On one of the last warm and sunny summer days in Vancouver, Pop Counter // Culture hung out with Madchild behind the Commodore Ballroom, hours before the kick off of his tour with Tech N9ne. This man, who has under his belt the titles MC, writer, producer, and businessman, is back from a publicized battle with drugs. He is refreshed and fiercer than ever, answering questions with so much flow, it was as if he was rapping his answers right back at us.
Speaking with an unexpected amount of candor, Madchild expressed himself insightfully and without inhibitions. Underneath his layer of fierce determination is a serenity that comes with his newfound focus. We are proud to claim his as our very own Canadian MC and we predict that without a doubt, he will continue making big waves in the hip-hop scene.
Kicking off the tour tonight in Vancouver, how do you feel?
I’m excited…I’m probably a little more nervous than usual because I’m jumping on someone else’s bus and going across the country. Usually when I tour, I take my Range Rover, my dogs, my girlfriend so it’s like I’m with my family while I’m traveling. It’s a family unit. My girl sells the merch, my dogs are there – kind of like I never left home. This one is different bus, different set of rules. I’m excited and honored to be on tour with Tech N9ne. He’s a really dope MC. I think I’ll be a fly on the wall learning lots of this trip.
You’re back refreshed and rejuvenated. We all want to know, is Dopesick just the tip of the iceberg for you?
Absolutely. I’m already half way through making my next album, which is going to be called Super Beast. We’ve also just finished the next Swollen Members album, which is going to be called Beautiful Death Machine. We’re shooting to put that out in November or early February. Coming back, like you say, refreshed and revitalized, I’m two years sober now so everything is exciting. It’s a different dynamic to come back to. Music has changed so much. I went through my trials and tribulations where I didn’t pay attention to the music industry or what was going on in my own country for four, five years. It takes a year to become yourself again and by the time I fully was myself, I realized this whole game is different. It’s never going to be the same as it was before. I am having success again, but in a different sort of way. The thing is, this time around I’m really stopping to enjoy it, I’m really appreciating all the rewards in life.
Working in a group dynamic for so long with Swollen Members, what does that teach you coming out as a solo artist?
Coming from a successful group, I’ve already got the work ethic there. Here’s a good example: there are a lot of rappers out there now, tons because really, anyone with a laptop, a video camera, and some home studio equipment can be a rapper now. I know what it takes to make it. I know that I might have to do fifteen, sixteen, twenty different videos and record four albums before things really pop off, but I’ve got the determinations, the commitment, the work ethic to keep going. Some people might be like, “I tried it for a year and it didn’t work,” or “I tried two albums and it didn’t work. I’m going to hang it up.” I’ll keep going. Persistence is probably my best friend. Persistence is key along with quality and quantity.
The kids today always want new stuff. More, more, more. They don’t have the same attention span I had the generation I came up with. I would get an album and enjoy it for a whole summer or years to come. These kids get the album, they’re already tweeting me saying when the next record coming out. I’m like, “You just got this one [laughs]. Enjoy it. Get to know it. I put a lot of work into it. It’s not a two-listen album. It’s a fifty, a hundred listen album.” You keep getting new things the more and more you listen, I guarantee you because I put that much thought and effort into my lyrics.
At what point did you feel ready, not only to put out a solo record, but also to use it as a platform to talk about your past demons?
Since people started paying attention to the EPs I was putting out and the little bus started, people started asking right away about the addiction. The more I spoke about it, the more and more I realized it’s actually a responsibility now. I could drink if I wanted, but I don’t. When I quit drugs, I quit drinking too. When I say I’m sober, I’m sober. I’ll drink energy drinks and smoke cigarettes, but that’s as bad as I go. I don’t smoke weed. I don’t drink alcohol. The reason why is because I realized there’s a responsibility. There’s so many kids, I’m not talking about hundreds, I’m talking about tons of kids either coming up to me at shows, on the streets, young adults, older adults, people that listen to my music, social networking or email how my story has helped them either make the right decision and get on the right path or make the decision that they want to get on the right path, to get normal again. I like to call it normal because the word sober makes you think that you’re not enjoying life so I use the word normal because I’m enjoying life. I don’t miss substances. I honestly don’t think about it anymore.
I also like to share my story and be open about it because the information helps people to go about getting sober. It helps know about ways they can go talk to a doctor and should be open to their family and friends and not have it hidden in the closet. Things like that, so when I talk about my story, about those particular things, I’m sharing information that can also help people, not only make the right decision, but how to go about it. It may or may not work, but I know for a lot of people it has worked – the steps that I took to get clean.
What are your thoughts on the rap game today? Do you pay attention to who’s on top, who’s up-and-coming?
I’m not so much out there searching for music because there’s too much out there that it’s confusing for me. I’m not a real computer guy and I think you sort of have to get into that zone of always searching for new music, being up on what’s new, it’s too fast paced for me. I know that I like Dilated Peoples, I know I like Jedi Mind Tricks, I know I like Kanye West, I know I like Yelawolf, I know I like Slaughter House, so I’ll always check their new things.
Usually the rappers that I like, if they’re introducing a new rapper, because I have the same taste, I like that artist, usually I appreciate the artist that they bring up under their wings. I try not to listen to too, too much rap. I’m making so much music now I’m kind of trying to listen to my own stuff to be honest. I’m kind of studying it. I’ll leave it and come back to it and listen to some other stuff. I like to go back to the old classics a lot – listen to the Beastie Boys, Big Daddy Kane, LL Cool J, Rakim, Biggie. When there’s a new artist that talented like Matt Brevner in the city that I’m from, I’ll try to make some sort of alliance with them and do a song or two, maybe a video to help give them a little bit of shine. Hopefully as my career takes off again, I’ll be able to bring up a couple of younger, developing MCs.
What differentiates hip-hip versus rap?
Rap music has become part of today’s pop culture meaning popular music. The radio stations in Canada for instance, I don’t listen to a lot, but when you do it’s a lot of electro music now – it’s very popular with the kids. That’s not something I’m a fan of. I was never a fan of techno, not a fan of whatever the hell they call it now, personally. But people will rap on that kind of stuff because it’s popular and they’ll still be able to get on the radio. I’ve decided I don’t want to do that and stick to what I believe in and what I like because everything goes in cycles. I’m happy just being considered an underground MC.
My first record just came out last week and we were number one on iTunes in all genres of music for the first three days. It shows as a community, hip-hop culture can still decide what we want to be popular and we can make sort of a strike to the mainstream. We can make a blow to the mainstream, like, “how the hell did they do that? They’re not on radio or TV and they still made it onto the charts coming out the gate.” That’s hip-hop culture to me. It’s a culture, a style of dress, a style of dance, a style of music, a style of talking. Those things combine make a culture. Rap music can be integrated with any form of music whether it’s drum and bass or jungle or house or electro music or rock, rock rap – all these kind of things, there’s experimentations and fusions that are happening. I would consider that rap music whereas hip-hop, hip-hop is about constantly progressing with your craft while staying true to preserving your culture.