Madchild (Swollen Members) - Dope Sick

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Madchild takes pride in making narrow-minded and polarizing art considered "real" to Hip Hop's culture.

Literally and figuratively far removed from Drake's endearing finesse rooted in Toronto, Vancouver's Swollen Members have ruled Western Canada's underground Hip Hop scene for over a decade. The group's success with albums including Balance and Bad Dreams helped member Madchild's self-owned label Battle Axe Records become a mid-2000's independent staple that served as competition for the likes of Rawkus and Stones Throw. Still revered by long-term followers, Madchild emerges triumphant from years of tragedy with his first solo release Dope Sick. Madchild's clear passion for creating songs aside, his overall sound and style are trapped in a box that is both outdated and potentially off-putting to unfamiliar ears. Barely for the faint of heart, his aggressive imagery, persona and complex flows tend to be overbearing whether sitting through demonic channeling on "Devil's Rejects" or the hyper lyrical "Grenade Launcher."

The strongest case for Dope Sick is its production, allowing selections such as "Monster" a chance despite the standoffish battle cry "Fuck a mainstream rapper" and similar alienating moments throughout the project. Presumably titled after the theme of surviving illness, Dope Sick allows Madchild to exorcise his troubled recent past as "Wake Up" details an Oxycodone painkiller addiction and "Jitters" toys with the idea of suicide, both discomforting though necessary for the artist's progression. Overcoming these obstacles on "Judgment Day" makes it possible for the twisted "Dickhead" to place an upbeat spin on the life of a lewd degenerate while the album's closer "Wanted" finds the protagonist sharing insecurities about getting his career back in order. As is the case with most beloved subterranean Rap acts, Madchild takes pride in making narrow-minded and polarizing art considered "real" to Hip Hop's culture. Dope Sick ultimately becomes so caught up in pandering to this self-entitled niche audience that it neglects entertainment value and suffers due to its grating difficulties.



  • Carman Tommy

    Mad respect in The Fraser Valley aka Death Valley fame don't get to his head . After being a Gremlin we talked like no diff between me n u BW from the res Nation Pride West Side TOP Left MAD CHILD!! d;p

  • Anonymous

    fuck jesse fairfax's opinion. He don't know shit. MadChild fucking brought the business on this project.

  • Archangel Michael

    this is real hip hop . . . . . .. one of the only albums I can relate too . . . . . doesn't fake the funk like most main stream rappers

  • Anonymous

    exellent can play the whole album right thru

  • Phil

    Demonic, hyper lyrical, beloved, subterranean...your fucking right! Dopesick is a lyrical ass raping. If DX knew shit about real hip hop they would know its almost always polarizing.

  • meta

    guys a damn poet, good to see madchild back from crypt, his lyrics are dope. makes that "stream of thought" stuff sound bush league. keep it up

  • Bad Review

    Does the clown writing this review even enjoy hip hop? Sounds to me like Mr.Fairfax should be doing reviews for seventeen magazine.

  • Atomsk

    Since when is aggressive imagery and persona, and complex flow a bad thing? So every hip hop track has to be a party jam with over repetition and bullshit lyrics?

  • Sean Kennedy

    This is real. Most of this stuff I can relate to. I can't relate to kanyes maybachs and niggas swinging from the Eiffel tower. But I can relate to everything in one way or another that mad said on this album.

  • Paul Green

    I give him props, some of his shit is FIRE!

  • SwiftLibre

    Mads just doin what he do best, What he loves

  • Da 1 anonely Bong rippin JeW

    So now not only are these HHDX reviewers getting paid to give glowing reviews to radio trash, they're getting paid by the powers that be to give shitty reviews to underground hip hop. Jesus christ help us all

  • thatswhathappens

    Author's LinkedIn page. No prior writing experience.

  • Lasttruwarrior

    oops forgot to rate.

  • Lasttruwarrior

    Seriously?! This isnt an album review, usually they do an alright point on getting some of these but this website seems more and more apt to just ride the dick of the mainstream artists and waaaay over critique the true underground rappers. Brother Ali a 4, this a 3, and slaughterhouse a 4.5, get real.

  • Josh

    Dope Sick is exactly that!

  • madchild is madd

    dope dudee, real rap at its finest

  • Anonymous

    I disagree with this review I enjoyed this album along with the production and lyrics I didn't read the 2 chainz or Slaughterhouse review but this was a soild album would have been nicer with more new tracks and honestly more guests would have been cool too but overall Mad is dope.

  • TheBeastInTheEast

    There is an inverse ratio between the quality of albums and editor's ratings. For instance, he is not one of the member of EM's slaughter house. He should get a ridicilous rating like 3. But that wack album can get 4.5 . Really funny!

  • Anthony

    Clearly Jesse has no business reviewing hip hop if his standard of achievement and comparison to Madchild is Drake?! I'll listen to the radio the next time I care what HipHop DX's opinion is. You guys suck!

  • mcd

    This review is the result of a slacker leaving his job to the last second. Hackjob indeed.

  • Peter

    Horrible review. One of the best albums of the year.

  • Markus

    I recently read an article on Vice that bashed on Bill Hicks. He was man ahead of his time and people didn't understand him then. That article hit me hard because regardless of personal interests I think some reviewing an artist or album in a sense has to be objective. This review is way out lines, I can honestly say that this will be the first album I will buy in 6 years. Madchild crafted a classic with this album. I understand opinions are ALWAYS just OPINIONS, BUT I am very displeased with this review. Fuck this guy who wrote this YOU MENTIONED DRAKE WHEN REFERRING TO A MADCHILD ALBUM YOU SUCK DICK

  • Markus

    I recently read an article on Vice that bashed on Bill Hicks. He was man ahead of his time and people didn't understand him then. That article hit me hard because regardless of personal interests I think some reviewing an artist or album in a sense has to be objective. This review is way out lines, I can honestly say that this will be the first album I will buy in 6 years. Madchild crafted a classic with this album. I understand opinions are ALWAYS just OPINIONS, BUT I am very displeased with this review.

  • Jay D

    HipHopDX get your mind right! The album is sick. You clowns need to review your process for rating albums!

  • Brain

    One of the best albums, Fuck Mainstream FTI

  • Wideload

    ok, I tried to like this album. His voice tone is ridiculous it sounds horrible. I can't get over it to even listen to lyrics.

  • Ballin Wallin

    3/5? Really? This is easily one of the best releases I've heard all year! Vancouver represent!

  • anonymous

    The sounds might be 'out-dated' but rap and hip-hop these days is mostly whack and also narrow minded...just stuck on useless crap nobody actually relates to. Id much rather listen to classic hip-hop than another poorly written track that gets applauded on this site. This artist gives us a true look at what addiction can be like...Its refreshing to hear about the dangers of drugs instead of the regular 'I deal drugs' bullshit rap you hear now. Disappointed in this review...madchild fan or not, it was two weeks late, and less detailed than any other album review on this site.

  • Anonymous

    Bullshit review. madchild was lyrically incredible on this album. It's 1000 years agead of what he used to be doing, and even though it seems like his version of horrorcore "Recovery," it has lots of different content on it.

  • Anonymous

    great album , fuck this review !

  • Jeff

    Definately BS for a 3/5 review. This site needs to fire and rehire because the people reviewing this stuff arent doing it right. Madchild drops his soul into this one and blows your brains out lyrically. Anybody who thinks this is a 3/5 listens to Drake, Pitbull, Flo-Rida and all that other crap out there, because they can only understand basic english and cant wrap thier heads around how brilliantly this guy spits words.

  • Anonymous

    oh, and why does hhdx editors get to rate on a different scale than we do? we should each be able to use a 10 pt scale

  • Anonymous

    i liked this 4 stars. it surprises me how often i dont see eye to eye with hhdx reviews. looking over to the side this and 2chainz got rated the same. im not a hitboy fan but his album was better than 2chainz. And a 4.5 for slaughterhouse? if i remember correctly, not too many albums score that high. I like slaughterhouse but that album was definitely not a 4.5.

  • Ralph Rotten

    Jessie Fairfax will never amount to shit as a writer. You are an embarrassment. After MADCHILD supports and gives you exclusives, this is how you treat him. How much does it cost to get a 4.5/5 on hiphopdx??? Turning into The Source!

  • Anonymous

    This is the first time i have ever listened to this guy and its fucking dope FUCK A MAINSTREAM RAPPER THATS MY HASH-TAG

  • adillyo

    i'm voting 5 again just to balance out all the idiocy in these comments.

  • chig

    beats suck lyrics suck videos suck rapper sucks album sucks. sounds like a gay white version of b-real minus the innovative funky style that gave us classic music. rap is ass now. c-lance is a world class reject. see if you can make another one note "banger" that gives the world a headache you soulless hack. 1/5 canadian wigger rap

  • BW

    Is this review a joke ? At first I was thinking, I was crazy and then I saw all the comments agreeing with me. I actually went to HMV and bought this album, that last time I did that it was to pick up Ice Cube's Raw Footage. 4 Stars at least and here is to hoping that Madchild never decides he wants to sound more like Drake.....

  • Jack Copton

    Fuck a mainstream reviewer.

  • steeze09

    Too lyrical? Isn't "real" hip-hop asking for more lyrics? Isn't "real" hip-hop asking for maturity, personal growth and honesty? Madchild leaves everything out on the open, poured his heart into the cd and the result is dope production, rhymes and intrigue. Specific niche? Sure... Listen to it and become part of the niche.

  • Jay

    I see Madchild shit featured a lot on this site and I'm like; shit maybe dx is pretty cool then u leave reviews like this opening w/ a statement that Swollen's shit is far removed from drake's(the shittiest most mainstream sucka mc)"endearing finesse" and I know dx is just a buncha gay ass drake fanboys, wtf?

  • Anonymous

    saw him live in vancouver could not remember the words

  • DGT

    Sick album. Niche audience maybe, but its sometimes better to stay true to what you believe in than to sell-out and make music to please the masses. "Fuck a Mainstream Rapper"!

  • Michael Cushing

    Honestly, other than one of my friend's Hiphop Projects this is the first HipHop album I've actually purchased since the late 90's. Of course, 3/5 stars makes sense. I wonder what JESSE FAIRFAX actually considers dope.

  • Mulletarse

    Leave it to DX to cover shit like Chief Keef laughing at a dead man, and yet completely ignoring real hip-hop. This site is a joke. Make the switch to a site that won't ever cover Lil' Wayne, Rick Ross, etc. www.hiphopauthority with a legit, in-depth review of Madchild's new album.

  • adillyo

    dope beats, crazy flows, real lyricist...of course it gets a 3 on this site.

  • ThrillMurray

    Album of the year IMO - Awful review - DX you suck at reviewing albums

  • hot tranny

    drizzy is the best from canada

  • Herbals

    For a real review of this album peep In depth, legit, and not done with payola like this site is based on.

  • timmm

    madchild has been better and better since getting sober. Not a fan of this review, I'm going to continue to enjoy "complex flows" which you bash, thanks much.

  • nickrazor2000

    Yall are crazy. Dope Sick is easily a 4/5 if not better. Your gonna bust his balls because he is not going to pander to the mainstream? Thats fucked up DX. this is Real hip hop.

  • BlazedAce

    and yo this site pissing me off im begining to think they dont now what real hip hop is they all probly wuould rather listen to 2chains dushbags UNDERGOUND for LIFE!!!!!!

  • BlazedAce

    yo this is one of the best albums of the year if u like in your face lyrics every track is ill madchild is trying hard for that number 1 spot

  • Assassin221

    Damn, this review is fucked up after that after that super positive and personal interview with him the other day. Not that I'm saying HHDX should bias it's reviews based on artist relationships. Still, since when is "aggressive imagery, persona, and complex flows" a criticism for a hip-hop album? But I agree that "fuck the mainstream" is a played-out sentiment (even though I don't fuck with mainstream that much, I just don't need to hear rappers complaining about it all the time).

  • Johnna

    HHDX fucked up on this one, ish is definitely a 4 star at least. Dick head >>>>

  • Matt

    Great CD. Glad Madchild is doing better.

  • e.roksteady

    Yup, horrible review DX. Not Impressed.

  • e-roksteady

    Alright, I'ma have to disagree with this review. I felt this album was filled with dope tracks. Both original and honest, DopeSick has a lot to offer. The fact that the reviewer claims the album is too lyrical strikes me the wrong way. Should Mad-Child have just dumbed downed his lyrics like the majority mainstream hiphop acts??? When we are complaining about artists becoming too lyrical I think we are facing a behemoth of a problem. DX is one of my favorite sites on the web. I look to it for my most up to date information, reviews, and up and comers, and usually highly value and agree with the opinions they represent, however; when the new Beanie Siegel album achieves a higher rating than Madchild's Dopesick, I think DX might need to revamp their editor roster. I mean, COME ON! And I'm even a fan of Sigel! 2 Chains got 3 stars for Christ sake. Damnit.

  • gerry

    I agree that Slaughterhouse's 4.5/5 was the dumbest thing I've seen on DX in years, but this absolutely is a 3/5.

  • imaginaryGHOST

    Bullshit! You give 4.5 to Slaughterhouse and 3 to Madchild? That's incredibly fucked up. Not saying this is a 5, but it's an easy 4-4.5. Fuck HHDX

    • wueric4life

      Wow! a 3? that's evidence enough that Jesse Fairfax inst a real hiphop fan.Im pretty sure edwin ortiz would of gave it a 4.