Looking out into the crowd, several rows of face painted individuals can be spotted. Scattered throughout the venue, these kids hang out in small groups and have all sorts of crazy hairstyles that would normally look out of place. Little hatchet man emblems decorate the majority of their clothing and accessories, leaving little room for doubt as to who they are. Oh, they’re Juggalos alright, but this isn’t an Insane Clown Posse concert. It’s a Tech N9ne show, and just like any other time, they are here to show their love for the music. Tech N9ne has had a long standing relationship with the often misunderstood group of fans, known more for their outrageous behavior than anything else.
From performing at the annual Gathering of the Juggalos to touring with Insane Clown Posse, Tech has shared much of his career with the notorious fans. Truth be told, Juggalos make up a significant portion of Tech N9ne’s own fan base. Now, that’s not to say that they are his only fans or that Juggalos are even half of his fans, but Tech certainly owes to them some of his success over the years. Tech knows it very well, it’s in his music after all. Thing is though, not everyone seems to be as receptive to the unique connection Tech shares with the Juggalos. Some Tech N9ne fans are pretty resistant to the thought of Juggalos being included in Tech’s world, while others are outright spiteful. Can they really be blamed? Or is it an unfair stereotype that creates a blanket opinion about one of the most die-hard fan bases in music? From tattoos to massive merch collections, Juggalos only know one level of dedication. Like most things that are peculiar from a afar, there is more to the relationship between Tech N9ne and the Juggalos.
Tech first came across the Juggalo culture late in his career. Not having been exposed to that particular area of his fan base, Tech was surprised to see face painted kids lining up outside of his shows. Draped in “Hatchet Gear”, Tech would notice more and more of these fans showing up at live events and autograph signings. When Tech’s FTI campaign first started gaining momentum, Juggalo sites like Faygoluvers.net were some of the first to support Strange Music. In reality, Tech was slowly building a fan base nationwide, and it would only be a matter of time before Juggalos were included. In 2003, after listening to what the Juggalos wanted to hear, Tech N9ne appeared on Twiztid’s The Green Book. The album, which at the time was touted as the duo’s biggest, went on to expose Tech to an entirely new audience that may not have ever heard him otherwise. Thanks in part to his guest spot, Tech was asked to join the massive line up on Insane Clown Posse’s Wicked Wonka tour later that year. The all star tour featured Tech N9ne alongside Bone Thugs N Harmony, Kottonmouth Kings, and of course, the wicked clowns. The insanely successful tour opened up the doors for Tech in terms of untapped markets. As part of the grand scale tour, Tech and the rest of the Strange Music crew were able to connect with Juggalos nationwide. This tour also marked the beginning a working relationship between Strange Music and Psychopathic Records. Taking part in ICP’s Halloween tradition, Tech appeared on the annual Hallowicked track, “Thug Pit”. Meanwhile, as the year went on, Strange Music continued its own expansion and was still preparing for Tech N9ne’s Everready. As if the Hallowicked initiation wasn’t proof enough of Tech’s success amongst Juggalos, in 2004 he made his first Gathering Of The Juggalos appearance. With his amazing live performances and stage theatrics, Tech was a natural fit in the Juggalo world. Even though Tech had been painting his face long before he even knew what Juggalos were, his appearance created a closer bond with them. Tech’s infamous fear of “the clown” made it the most ironic of situations.
Tech would go on to return to the Gathering several times, making him a staple act of the outdoor music festival. Soon it was apparent that Tech no longer had to go to the Juggalos because they were now coming to him. Between the time of Vintage Tech and the long awaited release of Everready, Tech had built a loyal following with Juggalos. His own live performances now drew them in large numbers, and a shift in the dynamic of his live audience could be seen. Fake blood and white face paint quickly became expected sightings at Tech’s shows. Always the first one to acknowledge his fans, Tech thanked the Juggalos on his Everready album in 2006. It was apparent that Juggalos were responsible for a large amount of album and merchandising sales. Both are nothing new to Juggalos, who are driven by a collector’s mentality that keeps them snatching up the hottest merchandise. Now, it wasn’t just “Hatchet Gear” at Tech shows, but instead Strange Music gear at ICP shows. The two communities had integrated so well that Tech was once again invited to perform at the annual Hallowicked in 2006.
Over the last few years, Tech has been pretty vocal over the criticisms he has faced because of his association with Juggalos. He has never once backed down or taken back his respect for the fans. Even when his own fans cry foul and attempt to convince him to step away from “that” crowd, Tech remains grateful to the underground fanatics. The craziness that surrounds the subculture is something that Tech N9ne and Strange Music can easily relate to. As the industry’s “Red Nose” MC, Tech understands what it is like to be different and pushed aside. On more than one occasion, Tech has referred to himself as a Juggalo. Krizz Kaliko has also developed a close connection with the rabid fan base. His knack for unorthodox music and personal experiences with being treated like an outcast have given him a similar perspective. Before the release of Kaliko’s Shock Treatment, he spoke about a track that was very close to his heart. The track, “Freaks”, was influenced in part by Kaliko’s many personal encounters with Juggalos. In turn, the Juggalos have become some of the strongest supporters of Tech’s music. His success story is all too similar to that of Insane Clown Posse’s. An independent juggernaut who has risen in popularity and sales without the backing of a major label. The fans respect this self made success, and that is why they harbor so much faith in Tech. Conversely, it is also the same reason so many of the same fans have recently come out in protest to Tech’s recent spike in popularity. The Juggalos are pretty unforgiving in their beliefs. They are known as one of the hardest audiences to please, and they’re not afraid to let you know what they think. Just ask Tila Tequila. Luckily, Tech N9ne’s music and live stage show was Juggalo approved long ago.
Just like the rest of Tech N9ne’s fan base, the Juggalos now join everyone in anticipating the release of All 6’s And 7’s. Their support for Strange Music comes through in ticket and album sales, and most of all merchandise sales. This is how the Juggalos support. They stand behind “their” artists like a loyal army, and are quite arguably the most dedicated fan base of the last two decades. In some cases, you have to take the bad with the good. In this one, Tech N9ne has never been judgmental of the Juggalos and instead accepts everything about them. The world may not be ready to welcome the Juggalos with open arms, but it’s pretty safe to say that when all is said and done, Tech N9ne is happy to have them in his corner.
-Victor Sandoval, Assistant Editor Strange Music Blogs
Follow me on Twitter for more: @VicMSandoval