Top Ten Likely Reasons Why the German Music Press is Far More Positive on Insane Clown Posse Than the American OneOn the popular German music critic website laut.de, which is sometimes even refered to by rappers themselves in interview, "The Amazing Jeckel Brothers" was awarded full five stars and was selected for their "Milestones" list including albums that, according to the website, "regardless of the genre, everybody should have heard". This list consists of albums by artists that were either of international (e.g. Aretha Franklin, Nirvana, Prince,...) or national importance (e.g. Die Ärzte, Rammstein, Alexandra,...). So far, there is only one album per artist added, and each album gets a very detailed and well researched text with background informations and, quite often, track by track reviews. American hip hop artists present on the list include Nas, Public Enemy, Eminem... and Insane Clown Posse. And looking at the comments by the laut.de readership, which consists of self proclaimed music lovers that often look down on easy targets, the consensus was the inclusion was well deserved, even though there was a disagreement if the right album was chosen - some thought "The Great Milenko" was the better album. I agree by the way.
And this is not an exception.
While not as famous as German rappers or the few American rappers that have mainstream success in Germany such as Eminem and Snoop Dogg, Insane Clown Posse have a devoted fanbase in Germany's serious, adult hip hop community, and some of their fans are even from more rock oriented circles that usually don't listen to hip hop at all but were introduced to the genre by them. When the German press reports about Insane Clown Posse, it often has headlines like "America's most misunderstood band" or "America's nightmare" and writes about how American hip hop critics dismiss them as "irrelevant" despite their commercial success, and how in interviews the two seem highly professional and intelligent but many American critics don't like to interview them. In the comment section under the German trailer of "Straight Outta Compton" I stumbled across comments such as "Now we need biopics of other classic oldschool hip hop groups such as Public Enemy or Insane Clown Posse". It's no wonder: the German fanbases of the three groups are almost identical.
At the same time, American critics repeatedly pan them. Their music has been made fun of, their fanbase was classified as a gang and they have even been called the worst band of all time by some magazines and surveys.
It's a bit like France's and America's different views on Jerry Lewis, even though not on such a big scale (as I said, they never were commercial blockbusters but still have the standing as a good hip hop group). German critics have analyzed both Insane Clown Posse and their songs in much detail, hailed their Dark Carnival concept and the messages indicated in their songs while also calling their more comic songs highly amusing. At the same time American critics didn't spend much time discussing the band and were often freaked out by them, and immediately put the "bad" stamp on them.
Now what is the difference between Germans and Americans? Here's a list to share my thoughts.
The Top Ten
A guy in a Spongebob suit is nicknamed "God of Battle". A dude wearing a silver skull mask brought hardcore rap on the map. A pop rapper in a panda mask sold countless records to positive reviews. Three guys with cyber suits and manga hairstyles gathered a devoted fanbase and good reception. A guy with an alien mask and a pitched chipmunk voice gets full five star reviews Man, even Die Fantastischen Vier, Germany's first hip hop success, was pure pop rap.
Almost all big German rappers of the mid-2000s up to now portray entirely fictional stage personas, often as gangstas.
Insane Clown Posse really don't stand out that much.
The rock bands Die Ärzte and Die Toten Hosen are both known as two of the greatest German bands of all time, have sold several millions records to euphoric reviews. And I figured out their humor is not much different to ICP's. For example, Die Ärzte have a song which starts off as describing a corpse in a morgue before randomly revealing the corpses are smurfs and changing the song to a happy tune. One of the biggest hits of Die Toten Hosen for example is a song in which to the tune of Ten Little Indians ten Jägermeister drinks "disappear".
Both artists also have highly sociocritical, political or philosophical songs - but then again, ICP do too.
German rappers are usually either white middle class men or Muslims with a migrant background, but even though many rappers mention their origin, it is completely unimportant to the hip hop community from where they come or what skin color they have. Only certain rappers such as Eko Fresh, who wants to unite Germans and Turks, make a deal out of their color. But there is no such thing as a "wigger" over here. That's just what German hip hop looks like.
My best friend, who listens to both German and American hip hop a lot, once put the difference between German and American gangsta rap like this:
In American gangata rap, you have another morning in a dirt poor hood where you have to be tough and every once in a while shoot someone. In German gangsta rap, it's midnight and you're in a filthy corner I'm front if the backdoor of a cheap club or brothel, someone opens the door, you look at him, hs punches you in the stomach, and he violently beats you up and kicks you when you're already on the ground.
Pretty much sums it up.
In their lyrics, popular and beloved rappers have done horrorcore-ish things: Kollegah slits your throat so you resemble a fountain, SpongeBozz wants to stab you in ths kidney, Bushido beats up his cheating girlfriend until she is all bruised, and Fler wants to squish your head like a grape. Only Bushido's referenced line was talked about, the other ones were barely noticed as anything else than just ...more
Lil Wayne's "Rebirth" was praised as highly inventive and creative, one of his best records, the nu metal genre was as well and both Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit had several fans of both genres.
Germans love American hip hop, and German love rock. Both genres are highly praised and the mix of them made several music loving people very pleased, and made fans of one genre interested in the other genre.
The length of the articles and reviews about ICP's background, music, impact on America, their hate, their fanbase, their gimmicks, their messages, their Dark Carnival universe and more is unbelievable. The German Vice's article on ICP's reception in America is so detailed and diverse you'll hardly read something so well researched about legendary bands. At the same time critics and music fans alike spent much time interpreting their Dark Carnival mythology and laut.de even called it "the most complex concept in all music history". Also, their background and what they represent now were much talked about.
In other words: German critics dug very deep into the band, American critics stayed very superficial.
Germany has a big anime and cosplayer community and they are usually considered cool, interesting and not at all awkward. Before the question pops up, furries are not as big but totally socially accepted.
German people are generally more positively interested in what's weird and colorful, and they use the horrible word "cringe" mostly for things that triggers them on a personal level.
I think after WW2 ended, Germany becane, like, the exact opposite, especially with each new generation. In their lyrics, ICP often attack racists, bigots, patriarchs, people who abuse their power, "richies" (in one song they explain they don't mean all rich people but those who exploit the poor) and similar. At the same time, they embrace everyone that's different, freaky and not socially accepted. Germans take that as statements and love the message they spread.
Whatever is trending in the US is seen as "the original hip hop" and almost automatically has good reviews. German hip hop is often another world, having much more in common with Tech N9ne than Jay-Z (mostly because both Kollegah and SpongeBozz are big Tech N9ne fans), and is the "mainstream genre". Everyone knows Bushido, Kollegah, Farid Bang, Materia, Eko Fresh,... but you have to really be into the genre to know Young Thug or Rae Sremmund, hence they have the standing as "true hip hop" and no hate at all.
Even though I think ICP are better than Thug and WORLDS better than Sremmund, that also explains why they aren't hated.
White dudes with beer bellies, fanshirts and (when they are celebrating their favorite soccer team) with makeup, and pouring liquor over themselves... that's what a typical German Ballermann party looks like. Just that German drink alcohol instead of Faygo.