The Great Milenko
|The Great Milenko|
|Studio album by|
|Released||June 24, 1997 (Recalled pressings)|
August 12, 1997 (Reissue)
|Label||Hollywood Records (original)|
Psychopathic Records (original and rerelease)
Island Records (rerelease)
|Producer||Mike E. Clark|
|Insane Clown Posse chronology|
|Singles from The Great Milenko|
The Great Milenko is the fourth studio album by American hip hop group Insane Clown Posse, released on June 24, 1997, by Hollywood Records, in association with Psychopathic Records. As the fourth Joker's Card in the group's Dark Carnival mythology, the album's lyrics focus on the titular Great Milenko, an illusionist who tries to trick individuals into greed and other such sins.
The album was recorded and initially released by the Disney-owned record label Hollywood Records. The album was taken off shelves by Hollywood hours after its release, in response to criticism from the Southern Baptist Church of decisions that the church believed did not reflect Disney's family-friendly image, although Disney claimed that the album was released due to an oversight by its review board. After Hollywood terminated the group's contract, Insane Clown Posse signed a new contract with Island Records (whose parent at the time, PolyGram, distributed Hollywood releases in North America), which agreed to release the album as it was originally intended. Island then re-released the album on August 12, 1997.
The music of The Great Milenko features a rap rock sound and features guest appearances by popular rock stars Alice Cooper, Steve Jones and Slash. Although the album was poorly received by critics, it debuted at number 63 on the Billboard charts, and was later certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
Following the 1994 release of the album Ringmaster, Insane Clown Posse started to attract a strong local following in Detroit, Michigan. The group began selling out large clubs such as St. Andrew's Hall and the State Theatre, and drew the attention of major record label Jive Records. The next year, Insane Clown Posse signed with the label Battery, a subsidiary Jive Records. Battery/Jive released the duo's third studio album, Riddle Box (1995), but showed little interest in promoting the album. The group's manager Alex Abbiss negotiated a contract with the Disney's Hollywood Records label, which reportedly paid $1 million to purchase the Insane Clown Posse contract from Battery/Jive Records.
The group started recording The Great Milenko in 1996, and Violent J began thinking of a title for the album shortly after. Bruce later came up with the title The Great Milenko. Bruce also admitted that he had always liked the ring name of professional wrestler Dean Simon ("Dean Malenko"), because he felt that the name Malenko had a "carnival" sound to it. Believing that he had created the name himself, Bruce later realized that he had unwittingly used the nickname of Dean's father, Boris "The Great" Malenko.
The band wanted to include famous rock stars on the album. Julian Raymond, the artists and repertoire representative for Hollywood Records, contacted Slash, Steve Jones, and Alice Cooper. Slash, who was a self-professed fan of the band's music, reportedly only asked for Wild Irish Rose as payment for his contributions. Bruce, who knew very little about the Sex Pistols or Steve Jones, declined to show up at the studio when Jones played his guitar part for "Piggy Pie". Although not knowing much about Alice Cooper either, Bruce decided to fly to Arizona and coach Cooper on his parts. Bruce and Clark also met George Clinton, who was staying in the same hotel, and recorded his voice in his room, but it did not fit anywhere on the album.
After the recording sessions were finished, executives at Hollywood Records—and the label's parent company, Disney—expressed dissatisfaction with several tracks. Disney requested that the tracks "The Neden Game", "Under the Moon", and "Boogie Woogie Wu" be removed because of lyrics referencing abuse of women, rape and murder, and the slaughter of children, respectively. Disney also asked that the lyrics of "Piggy Pie" be changed, due to lyrics about murdering police officers. Disney threatened not to release the album if their requests were not met. Begrudgingly, Bruce and Utsler complied with Disney's requests. The uncensored version of "Piggy Pie" was later released on Forgotten Freshness Volumes 1 & 2. After recording was finalized, the duo planned to go on a national tour with House of Krazees and Myzery as its opening acts. Several songs were recorded with the intention of releasing them on The Great Milenko. One such song, "House of Wonders", was recorded but was later released on Mutilation Mix (1997) and Forgotten Freshness Volumes 1 & 2 (1998).
The Great Milenko is the fourth Joker's Card in Insane Clown Posse's Dark Carnival concept album series. 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 wickedness inside of one's self.
This Joker's Card is a necromancer and illusionist who tries to trick individuals into acts of greed, envy, and lust. The Card ultimately issues a warning against such acts of sin, and enlightens listeners that The Great Milenko is a part of every individual, and that they have the power to fall under his illusions or cast his hoaxes aside.
The Great Milenko featured more rock influences than previous Insane Clown Posse albums, including an introduction performed by Alice Cooper and guitar tracks performed by Steve Jones (on "Piggie Pie"), and Slash (on "Halls of Illusions"). Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic wrote, in his review of The Amazing Jeckel Brothers (1999) that, "The Great Milenko [...] was targeted at white-boy, adolescent metalheads -- really, how could any album that contained guest spots from Alice Cooper, Slash, Steve Jones and Legs Diamond be anything else?"
Insane Clown Posse hired renowned Detroit record producer and DJ Mike E. Clark to produce the record. Clark made the album sound more rock-oriented, as opposed to the duo's earlier material, which featured a more prominent hip-hop sound. To create the record, Clark utilized standard hip hop techniques such as record scratching, and mixed them with elements of rock and heavy metal.
According to the group's mythology, The Great Milenko is a necromancer and illusionist who tries to trick individuals into greed and other such sins. He takes out the worst in an individual and creates powerful illusions in an attempt to cause them to become hedonistic and greedy. An honorable individual must fight his magic in order to make it to Shangri-La (as revealed in the track "Pass Me By").
The album's themes mostly revolve around those of death, morality, and everyday decisions. For instance, "How Many Times?" talks about annoying traffic jams and other everyday-life inconveniences. "Piggy Pie" references the Three Little Pigs and tells Violent J's story of murdering three kinds of people: an incest-prone redneck, cops who wrongly arrest and harass people, and stuck-up wealthy people. "Under the Moon" tells the tale of a man convicted after killing a man who tried to rape his girlfriend. "Boogie Woogie Wu" is told from the perspective of the boogie man and talks about the slaughter of children. The "Neden Game" takes the form of a Dating Game-esque show, albeit with added misogynistic banter for humor. Finally, the lyrics to "Hellalujah" target money-hungry preachers.
Two singles were released from the album: "Halls of Illusions" and "Hokus Pokus." "Halls of Illusions" was the first single released in 1997. The single peaked at number 56 on the UK Singles Chart, and its accompanying music video peaked at number one on The Box video request channel. The album's second single, "Hokus Pokus", was released in June 1997. In 1998, it peaked at number 54 on the UK Singles Chart.
Promotion and release
Initially, Hollywood Records shipped 100,000 copies of The Great Milenko to various record stores. During a music-store autograph signing, Insane Clown Posse was notified that Hollywood Records had deleted the album within hours of its release, despite having sold 18,000 copies and reaching number 63 on the Billboard 200. The group was also informed that its in-store signings and 25-city nationwide tour had been canceled, commercials for the album and the music video for "Halls of Illusions" (which had reached number one on The Box video request channel) were pulled from television, and that the group was dropped from the label. It was later revealed that Disney was being criticized by the Southern Baptist Church at the time because of Disney's promotion of Gay Days at Disneyland, in addition to producing and distributing the gay-themed television sitcom Ellen. The church claimed Disney was turning its back on family values. Although Abbiss told the press that Disney had stopped production of The Great Milenko to avoid further controversy, Disney claimed instead that the release of the album was an oversight by their review board, and that the album "did not fit the Disney image" because of its "inappropriate" lyrics, which they claimed were offensive to women. Although Hollywood Records had ordered record stores to return shipments of the now-deleted album, many record stores refused, including the Michigan-based Harmony House where 1,700 CDs were sold in 36 stores after the termination order.
After the termination of the Hollywood Records contract, labels such as Interscope and Geffen Records wanted to sign the group, but Island Records' Chris Blackwell came to the group's rescue and agreed to release The Great Milenko as it was originally intended. As part of the deal, Island also agreed to rerelease the group's first two Joker's Card albums. Milenko was released in four colors: red, green, purple, and gold. Each color had a different secret message that would help reveal the title of the fifth Joker's Card, The Amazing Jeckel Brothers. Music videos were filmed for "Halls of Illusions", "How Many Times?", and "Piggy Pie." An unofficial music video for "Down with the Clown" was featured on the home-video release Juggalo Championshxt Wrestling Volume 1. A music video for the Headhuntaz Remix of "Hokus Pokus" was produced after the release of the album. The video featured appearances by Twiztid and Myzery. Blackwell left Island Records shortly after the group released Forgotten Freshness Volumes 1 & 2, and the merger of PolyGram into Universal Music Group (which owned Interscope and Geffen) affected the way the label handled its next Joker's Card release. Despite the rough start, The Great Milenko has sold well over the years. On May 5, 1998, the album was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). A year later, on April 21, 1999, the album was certified platinum for shipments of over one million copies. As of 2007, the album has sold over 1.7 million copies in the United States.
|Martin Charles Strong|||
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
Entertainment Weekly music critic David Browne gave the record a C-minus rating: "[With] its puerile humor and intentionally ugly metal-rap tunes, the album feels oddly dated." AllMusic reviewer Stephen Thomas Erlewine said that The Great Milenko is "the sort of record you wish they would take off the stereo at excruciating frat parties." In The Great Rock Discography, Martin Charles Strong gave the album five out of ten stars. The album received two out of five stars in The New Rolling Stone Album Guide, in which Ben Sisario identified it as the album in which "the group came into its own".
Although the reviews were mostly negative, some critics complimented the album's improved sound over its precursors. Stephen Thomas Erlewine said that the album was "a better record than [its] predecessors, boasting a tougher sound and some actual hooks, without losing the juvenile vulgarity that pleased their following", and added that "it is better than the rest of ICP's work." David Browne said that "Milenko is better produced than the duo's earlier output (Slash grinds out metal chords on Halls of Illusions), and Pass Me By is a genuinely melodic song." In 2009, Fangoria named The Great Milenko an iconic horrorcore album.
This section needs expansion with: songwriters. You can help by adding to it. (March 2019)
|1.||"Intro"||Alice Cooper, Deb Agoli||2:00|
|3.||"Hokus Pokus" (featuring Kim Marro)||ICP, Deb Agoli, Kim Marro||4:21|
|4.||"Piggy Pie" (featuring Steve Jones)||ICP, Steve Jones, and Rich "Legz Diamond" Murrell||5:46|
|5.||"How Many Times?"||ICP and Legz Diamond||6:21|
|7.||"Halls of Illusions" (featuring Slash)||ICP, Slash, and Legz Diamond||4:21|
|8.||"Under the Moon"||ICP||5:00|
|9.||"What Is a Juggalo?"||ICP||3:57|
|10.||"House of Horrors" (featuring Deb Agoli of the Gore Gore Girls)||ICP, Deb Agoli, and Legz Diamond||4:20|
|11.||"Boogie Woogie Wu"||ICP||4:24|
|12.||"The Neden Game"||ICP||4:05|
|13.||"Hellalujah"||ICP and Legz Diamond||4:57|
|14.||"Down With the Clown"||ICP||3:52|
|15.||"Just Like That"||ICP||1:24|
|16.||"Pass Me By"||ICP and Legz Diamond||6:42|
|20th Anniversary Bonus Disc - Bonus Spells|
|2.||"Hokus Pokus (Headhunta'z Mix)"||3:54|
|3.||"What Is a Juggalo? (Alternate Mix)"||4:49|
|4.||"Piggy Pie (Old School)"||4:23|
|5.||"Mr. Johnson's Head (Remix)"||6:06|
|6.||"$85 an Hour"||3:15|
|7.||"Boogie Woogie Wu/The Neden Game Mashup"||6:31|
|9.||"Rare Milenko Phone Skit"||0:55|
|11.||"House of Wonders"||3:05|
|13.||"Hellalujah (Early Mix)"||3:58|
|16.||"Down With the Clown (Alternate Mix)"||4:40|
Charts and certifications
|1997||"Halls of Illusions"||56|
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- Bruce (2003), p. 556–557.
- Juggalo Championshxt Wrestling Volume 1 (DVD). Royal Oak, Michigan: Psychopathic Video. 2001. EAN 0756504220092.
- "Certification for Insane Clown Posse". RIAA Gold and Platinum Certification Database. Archived from the original on 2012-07-08. Retrieved 2008-05-05.
- Martens, Todd (2007-04-02). "Insane Clown Posse prosper even as album sales wane". Reuters. Retrieved 2010-09-23.
- Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "allmusic ((( The Great Milenko > Overview )))". AllMusic. Retrieved 2010-09-21.
- Strong, Martin Charles (2004). "Insane Clown Posse". The Great Rock Discography (7th ed.). Canongate. p. 733. ISBN 1-84195-615-5.
- Cross, Charles R. (2004). "Insane Clown Posse". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 405–6. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
- Brackett (2004), pp. 405–6.
- Molgaard, Matt. "Rapped and Tagged: Horrorcore's Iconic Albums". Fangoria. Fangoria.com.
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