Some people know the name OG Maco from the turn-up anthem “U Guessed It.” Other people know the name OG Maco from headline grabbing social media posts. Still another set of people know OG Maco as the blonde-haired rapper on the 2015 XXL Freshman cover.
The manner in which you have gotten to know OG may not even matter soon. Maco is preparing for people to associate a new moniker with what he calls an amazing musical body of work.
“OG Maco was never going to be my name for the length of my career. OG Maco is an ideal. Maco Mattox is actually the name I’m releasing my album under,” says Maco. “OG Maco dies at the end of this year. I don’t care about the OG Maco name. I’m Maco Mattox.”
After dropping over a dozen projects, Maco is on the cusp of releasing his debut studio album. The Atlanta-based rapper/producer initially created the project 15 as his LP, but Maco felt the content on the EP may have been too broad for listeners to grasp at the time.
Maco went through an additional assortment of tunes before finally settling on the songs that make up the forthcoming Children Of The Rage. Audiences can expect the OGG member to embrace the darkside while also illuminating listeners.
“It’s not that this album isn’t dark. It’s dark, but with light pouring through it. It’s dark with the flames of passion pouring through it,” Maco tells AllHipHop.com. “In a time where everyone is making this ‘let me get a hit record, I don’t really give a f*ck about living’ music, the album would be considered dark. It talks about the mistakes we had to make that allow you to grow. Then it goes into celebration – ‘We did whatever we had to do and look what’s become of it’.”
Mattox’s pre-music life involved the Southside ATLien being engaged in activities that were strictly focused on making money. Witnessing many of his friends end up in unfavorable situations led a young Maco to turn his hobby of rapping into his profession.
He began working on his sixth mixtape Live Life (the previous five were non-promoted releases), and the collection hit the internet in 2014. The Curtis Williams produced tracks “Sheesh” and “Workin” gained local traction which led to Maco booking performances around the city.
At one of those gigs, he met Key!. The two A-town representatives later collaborated on the Give Em Hell mixtape. It was that joint effort that spawned the ubiquitous hit “U Guessed It.”
“I brought Key! to hear ‘U Guessed It.’ I told him, ‘This is it. This is what’s next.’ He didn’t f*ck with the song at all. He called it trash. But I told him, ‘Trash or no, watch where it’s going to go. Trust me,’” explains Maco. “As a joke, we made ‘Give Em Hell’ which he thought was a better version of ‘U Guessed It.’ Based on those two songs, we went on to make the entire project. It was that project – and more explicitly ‘U Guessed It’ – that got me into the career that I have now.”
“U Guessed It” currently has over 36 million views on YouTube, and the song broke Maco into the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time. Rap devotees have witnessed a newcomer undergo a meteoric rise from the success of a viral music video only to flame out soon afterwards (see: Kreayshawn, Trinidad James, and Bobby Shmurda).
Maco insists his brand of music will allow for him to shake the “one hit wonder” tag, but he admits “U Guessed It” has blinded some potential fans from seeing beyond the simplicity of his breakout record.
“I was never going to be the ‘U Guessed It’ rapper,” maintains the College Park, Georgia native. “My music before ‘U Guessed It’ was expansive and lyrical. My music after ‘U Guessed It’ was expansive, but it’s like they don’t want to see that. People just don’t want to accept more than what got you to a certain place.”
Followers of the Quality Control Music signee have come to recognize the sounds connected to Maco range from the #BlackLivesMatter inspired “Get Down” to the weed-friendly Curtis Williams alliance “Money” to the hyper-energized “Gang.” This July saw the arrival of “Lord Have Mercy” and “Bless Me” – two songs that characterize the second version of Maco’s would-be LP.
“By the time I got to the second iteration [of the album], that’s where ‘Lord Have Mercy’ and ‘Bless Me’ popped up. By the time I got to the actual album that exists now, it was completely different,” says Maco. “It has become something representative of an entire generation with all the elements of my being – Punk Rock, Hip Hop, Hardcore – as actual music. I wanted it to be completely international, completely colorless. I wanted it to be an experience more so than a collection of good songs.”
Maco expects Children Of The Rage to be both a commercial and critical achievement for the star-on-the-rise. Anything less than a gilded gramophone on his mantelpiece could be viewed as a snub from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, according to what Maco claims high-profile musicians have relayed to him.
“I don’t see any way I sell less than 100,000 copies of the album. It’s one of the best albums of the decade, and I can honestly say that,” he announces. “An album is an endeavor at greatness, and I feel like this is greatness. There are a lot of people that have won Grammys that have told me this album deserves a Grammy.”
Maco would not divulge which award winners shared those thoughts, but his Twitter profile picture displays one music legend that has sat down with him. Def Jam Records co-founder Rick Rubin is an apparent supporter.
“A lot of times what me and Rick are talking about is how necessary I am to the progression of music,” reveals Maco. “Rick actually blended Rock and Hip Hop. If you look at twenty years later, the child of that effort would be me. Someone who’s effortlessly blending both of them. For him to see that is what I think drives a lot of the conversation.”
A photo with an iconic record producer is not enough to prevent the detractors from sending their gripes about what they feel the rapper symbolizes. Part of that criticism comes from Maco’s willingness to openly voice his opinions about society, pop culture, and sometimes even other artists.
Mattox found himself in his first major media firestorm this summer after writing on Twitter, “I love Future but also I understand Future has destroyed countless lives by making it cool to be a drug addict. 56 Xans isn’t cool.” Maco’s tweets were covered by the Hip Hop press, top music publications, and even HuffPost Live.
The experience served as a lesson for Maco. He and Future spoke, and the situation was settled. But Maco walked away from the incident more skeptical of a media he believes is bent on only highlighting the negative aspects of the person they’re reporting on.
“It’s nothing but gossip and bullsh*t. In a time where we need less gossip and bullsh*t than ever,” says Mattox.
While Maco plans to avoid mentioning other individuals in his public comments, he in no way feels obligated to muzzle his free speech. Not even fear of backlash is blunting his enthusiasm to speak his mind.
I'm willing to be the bad guy since you're all such willing minions.
— OG Maco (@OGMaco) August 11, 2015
Mattox states, “My album is based around these things, so to take that same gusto on my album and then be afraid to say it in common conversation, social media, or interviews would be a travesty to what I’m working on. I have to be able to say it if I’m going to rap about it. I’m not living through a facade. I’m speaking on my actual beliefs, so I can’t be afraid to do it.”
Fashion is another outlet Maco employs to get his personal message against injustice across to the masses. He stepped onto the 2015 BET Awards red carpet wearing a shirt with the names of 14 African-Americans killed by police officers. The public statement was an uncommon show of support, especially on such a large television platform, for the fight against institutional racism.
“No one uses that red carpet for anything. Look at the things it’s used for – Who has the best outfit? Who has the most diamonds? Who has the best hairstyle? Who oiled their skin the best? Who really gives a f*ck?” he asks. “We have social media where artist post pictures wearing Rick Owens, Raf Simons, and Versace in their normal life. So would it be anything extraordinary to see them on the red carpet? Why would that be something newsworthy?”
In Maco’s eyes, the Millennial generation is moving passed the fantasy of celebrity and looking for real connections with their favorite music artists. So the need to remind the world of the deaths of victims such as Mike Brown and Eric Garner is part of who Maco truly is – a socially aware young, Black man living in America. And Mattox does not expect to receive any recognition for his effort to shine a light on political, financial, and racial inequality.
A focused and United 1% has proven themselves to be more effective than an unfocused and divided 99%. The problem is systemic.
— OG Maco (@OGMaco) August 10, 2015
“It’s sad that it goes like that, but it’s the nature of the world to instill doubt and hate before any kind of applause or admiration,” suggests Maco. “You get that from your core fans, but the world at large would much rather count you out as something inconsequential or insubstantial. That’s just what they want to do.”
So how does the straightforward speaker handle the pitfalls of fame that have consumed so many talented artisans such as 2Pac, Kurt Cobain, and Amy Winehouse. For Maco, that hurdle is overcome through the support of his loved ones and the unabashed confidence in himself.
“On the days where you’re weak, you must have people around you that really care about you to let you know you’re a legend,” responds Maco. “Whether these people realize it or not, you are indeed a legend. And you can’t allow them to take that away from you. You can’t allow them to sway your opinion about yourself. At the end of the day, who knows what you’re doing better than you.”
Maco Mattox’s Children Of The Rage is expected to be released later this year.
PHOTOS: OG Maco’s Instagram