One of the running gags with OG Maco’s schtick is how he sounds a lot like more than a few other rappers making it in the game right now (Future, Waka Flocka, Young Thug, Gucci Mane, the list goes on), but the zinger is that he doesn’t much care about these hardline accusations. He believes deep down that he is sufficiently OG Maco enough to defend his style-independence, though the artist-comparisons running through the grapevine are simply undeniable, and that should be a source of concern for everybody.
Maco, formerly Maco Mattox, was a part of XXL’s Freshmen Class last year and has been bubbling nicely in the headlines of rap in the past few years thanks to a number of mixtapes and EPs but especially 2014’s drunkenly fueled single “U Guessed It” from the Give Em Hell collaborative mixtape with Key!. Currently, the College Park, Georgia native is high but apparently the angry, hostile type of high flaunted and fashioned in the Lord of Rage mixtape (Jan. 1), his latest project, hopefully predating a debut studio LP.
Besides the requisite raging and wilding out professed in the mixtape’s title, Maco crowns himself royally and declaims from a self-made throne habitually here. “Sound The Trumpet,” “I Am Legend” and “Champions” all emit this kingly air, but braggadocio should be assumed to come from Maco’s camp automatically at this point. This high and mighty aura also spills over into the lordly raps of “Cowards” and permeates throughout the money-counting, gun-shooting fixations of “Often.” From a simpler perspective, even just the very high aggressive energy levels in “Ape Sh*t” and elsewhere would connote Maco as occupying a position of power, and this would be believed if one were not familiar with his style-taking ways.
Lord of Rage is a lot of borrowed style over substance except for “I Am Legend,” which shows more than a little perceptive worldly awareness in nice lyrical bars. Unfortunately, OG Maco is just as happy screaming, slurring and mumbling almost incoherently as he is emceeing in plain speech (an activity he infrequently takes the time to craft for himself), and the soundalikes and style mimicking, especially of fellow Atlantian Future, abound too often.
More dignified, the music exhibits a freshness that is lacking in the vocals. A synth of kingly muted trumpet bursts defines track one, as does the bumptious beat behind the victory ballad for “Champions,” constituting the two greatest examples of the mixtape’s most lofty noble production. The beats towards the end, most notably those in the last three tracks, take a dark tone. The horrorcore trap beat in “Often,” the black opera of “North Face,” and the eerie piano with ticks in “Outa Here” are all good solid examples of artistic beat-making tailored for Maco’s particular pursuits. Producers include Phresh Produce, Dolan Beats and Slade Da Monsta.
At the end of the day, this mixtape runs the risk of becoming another layer to the growing stack of Maco’s pre-album, come-up projects. Wild, spasmodic and mercurial energy in addition to plenty of styles (originally OG Maco’s or not) are present, though it’s all a lot of big shock-talk and gangsterism, aside from one or two isolated spots of sparse intellect. Maco is joined by lady rapper Losa, his only guest and a worthy one at that, but with all the various hip-hop personalities Maco emulates, one might think that Lord of Rage features all of the most popular ATL rap-extraterrestrials of late. It’ll probably sway his gullible disciples but certainly not skeptical newcomers.