The Amazing Jeckel Brothers

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The Amazing Jeckel Brothers
Jack Jeckel edition.
Studio album by Insane Clown Posse
Released May 25, 1999
Recorded 1998-1999
Genre Midwest hip hop, horrorcore, rap metal
Length 69:31
Label Island/Psychopathic
524 661 (Jack)
524 659 (Jake)
Producer Mike E. Clark
ICP
Insane Clown Posse chronology
The Great Milenko
(1997)
The Amazing Jeckel Brothers
(1999)
Bizaar
(2000)
Alternative Cover
Jake Jeckel edition.

The Amazing Jeckel Brothers is the fifth studio album by American hip hop group Insane Clown Posse, released on May 25, 1999, by Island Records, in association with Psychopathic Records. Recording sessions for the album took place from 1998 to 1999. The album is the fifth Joker's Card in the group's Dark Carnival mythology. The album's lyrics focus on the 9 circles of hell, and the morality of man as he is torn between righteousness and evil, describing the Jeckel Brothers as spirits who juggle fire balls, representing the sins committed during the mortal life of the dead. For your fate of the light or darkness.

The Amazing Jeckel Brothers was the second studio album Insane Clown Posse released by Island, and features a more hip hop-based sound, as opposed to the rock-oriented sound of its predecessor, The Great Milenko (1997). The Amazing Jeckel Brothers features guest appearances by rappers Ol' Dirty Bastard and Snoop Dogg, and additional contributions by The Jerky Boys and Twiztid. It debuted at number four on the Billboard charts and was later certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

Background[edit]

After a tumultuous contract with Jive Records sub-label Battery in 1995, Insane Clown Posse (ICP) attempted to find a new record label. Manager Alex Abbiss negotiated a contract with the Walt Disney Company-owned label Hollywood Records, which reportedly paid US$1 million to purchase the Insane Clown Posse contract from Battery/Jive Records.[1]

After recording and releasing The Great Milenko, Insane Clown Posse was notified that Hollywood Records had deleted the album within hours of its release,[2] despite having sold 18,000 copies and reaching #63 on the Billboard 200.[3][4] It was later revealed that Disney was being criticized by the Southern Baptist Church. The church claimed Disney was turning its back on family values.[5]

In due time, labels such as Interscope Records wanted to sign the group,[5] but Island Records' Chris Blackwell came to the group's rescue and agreed to release The Great Milenko as it was originally intended.[6] Thanks to the controversy, and additional promotion by Island, over one million copies of The Great Milenko had been sold by 1998,[7] and Insane Clown Posse was ready for the fifth Joker's Card, The Amazing Jeckel Brothers.

Recording and production[edit]

Working with Mike E. Clark and Rich "Legz Diamond" Murrell, Joseph Bruce and Joseph Utsler developed their album with the highest of hopes. Hoping to receive the respect Bruce and Utsler felt they deserved, they planned to feature well-known, respected rappers on their album.[7] Bruce stated outright that he wanted to involve Snoop Dogg, Ol' Dirty Bastard, and Ice-T.[8] Snoop Dogg requested that Insane Clown Posse not pay his then-current record label, No Limit Records, and said that he would appear on the album if Bruce and Utsler gave him $40,000 in a briefcase.[9] Insane Clown Posse agreed, and Snoop Dogg appeared on the song "The Shaggy Show", which also featured the ska band Gangster Fun playing music before each of the song's faux commercial breaks.[9] Insane Clown Posse also unsuccessfully attempted to contact Ice Cube to collaborate with them.[10]

Snoop Dogg also helped them contact Ol' Dirty Bastard, who was paid $30,000 for his appearance. Ol' Dirty Bastard recorded his track in a matter of two days; however, his recording consisted of nothing more than him rambling about "bitches."[7][9] It took Bruce and Utsler a week to assemble just four rhymes out of his rambling, using Pro Tools because his raps were out of synch with Clark's beat.[7][9] The duo eventually had to re-record their lines and re-title the song "Bitches".[9] Finally, Insane Clown Posse contacted Ice-T.[8] However, he charged them only $10,000.[7] The group felt that Ice-T's song did not belong on the album, and was instead released on the compilation, Psychopathics from Outer Space (2000).[7] The song "Echo Side" was originally released at an Insane Clown Posse concert in Garden City, Michigan as the first ever single from Dark Lotus.[11]

To help increase their positive publicity, Island Records hired the Nasty Little Man publicity team.[7][9] The team set up a photo shoot for Insane Clown Posse that was to appear on the cover of Alternative Press magazine in Cleveland. On the set of the photo shoot, a member of the publicity team approached Bruce and explained that in the song "Fuck the World", the lyric that stated "Fuck the Beastie Boys and the Dalai Lama" needed to be changed.[7] Insulted, Bruce exclaimed that his music would not be censored again – referring to Disney's previous requirement of censure.[7] Nasty Little Man told Bruce that the Beastie Boys were not only clients of the company but also personal friends, and the Beastie Boys told the company to make Bruce change the lyric.[7] In response, Bruce fired Nasty Little Man and asked its team to leave the photo shoot.[7]

Musical style[edit]

"Jake Jeckel", from the group's 1999 album The Amazing Jeckel Brothers.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

While the album's predecessor, The Great Milenko, was written and recorded in a more rock-oriented style, featuring contributions by guitarists Slash and Steve Jones, The Amazing Jeckel Brothers featured a more hip hop-oriented sound. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic wrote, "Where The Great Milenko [...] was targeted at white-boy, adolescent metalheads [...] The Amazing Jeckel Brothers contains cameos from Snoop Dogg and Ol' Dirty Bastard, plus a cover of a Geto Boys song, which brings [Insane Clown Posse] to street level."[12]

To produce the album, Insane Clown Posse once again teamed up with renowned Detroit record producer and DJ Mike E. Clark, who utilized standard hip hop techniques such as record scratching and samples ranging from 1970s funk to calliope music.[13] "Another Love Song" was based upon Beck's song "Jack-Ass", which itself derived from a sample of Bob Dylan's "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue". Bruce loved the song and wanted to rewrite it in his own style. Although the group "lifted the riff from Beck", since Beck's song sampled the Dylan composition, Insane Clown Posse's sample was cleared with Dylan rather than Beck.[9] Rolling Stone writer Barry Walters wrote that Clark's production incorporates elements of "carnival organ riffs, power chords and shotgun blasts ... banjolike plucking and Van Halen-esque guitar squeals."[14]

Lyrical themes[edit]

Emerging from the Dark Carnival like phantom smoke drifting into the minds of men, they are the Amazing Jeckel Brothers. A chaotic duo of juggling masters, Jack "the sinister" and Jake "the just" juggle the sins of mortal men... There is no escape from their juggling act because there is no way to escape ourselves. Only in death will we recognize this as we twist and spin to the other side.

Liner notes[15]

During the two years between The Great Milenko and The Amazing Jeckel Brothers, Insane Clown Posse had become nationally known, but were not taken very seriously.[7] While the controversy over The Great Milenko allowed the duo to attract the attention of Island Records, it also attracted Insane Clown Posse to public criticism for their style and lyrics.[2] Bruce recalls the period as an angry era for the group due to all of the negativity directed toward them.[7] He says that they "used to keep two piles of press at [their] office. One pile was all the positive press [they've] gotten, which was under an inch tall. Then [they] had the negative press pile, which was spilling over the side of a full basket."[7] As a result, The Amazing Jeckel Brothers was recorded as a release for their anger.[7]

The Amazing Jeckel Brothers focuses on the 9 circles of hell, and the morality of man as he is torn between righteousness and evil.[12] Jack "the sinister" and Jake "the just" (bad and good) emerge from the flame of a candle to determine the fate of the dead.[15] The Jeckel Brothers juggle fire balls.[15] For every sin committed during the mortal life of the dead, another ball is added.[15] Jack attempts to throw Jake curves in an attempt to see a ball drop.[15] If a soul witnesses Jake drop one of the balls, he will be damned to hell. Souls who see Jake successfully complete the act ascend to heaven.[15]

Release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[12]
Robert Christgau C+[16]
College Music Journal (unfavorable)[17]
NME 3/10 stars[18]
PopMatters 3/10 stars[13]
Rolling Stone 2/5 stars[14]
Martin Charles Strong 4/10 stars[19]

The Amazing Jeckel Brothers debuted and peaked at #4 on the Billboard 200.[20][21] In order to promote the album, Island released multiple collectible versions of The Amazing Jeckel Brothers, emphasizing the faces of Jake or Jack Jeckel.[22] In 2008, it achieved platinum certification.[23]

The album was panned by critics. NME wrote that "the slick, dumbed-down Dungeons & Dragons rap-rock schtick [...] is often unbearable".[18] College Music Journal writer Matt Ashare described the album as "Cirque de so-lame".[17] Rolling Stone writer Barry Walters gave the album two out of five stars, writing that "no musical sleight of hand can disguise the fact that Shaggy and J remain the ultimate wack MCs."[14] In The Great Rock Discography, Martin Charles Strong gave the album four out of ten stars.[19]

PopMatters reviewer Brendan Maher accused Insane Clown Posse of misogyny and described The Amazing Jeckel Brothers as "music to strangle your ex-girlfriend to".[13] Robert Christgau gave the album a C+, writing "Though they claim clown, they rarely get funnier than 'I'd cut my head off but then I would be dead'."[16] However, Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic gave the album a four out of five star rating, writing that "[Insane Clown Posse] actually delivered an album that comes close to fulfilling whatever promise their ridiculous, carnivalesque blend of hardcore hip hop and shock-metal had in the first place".[12]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Intro"   Mike E. Clark and ICP 1:19
2. "Jake Jeckel"   Mike E. Clark and ICP 1:26
3. "Bring It On"   Mike E. Clark and ICP 4:28
4. "I Want My Shit"   Mike E. Clark and ICP 5:20
5. "Bitches" (featuring Ol' Dirty Bastard and The Jerky Boys) ICP and Ol' Dirty Bastard 4:33
6. "Terrible"   Mike E. Clark and ICP 4:21
7. "I Stab People"   Mike E. Clark and ICP 1:40
8. "Another Love Song"   Mike E. Clark and ICP 4:09
9. "Everybody Rize"   Mike E. Clark and ICP 3:21
10. "Play With Me"   Mike E. Clark and ICP 4:19
11. "Jack Jeckel"   Mike E. Clark and ICP 1:25
12. "Fuck the World"   Mike E. Clark and ICP 3:44
13. "The Shaggy Show" (featuring Snoop Dogg) ICP, Mike E. Clark, Snoop Dogg and Gangster Fun Bear 6:32
14. "Mad Professor"   Mike E. Clark and ICP 5:49
15. "Assassins" (featuring The Jerky Boys) Geto Boys and ICP 5:15
16. "Echo Side" (featuring Twiztid) Mike E. Clark and ICP 5:39
17. "Nothing's Left"   Mike E. Clark and ICP 6:10
Total length:
69:40

Personnel[edit]

Charts and certifications[edit]

Notes[edit]

  • Brackett, Nathan (2004), The New Rolling Stone Album Guide, Simon and Schuster, ISBN 0-7432-0169-8 
  • Bruce, Joseph (2003), ICP: Behind the Paint, Psychopathic Records, ISBN 0-9741846-0-8 

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Insane Clowns Point The Finger At Disney". MTV. July 3, 1997. Retrieved 2008-05-04. 
  2. ^ a b Bruce (2003), p. 306–314.
  3. ^ Browne, David (July 25, 1997). "Review of The Great Milenko". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2008-05-08. 
  4. ^ "Insane Clown Posse Angry At Disney's Decision". MTV. July 4, 1997. Retrieved 2008-05-04. 
  5. ^ a b "Insane Clown Posse Album Recalled". MTV. June 27, 1997. Retrieved 2008-05-04. 
  6. ^ Bruce (2003), p. 330–335.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Bruce (2003), p. 414–433.
  8. ^ a b "Insane Clown Posse Taps O.D.B., Snoop, Ice-T For New Album, Wave Goodbye to WWF". MTV. 12/10/1998. Retrieved 05/08/2010. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Rabin, Nathan (August 12, 2011). "Set List: Violent J of Insane Clown Posse". A.V. Club. Retrieved April 7, 2011. 
  10. ^ http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20120517/ENT09/205170387
  11. ^ Bruce (2003), p. 560–561.
  12. ^ a b c d Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "allmusic ((( The Great Milenko > Overview )))". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-05-08. 
  13. ^ a b c Maher, Brendan. "Insane Clown Posse, The Amazing Jeckel Brothers". PopMatters. Retrieved 10 May 2010. 
  14. ^ a b c Walters, Barry (1999-06-10). "Insane Clown Posse: The Amazing Jeckel Brothers: Music Reviews". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2012-03-23. 
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h "The Amazing Jeckel Brothers LP". Psychopathic Records. Retrieved 2009-05-22. 
  16. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (2000). "I". Christgau's consumer guide: albums of the 90's. Macmillan. p. 144. ISBN 0-312-24560-2. 
  17. ^ a b Ashare, Matt (July 1999). "Review of The Amazing Jeckel Brothers". College Music Journal (71): 51. ISSN 1074-6978. 
  18. ^ a b "The Amazing Jeckel Brothers". NME. April 20, 1999. Retrieved 10 May 2010. [dead link]
  19. ^ a b Strong, Martin Charles (2004). "Insane Clown Posse". The Great Rock Discography (7th ed.). Canongate. p. 733. ISBN 1-84195-615-5. 
  20. ^ "Insane Clown Posse Makes "Amazing" Top Five Debut". MTV. June 3, 1999. Retrieved 2008-05-04. 
  21. ^ a b c "Insane Clown Posse Artist Chart History: Albums". Billboard. Retrieved 2008-08-19. 
  22. ^ Brackett (2004), pp. 405–6.
  23. ^ a b "Certification for Insane Clown Posse". RIAA Gold and Platinum Certification Database. Retrieved 2008-05-05.