Send in the (Insane) Clowns

Thursday, September 08, 2011 - 11:41 PM

Last week, classical music and scatological hip hop combined in a way that was obscene, absurd and unimaginably ridiculous. And I, most assuredly in the minority, loved every minute of it.

The song, which is available on Tuesday as a 7" single and iTunes download, starts innocently enough with two sopranos singing Mozart's K. 231, "Leck mich im Arsch" ("Lick me in the arse," or, more idiomatically, "Kiss my arse"), before the duo of Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope start to ask one another what they know about Mozart. No, he's not the deaf one, that's Beef Oven (a nod, perhaps, to Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure?). But, as one points out, "He had some underground s--- people don't know nothin' about." 

What follows is two minutes pf puerile epicness, with J and Shaggy rapping about how Mozart is "respected 'cause he knows art" and needs "a turn on his butt-cheek," partnered with a recurring ear-worm of a refrain about licking on the left and right sides, plus the middle, all through the night.

"This is a great/horrible day for music," wrote The Huffington Post. "It's amazing and shameful at the same time."

And I can't stop listening to it.

Perhaps it's because of what the Atlantic describes as the "sublime vs. ridiculous factor." Insane Clown Posse may skew heavily towards Mozart's scatological side (a side that warrants its own Wikipedia article), but the sublime and ridiculous isn't a combination too far off from Mozart's works. Look at Papageno, driven by food and women, against the more austere and spiritual Sarastro and Tamino in Die Zauberflöte. Consider the frantic, hormonal energy of Cherubino's "Non son più" against the stately suffering of the Countess's "Porgi amor."

Or think about Mozart's character itself: He was a composer who wrote works of startling sophistication before reaching puberty, but balanced that genius with a love—like Papageno—for earthly pleasures. His correspondence with his father (often, but not always, laden with filial deference) is complemented by puckish notes to his cousin Maria Anna Thekla Mozart. "Oui, by the love of my skin, I s--- on your nose so it runs down your chin," he wrote to her on November 5, 1777.

Many of these more ribald letters between the Mozart family were kept out of publication well into the last century. Scholars believed they took away from the composer's undeniable talent, and suggested that he may have Tourette's syndrome or something equally tarnishing. Many people now see it as a sort of turn on, a means of penetrating the impregnable fortress of his genius. I doubt Insane Clown Posse and Jack White teamed up to create a song as a means of bringing their fans over to Mozart. And I doubt even more that this song will create many ICP fans on the other side of the equation. After listening to this track a few times over, I tried re-listening to some of the duo's other songs and still hate them. But that doesn't make these three minutes any less ridiculous or sublime—or catchy. 

Check out the—NSFW—recording of Insane Clown Posse's "Leck mich im Arsch" below and weigh in: Is it infantile and misrepresentative of the source material? Is it a sly inside joke between past and present? Or is it somewhere in between?


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Comments [2]

Michael Meltzer

For Mozart, this is only the beginning. Also see:
Leck mir den Arsch fein recht schön sauber, K. 233 (K6 382d)
Bei der Hitz im Sommer ess ich, K. 234 (K6 382e).
Gehn wir im Prater, gehn wir in d' Hetz, K. 558,
Difficile lectu mihi Mars, K. 559,
O du eselhafter Peierl, K. 560a
Bona nox K. 561
- It is not entirely fair to start making judgements, as these were written for private entertainment and never intended for publication. They only came to the attention of Breitkopf & Härtel when his widow, Nannerl, needed money.

Sep. 10 2011 06:35 PM
Emma L from NYC

Eh, I think it's just messy and terrible until the harpsichord et al. entrance at 2:26, which makes it a little better but not really worth a re-listen unless you're caught up in the novelty of the thing. I do think ICP gets points for trying but, the end product, it's like wearing an expensive dress with cheap accessories... just looks cheap. That said, it'd be great if this kicks off a larger conversation about classical music sampling, as I've heard far more aesthetically successful adventures (for example, check this out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iIKquKdJN24) and would be interested to hear what others have come across. Nothing about this particular experiment makes me want to listen to more classical music or more rap, which isn't good for either camp but maybe I'm a tough critic.

Also, I'm not sure this song deserves as much thought as it's getting. The whole point of both ICP and K231 seems to be removing thought from the equation and replacing it with some awesome combination of partying and artistic creativity - a ribald release from more serious pursuits, if you will, at least on the part of our dearest Mozart. In that, they're well matched; were he still around, I'm pretty sure Wolfie would have been down for a drink (or eight) with these guys.

Anyway, I'm glad QXR is supporting the conversation because it's hilarious. Thanks for the piece!

Sep. 09 2011 02:13 PM

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