OG Maco OG Maco [EP]

[Quality Control; 2014]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: hip-hop, congealed tarraxinha, grime, metalcore
Others: Rome Fortune, Rich the Kid, Arca, The Devil Wears Prada

It must have been an incredible feeling for OG Maco and his crew after “U Guessed It” went viral on YouTube. Almost overnight, the Atlanta-based OGG collective increased their following on an unprecedented scale. Only a month or so after releasing Give ‘Em Hell, Maco (a.k.a. Maco Mattox) signed to Quality Control (home to Migos and Rich the Kid), while the song’s emphatic hook spawned its own meme as the number of online views soared into the millions. “U Guessed It” raised the crew’s profile massively, but it also tainted the man responsible as well as his output up to that point; the articles that were published shortly afterwards referenced his earlier EPs and his shift from autotuned R&B to high-energy rap, but it was all pinned to that one song and the shareability of the social media surge that came with it.

The OG Maco EP dropped at the end of November amidst all that online brouhaha. There were high expectations for it, but at the same time, there was little confidence that any of these tracks would top the bare-bones finesse of that first hit single. Ironically though, “U Guessed It” only transpired because Maco was pissed at his engineer for “being lazy” and not prepping the right beats for him, an act of idleness that has seemingly been flipped on its head here. The reason that this EP stuck out and that this story is worth following into the new year is because the beats and production remain vital, not only to the tail end of releases in 2014 but also to the direction of hip-hop. On OG Maco, the vigorous, punk-infused rap that’s won this artist so much favor over the past few months is presented on the back of some impeccable music.

There are a fistful of tracks on here that come with incredibly complex, elasticated beat patterns. They take on the writhing, rubbery textures of Arca and the cold metallic thunk of CYPHR (each of which sits nicely alongside the DJ Rashad references that are thrown in for good measure). And it’s the production that draws you in as a stepping stone to OG Maco’s flow, style, and content. These beats work so well because they embody that lyrical angle, the tumbling exasperated swirl that OG spouts as he dwells on intoxication, dealing drugs, and his sudden increase in popularity. Take “Seizure,” with its dizzying percussion sequences, haunting melodic climbs, and dramatic pauses; the shallow vocal echoes that rumble in the background build a thick and gripping tension, as Maco reels off on weaponry and crime scenes. Then there’s that shout/scream/whisper combo on “12 Bricks,” where he plays the gyrating snares that burst and shatter in accordance with the mad directions of his tone.

The versatility of his vocal approach also adds to the record’s pace; from the deathly growls on “CRU” to the gentle croon of “Let’s Get It,” there’s an emotional depth that allows him to draw on the ravaging and insatiable mood that he oozes. This is often attributed to energy or passion, but it’s also presented with a sense of awareness, like he’s pulling himself back to a more level-headed standpoint, even if what he’s saying is violent and aggressive. “U Guessed It” features here as a remix featuring 2 Chainz, and the best example of that “pulling back” is where he retracts with “fuck, nigga on sight” after belting “gra!-gra!” in a vengeful, warlike holler. He demonstrates this again on the vocal roller coaster that is “12 Bricks” — it’s not like he’s expressing a degree of uncertainty, but rather striking a balance, spraying shades of his personality across these beats like some abstract graffiti while dropping hints at his own fixation on metalcore and punk.

“FuckEmx3” was the next single from the EP, and it featured newly acquainted label mates Migos, who join Maco in cursing anyone who might cast doubt on his rise to fame. Regardless of how many views that video got or how many Vine parodies threatened to match that number of hits, Maco’s rapid ascent is clearly on his mind. With so much opportunity arriving on the back of “U Guessed It,” it’s not hard to see why that may be the case, but it’s actually the jams on this EP that have pulled this writer in, and they exemplify a slicker aesthetic than either of the two singles. “U Guessed It” was a life-changing moment for Maco and his crew, but not a defining one. With four EPs released in the last six months, there is evidently no sign of reprieve on the road to achieving what is sure to be a fascinating full-length. Indeed, if OG Maco is a taster of what’s to come, then the success of that first single is destined to remain nothing but a distant memory — fuck.

Links: OG Maco - Quality Control

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