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Back on the streets, Bruce, Utsler and Utsler's brother, John performed hip hop music at local night clubs, using the stage names Violent J, 2 Dope, and John Kickjazz, under the name of their gang, Inner City Posse.
Seeing a need for a manager, Bruce's brother Robert recommended his friend and record store owner Alex Abbiss, who established the Psychopathic Records record label with the group in 1991.
The original lineup of Insane Clown Posse was John Utsler (John Kickjazz), Joe Bruce (Violent J) and Joey Utsler (Shaggy 2 Dope).
John Utsler left before Carnival of Carnage was released in 1992.
Later that year the group released the self-produced EP entitled Dog Beats.
While trying to get stations to play the single, Bruce learned that one of the stations he and Abbiss visited would be interviewing local rapper Esham, who Bruce considered to be a "superstar"; Bruce had recently begun to collect Esham's albums, as he had done with other local rappers; by the time he had discovered Esham, the rapper had released two full-length albums and three EPs.
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The group is composed of Joseph Bruce and Joseph Utsler, who perform under the respective personas of the “wicked clowns” Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope.Referring to local rapper Esham's horrorcore style, Bruce suggested the band adapt this genre, in a bid to have Detroit represent acid rap, much as Los Angeles represented gangsta rap.