review to the legions of "juggalos" who will run

out to buy The Amazing Jeckel Brothers no matter what the

critical reaction is. There isn't much I can write here that will

convince the Insane Clown Posse's detractors that the group has artistic

merit, so I won't even try. You people go on with your Black Star and

KRS-One (or Pat Boone and Amy Grant); you won't be missing anything. The

juggalos, though, will bum rush record stores to buy this album for one

reason: to gear up for the live show.

In fact, I never truly understood why y'all were so devoted to I.C.P.

until I saw them on tour following the release of The Great

Milenko. Sure, most of it was lip-synched, but damned if it wasn't

one of the most energetic, engaging shows I'd seen in a while. Like

other "gotta see 'em live" artists (KISS, Alice Cooper, GWAR), the

music exists purely as an excuse to get the show on the road. It helps

to be catchy or at least mostly listenable, but that is by no means a

requirement.

It is on these terms, unfortunately, that The Amazing Jeckel

Brothers largely fails. As truly terrible as some of Violent J and

Shaggy 2 Dope's rhyme skills have been in the past, they at least were

able to cover it up with shout-along choruses, mosh-friendly grooves and

a unique sound that mixed circus organs with gangsta rap beats. The

Amazing Jeckel Brothers, however, often finds the band overextending

itself into hardcore lyrical hip-hop, a mistake because that kind of rap

rarely translates into an energetic live show and because the I.C.P.

still don't measure up to their peers when it comes to blessing the mic.

Songs like "Bring It On" and "I Want My Shit" attempt to pair the

rah-rah spirit of old with the blah-blah spirit of new, with mixed

results. It's when they try to go 100 percent lyrical that the problems

truly arise. For example, "Echo Side" (RealAudio excerpt) features the duo's attempt at

Wu-Tanghood, kicking hardcore lyrics over mellow electro-funk, lush

orchestration and a children's choir chorus. It doesn't work here, and

they'll have to do a rock remix to prevent the audience from falling

asleep during the live version. "Nothing's Left," the album's closer,

suffers a similar fate, a mostly mellow apocalyptic track with too many

nuances for such blunt instrument wielders as the I.C.P. Meanwhile,

"Another Love Song" is an interesting take on the lazy groove from

Beck's "Jack Ass," but I can't imagine the fans calling out for it

between wrestling demonstrations. Then again, "Beth" was KISS' biggest

hit, so who can tell.

When they do remember their roots as social commentators with a wicked

and violent sense of humor, the I.C.P. do a fine job. "Fuck The World" (RealAudio excerpt)

"Bitches" and "I Stab People" (RealAudio excerpt) are just vintage controversial I.C.P.; the

kind of songs that can only be enjoyed when you're a 15-year-old boy in

face paint, getting doused in Orange Faygo (I.C.P.'s soda of

choice) at an all-ages venue. "Bitches" also shines with the added

attraction of Ol' Dirty Bastard -- a natural-born juggalo whose

off-kilter rhyming style perfectly fits in with the I.C.P.

The album's other guest appearance, Snoop Dogg on "The Shaggy Show,"

takes a humorous while to get to, but the wait is worth it. His G-funk

in the Dark Carnival performance here (In the I.C.P. mythology, "The Dark Carnival" kicks off when the sixth joker card is revealed, which will be their next

album) is a treat for juggalos and puppies alike.

The highlights, though, are few and far between. According to I.C.P.

legend, we are just one album away from the arrival of the Dark

Carnival. If the material on The Amazing Jeckel Brothers is any

indication, we -- juggalos and non-believers alike -- have nothing to

fear but fear itself.