Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Return of Swollen Members: A Hip Hop Odyssey.

Years ago, I was given the opportunity to interview one of my all-time favorite MC's, MadChild of Swollen Members. It was a daunting experience for me. I was nervous, excited, and struggled to keep cool and make it a semi-professional interaction, being such a big fan of the Misguided Angel. The troubling thing about it was the new album due to be released. Armed To The Teeth, their first project in
quite some time. MadChild was just barely sober after several years of hardcore prescription drug abuse, and I felt like the album was very indicative of that. It didn't sound like Swollen Members. I wanted to be honest with him, in a respectful way, about my opinion. There were some awkward moments, but at the end of what turned into and hour-long conversation (it was interrupted a few times by him declining several other scheduled phone interviews), we were new friends. He invited me to hang out at the next possible date, which turned out to be an interesting experience for Benny and I at Nuemo's, and later on the SM Tour bus and at their hotel.

I have since had conversations with artists that were once close with Mad (such as Evidence) and constantly wondered about how Swollen Members and the Battle Axe Family (what was left of it) would rise from the rubble of their leader's self-destruction and rebuild. My hope was that he would be able to stay sober, and eventually get back to making the music that won my allegiance as a fan in the beginning.

I should clarify that there were parts of the new music that I loved, but parts that made me shake my head in confusion. This did not compromise my loyalty. I promised MadChild that I would continue to support the group, and keep an open mind to the direction they were going. I had faith.

Next came Daggermouth, Monsters II, and some solo releases by both MadChild and Prevail (who, by the way is a BEAST on the mic as well). I have the utmost amount of respect for Rob The Viking and Prevail for standing at Mad's side, even as the ship seemed to be sinking. If they had bailed, none of this new music would have been created. The new material showed promise. A gradual return to their roots. During our interview, MadChild spoke of an upcoming project called  Beautiful Death Machine that would have an unmistakably familiar sound and feel. A rebirth of the group as the same entity that created Balance, Bad Dreams, and Monsters In The Closet; laced with the wisdom, experience and formidable skills they had gained through the toil and hardship of their lengthy careers. I couldn't wait to hear what was next.

Fitting that this video depicts the group..... uh, WORKING, because that is all they do.

Here's the crazy thing: IT ACTUALLY HAPPENED. The album is here and it is everything I hoped for. With the always sharp production of Rob The Viking and C-Lance; features by Slaine, Ill Bill, Vinnie Paz, Esoteric, Celph Titled, Apathy, and Snak The Ripper; I'm blown away. This is true hardcore Hip Hop at it's finest.

I recently listened to an interview with MadChild on Conspiracy WorldWide Radio. Mad's voice sounded different. More determined and focused than ever. It was inspiring, to say the least. You can check out that interview HERE.

Support Swollen. You can support real Hip Hop by purchasing the album and other merch on their website HERE.

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