Rappers are people too. Sure, sometimes they seem like kings and gods, donning the finest clothing, chains, throwing money around like a power hungry Monopoly banker, but that’s the 1 percent. The other 99 percent are just like you and me. They have bills to pay, rent to make, groceries to buy, but as fans we often expect them to sacrifice a living for their art.
OG Maco can see both sides. For a long time he resisted making, in his own words "dumbed down" music, which can be an honorable yet often fruitless, frustrating commitment, but a rough trip to SXSW lead him to change his tune, and ended up birthing the now (in)famous, “U Guessed It.”
“U Guessed It” absolutely exploded and put Maco on the national radar as well as made him a go-to target for those complaining that hip-hop was becoming shallow, a complaint that takes on a new level of complication listening to Maco, but did the success of the song also trap him? His lights are on, he's certainly did not sleep outside an IHOP's at this past year's SXSW, and he even takes a few trips here and there (shouts out to Korea), but that double edged sword cuts both ways. “U Guessed It” gave him freedom and notoriety, but it’s also put him in a box he can’t quite seem to escape.
We owe it to ourselves to shed the boundaries, boxes and lanes we put artists in, and OG Maco is proof of that. “U Guessed It” was fun, I’ve turned up to it once or twice myself, but it was an anomaly. It’s time to move on like Maco has. He’s not concerned with that song, nor is he concerned with riding the next wave. The more we talked to him the more it became evident that OG Maco only wants to make music that matters and from the sound of the conviction in his voice, he wants to do it for a very long time.
Will we let him, though? Will we hear a brand new artist on a song like his upcoming single, "Monster," or will he always be haunted by the ghost of "U Guessed It"? I wish I could say it was all up to him, dependent on his music only, but he can only do so much. It’s up to us, the consumers, to really listen. Will we? Will his hometown of Atlanta, the current epicenter of hip-hop, embrace Maco like it's embraced groundbreaking artists of previous generations?
So let's say that after watching this interview you do move on, say we can all stop looking at Maco only as the guy who made "U Guessed It." What's our reward? If "U Guessed It" wasn't the real OG Maco, what does the real OG Maco sound like?
The future is filled with uncertainty, especially for an artist. Lord knows how many promising artists have crumbled under the reality of making music for a living. Often times it’s hard to tell from the music alone. It takes hearing an artist first hand, hearing the passion in their voice, understanding the vision, and seeing the focus to really find out who is destined for greatness. If you pegged OG Maco as a trap, turn-up rapper with no eye on the future, no genuine love for music, you would be wrong. So now if you see him as someone who is focused on making real music, someone who plans to be here for a long time, then guess what? You was right.
Lesson learned. Never judge a rapper by his single.
[Lucas Garrison is a writer for DJBooth.net. His favorite album is College Dropout but you can also tweet him your favorite Migos songs at @LucasDJBooth]