Riddle Box

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Riddle Box
Studio album by Insane Clown Posse
Released October 10, 1995
Recorded 1994 – 1995
Genre Midwest hip hop, horrorcore
Length 70:33
Label Battery/Psychopathic
01241-46001
Producer Mike E. Clark
ICP
Insane Clown Posse chronology
Forgotten Freshness
(1995)
Riddle Box
(1995)
Tunnel of Love
(1996)

Riddle Box is the third studio album by Insane Clown Posse, released on October 10, 1995 on Battery Records in association with Psychopathic Records. It is the third card in the Joker's Card in the group's Dark Carnival mythology. The story is there is a wooden table with a dusty box with a question mark on the front of it. Basically you turn the crank and he takes you where you need to go. In 1997 it was released a 2nd time by Battery Records and Jive Records. In 2008 it was re-released on a Riddle Box vinyl record. The album was the first Insane Clown Posse album in which the group worked with studio vocalist and guitarist Rich Murrell, who would work with the group throughout much of their career under the name Legs Diamond. It was released in four different versions, and earned a gold certification by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). In 2008, Riddle Box was re-released on vinyl double LP format. It is the group's 7th overall release.

Conception[edit]

Background[edit]

In 1995, Insane Clown Posse signed a contract with the short-lived Jive Records subsidiary label Battery Records.[1] Anticipating the album to be their first national release, the duo began work on Riddle Box. Member Joseph Bruce recalled thinking that working on the album would be "all the records we had done … rolled into one single effort." [1]

Recording[edit]

Recording for Riddle Box occurred in producer Mike E. Clark’s personal studio.[1] The group was looking to make the album more theatrical, so Clark introduced them to local guitarist and vocalist Rich Murrell.[1] Originally a member of the group Coup Detroit, Murrell later left his band to join Insane Clown Posse’s studio band along with Clark.[1] Murrell contributed to the album through guitar and various vocals in songs and skits.[1]

Jive Records' Senior Vice President of Artists and repertoire, Jeff Fenster, had told Insane Clown Posse that Riddle Box couldn’t be over one hour long.[1] When the group turned in the album at 70 minutes and 40 seconds long, Fenster was furious.[1] Joseph Bruce told Fenster that the album featured several skits, and convinced him that the length was not an issue.[1]

Joker's Cards[edit]

Riddle Box is the third Joker's Card in Insane Clown Posse's Dark Carnival concept album series.[2] The Dark Carnival is a concept of the afterlife in which souls are sent to a form of limbo while waiting to be sent to heaven or hell based on their individual actions. These concepts are related by Insane Clown Posse in a series of albums called the six Joker's Cards. Each of the six Joker's Cards relate to a specific character — an entity of the Dark Carnival — that tries to "save the human soul" by showing the wicked inside of one's self.[3][4]

Riddle Box is one of several entities used to determine the fate of the dead.[5][4][6][7] Upon death, a soul enters a dark chamber containing a jack-in-the-box on an old wooden table. The front of the box has a "painted question mark faded with time," representing the mystery of your own afterlife.[4][5] As the handle is turned, a melodic tune begins to play, and when the music stops, the choice is made. The pure see a vision of God, warming their souls as they enter eternal peace.[5] The wicked see an immense fog seeping from the box, "stripping their sanity, as they witness an image of hell, spawned and formed from their own evil; a hideous reflection of their demented souls."[5] The floor falls from underneath them, casting the doomed into the bottomless pit of Hell.[5]

Music[edit]

"Chicken Huntin'", which was remixed for Riddle Box, was previously released on Insane Clown Posse's 1994 album Ringmaster. "Dead Body Man" was previously released in 1994, on the group's second EP The Terror Wheel, in a slightly lower key. Finally, "3 Rings" was previously released on Shaggy 2 Dope's 1994 EP Fuck Off!, with the Riddle Box version featuring a slight change in lyrics.

Samples[edit]

"I'm Coming Home" contains a sample from "Confetti Day" by Hot Chocolate.[8] "Cemetery Girl" contains a sample from the Carnival of Carnage song "Guts on the Ceiling". "Toy Box" contains a sample from the Pee-wee's Playhouse theme song.

Lyricism[edit]

The eponymous Riddle Box is a jack-in-the-box that decides whether one's soul is sent to Shangri-La or Hell's Pit in the afterlife. The album's themes revolve around death and judgement, and reveal that the fate determined by the Riddle Box can be found by looking deep within yourself, and can be changed with righteous actions.[5][6][7] In "Chicken Huntin'," the group raps about killing multiple racist rednecks, referred to as 'Chickens'.[6] The song "3 Rings" speaks against social excommunication.[6] "Joker's Wild" is a gameshow in Hell where a corrupt police officer, a corrupt judge, and a redneck are all sentenced to be tortured.[6] The song "12" tells of a misplaced execution in which the person killed takes vengeance on 12 jurors who were involved in sentencing him to death.[6] The second to last song on the album, "The Killing Fields," tells of a part of Hell where the wicked are perpetually tortured.[6]

The album also makes several references to American popular culture. The title of the song "The Joker's Wild" is inspired by the quiz show of the same name. "Ol' Evil Eye" is loosely based around Edgar Allan Poe's famous short story "The Tell-Tale Heart" and features excerpts from the story being read. Poe was given credit for the track's lyrics.

Release and promotion[edit]

Riddle Box was released in four different versions. One version was the standard pressing, a second contained a bonus track of snippets from four Hed PE songs, a third featured reversed colors on the disc, and a fourth was a remastered version.[9] Battery/Jive Records showed little interest in promoting the album, and only released it limitedly nationwide.[1] Insane Clown Posse then funded its own promotion of Riddle Box independently in Dallas, Texas, where it persuaded several music retail stores to stock the album.[1] Sales averaged 1,500 copies per week as a result.[1]

Legacy[edit]

A music video for "Chicken Huntin' (Slaughter House Mix)" was shot at the State Theatre (now called the Fillmore Theatre) during an actual Insane Clown Posse concert. The director of the video, Paris Mayhew, wanted Insane Clown Posse to perform the song several times in order to get the footage from all angles, but the duo refused to repeat the song because it was an actual ICP concert, and not just a video shoot. The video was shot with ICP performing the song only once.[10] The original version of "Chicken Huntin'" was performed for the video shoot, because their fans were not yet familiar with the remix. This made Jive furious, but there were no editing problems, and Violent J later referred to the video as "our freshest video ever."[10]

Songs called "Fat Sweaty Betty" and "Willy Bubba" were originally intended for this album. Insane Clown Posse even released a single of "Fat Sweaty Betty". They were cut from the album at the last minute, but remixed versions were later released on Forgotten Freshness and Forgotten Freshness 1 & 2.[9] In 2002, the track "Riddle Box" was featured in the film Solaris. According to Insane Clown Posse, the group has not received any financial compensation from the filmmakers.[11] On December 16, 2008, Riddle Box was re-released on vinyl double LP format.[12][13]

This album was responsible for expanding the Juggalo fanbase into its own culture, leading Insane Clown Posse to write the songs "What Is A Juggalo?" and "Down With The Clown" for their next album, The Great Milenko.[14]

Critics and Juggalos alike consider "Riddle Box" as ICP's best album [according to whom?] and an iconic horrorcore album.

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s)[15] Length
1. "Intro"   Mike E. Clark and Insane Clown Posse 1:23
2. "Riddle Box"   Mike E. Clark and ICP 2:51
3. "The Show Must Go On"   Mike E. Clark and ICP 5:07
4. "Chicken Huntin' (Slaughter House Mix)"   Mike E. Clark, D. Greenburg, H. Dodd, M. Niles, and ICP 3:42
5. "Interview" (Skit) Mike E. Clark, Chloe Sheffer, and ICP 0:47
6. "Toy Box"   ICP 5:24
7. "Cemetery Girl"   Mike E. Clark and ICP 5:08
8. "3 Rings"   Mike E. Clark and ICP 4:50
9. "Headless Boogie"   Mike E. Clark and ICP 4:22
10. "The Joker's Wild"   Mike E. Clark and ICP 4:56
11. "Dead Body Man"   Mike E. Clark and ICP 4:20
12. "Lil' Somthin' Somthin'"   Mike E. Clark and ICP 5:28
13. "Ol' Evil Eye"   Mike E. Clark, Edgar Allan Poe, and ICP 4:53
14. "12"   Mike E. Clark and ICP 6:35
15. "The Killing Fields"   Mike E. Clark and ICP 4:55
16. "I'm Coming Home"   Mike E. Clark, ICP, and Errol Brown 5:52
Total length:
70:33

Personnel[edit]

Charts and certifications[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Bruce, Joseph; Hobey Echlin (August 2003). "Ringmaster's Word". In Nathan Fostey. ICP: Behind the Paint (second ed.). Royal Oak, Michigan: Psychopathic Records. pp. 231–269. ISBN 0-9741846-0-8. 
  2. ^ McIver, Joel (2002). Nu-metal: The Next Generation of Rock & Punk. Omnibus Press. p. 64. ISBN 0-7119-9209-6. 
  3. ^ Bruce, Joseph; Hobey Echlin (2003). "The Dark Carnival". In Nathan Fostey. ICP: Behind the Paint (second ed.). Royal Oak, Michigan: Psychopathic Records. pp. 174–185. ISBN 0-9741846-0-8. 
  4. ^ a b c Friedman, David (November 2009). "Juggalos". Murder Dog. pp. 192–198. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f "Who R ICP > Joker's Cards > Riddle Box". Psychopathic Records. Archived from the original on 2006-03-24. Retrieved 2009-11-25. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Phoebus Apollo (2004-01-22). "An Intelligent Look at the Insane Clown Posse". phoebus apollo. Retrieved 2009-11-25. 
  7. ^ a b Jon Ronson (2010-10-09). "Insane Clown Posse: And God created controversy". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 15 October 2010. 
  8. ^ "Release information for Riddle Box". Discogs. Retrieved 2008-05-12. 
  9. ^ a b Bruce, Joseph; Hobey Echlin (2003). "Complete Discography". In Nathan Fostey. ICP: Behind the Paint (2nd Edition ed.). Royal Oak, Michigan: Psychopathic Records. pp. 548–552. ISBN 0-9741846-0-8. 
  10. ^ a b Bruce, Joseph; Hobey Echlin (2003). "Fuck Jive". In Nathan Fostey. ICP: Behind the Paint (2nd Edition ed.). Royal Oak, Michigan: Psychopathic Records. pp. 262–263. ISBN 0-9741846-0-8. 
  11. ^ "Riddle Box LP >> Insane Clown Posse >> Music". Psychopathic Records. Retrieved 2010-05-03. 
  12. ^ "Vinyl spins & turntable dreams; 11 new titles added to LP catalog in October 2008, including four 180g audiophile pressings". Sony BMG Music Entertainment. 2008-09-16. Retrieved 19 September 2009. 
  13. ^ "Insane Clown Posse Riddle Box Vinyl LP Record". CD Universe. Retrieved 19 September 2009. 
  14. ^ http://www.avclub.com/articles/violent-j-of-insane-clown-posse,60282/
  15. ^ Riddle Box (liner). Insane Clown Posse. New York City, New York/Farmington Hills, Michigan: Batter/Psychopathic. 1995. 01241-46001-2. 
  16. ^ "Insane Clown Posse Artist Chart History: Albums". allmusic. Retrieved 2008-08-19. 
  17. ^ "Certification for Insane Clown Posse". RIAA Gold and Platinum Certification Database. Retrieved 2008-05-05.