Forty miles northwest of Detroit and a world away from Insane Clown Posse's Faygo-drenched phantasmagorias, the duo's Violent J lords over a peaceful parcel of land. "This place is a getaway, straight-up," says the native Michigander, born Joseph Bruce, from behind the wheel of a golf cart he uses to get around the rambling property. (He has no idea how many acres. A lot, though.) "It's in the country, but also not. I can see deer in the backyard, but also order pizza from 20 different places. It's especially great in the summer. Except for the mosquitos. The family has cans of Off! everywhere."
Insects aside, this is a good time for ICP: In August, the 13th annual Gathering of the Juggalos descends upon Cave-in-Rock, Illinois. Two days after the festival ends, Violent J, 40, and his fellow MC, Shaggy 2 Dope, 37, will release The Mighty Death Pop (Psychopathic), their latest offering of over-the-top — and oddly enduring — horror rap. "The face paint makes us forever young," says J, of the duo's longevity. "I start to trip out wondering whether I have it on or not. It's all becoming a blur."
Clad in the aforementioned face paint, J introduces us to HIS DAUGHTER RUBY, 5; son JJ, 7; and fiancée Michelle. "I instill in my kids the values of being a Juggalo. They're not gonna laugh at a kid 'cause he's fat or pick on the ugly girl. Seeing through their eyes is remarkable. That's where the song 'Miracles' came from." That innocence only can last so long, though. "My kids don't fully understand what I do yet," says J. "We'll have some of JJ's friends in the car and they'll ask to play my music, and he can't hear it because there's swearing. I just tell him that's Daddy working."
Outside of Daddy's office, a HULK HOGAN STATUE stands sentry. "We were driving through New York City on one of our first tours, and I saw this chillin' in a window," explains J, sipping the first of many Red Bulls. "I said, 'Stop the bus! I see fuckin' Hulk Hogan and Bruce Lee!' I bought Hulk Hogan and my brother got Bruce Lee. This is a direct link to my childhood. All the entertainment I loved between the ages of 14 and 20 was so important. I've spent the rest of my life based off that classic shit. It's the roots of ICP. I never want to stray far from that."
He's not kidding — the walls of the office are lined with PRO WRESTLING MEMORABILIA, including action figures (most in their original packaging), DVDs, and championship belts. "All the wrestlers I watched on TV as a kid, I did my very best to get to know them," says J. "Most of these figures, they're friends of mine. Or I admire the hell out of them. Bish (Eric Bischoff), that's my boy. Raven, that's my boy. Scott Hall, that's my superclose homey."
When he's not perusing his collection, J works in his office the same way any patriarch would. Sort of. "I'll go down there, have a smoke, and write. I'll be down there for hours and hours, bro. I don't write fast. It takes a long time."
There's inspirational material nearby, though. On the bookshelf near his desk is a series of Michael Jackson biographies. "Michael Jackson was the first to do the wicked shit," proclaims J. "Look at 'Thriller' — he had monsters in his videos back in 1984. His anger really influenced ICP. There's two styles of music: You can do it rough like Wu-Tang or you can do it where everything is smooth. We mix our music crystal clear. That comes from Michael."
The Beach Boys' Smile box set is also within reach. "Like everything else I'm into, they're a gimmick," raves J. "They're on the beach singing about cars, girls, surfing. That's their character."
A POOL TABLE occupies much of the rec room. "I have the table for when people come over to hang out, but mostly we got it to take up space," says J. "I thought it was cool 'cause it's red." Not all of the house's residents feel similarly. "Right before you got here, one of the cats got up on the table and took a big, fat-ass shit right on it. That sucked."
Before we bid adieu, J shows us his collection of ICP MEMORABILIA. "I keep what I'm really proud of," he says. "Merch is probably 70 to 80 percent of our sales. A lot of the designs come from Juggalos. They send ideas in and we call them back and say, 'Hey, would you like to make some money?' Being Juggalos ourselves, it's easy to do good merch. We don't sit around trying to figure out how to appeal to today's youth. We figure out how to appeal to ourselves."