As Featured on: THE DETROIT NEWS
Twiztid’s Paul Methric and Jamie Spaniolo are inside the warehouse of the Livonia headquarters of their record label Majik Ninja Entertainment when a semi-truck pulls up outside the door.
On board is another shipment of goodies to add to the T-shirts, tank tops, jerseys, CDs, vinyl records, plush dolls, hats, bandanas, soda pop bottles, throw rugs and any number of Twiztid-branded merchandise that already line rows and rows of shelving in the two-story space.
“It’s a little alarming,” says Methric, his face painted white with dark circles around his eyes. “We’re running out of room.”
For Twiztid, it’s a good problem to have.
The former Insane Clown Posse proteges left ICP’s Psychopathic Records in 2013 after 16 years with the label and started its own record company. Four years later, Majik Ninja has a roster of a dozen artists and is planning 11 releases this year, beginning this week with Twiztid’s latest, “The Continuous Evilution Of Life’s ?’s.”
“We want to show the world we know what we’re doing,” says Methric, the more talkative member of the duo. He’s talking as both a label head and a member of Twiztid, which this year marks its 20th anniversary.
He talks a lot about bringing things back to basics and refocusing the group, but he stops short of embracing a timely catchphrase about making Twiztid great again.
“We’re gonna recreate what made us great,” he offers instead.
Sharpees and albums
Right now, that means signing autographs on piles of album flats.
Inside a board room on the upstairs level of Majik Ninja headquarters, Methric and Spaniolo, better known by their stage names Monoxide and Jamie Madrox, are armed with Sharpees and are firing off signatures on hundreds of album covers promised to fans who pre-ordered the group’s new album, its 11th studio set.
Inside an attached recording studio, an engineer toils away on new music. Twiztid tour posters line the hallways of the building, which also houses life-size approximations of horror movie villains Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees.
Both Methric and Spaniolo have offices in the building — Methric’s is more of a lounge space, really — and the group’s manager and Majik Ninja co-founder, George Vlahakis, has an office with the head of one of the hellhounds from “Ghostbusters” on the wall. Another office is the recording site of the group’s bi-weekly podcast, “Ashtrays and Action Figures.”
The big-kid horror movie feel is at the center of Twiztid’s sound, which like ICP, has always leaned on horrorcore theatrics. That style gained the group a legion of devoted fans — Twiztid pulls from the same Juggalo fanbase as ICP — which sent 2009’s “W.I.C.K.E.D.” to No. 11 on Billboard’s Top 200 albums chart and 2012’s “Abominationz” to No. 18.
But a perceived lack of label support on “Abominationz” led to the end of the group’s tenure at Psychopathic and the formation of Majik Ninja Entertainment. The label is now home to a host of former Psychopathic artists, including Blaze Ya Dead Homie, Boondox and Young Wicked, although Methric says the intention was never to copy their former label.
While Twiztid has aimed to publicly keep things copacetic with their mentors, cracks in their relationship showed when Twiztid announced in early January neither them or anyone on their label would take part in September’s planned Juggalo march on Washington, D.C., which left some Juggalos in a state of shock.
“Just proves all they ever care about is Juggalo $$$, but when it comes to doing something for free to support Juggalos, they out,” read one comment on a Facebook announcement of the move.
Methric declines to get into specifics about why they won’t participate in the march.
“People have to understand that if we do something, there’s a damn good reason for it,” says Methric, without further elaboration.
Spaniolo too won’t cite specifics, but looks at the former partnership with ICP like a divorce, and the two groups’ mutual fans as their shared children.
“We’ll be the cordial parent and say, ‘that’s fine, if you’d like to go march with your mother, your fathers will be over here. We’ve got the new soda and chips that you like, whenever you’re done, we’re not mad,’ ” he says. “‘We will never be mad at you. We’ll always be here for you, we’ve always been there for you, and we’re not planning on going anywhere.’ ”
New sense of purpose
Methric and Spaniolo have been friends since childhood, when they met at a Boys & Girls Club in Detroit. They formed Twiztid in 1997 after getting their start in the early 1990s as part of the rap trio House of Krazees.
Both are fathers — Methric’s children are 18 and 11, Spaniolo’s are 15 and 10 — and they say they keep a healthy balance between home and work life.
But work life this year comes with a sense of renewed purpose. Methric sees an opportunity for MNE to grow into music’s No. 1 underground music label, and eventually he envisions a conglomerate that makes in-house movies and more.
“Tyler Perry (style), bro,” he says, an oversize black Coogi coat covering his Albert Pujols St. Louis Cardinals jersey.
Among MNE’s releases slotted for this year are new albums from Boondox, the R.O.C., Gorilla Voltage, Blaze Ya Dead Homie, Lex “The Hex” Master, Triple Threat (Twiztid and Blaze together) and Young Wicked. There’s also a label compilation and a “secret” record to be unveiled later.
“These kids deserve more than Twiztid,” Methric says, “so let’s give them what they want. They want a movement, and we’re going to give it to them.”
There’s another reason the group won’t say they’re making Twiztid great again: like any good dinner guests, the duo patently refuses to talk politics or religion. And even dipping their toe into the Trump-ism would be a step too far, Spaniolo says.
“It’s just about entertainment, and we keep it entertaining,” he says, his cell phone ringing with John Carpenter’s “Halloween” theme song. “We have always been a release, and as long as we get to keep doing that, we’re good.”