Mac Lethal – North Korean BBQ – 4.5/5
“I'm probably colliding my career right into the ground but, I don't give a shit” - inohowutheenk
I remember when the old Lifer C. Ulferts submitted this Kansas rapper to the blog, at the time very much still clinging to the concept of being entirely for metal, I was torn as to whether or not to permit it. It seems the very antitheses of all that should be cherished by metal fans exists in rap; simplistic themes and a backing that sounds thrown together at the last minute so they can talk about their problems, which usually seems pretty insignificant compared to the day to day life of the non-rich and famous. Gradually, through the likes of Jedi Mind Tricks, Atmosphere, Immortal Technique and Mac Lethal's own “11:11” my perceptions began to change, but if you asked me back then if I would ever find myself reviewing hip-hop for the blog I'd have given you a strange look. I guess the fact I'm here at all speaks volumes about what you should expect from this.
He will never be a big name, rejecting big labels on the principle of never wanting to do anything but work for himself, writing songs personal to his own life and going against the grain of the scene. It seems strange but such a simple thing as injecting genuine emotion and thought into the words you write, even if you aren't the most articulate person, whilst using a complementing backing beat works wonders in elevating what might otherwise be another artist to pass up. It's still simple music but it's never too simple; there's an odd unconventional beauty to his words, speaking his mind in a plain English that shows his lack of education whilst at the same time demonstrates that there's always a thought behind it all. From the conflicting emotions of losing love in 'Shannon,' the slow declining candle of love that relationships suffer in 'Citrus' or the deep felt emotional depression of 'Raise the Dead' it all succeeds in showing him at his best.
It is a mixtape and so the flow between the tracks often feels disjointed, but each track is linked thematically if not necessarily in style, and this diversity of instrumentation; acoustic guitars, melodic piano lines coalescing with the expected electronic beats more often than not lends to albums credit, giving each track a sense of individuality beyond merely the tone of the lyrics, and whilst preferences will naturally emerge no track feels like filler material. The more I listen, the more my mood finds itself swaying in new directions, listening to the unconventional poetic wisdom of his words. And since he still says it better than I can:
“This is NOT a political statement, but an examination on the self-entitlement we feel while bathing in our own excess and drama. I'm sorry your boyfriend broke up with you, but treasure the good times you did have. Bump this mixtape as a way to help push those negative, volatile emotions out, BUT...always remember that below the surface, life is truly a beautiful, pleasant work of art for some of us. Unfortunately it takes looking at other people's situations to realize that sometimes.” - Mac Lethal (taken from his blog)
Highlights: Raise the Dead, Citrus, Shannon, War Drum, inohowutheenk