'The Ringmaster' (1994)
Where does The Ringmaster fit into this story?
The Ringmaster was where the Joker cards became a little more clear. The Ringmaster is a beast that you have to fight when you die. And the size of that beast is based upon how you've lived your life. Sins you've done make the Ringmaster larger and more deadly; and the good things you've done, the peaceful ways you've lived your life, make it weaker and smaller. The question is, when you die and you have to face your Ringmaster, would you be able to defeat him? Or would he just crush you or dominate you?
The listener has to think, like, "Well, damn, let's see. I fucking beat my wife. I fucking smoke crack with most of my work money, and you know, and I'm listening to this fucking ICP record here, and it's asking me if I died today and had to face my own self in sins would I be able to defeat him or not? And hell no, the Ringmaster — my Ringmaster — would kill me! And probably stomp me to hell." That's what it's asking you to do, to look at yourself like that.
Where did you guys come up with these elements?
We feel like they were given to us by God [laughs]! Like, this shit comes into my head, and I don't know where it's coming from. I also grew up watching pro wrestling. We created our whole storyline, and maybe that does come from wrestling. Instead of going out there to wrestle like an amateur wrestler — like, Dave Johnson — we tried to create a character out of it. The Ultimate fucking Warrior, you know what I'm saying?