OG Maco is sitting in the lobby of the Omni Hotel in Austin, Texas. It’s his off-day. Over the course of the next three days of SXSW, Maco is scheduled to perform 18 shows, a daunting number for any artist. He speaks easily, listens intently, answers earnestly. The “U Guessed It”-creator basks in the art of misdirection, something he confesses is the strategic linchpin behind the meteoric success he’s achieved in 2014.
“I wanted people to feel stupid,” Maco tells DX in this exclusive conversation in regards to his aforementioned breakout single. “I was already speaking about the black condition… People always want to put it on Hip Hop or say that Hip Hop is dumbed down. But we’re gonna act like these white people aren’t making pop music that talks about fucking nothing? That’s what we’re gonna keep doing? That’s what I’m saying. Niggas put theyself down to make it even worse. We’re always trying to find the next reason our shit is so unimportant. And then to make it worse, because even more niggas beat us down. You get a whole bunch of supposed-to-be pro-black black women telling us how we’re supposedly degrading women and all that, but y’all listening to these same fucking pop songs like when a woman say it, it’s all good. I’ma go out tonight. I’ma go suck some dick, I don’t care if my man care because he ain’t shit… If you’re an artist and you don’t have any clear direction in yourself then what are you doing?”
“U Guessed It” & The Art Of Misdirection
HipHopDX: How do you hold onto that as an artist?
OG Maco: You create what you are. I don’t have to wake up and make a conscious decision like, “Hey, this song is gonna let people know I’m still me,” or “This song is gonna let people know I’m confident in continuing to say fuck the establishment, fuck whatever.” I just continue to be me and therefore the music that I make, even when I grow, continues to reflect that. You don’t really have to go and make statement pieces except when you’re doing shit that’s outside of your normal realm. For example, “U Guessed It” was outside of my normal realm. Its’ a statement piece. It’s only in my realm for the fact that it’s cocky. It’s going and telling you, “Hey this is what I was going to do and I’m gonna do it and I did it. Bitch, you guessed it.” And even today, people still don’t understand the meaning behind the “U Guessed It” used right. They still don’t get it. That alone let’s you know that if people are not exactly sure what you’re saying, then they’ll get confused about what you’re doing. I just happened to make a game-plan based on people getting confused about what I was doing because I knew I was going to show them, and by those means release a fuck-load of music that I really wanted to release.
DX: What do you want people take from “U Guessed It”?
OG Maco: That you were wrong. That’s what I want them to get. You have a lot of people that have to go out here and create their own avenue for things that might not be what they wanted to do. At the end of the day, it’s about how will long you say “I don’t want to do this but I will to get it recognized or for the check.” I chose to do it for one song. I could’ve continued that on for a while—for three or four years. I wanted people to feel stupid because people in today’s world of information try to act like they never had a stupid moment or they’re not wrong 90% of the time because you can go on Twitter and say something that’s wrong and get enough idiot people to agree with you. Now it’s like, “Hey, it’s right.” Or even if they don’t say it’s right, we believe it’s right because it’s all about the human experience. No, you was wrong. You believed when you heard “Bitch U Guessed It” that I was ignorant. I couldn’t have been articulate. I couldnt’ve been any kind of legitimate artist or legitimate rapper, or nothing like that. So much so that through my first three releases, people still act like every time they ain’t heard a song from me without some lyrics. This is the first time you’ve heard a song from me without no lyrics. This is the first time they ever heard me rap for real. They just couldn’t accept, “I’ve been hearing this guy do this through three tapes already” by the next three. If you go back to the first tape I put out right after “U Guessed It” when Gifts came out, same shit. It was already there. I was already speaking about the black condition. What separated the two? Nothing. It’s just people don’t have enough time to say, “You know what, maybe I was wrong.” Bitch, you guessed it. You was wrong. If nothing else, there’s that. I’m good.
Hip Hop Gets Picked On
DX: Is that a reflection of Hip Hop or a reflection of society?
OG Maco: That’s a reflection of people. People always want to put it on Hip Hop or say that Hip Hop is dumbed down. But we’re gonna act like these white people aren’t making pop music that talks about fucking nothing? That’s what we’re gonna keep doing? That’s what I’m saying. Niggas put theyself down to make it even worse. We’re always trying to find the next reason our shit is so unimportant. And then to make it worse, because even more niggas beat us down. You get a whole bunch of supposed-to-be pro-black black women telling us how we’re supposedly degrading women and all that, but y’all listening to these same fucking pop songs like when a woman say it, it’s all good. I’ma go out tonight. I’ma go suck some dick, I don’t care if my man care because he ain’t shit. All that’s cool because she said it. Shouts to my boy, The Weeknd. The Weeknd makes music about nothing but being an absolute nigga. He just singing it. What they doing? They going fucking crazy. But you get joe shmo guy who might look like an average person and he’s saying whatever and now he’s trying to degrade women. No, we’re all just making the same brand of shit music but it’s what people want so we give it to them. You got certain artists that go and dig and give them more. But at the base level, every genre of music—from country to pop to everything—same shit music with nothing in it. No substance. Nothing.
DX: Do you think Hip Hop is scrutinized differently because of how young it is?
OG Maco: It’s picked on. We get picked on. But it’s OK. The problem is not that we’re getting picked on. The problem is that so many people don’t realize we’re getting picked on. What other genre of music is it where people go [and] dissect the lyrics and look for syntax, look for correct use of verbiage? People are actually doing this in Hip Hop. You got the @StupidRapLines. This is on Twitter. Where’s the supidest pop lines? Where’s the stupidest rock lines? Where are they? Where are those Twitters? There’s a bunch of those songs, dumb as shit, it makes no sense. Some songs are just sounds. I love Coldplay. I love ‘em. But “Oh ooh oh,” that’s the refrain. It means nothing. Think about how many songs to The Scientists to the LaRue songs that are nothing but sounds. What’s that?
DX: We got slice of pizza on the way over to this interview. The lady who worked at the pizza place asked Ak if we’d seen any celebrities. She said, “I saw OG Maco yesterday. He licked my face.”
OG Maco: I did. I did lick her face. I do whatever I want to do. However I’m feeling. Sometimes you get this me where I’m just chill. Today’s my off-day. I got six shows a day everyday after this. Nobody else has six shows a day any day. Period. So on today, I’m chill. Yesterday, I was out trying to see as many people as I could, let them see me, give pictures, give them the happiest moment they had at the first day of SXSW. OG Maco just licked your face. Pretty good day.
DX: How many of your fans do think understood the 15 minutes of fame allegory tied to the title, 15?
OG Maco: Not immediately, a lot of them didn’t get it. A lot of people don’t get it. I read this fucking Pitchfork interview. And Pitchfork is cool and all, but Pitchfork don’t get us. They don’t understand. A lot of people they’re like, “Oh, you’re trying to battle against being a one-hit-wonder.” No, I’m not asking y’all if I’m a one-hit-wonder. That’s not what 15 is about. 15 is telling y’all that if you was dumb enough to think I’m a one-hit-wonder, obviously I’m not. Even still, people have so much doubt because that’s the culture we live in where people will doubt themselves so much and I’m supposed to look for the approval of a media outlet to say that my music is amazing, that it touches people. I see it every fucking day, so I know.
I’m listening to everybody’s shit. I’ve only been famous, what, nine or 10 months? I’m still listening to everybody’s shit who I was listening to right before this. I’m still listening to all this shit just as heavy. I still preorder everybody’s shit. If you go on my phone right now, it’s hella preordered shit I can’t wait to listen to. Still got it. Still want it. So it’s not like I’m not looking at my competition or my peers, whatever the fuck you want to call them. It’s just that I choose to hold myself to a higher standard and say, “Hey, this music is amazing.” Whether it takes you four or five years to figure it out, that’s on you. But by the time you get to it, I will have already released so much more shit that’s amazing. You will never catch up until you finally just accept that there’s something special going on here. That’s why I did 15 like I did it, starting off with “I Am Not Perfect.” People think I’m something because I got a one-hit-wonder song. I made a one-hit-wonder song and I made six more tapes that are critically acclaimed. That’s why I think I’m something, not because I got 25-26 or however many million plays. “U Guessed It,” I knew that was gonna happen. I planned it like that. You can’t plan for these tapes to go crazy. You can’t plan for them to become cult hits. They just become that.
Police Brutality & The White Media
DX: What do you expect to happen the rest of 2015? 2014 was probably the year with the most public images of police brutality.
OG Maco: You talking about all this bullshit that’s going on? Rest in peace Jason Harrison—the mentally challenged guy shot because he had a screwdriver in his hand. To me and you or anyone else, when you saw that footage, you didn’t cry. You weren’t’ appalled. You didn’t do shit. We been going through this. I think now, and especially this year and the years to come—and even if it’s not right now, give it a decade or whatever—people will have to look at this timeframe and realize that we was fed the fuck up to the point where we was just openly disgusted. Before we was openly disgusted but we could get hanged for it. They throw you in jail for a billion years, and they’ll still do that. But at least now we gotta do some shit to get thrown in jail.
People like me and you can choose to just talk freely and say “Hey, shit is fucked up.” If you see a racist white person, you can be like, “Fuck that cracker.” We might get some criticism for it but do we really give a fuck about that criticism, no. I know loads of beautiful white people with beautiful souls, asians, hispanics, all that. To act like the black experience, especially the black male experience, isn’t singular, isn’t a phenomenally challenged experience—one that deserves to be spoken on and looked at, expounded upon. I don’t think from this year forward or last year forward it will continue to be like that because now people are looking to see. People thought they was gonna have to be able to say—especially mainstream white media—they thought that they was gonna be able to come out and say, “Well y’all talking about this Trayvon and this guy over here and this guy over there and Michael Brown and this guy over there. Those are just isolated incidents.” That’s the first thing that they say, “Those are isolated incidents.” And so, the media decides to go and find these incidents to see how many of them happened. And since they’ve started to pay attention, we’ve had 11 black men murdered that were unarmed. That’s not counting all the ones that don’t make the news.
DX: People barely talked about Arizona.
OG Maco: Barely. Barely. It’s so much shit now that’s barely getting talked about. I tweeted about it, maybe some other people tweeted about it. But if nobody actually goes and says nothing, there will never be an outrage about it. They’ll make up some story or some disease that’s supposed to be fucking us up, or maybe ISIS will do something that’s so amazing, so dangerous that the news will wash out the black man getting shot when tasers exist. Notice they have body cams now. That whole video filmed from a body cam. Body cams don’t change shit. It changes the viewpoint we gettin’ shot from, bruh. It ain’t change nothing. We still looking in the mirror like we used to. We got artists and people with influence and we’re still saying, “Hey we feel the same way.” It gives people strength. Think you gonna start seeing people getting strength and I think they’re gonna try to take away a lot of our people, too.
DX: What gives you strength?
OG Maco: People. Life. I hate people at a certain place. In my heart, I hate them: People. Humans. I do. But it’s only because I see the blatant potential for amazing things that we can do, if not for the smallest ignorant ideas we have that we let control us—letting our bases control us. We let the smallest parts of us really infringe upon the greatness we could be doing. We see it everyday. We see it in these amazing actions that happen when someone decides not to. I get to see it every night. I’m blessed enough to see it every night at my crowds that’s amazingly racially diverse. Never is it just one race in my crowds. So I get to see a vision of that perfect world that I hope exists one day for your kids and my kids, you know. One day I hope everybody can just walk around and be a human first. Not black, not white, none of that. Retain your culture, but be a human first. We all breathe, piss, eat, shit the same. No difference. When we start looking at that first then we get a bigger appreciation for everything else we’re doing that’s astounding and amazing. But until then…
DX: It sounds like you believe the media can still do good. One of the things I question every day is this: I look at media and I look at PR as the last two middlemen in this Industry Of Cool. You don’t necessarily need them. When it comes to highlighting injustice, there is still a benefit.
OG Maco: Right. The best thing you can do when it comes to racially charged issues is to at least get them in the light, first. You can’t go and champion everything because this black guy who got shot unarmed might have had some kind of background to it. Does it make it right? Fuck no! But then you have to look at how much detrimental shit we’re doing. We already making it detrimental from the get-go. And we can blame it on whatever it is: The fact that they’ve been throwing us in the projects for decades, the lack of educational systems and awareness about the low quality of a lot of black educational systems. We can go ahead and break into those issues, but at the same time you have to remember that it starts with us. Until we’re holding ourselves up to a standard as a general people to where people aren’t able to just blame shit on us being black, then you can go ahead and try to champion more ideas. But until then, you have to throw it to the media. You have to just let it be there and let everybody speak on it whether they’re wrong or they’re right or in between because at least, unlike before, we’re talking about it. It’s not just a scene in a movie. It’s not just a scene in a cartoon. It’s not just a stereotype being made on somebody’s stand-up show. It’s actual real life and this shit’s happening to people and it needs to stop.
DX: During his 2013 press run for Yeezus, he made a statement that classism is the new racism.
OG Maco: It is. It is. And it’s worse because you have the classism combining with the racism. I wouldn’t even say it’s the new racism. I think classicism has been there, especially amongst niggas. Fuck what everyone say about it being amongst black people—amongst niggas. Whether it be from light skin to dark skin nigga; whether it be from Perry Ellis-wearing nigga to Sean John-wearing nigga; whether it be from Tommy Hilfiger—nigga or Gucci-wearing nigga—this nigga has to be better than this nigga. That’s first. And before we start competing to be better than that white man or that asian man or that hispanic man, I gotta be better than this nigga because if I’m not better than this nigga, I can’t even think to compete with this white man over here. Shit, you’re doing it to yourself, my nigga. You already made it bad. You already started us at a bad point in your own mind because you’re not saying “Why can’t we all be just as equal to them?” We don’t have to be better than nobody. We show them what we’re better at naturally.