Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Songs that Changed the Landscape of Human Thought and Understanding: Insane Clown Posse's "Miracles"

In his 1748 philosophical treatise An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, noted skeptic David Hume writes, "A miracle is a violation of the laws of nature; and as a firm and unalterable experience has established these laws, the proof against a miracle, from the very nature of the fact, is as entire as any argument from experience can possibly be imagined." Clearly Hume was a Debbie-Downer, unable to appreciate the miracles that life offers us daily, hourly, even minutely. Miracles, Hume never learned, cannot be measured quantifiably. For example, just because there are nearly seven billion people on this planet doesn't mean that each of those precious lives is not completely miraculous. The fact that 4.2 babies are born on this planet every second (according to Wikipedia) in no way cheapens the meaning of the term "miracle." If anything, that one-fifth of a baby that follows those first four born every second proves there are miracles!

The rappers Shaggy 2 Dope and Violent J of the revolutionary rap crew Insane Clown Posse reveal what a pure stick in the mud Hume and people like him truly are in their 2009 cult classic "Miracles." The ICP, as I like to call them, is a rap group that has been rendered notorious by their crude lyrics and their adoption of the sartorial code of the fraternity of juggling circus clowns. Their followers, known as Juggalos, are, indeed, a miracle, just as the ICP proclaims them to be in this very song. Interestingly, if we follow the musical etymology of the track, we will note that another hard-edged group with a strong subcultural following, the Jefferson Airplane (later known as Jefferson Starship), would also release a similarly uncharacteristic balladic soft pop hit called "Miracles" in 1975. Following in their footsteps, the ICP diverge completely from their usual sound and lyrical content with "Miracles," a song so earnest in its appreciation of life's sublime "magic" little mysteries that it's without question one of the most pure musical expressions in the recorded history of our species (even if the group drops a few "f-bombs" in here and there to placate veteran Juggalos).

The musical backdrop of "Miracles" consists of a simple, booming hip-hop beat that rattles the bones fused with synthesized strings and a mature-sounding Steinway and Sons grand piano. Shaggy and Violent J proceed to rap about a litany of miracles: oceans, stars, mountains, trees, the Seven Seas, aquatic life, lava, snow, rain, cats, dogs, giraffes, large crowds, childbirth, the solar system, rivers, plants, Niagara Falls, the Pyramids (the song does not specify if they are referring to the man-made structures or the geometrical shapes), rainbows, a fish being fed to a pelican that tried to eat a cell phone (the song does not specify if it was the pelican or the fish that tried to eat said phone), music, water, fire, dirt, FUCKING MAGNETS, solar eclipses, bad weather, fifteen thousand Juggalos in a confined space, the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly, that their children look just like them, and crows. Sure, all of the things mentioned in the song, with the exception of UFOs and ghosts, can be explained by science. But, as the ICP reminds us, "I don't want to talk to a scientist; y'all muthafuckas lyin', and gettin' me pissed." A bitter old crank like Hume might think this egregious and epic misuse of the word "miracle" may very well disprove my theory and actually prove the existence of miracles. Thanks to the life-affirming "Miracles," the Insane Clown Posse have re-ordered the perception of their listeners. For instance, I now know that each time I press my fingers to the keyboard to type this, I am letting my fingers create little miracles. They also remind me that these momentary epiphanies cannot be taken away from me by scientists, with their science-y science. For this, we should all be thankful to this insane two-manned posse of clowns for gloriously confusing the sublime with the miraculous.

Included below is a link to the mesmerizing video for this song:


  1. Brilliant as ever, Brian. How do fucking magnets work, anyway?

  2. I think it noteworthy that they begin by stating they have "a theory" about magic and miracles. This implies a rigorous adherence to the scientific method. This seems at odds with the duo's hatred of scientists.
    Let's also take the argument, "if magic is all we've ever known, then it's easy to miss what really goes on."
    First, this appears to be an appeal to use models other than "magic" to explain the world around us. This would be particularly useful if "magic" had been the only methodology we'd encountered in our lives to date.
    Second, this opening thesis seems to run in direct contradiction to every lyric that follows. We are asked for the remainder of the song to recategorize a bevy of mundane phenomena as "miracles".
    In short, their methods are suspect.