If you listen to or follow any of Psychopathic Records’ releases, a record label featuring multiple hip-hop artists, most notably the Insane Clown Posse, then the FBI thinks you’re a gang member.
They’re called “juggalos” and “juggalettes,” and while the FBI classifies them as a gang, they consider themselves to just be a family. The subculture has been on the rise since 1994, and today, the number of followers continues to rise into the thousands.
There’s no secret ritual of initiation to be a juggalo. All you need to do is be a dedicated follower who truly appreciates what the artists have to offer, and support your fellow juggalo family.
They wear face paint like evil clowns, listen to Psychopathic records and they have symbols such as the “hatchet man,” a red man running with a hatchet in his hand. They also have the “Gathering of the Juggalos” every year, a live music concert where they all gather to be united with the family and celebrate.
But it is the actions and mentality of ICP fans that prompted the FBI to classify juggalos as a gang.
It’s known that a handful of people who claim to be followers have committed violent acts, but that doesn’t mean everyone else follows in these foot steps.
At ARC, this controversial subculture has made itself known on campus. A handful of students all actively working to reach their own goals in life dressed up the day before Halloween and showed campus their other side.
ARC student and juggalo Brittany Hanlon, also known as “Lil’ B,” said, “it’s the greatest feeling to have the family watch your back, and I love it.”
For many people, music itself is an escape, and juggalos see Psychopathic Records as a life saver. It gives these people who feel like they don’t belong in today’s society a chance to be united with others who have similar taste.
ARC student and juggalo Mike DePiero, also known as “J. Terrible,” is a particular fan of the rap duo Twiztid, formerly signed to Psychopathic Records.
“If it wasn’t for the band Twiztid, I wouldn’t have been able to get through the hardships in my life. It’s a beautiful thing,” said DePiero.
Statements like these are common refrains among the juggalo community, for kids and adults to reach out for something greater than themselves through music. Followers even as young as 12 years old join so they have somewhere to fit in. However, a lot join for the wrong reasons.
ARC student and juggalo Rico Johnson calls these followers “new kids,” and says they don’t fully appreciate what it means to be a juggalo, and act out in violence and drug abuse.
Although violence, sex and drugs can be found in many ICP lyrics, juggalos believe that it’s not the intention to act out and cause an uprising.
In fact, they believe that the “new kids” who are committing criminal acts are slandering the juggalo name, and these are the people that have caused the FBI to classify juggalos as a gang.
Most followers are everyday people who have never committed a crime before, but because a handful of people who claim to be true fans have committed criminal acts, the whole lot gets categorized as gang affiliates.
Many juggalos feel they are being discriminated against by authority figures as their reputation has changed, being talked to by police because of their face paint, clothing and accessories that related to ICP and Psychopathic Records.
ARC’s group of followers want to set a positive perspective on being an everyday juggalo.