Monday, November 2, 2009

AYCE Presents: A Conversation With Mad Child

“Tens, twenties, forties, eighties, Mad Child poppin’ more pills than Slim Shady”
“Mad Child should be dead” – that is a phrase I have heard repeated quite often lately. I was happy to hear that he was off the pills, and I was eagerly anticipating the new Swollen Members album. What was supposed to be a twenty minute phone interview with Mad Child turned into an eye-opening 60 minute conversation. When we were done I had a renewed respect for Mad Child as an MC, and as a person. He is a survivor, a Hip Hop soldier that almost became a casualty of war. He lost a lot in the last 3 years, and now he is more determined than ever to make music, and repair the damage his drug habit caused.
This may be a long-ass post, but whether you are an old or new fan, or even if you forgot about Swollen Members altogether, please read! Also if you missed it, check my last post about ARMED TO THE TEETH – Out Now!
Disclaimer: I am not a professional. My interview skills suck. So, I’m gonna strip this down and paraphrase a lot. I just want Mad Child to be heard. Check it:
Mad Child: It's a different time. Imagine me, going through what I just went through, not even paying attention to the world for the last 3 years; and then coming back and being reintroduced to the whole music industry, not just as a business, but just what people are listening to. It was quite a culture shock. You know, that 3 year gap of me not really paying attention to music, or to the outside world, and then coming back, I was like: "Holy shit man, things have changed so drastically."
BrainSlice: I respect you for comin' back hard and being strong with the pills and all. It's a hard road, I can't imagine.
MC: It's fucked up, I'll tell you that much, it's fuckin' crazy. Thanks for the support man, that kind of stuff really helps me make it through the next day. That shit was gnarly, if you have friends that have been through it, then you know exactly what I'm saying, it consumes your world, you know?
BS: We need you man. Your lyrics just kill me.
MC: I'm honored man.
BS: We gotta keep you around, we gotta keep you here.
MC: (laughs) Keep me around, yeah, okay! Cool. Well, we've been doing a lot of recording the last 5 weeks, when I got back from L.A., we opened Battle Axe back up with Suburban Noize. I came back and everyone was like, well what are we gonna do before we go on tour? I said, let's just go to my PrevInMadChildsStudiohouse and record, let's make every day count for 3 now that I'm finally off these pills. I wasted 3 years of everybody's life, so, let's try to make every day count for 3. We went back and we recorded tons of music, Coming back after 3 years of doing damage to yourself financially, physically, and spiritually…. It's NOT like you just come back to life and then everything is good. I don't know if you've watched the Vlog thing on YouTube?
BS: Yeah I did. I watched all that shit.
MC: I lost a grip of money. It's all my own fault, you know what I mean? So, it's up to me to make up for the mistakes that I've made, and what I've done to myself. My whole point is, we've really gotta be productive now. Even when we go on the bus for this tour, we're bringing the music equipment. The whole goal is that, once you get off stage, after we say "Hi" to the fans and stuff, we can get back on the bus and keep writing and making music.
BS: I like that man, that's organic, that's where the art comes from.
MC: So, If the internet is where things are now, people keep pumping stuff out; instead of sitting around and crying about it, let's just embrace the good things about it and make sure we keep feeding the fans. We gotta feed ourselves too, with a constant, creative process, and keep moving.
BS: Some of the lyrics on the new album really had me laughing; with your comments about dudes wearin' tight pants and stuff.
MadChildGucciMC: Yeah, I'm not really a fan of that. Coming back to that whole shit and seeing what these kids are doin' right now and you're like, "Wooow." I understand that trends happen. We're both getting up there, but we're still young at heart, right? If music is your life, which it's both of our lives, yours and mine, that keeps you young at heart. It keeps you in touch with what's going on in the streets. You find trends and roll with 'em, because that's what you did when you were younger, but, I just can't embrace what's going on today with a lot of kids.
BS: I'm in that exact place, I mean, I look at these dudes and I think, "Did you steal those fucking pants from your younger sister?"
MC: Exactly! I just can't get with it, no matter how hard I try to be open minded. I think that those kids are gonna look at pictures of themselves in 2 years and say "Oh my god, what was I thinking?" I'm not getting caught up in that. I'd just rather keep it classic. You know what I mean?
BS: True. They WILL do that, because we probably did the same thing. I look at pictures of me when I was in high school, and I say: "Who the fuck did you think you were?"
MC: Yeah (laughs) exactly! (more laughter). We've learned that lesson. They're learning it for the first time. The guys in high school and college, taking pictures, they're gonna look back and go "What the fuck was I thinking?"
Throughout the interview, we talked about a wide (and arbitrary) range of artists that he enjoys, and have influenced and inspired him. He mentions Ghostface, the Beastie Boys (Ad Roc in particular), Led Zeppelin, Son Doobie, Nirvana, Souls of Mischief, AC/DC, Del, House of Pain, The Rolling Stones, La Coka Nostra, and a lot of others. Then Mad Child throws me a curve ball: Gucci Mane!?
BS: So you feel like he's different, he's not part of this whole fuckin' radio mess we got goin' on right now? I mean, I just saw his name and I was like, “Don't care."
MC: Right
BS: But I haven't listened to him, so I'm gonna take your word on this and check it out.
MC: This is where we might differ in opinion, because as much as La Coka Nostra is one of my favorite groups, and Beastie Boys, same thing, I had their records on my wall. They're one of my favorite groups of all time. They were more than a group to me, it was more of a lifestyle. The Beastie Boys were epic to me. Ad Roc was one of my favorite all time rappers, hands down. They consumed my world. The Beastie Boys were so dope.
BS: When I was a kid, I could not stop listening, you get in my truck and that tape is rolling: if you don't like it, get the fuck out.
MC: Hell Yeah, I had a fucking '63 Mercury back then. Driving 63_mercury_s55_breezeway around listenin' to 'em, and I didn't even have my license; I was 16 years old. (laughing) I fucking loved that shit.
But, my point is, now it's 2009. I can't get stuck in a time capsule, and that's what I try to explain to some people that are like: "Why aren't you just doing that same Bad Dreams sound that we love?" The true loyal Swollen fans want us to keep doin' that Dungeon and Dragons sort of stuff.
BS: Right. That's one of the things I wanted to ask you about, because I always go back to Balance as a favorite.
MC: I know what you're saying. The thing is, look, it's not 1999 anymore, it's 2009, and I have to make music for myself before I make music for anybody else, because I have tried making music for the wrong reason before.
Heavy was the one album in our disc set that we weren’t 100% happy with. We feel like we rushed that album, we were making it to keep the business machine going. We made that album for the wrong reason, it was a weird time. Looking back, one day I may re-release Heavy, with some of the tracks still on it, but with some new songs; and make it the album it was supposed to be. It still bugs me to this day.
BS: Do it! Strip it down. The lyrics on there are amazing.
MC: Thanks bro, I appreciate it. What I realized from that is, "Hey, we gotta make music for ourselves first, I gotta make myself happy." And yes, I do want to make sure that there are a certain amount of songs on Armed to the Teeth, like Kyla, or Funeral March (with Saafir), songs that have the same feel as that SwollenMembers4classic Swollen Members sound. It's where we came from, and I always want to keep that as part of my artistry.
I also want to be an artist that's progressive, and keep moving forward. The difference is this: even when I was a so called, "backpack rapper" when the backpack movement was crackin' off, I was living a different lifestyle than the rest of the guys in my group, and I always have been, since high school. I talked to them before we started recording this. I said, "Listen, I don't wanna feel confined as an artist. I know it's gonna throw some people for a loop, but I want to be able to talk about things that are going on in my life, things that are happening around me, and I don't wanna feel confined by my audience, or my group." I don't want to feel like I'm in a box and I can't go to the left or the right of the path because I'm expected to only address certain topics. So they agreed that I should be able to grow, and talk about things that I want to. It's more than just a gradual jump, but I wanted to make sure that there was a balance of the classic Swollen stuff, and also new things.
In addition to other artists we've talked about, I also like Lloyd Banks. I love to listen to that fuckin' guy. The Clipse are fuckin' dope. I was listenin' to this thing they did on Sirius a couple weeks ago, driving around and they were just doin' freestyle to promote the record over a bunch of people's beats. Those guys are sick. There are other rappers out there that are killing it, like Glasses Malone, we got to do a song with him for the new album called Real P.I. It was the last song on the album. That guy is fuckin' dope. He needs to blow up.
It's just fun to not always do the same mathematical rhyme patterns every time. I wanted to try new stuff and say, "Hey, this is somethin' that's poppin' right now" I can adapt this style into what Mad Child is doing and I can show and prove to MYSELF first and foremost that I can continue to be a progressive MC. I can stay on the front lines of what's going on. That was my thought process.
BS: I gotcha man. I gotta be honest, a couple tracks on Armed To the Teeth threw me. I think that comes from a misguided loyalty to your group. I said, "What the fuck is this? This doesn't sound like Swollen Members."
MC: Right.
BS: I understand what you're saying though. There are tracks that I love out of the gate, and there are some that I learn to love.
MC: I'm more proud of this album than anything we've done, even though Bad Dreams is probably my favorite album that we've done, and I was really proud that we made Black Magic.
BS: Oh yeah, I loved Black Magic.
MC: Yeah for sure. So I don't think there's anything wrong with doing stuff in topical categories. When shit is the truth, and it's all around me. I don't think there's anything wrong with me opening that part of my life up to my listeners. I wanna make sure that we never over-do it, and I know it came on a little strong! I was enjoying driving around and listening to music. but I've been listening to our album for months now and I haven't gotten sick of it yet. That's how I know it's something that I'm proud of. I want you to listen to it more if you have time.
BS: Hell yeah I got time man. I'll do it.
MC: That's what I want, I want honest feedback.
BS: I don't know shit about Hip Hop. I'm a fan. I don't know about the business, I don't know about the production, I don't know shit. All I know is whether I like or do not like what I hear.
MC: Exactly, and that's all I'm asking for. It's important for us to reflect on the stuff we've done, which helps us to move forward as well.
I'm just gonna give you a heads up with this SwollenMembers3 Battle Axe Warriors thing. We've got an album that is done. We're working on a bunch more songs. The Battle Axe Warriors stuff is gonna be pretty hard the whole way through. Beautiful Death Machine, and the next Swollen Members record we do, will also have a nice balance. I'll be able to satisfy my appetite for both types of music. That gives the fans a chance to decide: are they Battle Axe supporters all the way through? Or is Swollen Members more just their thing and they're not really hip on part of what I'm doing. That way, the fans will have a choice! It's just gonna' take me a little bit of time to build both things up, but I do want to give that to our supporters.
This is just a fraction of the conversation. I hope I did it justice. Big thanks to my crew at AYCE, and of course to Mad Child for taking an hour out of the night before touring began to talk to me.
I wish Swollen Members all the best. Support the artist! BrainSlice out.

1 comment:

Taybot said...

great interview. it's coo hearin him talk about all this stuff