Insane Clown Posse

The Great Milenko

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The Insane Clown Posse had a cult following around their hometown of Detroit in the mid-'90s, eventually winning a major-label contract with Jive. Their deal with Jive was short-lived, since Riddle Box bombed on the national market -- after all, not many people are interested in overweight, dreadlocked jackasses in clown makeup, spewing "naughty" lyrics and spraying their audience with cheap soda. Still, they retained a devoted local following, which led to Hollywood Records signing the group in 1996. Hollywood spent a million dollars on the recording of ICP's label debut, The Great Milenko, which let the group work with name producers and guest artists like Slash. As a result, it was a better record than their predecessors, boasting a tougher sound and some actual hooks, without losing the juvenile vulgarity that pleased their following. So, everything should have worked out -- ICP had a commercial album that would have brought them a big audience, if the marketplace could overlook the fact that the duo was dressed like evil clowns. But things didn't work out as planned. On the day of the release of The Great Milenko, Hollywood pulled the album from the market, claiming that they were unaware of the offensive content of the record. That seems a little unlikely, since a company wouldn't really sink a million dollars into a project being "unaware" of what it was about. Still, the resulting furor meant that the Insane Clown Posse -- a group that would never have been famous or infamous -- became national figures, and The Great Milenko had some sort of hip status. And although it is better than the rest of ICP's work, it's a little ridiculous to think that its mixture of heavy metal and gangsta satire is hip in the late '90s, and it's even more ridiculous to think that it is worth listening to, even if it has vulgar lyrics. It's the sort of record you wish they would take off the stereo at excruciating frat parties.

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