The term originated during a 1994 live performance by Insane Clown Posse. During the song "The Juggla", Violent J addressed the audience as Juggalos, and the positive response resulted in Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope using the word thereafter to refer to themselves and their friends, family and fans, including other Psychopathic Records artists. The fanbase boomed following the release of their third album, Riddle Box, in 1995, leading Insane Clown Posse to write the songs "What Is A Juggalo?" and "Down With The Clown" for their 1997 album The Great Milenko.
According to Shaggy 2 Dope, "[Juggalos come] from all walks of life – from poverty, from rich, from all religions, all colors. [...] It doesn't matter if you're born with a silver spoon in your mouth, or a crack rock in your mouth." Juggalos have compared themselves to a family.
Common characteristics of identifying a member of the Juggalo subculture are as follows:
Juggalos view the lyrics of Psychopathic Records artists, which are often violent in nature, as a catharsis for aggression.
Many characteristics of the Juggalo culture originated from in the 1980s, when Joseph Bruce (Violent J) and his family were living in poverty. He and his brother Robert received all their clothes from rummage sales, and their food from canned food drives held at their own school. Due to their poverty, the Bruce Brothers were the brunt of many jokes in school. However, the brothers were not ashamed of their living standards, and instead embraced it. Joe even made a name for themselves, Floobs. According to Joe, a Floob was essentially a scrub, but not just an ordinary scrub. A Floob "wore the same old shoes and shitty clothes from rummage sales [...] but [...] didn't even have to be cool. [Floobs] turned [their] scrubbiness into something [they] could be proud of." Though Joe only specifically names himself and his brother as Floobs, he alludes to other Floobs whom he had not met or known of, but were living in the same conditions as he and his brother; the respect that Floobs had for each other and their family-like embrace of likewise people influenced the philosophy held among Juggalos.
Charities, benefits and community activity of Juggalos
Juggalos in Denver, Colorado, founded the charity Juggalos Making A Difference. In 2010, Psychopathic Records ran a toy drive to benefit children of poor families. Since 2008, Florida Juggalos organized The Juggalo Cleanup Crew to pick up trash for the Dead Stephanie Memorial Cleanup, in honor of Stephanie Harris, high school student who died of diabetes in 2008. In 2014, ICP held a charity concert in Ohio, for Aaron Spencer, a juggalo who passed away from a debilitating illness. All proceeds from the show went to the Spencer family.
Although the Juggalo subculture stems from the horrorcore subgenre of the general hip hop music fandom, criminal and gang-related activity has been attributed to self-described 'Juggalos' in recent years, including assaults, drug trafficking, vandalism, burglary, shootings, theft, robbery, and numerous murders.
Interaction between violent and nonviolent Juggalos
According to a 2011 Intelligence Report, the Juggalo subculture is split between violent and nonviolent factions. Some members of the Juggalos street gang even look down on non-criminal Juggalos, considering them to be weak, and criminal Juggalo gangs have committed attacks on non-gang-related Juggalos.
Both Juggalo gang affiliates and nonviolent Juggalos believe in the Juggalo "family".
However, some nonviolent Juggalos do not believe that any gang related activity should be associated with the Juggalo lifestyle.
Public and artist reactions
The Insane Clown Posse filed a lawsuit against the FBI about the gang-listing. In December 2012, ICP agreed to withdraw their involvement as plaintiffs.
Psychopathic Records launched the website juggalosfightback.com for fans to submit stories about unfair treatment by law enforcement. ICP hopes to use these stories in their legal battle to declassify Juggalos as a gang.
The classification of Juggalos as a criminal gang was ridiculed by the technology magazine Wired in a November 2011 article, with journalist Spencer Ackerman referring to previous scandals involving FBI harassment of Muslim-Americans.
On January 8, 2014, Insane Clown Posse along with the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan filed suit again against the FBI. The suit aims to have Juggalos no longer considered to be a gang and to have any "criminal intelligence information" about Juggalos destroyed.
The Gathering of the Juggalos (The Gathering or GOTJ) is an annual festival put on by Psychopathic Records, featuring performances by the entire label as well as numerous well-known musical groups and underground artists. It was founded by Robert Bruce, Insane Clown Posse, and their label in 2000. The Gathering has featured bands of a variety of genres within hip hop and rock, though the majority of the acts perform horrorcore and hardcore hip hop, similar to that of Psychopathic Records artists.
Described by Joseph Bruce as a "Juggalo Woodstock", the Gathering of the Juggalos spans four days and includes concerts, wrestling, games, contests, autograph sessions, karaoke, and seminars with artists. Over its first eleven events, the festival has drawn an attendance of about 107,500 fans.
In July 2012, the media organization Vice released "American Juggalo," a twenty-minute film documenting the festival, through their subsidiary music channel, Noisey. Sean Dunne directed the work.
On August 9, 2013, 24-year-old Cory Collins died at the festival, following 3 more deaths at previous festivals.
In popular media
A man in Juggalo face paint kneels next to a small child.
Mainstream media has also made references to the Juggalo subculture. In 2009, televisionsketch comedySaturday Night Live began a reoccurring series of sketches about the "Kickspit Underground Rock Festival" which parodies Juggalos and the Gathering of the Juggalos. The following year, the television show It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia parodied Juggalos on the episode "Dee Reynolds: Shaping America’s Youth". In 2011, the television show Workaholics aired an episode called "Straight Up Juggahos" that revolved around Juggalos and an Insane Clown Posse concert. Later that year, an independent documentary entitled American Juggalo was released.