Recently we celebrated the 15-year anniversary of the Marshall Mathers LP. That means it’s been 15 years since Eminem gave us the archetype of the obsessed hip-hop fan, Stan. Stan has a room full of Eminem’s posters and pictures, he owns his entire back catalogue and even has Slim Shady’s name tattooed across his chest. His very name has become synonymous with deranged fandom. In 15 years there have emerged hip hop fans so completely obsessed, so hardcore, that they rival even Stan.
#4. Drake Fans – “Woes”
Drake fans or “woes” if you will, are among the most sickeningly obsessed hip hop fans alive. Many Drake fans turned on MTV Jams in 2009 to hear Aubrey Graham perform The Best I Ever Had and nothing was the same ever since. Drake fans take care to include a Drake reference at every opportunity. Drake fans know themselves, and appreciate that Drake started from the bottom to become a legend that will live forever. Drake fans know the mortal body can only live once, and that one day in October, the 6 God will appear and whisper in their ears “hold on, we’re going home,” and they will ascend beyond the blue sky pictured on the cover art of Take Care to a paradise where Drake will have a complicated relationship with every one of them.
Drake fans are battle-hardened from defending their smarmy idol. No, Drake doesn’t bandwagon jump on sports teams, he’s just personally loyal to the players, he’s the world’s greatest basketball wife – do you have a problem with loyalty? Drake isn’t “soft,” what could be more courageous than being totally transparent with your emotions – do you have a problem with bravery? Yes, Drake did Start from the Bottom despite a previous acting career, in the sense that he is a cheesy Canadian with Jewish heritage who grew to become the realest rapper in the game, I CHALLENGE YOU TO DO THE SAME, YOU CHIEF KEEF-LOVING TROGLODTYE. 0 to 100 real quick.
Much like monks who wear hair shirts to simulate the suffering of Christ, Drake fans subconsciously pray for a breakup, so they can binge on Drake’s more morbid discography and engage in a month long self-flagellation of post-breakup despair. Drake fans are not offended by Drake memes, they actively play a role in creating them. Has a fire been in the news? Why not superimpose Drake’s miserable expression onto the body of an onlooker?
Drake has one fan that makes Stan look like the kind of guy to stutter on the third verse in Without Me. In 2011 an image of a woman with shaved eyebrows and the word ‘DRAKE’ printed in large varsity letters on her forehead went viral. The story goes that the young woman was adamant that she wanted the name of the singer behind “Hell Yeah Fucking Right” permanently plastered across her face. The tattoo artist expressed the kind of nihilistic apathy that would make a Chuck Palahniuk character blush: “In my opinion this whole world’s going to shit, and shit rolls downhill, so I might as well just jump in, hold my breath.” But the girl’s decision to tattoo Drake’s name becomes less Free Spirit and more Look what You’ve Done when you realise that the girl had shaved off her eyebrows HERSELF, and that she may have been close to Overdose. Maybe this girl was just listening to Drake’s instruction in Free Spirit, “tat my name on you so I know it’s real.” When Drizzy found out he went 0 to 100 real quick. “That’s cool, though, I feel you 100 per cent. That to me is absolutely incredible…the guy who tatted it is a fucking asshole… I don’t fuck with that guy… If I see you I will fuck you up… I mean, it’s crazy. It’s surreal, I don’t even want to look at it anymore.”
Or how about this kid who got the name of Drake’s album EP tattooed to the back of his neck a mere 24 hours after its release? Of course by the time this kid’s mum read the words permanently affixed to her son’s neck, it was too late.
#3. Lil B Fans – “The Task Force”
Lil B is so meta, so ironic, so post-modern it makes my brain hurt. The argument goes that Lil B is not a good rapper, but that this is done deliberately to parody bad rappers, which in turn makes him, the greatest rapper alive. He’s kind of like the Borat of the rap game. Lil B and the internet have a symbiotic, ghost in the machine relationship. It’s not entirely clear which one of them came first. Lil B is like that scene in the Matrix where Agent Smith takes human form. He’s a living breathing meme and the physical manifestation of trolling.
It’s no surprise that his fan base are equally millennial, and a force to be reckoned with on social media. His militant cadre, The Task Force, live by the literal mandate to “protect Lil B at all costs.” In practice this involves trawling social media for any instance of someone badmouthing the Based God and then relentlessly trolling them (even as I write the Task Force are pursuing me). The most recent victim of the Task Force was Joey Bada$$, so mercilessly trolled by this collection of 14 year old gaming prodigy’s, that he deleted his twitter account. Here Joey echoes a common frustration with the Task Force who in perfect trolling fashion, always come across as idiotic and asinine –
But Lil B is more than just a troll, he is a prophet, he is the Based God. Lil B has a unique ethos that seems to resonate with fans. Liking Lil B and liking his music are mutually exclusive. Arguably, his music is not meant to be liked. Put very briefly, the Based God is Christ-like in that he principally preaches a message of positivity, love and acceptance – sort of like the My Little Pony of rap communities.
The online community ‘BasedWorld’ is full of individuals who have found succour in the unconditional love of the BasedGod. The teachings of Lil B have a profound effect on the everyday lives of his followers. Brandon Skipper, known as Skip in BasedWorld said, “I started to apply what Lil B was saying in his more serious songs to my life…I don’t have a job. I ain’t in school right now, but every day I go outside and look at the sky…and I’m happy.” Brittany Fransko met her boyfriend Jebriel Teague through BasedWorld, “a lot of people I’ve known for six months through BasedWorld are closer to me than friends I’ve had my whole life…that’s why I’m glad my boyfriend is based.” 60 year old Grandpa Chip recognised Lil B’s message as the unique world view of the youth of today. He told his wife that listening to Lil B was necessary to connect and relate with his grandkids. And if you don’t believe me, here’s a video clip that he bothered to make, which he surely wouldn’t do If he was faking it right?
Go to a Lil B concert and prepare to see some serious Hillsong shit. More like bacchanal religious ecstasy than a rap show, fans come kitted out in Chefs outfits, and offer cats and their girlfriends as living tributes to the Based God.
Or maybe they’re all just trolling.
#2. Odd Future Fans – “Golf Wang Hooligans”
The reason Odd Future listeners are so fanatical is because the group was originally marketed as a death cult. It wasn’t just music, it was a completely immersive experience that would impact on every aspect of a persons life. Like all good cults it had its own iconography. The ‘upside down cross’ and the ‘bubble writing’ were perfect symbols for an angsty teenager with above average art skills to deface an exercise book with in an act of silent protest during double Math. And like all good cults it even has a droning repetitive chant that adepts can shout mindlessly, slogans like “Free Earl” and “Fuck Steve Harvey” and of course, “swag.” And like all good cults, the Church of Golf Wang has a uniform. Forget the matching black tracksuit and purple shrouds, when Tyler began designing clothes he created the unique opportunity to shape his adherents in his own image. The transition to clothing meant that people could literally wear their fandom on their sleeve. Find a 5 panel cap, some long bright socks and a tye-died t-shirt and you know you’ve found a member of the Wolf Gang. It wasn’t just a genre of music anymore, it was an identity.
A quick Google search reveals that Odd Future fans are universally loathed. “Worse than Juggalos” wrote one punter in a forum dedicated exclusively to the subject. Even the artists themselves are embarrassed by their own fans. “Male virgins” Earl Sweatshirt called them in a recent tweet. Colossus is Tyler’s very own homage to Stan, in which a loner fan harasses Tyler at a theme park. Tyler mocks these sociopaths with a love for street wear, “I like pants that cut are cut, I like words like fuck” says the fan.
So what’s so offensive about these progressive hip-hop zealots? Mainly, because they are white and because they are tweens. When asked about why they liked Odd Future one Michael Cera-looking fan said because “they’re against the system,” when asked if he too was against the system, he said he was “unsure.” Another fan replied simply and honestly, “because they’re black.” Odd Future is sometimes credited with the increased tolerance of white people using the n-word. They’re also seen as rich which is the easiest reason to hate anyone for anything.
#1. Insane Clown Posse Fans – “Juggalos”
It’s real, real easy to hate the Insane Clown Posse. In fact, go to any Gathering of the Juggalos (go on) and you can readily purchase t-shirts that read “the most hated band in the world.” They’re Hitler to Nickelback’s Mussolini.
The most hated band in the world gave birth to the worlds most obnoxious fans, the “Juggalos.” They represent a counterculture that is perennially uncool. They’re the bastard lovechild of two of the most unpopular subcultures in the world: emos and rednecks. They’re not fans of mixed martial arts and alcohol (cool things), but wrestling and faygo root beer (uncool things). They’re the only people still left on Myspace (uncool), and don’t use Facebook (really cool).
Watch any Juggalo documentary and prepare for 30 minutes of shit-faced white people trying to juggle a 2 litre Faygo, a gravity bong and explosives. Juggalos have done more for the whipped cream dispenser industry than chefs have. They love crappy tagging, exposed breasts, fast food, and the worlds lamest call-to-arms “whoop whoop”. Oh, and then there’s the guy who applies his clown make-up with ACTUAL SPRAY PAINT.
Then there’s their obvious fascination with the macabre; serial killers and an evil clown mythology. The association with violent crime led to the FBI ranking the Juggalos next to Blood and Crips in terms of dangerous gangs. (A completely ludicrous charge FYI).
But Juggalos have used their marginalisation to create a really unique and special camaraderie. They have used the shared experience of being excluded from mainstream of society to unite them. Juggalos have been outsiders their whole lives, whether because they are overweight, have pink hair, piercings, tattoos, or just because they happen to like the crappy Insane Clown Posse. Juggalos know what it’s like to be rejected, and because of that they vow to never exclude anyone else.
The Juggalo community is one of complete acceptance. Hippie Joe, a 40 year-old pipefitter and father of four from Detroit said the Gathering of Juggalos is “not a place where you’re going to be judged.” He describes the yearly pilgrimage to the Gathering as “coming home.” Aside from whoop whoop the other Juggalo catch cry is “Fah-Mu-Lee” – all 5,000 attendees at the Gathering of Juggalos are one big family. Despite the aggressive lyrics and Fear and Loathing quantity of drugs, there are never any fights at the Gathering. One fan, who vomited on a carnival ride and then passed out, acknowledged the impact the Juggalo life has had on him “made me the motherfucker I am today, without Jay and Shaggy – I grew up to be a decent good hearted motherfucker.”