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
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.