OG Maco Sets the Record Straight on ‘Children of the Rage’ Album, His Issues With Travi$ Scott and the ‘Man in Black’ [EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW]
In an era where the internet provides access to music 24/7 and an artist can literally become an overnight celebrity, OG Maco is anything but a short-lived online sensation.
The Atlanta rapper's thoughts have been fueled by rumors that he's a one-hit wonder and a mere product of the burgeoning southern rap scene, here today and gone tomorrow. However, Maco, who gained notoriety after his 2014 hit “U Guessed It” went viral, was proving his naysayers wrong even before the song moved above the Mason-Dixon line. According to Maco Mattox, he's staying the course.
The 23-year-old rhymer had the right foresight as he's earned a coveted place in the 2015 XXL Freshman Class. Alongside the likes of Vince Staples, Fetty Wap and GoldLink, the honor is a testament to Maco's star potential. After signing a deal with Quality Control Music -- the indie label partnered with Motown Records and Capitol Music Group in May -- he'll make his major label debut with Children of the Rage. He's got a handful of mixtapes and EPs to his name, but Maco's just getting started.
While on the road to the top, Maco has faced some struggles along the way. His most recent one: being sick. As he travels from state to state for performances, his immune system has taken a hit. Besides asthma and bronchitis, he recently battled a nasty summer cold. We interrupted OG Maco's medicated-induced nap one sunny afternoon to chop it up about his album, his issues with Travi$ Scott, why he's carrying the "man in black" title and more.
The Boombox: Congratulations on making it into XXL’s 2015 Freshman Class. Was that always a dream of yours?
OG Maco: Thank you. Yeah, I been telling people I was going to be on the cover of XXL since the 2011 [Freshman Class] was about to be out. It was probably around 2008, when I started saying, "I will probably make 2010 or the 2011 cover." That was back when I wasn’t really taking rap seriously.
Who was the first OG or veteran in the game who called to compliment you on the cover?
I don’t really get too many calls from any OGs -- or any calls about anything. Shout out to Busta Rhymes. He always reaches out and tells me to keep talking my s---. And another one is Killer Mike, who makes sure to tell me to keep "busting ass" when I see him. But the OGs took a kind of interesting route… they don’t really hand me down any information like that. I guess it’s because they feel as though I’m responsible enough or that I don’t really because I carry myself in an OG manor. So they just give me the same respect.
Were you upset about not being able to perform at the 2015 XXL Freshman Class concert in New York?
Yeah, very much so. I was super mad. I was actually really sick at the time. Over BET [Awards] weekend, everyone was talking about interviews that I did where I didn’t know that I had tissue stuffed deep, deep in my nose.
Yikes. You still sound a bit hoarse. Are you starting to feel better now?
Yes. I’ve been talking antibiotics. I have bronchitis and asthma and then I ended up catching a summer cold. I think it just got out of hand with all the work and the traveling and I didn’t really have time to take care of it. You know, a lot of times a show came around I could have performed, but it would have had one of two outcomes: me throwing up onstage or me not being able to finish my entire set.
Watch OG Mago's "U Guessed It" Video
Which one of your XXL Freshman classmates do you think would give you a run for your money in a rap battle?
That’s a good question. It depends if it’s written or unwritten because all of them wrote their stuff. I can’t accurately judge their skill level because I didn’t pre-write anything for any XXL event. Everything was off the top of the head. There were actually multiple takes of multiple freestyles of me, so I didn’t even know what was going to be said because I freestyled every take.
I figured we were already supposed to be the best of the best so why would I go and pre-write something for what was supposed to be a fun day for us to express ourselves as artists? I’m not knocking anybody for doing that but I feel like that was my way to be sure of what I am already sure of… we make amazing music.
You dropped 15 EP in February and you're preparing to drop your major label debut. What can fans expect to hear on Children of the Rage?
Children of the Rage is entirely produced by my good friend Pablo Dylan, Fresh Produce my engineer, and Talk is Cheap, which is one of my producers. Childish Major does the intro, the Neighborhood took care of the outro and there is one song produced by one of my random affiliates Spliff Huxtable, which is “Handle Me.” But besides that there is no one else on the album. That’s why I dropped 15 to get rid of the tracks that had these “producers” on them out of the way. Because I really didn’t want them to be a part of the album.
Is there someone you always wanted to work with who you got to collaborate with on the album?
There are no features on the album. Well, my actual artists handled all of the features. Doja Cat has one. Let’s see, Kushy Stash has one and Quavo is on the last two tracks of the album. Other than that it’s all me.
You’ve done a lot of collaborations on your mixtapes. Do you feel it’s best for your fans to hear only from you on the album?
I think it’s not only that, but I’m not really a fan of all of the fake s--- that goes on in the industry. I mean, I have done a lot of features for people and those records are becoming some of their biggest records. You know, and yet and still, when it comes time for the conversation where they probably should include my name, they don’t.
It’s the same with the producers. They will send me some beats and I can say this for almost anybody -- minus Zaytoven, shout out to Zay -- but it will be like C-Class beats, like I am just some garbage ass rapper. Then they well release something with somebody else with this amazing piece of work. So the disrespect, I wasn’t with it. I decided to go ahead and make a Grammy [Award]-worthy album with the people I came up with, who believe in me and pretty much know my sound.
Listen to OG Maco & Zaytoven's OGZay EP
Were there any struggles you had along the way while creating the album? A sample couldn't get cleared? A hassle in the studio? A feature didn't work out?
No. We didn’t really use too many samples in the production of the album. It may be like two or three songs. We made it in-house, so we really didn’t have any.
In the past you had beef with Beyonce for “borrowing” your “U Guessed It” video concept for her visual for “7/11." More recently, you had some words for Travi$ Scott regarding his “3500” track. You said he was “borrowing the Atlanta sound.” What's your biggest gripe about those two situations?
It’s just amazing how easily, you know, that I get written off and the amount of hate I receive. I get called a one-hit wonder. People say I have this one song but I’ve put out 11 consistent amazing projects. When Beyonce wins an award for Video of the Year for a video that is clearly a rip off of my video -- that spawned my career -- it’s very clear that I have a very large influence.
You know everybody started hollering on their tracks [mimics the "Oh!" ad-lib] but everybody thinks that s--- came out of nowhere. Yet, when so-and-so did, it’s so revolutionary, but no, all that s--- was stolen from me. People want to sweep it under the rug like it never happened and I am just sick of it. When I say something about it, you have a bunch of idiots who will try to write me off as a hater, but really they are just cowards because I am just willing to speak on what is the truth. I won't be bullied to making it seem like I am a non-factor when really I have helped a bunch of careers get breaths of fresh air or reach new levels just based off the ideas they stole from me.
Did you ever speak to Travi$ Scott personally about your comments? Any other artists tell you to keep quiet about your thoughts?
I hit Travi$ up. The thing with Travi$ is I’ve known him. We were supposed to link up to do music. People have been asking for it. Every time I hit him up and we are supposed to work, he bulls---ted me one way or another. I don’t have any bad feelings or ill-will with Travi$. You know, I’ve been listening to “Antidote” and “High Fashion” and all that s--- and I am waiting on Rodeo like everybody else. But at the same time, if it’s true it’s true. If you are biting swag then you are biting swag. You’re taking the easy way out is what I was saying about “3500.”
As young artists, we are supposed to be the new wave and the new legends. How are you going to do that when you grab two of the biggest artists already with Future and 2 Chainz, who are not young n----s? They are just respected by all young n----s. Future has been around a long time since Dungeon Family and 2 Chainz has been around long enough to have two names. Then you have Metro [Boomin], Zay[toven] and Mike Dean, that’s an easy hit. You can replace Travi$ Scott with anybody and that song would still be a hit. That’s all I was saying, and if I call him and he were to take a call, that’s the same thing I would say. He knows how to contact me too.
Since your departure from the independent label Quality Control Music to inking a deal with Capitol Music Group and Motown Records, how have things changed?
There wasn’t a departure from Quality Control. I think that’s a myth. People keep saying that and it’s not true. What actually happened was all that work that I been doing actually got Quality Control a label imprint with Capitol Music Group and Motown. So my deal with Quality Control was actually the basis for the label deal with Motown. They began a major label themselves. I am still QC.
How has it affected your relationship with Coach K?
Of course, I still have a great relationship with Coach. But a lot of people don’t really speak on Pee. Pee is just as much an owner of QC as K. Everyone thinks that Coach handles my day-to-day but he doesn’t -- that’s me and Stev-O. Everything that you see, all the drops, all of the marketing is us calling each other at 3 a.m. saying, "Hey, bro, you want to do this?" It’s not some system or Coach K plan behind it. They just trust us to do what we do because every move that we make is so amazing anyway. From the billboards people seen with Rocksmith to the campaigns you see with Crooks & Castles, all of that stuff was me and Stev-O going to Fairfax, going to New York and building relationships.
Well, thanks for clearly things up for those who thought you just put "U Guessed it" out and that was it.
Yeah, what makes it easier is that we don’t have to listen to garbage, so much garbage. So many kids who think that they are going to make some garbage music and get lucky one time. Boom, you get a single, then they come and sign you. I had two singles before "U Guessed It” even came out. I was already running around and had a name in my city. By the time the “U Guessed It” video even hit the internet it was already the most requested song in every single function -- not just the clubs, but from house parties to kickbacks and hookah lounges. By the time the video happened, it was because it was demanded. People demanded that we drop a video. So we shot an impromptu video in D.C. at the Renaissance. It wasn’t some sory of Vine sensation, or Vine song or whatever f---in' myth.
You're of Nigerian decent. Were your parents born there?
My father was born and raised in Nigeria. He came here when he was 18. My mother is American.
Have you been to Nigeria? What is something from your culture that you feel is important for your fans to know?
No, I haven’t. The year my grandmother died was the only time I was going to go. But other than that, I have no other reason to go. I didn’t want to go. Well, that was the only reason I would have went. But I would love to go there and perform. I definitely want to go now and make my countrymen proud.
Watch OG Maco's "Love in the City" Video
Do you dye your hair blond or get it done by someone else?
I have a stylist, but we just parted ways. So I am actually looking for someone new. But the first time we did it at home it turned out well -- until I let my girl do it. That’s how I ended up with that patch in my head. I told her not to do it how she was doing it, but she kind of burned the f--- out of my scalp [laughs]. But I’m so hard-headed I told her, "You did this so now you are just going to have to look at every publication with this patch in my head and know you did it." It was all good though. It grew back, then I cut it off and it grew back.
Would you add any other colors like Chris Brown and Lil Wayne have done to their hair?
Nah, no. Actually I dyed my hair back black and all my fans -- well, all the girls -- were pretty happy. They were like, "Your hair looks good like that." But the other fans were like, "You need to go back Super Saiyan.” That’s what they call it [after a character in the Japanese manga anime Dragon Ball ]. Then I died it back to blond. That’s really the only reason my hair is blond now, for my fans. But it was actually never supposed to be blond; it was supposed to be white. That’s the color it’s about to be.
You seem to always wear black or a dark color. Why? Tell us about your fashion sense.
One reason is black is actually my favorite "color." But two, black is not really a color. It’s the absence of color. Just like white is all colors together. I use the black to represent that I am not dependent on being anything -- white, black or anything. I am who I am. That’s even with me championing so many things for black people as I do. At the end of the day, once we go through the racism and the inequalities that we go through, then I would choose to be a colorless being. That’s why I wear black. But also I am a very big Johnny Cash fan and he was the man in black. Johnny Cash died and there’s no man in black, so I am the new man in black. I will take that title.
As far as my fashion sense and what I do, a lot of other rappers have stylists. But I chose what I wear myself. I do that because I don’t wear clothing with big ass symbols on them. A lot of the times no one knows that I am wearing Saint Laurent or Rick Owens jeans. I think that’s why I have a lot of love in Paris for my music and my fashion because they see what I am doing and just how lowkey I am.
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