Some people call me the Forrest Gump of music. Not only am I a little slow to understand what's happening, but I've also inexplicably been at every significant event in music history. Woodstock '99? Been there. The ascent of Bieber? I recorded that motherfucker's first YouTube video. Burning Man? Well, I haven't been there, but only because it seems like it’s full of awful, awful people. Through all of these travels, I've been privy to most of the great stories in music history. This is the best one.
Before we begin, I should say that the people in this story are a fellowship of the most honorable men to ever live. I’m talking of the 90s Miami Bass juggernauts, 2 Live Crew. What else could you expect from guys named Mr. Mixx (the extra ‘x’ is for exultation), Fresh Kid Ice (whose father Fresh Ice, invented the ice dispensers outside most gas stations that still bear his name), and Brother Marquis (not a monk)? I met with them just as they were recording their first single, “We Want Some Pussy.” In fact, when they were recording, I was watching a ‘Tom & Jerry’ marathon in the next booth over. Fresh just couldn’t come up with a rhyme to end his verse. I could sense he had a kernel of something. He said, “Can you help me, sir? I have the beginning of an excellent rap tercet:
‘With my dick in my hands as you fall to your knees/You know what do to, cause I won’t say please...’”.
And as I watched Jerry outsmart that damn cat for the 100th time, it just came to me. Just nibble on my dick like a rat does cheese. They were over the moon! From then on, I became part of the 2 Live Crew’s entourage as head decision man. Wherever we went, success seemed to follow. In the early 90s, we were the kings of the south. Soon after ‘Pussy’ came ‘Me so Horny’, and that led to all the fame and fortune and lawsuits one could ever ask for. It was a great journey. To this day, I consider those guys my best friends. Except Verb. I hate that guy. But that’s not the story I want to tell today. The story I want to tell is the last, great concert in American history. It was the equivalent of ‘The Great Gatsby’, ‘Citizen Kane’, and ‘Thriller’ combining into a single 45 minute musical set. It was a fitting graceful conclusion for the career of these modern-day bards. It was the day 2 Live Crew gave the performance of a lifetime at the Gathering of the Juggalos, 2007.
By 2006, 2 Live Crew had been no more, due to creative differences. The group had been through a lot, and Brother Marquis found God (surprise!) for some reason and was really kind of a douche about it. Mr. Mixx went back to college and became a mixologist and sommelier. He later went on to get a Ph.D. in mixonomy. A few others came and went, but by 2005, only Fresh Kid Ice remained. Age had not been kind to Fresh, and the tabloids had had field day with his recent mugshot (“Fresh Kid Ice? More like Stale Adult Water!”). He was also broke, having fallen victim to a ponzi scheme (FULL DISCLOSURE: I was the one who scammed him). Fresh called me up in June of 2007 and told me he would perform, one last time, under the banner of the 2 Live Crew at the Gathering of the Juggalos. He wanted me there for support and for spiritual guidance. I jumped at the chance and drove across country, invigorated by the thought of seeing my greatest friends up on stage again.
I arrived in Cave-In-Rock, IL, on the first day of the festival. Back in 2007, the Gathering of the Juggalos was not the mainstream thing we know it as today. Only 8000 juggalos and juggalettes (mostly dudes, though, obviously) had descended upon this quaint hamlet to enjoy one of 100 bands that was playing that year. Everyone who was anyone was there, from the Ying Yang Twins to Dieabolik. I was greeted in Cave-In-Rock with these (actual) words:
“The prophecy began over ten years ago, when the Carnival of Carnage took its place as the first mighty Joker's Card. As the Carnival moved on, the prophecy grew, evolved, spread worldwide and became legend. Whole nations quaked in fear, as the Insane Clown Posse took the world as their stage, warning that the Carnival was coming, and that it would consume all. Now it's 2007, and as the daytime festivities come to a close, and evening falls across Hatchet Landing, a mighty sound builds from the center of the Carnival grounds. Soon the Juggalos will gather before the Main Stage, and their voices will rise with the sounds of wicked music. The lights will come up to reveal thousands of painted faces, and all will know the Carnival HAS come, and it is here! Let those who doubt fall deaf before our mighty sound! Let the show begin!”
Cave-In-Rock, named for a nearby cave in a rock, was hosting its first Gathering that year, and tensions in the town were up. Cave-In-Rock’s local cultural elite and intelligentsia had tried in vain to bring Ozzfest to the town, and were wary of the new group. The local paper, The Southern Illinoisian, had reported a few arrests, but all seemed to be safe. I proceeded into the venue, Hogrock Campgrounds. I had arrived too late to see that night’s performers, but I met up with Fresh in his trailer to prepare him for the concert ahead.
When I arrived, I was greeted by the hosts of the festival themselves, the ambassadors of wicked clowning, Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope. Consummate hosts, they offered me their finest Monster energy drinks from their cellars. Fresh, Violent, Shaggy and I spoke through the night about the concert, the venue, and the state of music. When Fresh told the story of how I came up with the cheese line, Violent and Shaggy were intrigued. They were working on their magnum opus, an album which would be a treatise about the human condition. We workshopped some of the lines of a particularly complex song through the night. That song would later become their hit, “Bang! Pow! Boom!” from their album, Bang! Pow! Boom!
The next evening, there was a crackle of electricity through the air. Earlier, some people had smoked some methamphetamine and electrocuted a few homeless people, and consequently had become the breakout artists of that year’s Gathering. Fresh seemed lost without Mr. Mixx and Brother Marquis. But like the namesake of their record label, Luke Skyywalker, the force seemed to be with Fresh Kid Ice. He went through the set list with me, and I approved of all the songs. We fought back tears, knowing that this would be the last time those songs would be sung in front of a bunch of meth-addicts in a southern Illinois campground.
As Fresh turned to make his final preparations, I went to one of the wings. There, I met a wonderful roadie named Keith, who had made a habit of rolling his own cigarettes. He could tell I was nervous and lent me a cigarette (normally, I don’t smoke, but this was a very important time...I had built up this concert in my mind and the pressure was on).
The lights went down and Fresh came up on stage, the crowd roared, their collective chants washing over the stage with a luminous glow. I could see it in Fresh’s purple eyes that he had the crowd right where he wanted them: not close to him at all. Wait, purple eyes? I turned to Keith, who explained that he was a demon clown shaman and that he was “fucking up the brainspace”. Also, it turns out that I’d smoked a considerable amount of PCP. Fresh went into “Mama Juanita” from “Do the Bart”, and the beats were rushing through my body like industrial strength horse tranquilizer. Each couplet Fresh rapped became a light cloud that drifted into green space. By “C’Mon Babe”, Fresh’s rapping had transported me into a dimension where giraffes had no necks and electromagnetic fields were erratic and indecipherable. By that point, Keith had become a pterodactyl who just wanted to eat everybody’s sense of decency, but I didn’t care. I was having a great time. I don’t remember what happened after that, but Fresh and I were singing ‘Me So Horny’ on stage in front of 8000 “human beings”. Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope came on stage, as did Zug Izland and Anybody Killa. For the next 17 minutes, we sang and danced and used a lot of profanity.
I felt awful and left immediately after. Like I said, good times.