Any true artist worth his or her salt’s music should speak for itself. In my eyes interviewing artists can and should be an opportunity to find out what makes them tick, how their mind works who the real person is behind their artistic endeavours.
Top-notch, heavy weight emcee Maddox is such an artist. He’s able to speak on topics as diverse as should we grow our own food to how it is that pop music mentality entered the rap game or what artists frequently sacrifice for their art. He’s power for the people kinda guy. Read on and you will find your mind flipping into all kind of thoughts and theories. It’s a chinwag and a half! When you listen to his tough brand new album ‘Righteous Fury’ you will see that it displays a step forward and evolution in Maddox’s skills, style and content.
Your new album Righteous Fury is out and is fresh and bursting with energy. What was your mindset when you were putting your new album Righteous Fury’ ‘together?
I wanted it to be more of a personal record. I wanted to showcase more of the growth of me as a songwriter and more of my personality and my character. A lot of my other work is very topical, aggressive stuff. I wanted to tone that down a little bit. I don’t know if vulnerable is the word but I’m a bit more open.
My opinion upon listening to the album and preparing to interview Maddox is that the track ‘Work’ featuring female vocalist Mina Fedora may be surprising but far from disappointing. It highlights a different sound that you may not anticipate from Maddox who has a trademark driving hardcore production and aggressive emceeing tone. Upon a Pale horse again is something fresh from Maddox who still has a best kept secret vibe to his persona.
Do you think that some artists are afraid of showing that kind of growth and stay stuck in a state of teenage arrested development?
I think so. I think a lot of them are like that or they get comfortable in their niche. They find a little groove they get stuck in and they bang it out you know…
When you are recording what’s the process like for you? What’s the studio vibe?
It doesn’t really matter, I record a lot at home studios, I myself have a home studio. I recorded the majority of this album at ‘ Chop Chop’ that’s the white boy shout out to him in Philly. That was a preference for me for this record. I wanted it to be energy. I spent more time working on this record than I expected so when it came down to putting it out it had to be in a time and place deserving of what I felt I contributed to it
Around a year ago or so there was an online debate with the argument “Is Hip Hop degrading society” which leads me to the question Is it time that a clear distinction is made as to what is hip hop? Does it give the impression that Hip Hop causes all that is wrong in society? Should certain artists be challenged and told that perhaps they need to stop falsely claiming that what they make is hip hop?
It’s a good topic to debate as I was talking to my man last night we were in New York and we were actually talking about that Hip Hop is all over the world universally. It’s a way of life. It’s not just one way, one city or one borough, one hood. It’s a way of life. In some places it’s really cultured by the surroundings by the people who get involved, even if the area you are geographically. It’s territorial and the accent of that area in itself will bleed into hip hop culture. So if you’re in an area that’s impoverished, you know down south there’s a lot of Trap music and stuff, like because that’s the way of life down there and some people up north or wherever they maybe a different continent or a different part of the world and may not experience that are gonna have their own cocky little opinion about maybe that’s not hip hop.
It’s more than just graffiti and breakdancing rap and DJ’ing. Yeah those are the four major elements and they obviously get major respect and credit. That’s the foundation but it’s grown and expanded since then. This is all my opinion. Some people feel what they hear on the radio isn’t hip hop because it’s not the raw cultural root elements that created it but at the same time out of those roots and elements this was somehow created you know what I mean? It’s here. I’m not necessarily a fan or for a lot of the pop and it’s love of publicity. For me it’s already easy enough say it’s a rap song but it’s pop music. I don’t think it needs to be sub genrered any more than it already is. To me it’s either dope or it’s not.
And it is as simple as that, Maddox tells no tales and pulls no punches and as the man says “it’s either dope or it’s not!”.
I never tire of the Mexican concept of ‘Jesus Merde’ as patron saint of drug dealers. Who in your eyes do you see in Hip Hop having the stature to fulfil that role?
I dunno man, I may even say Kool G Rap…
A would be contender then, the future for the still living Kool G (Laughs)
I was talking with my other homie the other night and I was just saying in the rap game a lot of people are real critical, quick to point the finger, quick to judge. Oh you sound like them. There are 3 or 4 foundational emcees that really set off the different branches of styles that people use to rhyme. This is all in my opinion again. In one-way or another you’re sounding a like to Big Daddy Kane. You’re sounding like a Rakim, or you got that Kool G Rap influence you know what I’m saying? Obviously there’s Big Pun, Big L, Biggie dudes like that who are phenomenal. But I think even G rap influenced all them cats on some level.
Do we as humans need to go back to being more self-sufficient? We are such consumers now. I saw an amazing Ted X Talk with a guy from South Central LA named Ron Finley who essentially does guerilla gardening and will plant seeds and grow stuff in a crack on the city pavement or wherever it’s viable in the city and encourages others to do so.
I think so but I think there should be a healthy balance. I think we as humans try to define things too much we segregate everything and classify and label s***. I think we should revert a bit. Everyone should have their own garden. 10 or 15 sq yards of to grow 4 or 5 different things and you could help to sustain the food and help the health and well being of your family and loved ones like that. The way we live as people not everyone is fit for that kind of lifestyle. I may be able to work a garden for an hour a day and it’s no sweat of my back but someone’s grandma might have a more difficult time so she may need somewhere to get those goods. I do think the way it is now it’s way too controlled. Everything is being manipulated. Everything is being modified.
You know GMO the whole whatnot with that thing going on. I think everybody should be able to not only have the right but should have the interest and the ability to toil their own soil and grow their own goods but I also think that though I understand the capitalism state of mind and business mindedness as well, some people need where others are able to provide more. Some people have more to offer and want to give than others are able to provide themselves. It’s the lifelong way of the hustle. We should all be more involved in taking care of the planet and what’s taking care of us know what I mean?. I defiantly can understand the necessity for economically having (financial) markets.
I think it would be cool if it was all on some farmers markets instead of big corporate supermarkets and everybody, actual growers and farmers brought their goods out so you could buy or you could barter like “I don’t have a lot of money but I could fix your car” things like that. But you know currency has complicated things.
If there was one thing you could change about Hip Hop what would that be?
Probably the pirating. Some people don’t realize how much effort and emotion not only goes into making the record but the life that has to coexist with that artist’s lifestyle. Sacrifice relationships, sacrifice friendships. You sacrifice family events ‘n’ S*** just major things going on. I mean it takes a lot out of you and you put so much into it for it just to be stolen from you know what I’m saying? To me it’s not just disrespectful it’s an undeserving act . I can’t sit out there and shoot you off my apple tree every single day. Eventually it can get to someone sneaking 1 or 2 apples to topple everybody.
Ultimately you shouldn’t be able to eat of my stuff every day like I provide you with what you want or need at the time for no appreciation or anything. I know with my first solo I did ok numbers. It did great numbers as far as being stolen and piracy goes. Thousands of downloads on different sites. In one way it sucks ‘cause you’re not seeing any of the back end. All your investment not only financially and emotionally and all these other things your not gonna get any of that back. At the same time the more it’s being pirated and moved around the more people are checking it out and that’s gonna be the people coming to your shows.
There’s a grey area though as some people do all right and get a relative fan base going and they do ok online but they don’t do shows, they don’t do interviews. They don’t do anything apart from record for the studio. I wouldn’t even expect any kind of return. If people buy stuff and show support it’s relative only up until a certain extent. There’s only so much you can do without proper marketing tools. This is all stuff I just recently figured out. I’ve been in the struggle my whole life and now I’m seeing both sides of the fence.
There’s a great picture going around on Facebook stating that people without thinking twice will spend $5 on a cup of coffee from Starbucks but won’t pay a $1 for one song.
You shouldn’t go up to the market and eat for free everyday. If you like the ladies noodles she’s there to sell em to make a living for her family. If you like the noodles, pay for the noodles. If you like the music you should pay for the music. That’s the one thing I would change but I don’t think it’s even close to a possibility. It’s so far gone. A lot of us are independent a lot of us do this not just through our home studios and our own means and connections but out of our own pockets. If you enjoy the music the person who’s creating it deserves your patronage.
Maddox’s responses are so refreshing. It’s no small feat that artists who are able to have intelligent relevant opinions and comments are not ridiculed. Emcees having an opinion that MATTERED was dying a slow death since the album sales over skills became rampant and artists chasing cash become fodder for the tabloids and gossip websites. Maddox is a real emcee and I am only ever interested in artists with high caliber skills and integrity. Support this artist and his quality work.
Righteous Fury is out now. Available from iTunes. Click here to buy.
Words: Delphina Scott @RawBlueCheese