Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey may still own the copyright to "The Greatest Show on Earth," but whenever a high percentage of Juggalos (AKA Insane Clown Posse fans) gather together, the consensus vote goes to ICP.
Not surprisingly, the Violent J half of Insane Clown Posse is in wholehearted agreement.
"I don't want to sound conceited, but to me it's the best thing going," says Violent J of his shows with longtime partner-in-clown Shaggy 2 Dope. "We feel like we're putting on the greatest show on earth."
Whether you agree with that assessment may depend on your tolerance for soakings in Faygo, the grape soda of choice for ICP and the fans they routinely spray with it. The group's scary-clown take on hip-hop definitely has a long history of polarizing opinion.
Veteran Juggalos found reason to rejoice with 2009's Bang! Pow! Boom! album, which brought back the Dark Carnival theme that began with their 1992 debut, Carnival of Carnage, but tapered off after 2002's The Wraith: Shangri-La.
And last month's release of the video for "Miracles," the Detroit duo's most positive and pop-oriented song to date, has received over 1.8 million hits on YouTube.
It also managed to garner immediate ridicule: Within two weeks, Saturday Night Live aired its own parody, in which the already bizarre line "Fuckin' magnets, how do THEY work" became "Fuckin' blankets, how do THEY work."
And while no one really knows the answer to either of those questions, ICP aren't buying the conventional wisdom: "I don't wanna talk to a scientist," they sing after the magnet line. "Y'all motherfuckers lying, and getting me pissed."
With "The Unveiling," the 17th and final song on The Wraith, ICP suggested an alternative to this whole "science" thing: "When we speak of Shangri-La, what you think we mean? / Truth is we follow GOD!!!! / We've always been behind Him! / The Carnival is GOD and may all Juggalos find Him!"
Which was kind of a surprise, given the fact that ICP's lyrical stock-in-trade has always involved profanity-laden songs about sex, women (usually when they're having sex), and ultra-violent revenge fantasies.
Violent J sees no contradiction in couching a spiritual message within its apparent opposite.
"To get people's attention, you have to speak their language," he says. "You have to interest them, gain their trust, talk to them and show you're one of them. You're a person from the street and speak of your experiences. Then at the end you can tell them God has helped me out like this and it might transfer over, instead of just coming straight out and speaking about religion."
Repeated chantings of "May the Juggalos find God!" notwithstanding, Violent J insists ICP doesn't want to be seen as preachy or pushing an agenda.
"It's not something we discuss all the time and put out there in our records all the time, because quite frankly a lot of people don't want to hear that and they'll turn away from it," he says.
"Unless they dig up the treasure themselves and find it, you don't want to just come at them and say, 'Hey, this is about God!' You want them to discover all the true meanings and then find the treasure themselves."