If you overlook the Insane Clown Posse's customary hostility and stupidity, "The Amazing Jeckel Brothers" (Island) is this Detroit gangsta/horror white-rap duo's most musically coherent disc. Since hostility and stupidity are the whole point, however, overlooking them would degrade the Posse's, uh, aesthetic.
Most people outside the Posse's Motor City cult following first heard of the group when it was dumped by Disney's music subsidiary the day it released the twosome's major-label debut. Among the other major accomplishments of the Posse's mostly unquotable Shaggy 2 Dope and Violent J, who appear July 7 at the 9:30 club: providing work for the crews that clean venues after the Clowns have sprayed their fans with Faygo soda, and reviling everyone who's ever looked at them askance.
As Shaggy and J note in one of several "Jeckel" songs with unprintable titles, they disdain Oprah Winfrey, the Dalai Lama, "everyone who went down on the Titanic" and--just in case anyone was inadvertently excluded--"everybody in the hemisphere." They even dis the Beastie Boys, who pioneered the metal-rap style the Posse claims for such tracks as "Terrible" and "Assassins." In self-defense, the Clowns imagine themselves as monster-movie creatures, protected by a supernatural version of the child's words-will-never-hurt-me chant: "Shoot me with silver bullets? OK/ I'll pull 'em out, pawn 'em and get paid."
"Get paid" is one of many phrases the Clowns have borrowed from rap, but their racial politics are problematic at best. They denounce the United States as a racist country that put "a slave-owner on the one dollar bill," but play latter-day minstrel show dialect for yuks on "Mad Professor." The Clowns also owe a heavy debt to such African American styles as Washington's go-go, whose call-out style they borrow for "Everybody Rize," but then they have a Dylanesque moment in "Nothing's Left," which opines, "There's no question that's never been asked." How about this one: How many roads must a clown walk down, before he gets tired of sophomoric rancor?
(To hear a free Sound Bite from this album, call Post-Haste at 202-334-9000 and press 8174.)
CAPTION: Insane Clown Posse disses everybody in "The Amazing Jeckel Brothers," the group's derivative, vulgar new album.