"I didn't want any involvement," says Violent J., who nevertheless does appear on one track at Shaggy's request. "I wanted him to do it all him and write it all and produce it all. I don't even want to hear it; I want to put it on and not know what's next and get to know it like I do my other favorite rappers. So he sat with DJ Clay and produced every beat from track and it's really cool. It's taking a long time, but he's wrapping it up now. From what I have heard it sounds very high-paced, extreme intensity. I can tell he's putting all his heart into it."
Violent J, meanwhile, is gathering material for his fourth solo release, Karma Forest, which he hopes to have out this fall. "I'm getting tracks from several different producers," he says. "I don't like to hear what they already have; I like to tell 'em what I want and see what they come up with."
The set will also have a lot in common with ICP's The Marvelous Missing Link: Found. "My album is going to be all positive," Violent J says. "I want to make an uplifting, fresh, positive album. Y'know, I thought the Juggalos would love '...Lost' more, the negative dark one with songs about going to hell and shit. But, much to my surprise many, many Juggalos love '...Found' more, so I want to stay on that tip."
ICP is also using 2017 as a "special" year for the band. "The number 17 is sacred in the Juggalo world, for various reasons. It's kind of our good luck number, so we want to do all fun stuff this year," Violent J says. A key reference point is "They Unveiling," the 17th track from 2002's The Wraith: Shangri-La album in which ICP revealed the meaning of its first Dark Carnival mythology. "That's when we said that the Dark Carnival was God and all that," Violent J says. "I sort of wish we would've referenced that differently; To a lot of people God means Christian or Catholic and neither Shaggy or I are any specific religion. I just meant The Creator. We believe in a higher power, having faith, the power of positive thinking and things like that."
As part of the celebration ICP has created imagery-encrusted logos, including the familiar Hatchetman with diamonds, and has filmed a special Psychopathic Records video with the label's entire roster sharing positive messages. "The idea is let the results of 2017 be our year and last the rest of your life," Violent J explains. "Even though things are crazy in the world with the president, the reemergence of racism and insanity, that's just the devil trying to rain on our parade. Let's shine. Let's beam positivity and karma and don't let hate distract you. We want to look back and remember 2017 as the year everything was about shiny diamonds."
ICP will, however, confront some of its recent darkness on Sept. 16 with a Juggalo march on Washington, D.C. to protest the FBI's designation of the Juggalos as a gang. "People can call it a publicity stunt. That's fine, that's exactly what it is -- a publicity stunt for Juggalos," notes Violent J, who's peeved at fellow Detroit rap duo Twiztid, whose career was launched with Psychopathic, for pulling out of the march and talking smack about the event. But that won't deter ICP's determination to keep the issue alive.
"Nothing will stop our shine," he vows. "I refuse to let those hurtful, painful betrayals ruin it. This is such a lifestyle for so many people. Juggalos are mostly people who have felt like outcasts, they felt like clowns and like they didn't belong to anything and when they discovered the Juggalo world that gave them something to belong to. They gather on their own, even with no concert and they shouldn't get fucked with for it. We will always represent for them."