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Friday, November 18, 2011

Wolfgang Amadeus...Juggalo?

Detroit rappers and rocker cover a Mozart rarity. 
by Paul J. Pelkonen
One of these band-members is dead. Guess which one? (L.-R. Jack White, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,
Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope of the Insane Clown Posse.) Image collage © 2011 Popdust.
Stranger things have happened. Tooling around on YouTube late tonight, I learned that earlier this year, Detroit rock'n'roller Jack White collaborated with southwest Detroit rappers Insane Clown Posse to record a work by Mozart.

At first look, Joseph "Violent J" Bruce and Joseph "Shaggy 2 Dope" Ulster are unlikely candidates to perform Mozart. They're known for their mix of "horrorcore" rap and heavy metal. They wear full black-and-white clown makeup when performing. The ICP fan base (known as "Juggalos") also wear the same makeup and are known for their devotion to the group's music, clothes, and professional wrestling association. And the FBI thinks their fan-base qualifies as a "gang." No, I didn't make the last two things up.

Anyway, these two Clowns were invited to Jack White's home in August 2011 to collaborate on Mozart's Canon in B. Flat K. 321. This canon is a setting of the German phrase "Leck mich im Arsch." That translates to "Lick me on the ass," a common insult phrase in German. The single was released by Mr. White's Third Man label in September.

Mozart loved puns and his resolutely filthy sense of humor. Leck mich im Arsch was  probably set to amuse Mozart's circle of friends. But the phrase is more than just a gutter insult. In fact, the Viennese recognized this phrase as a witty allusion to the 1773 play Götz von Berlichingen, by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
The ICP version, produced by Mr. White features the Faygo-loving outlaws rapping over the six-part canon in a choral arrangement. There's a heavy guitar and drum riff, and the pounding stops just long enough for a harpsichord solo.

It's three minutes long, and almost as weird as hearing Lou Reed sing with Metallica. You can hear it for yourself here.

And in the interests of good taste (when writing about music that involves ass-licking) here's the original Mozart, performed by the Chorus Viennensis under the direction of Uwe Christian Henner. Originally released on Philips Records as part of the Complete Mozart Edition.

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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats

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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.