Mac Lethal is very, very excitable. The Kansas City, MO rapper, label owner, and former Rhymesayers artist has good reason to be, however -- he's still in the wondrous honeymoon stage of fatherhood with his six-month-old son, he's recently authored his first book, and he's one of the Midwest's most verbose rappers in recent memory. His energy, even over the phone, becomes infectious as he launches into articulated backstories that defend his rationale for his already storied career. The problem with Mac Lethal is that you probably don't know his name -- however, you sure as hell know his Tumblr, "Texts from Bennett," and his Youtube videos.
He's the man behind the wildly popular breakfast-themed spoof of Chris Brown's "Look At Me Now," racking up some 30 million views, among other Youtube hits, and the mastermind behind the unintentionally brilliant Texts From Bennett Tumblr, themed around text conversations between Mac Lethal and his gangster white boy cousin. These interactions helped set the stage for an eponymous book, set to a linear narrative at Mac's urging. While the end result is something that's far from what the typical convention of a rapper's authoring attempt might be, and is rather a heartfelt and humorous take on Mac's relationship with Bennett, it came at a cost to Mac Lethal. "
"It felt like a piece of me died when I finished it, when I no longer had to spend 16 hours a day working on it," he says. " I've read that book from beginning to end like 30 times. I woke up one day, and it's done, and I like got depressed for a while because I was like 'What do I do now?'"
But as is Mac Lethal's modus operandi, there seems to be no shortage of thoughts and themes running through his mind. Whether or not they're translated into lyricism or prose is up to him, but commenting on social issues has always been a part of his equation. "Beatbox + iPhone + Guitar + Fast Rap = Win," a particularly moving example of Mac Lethal's DIY Youtube video ethic that lyrically centers around both the media and Westboro Baptist Church's handling of the Sandy Hook tragedy, is such a commentary that's indicative of Lethal's much-needed attempts to shake people awake.
"When you do that to a bunch of five-year-olds, who have no ability to defend themselves, and they're just developing and they don't understand -- that was going through my mind and body and soul at the time," he explains. "It wasn't somebody trying to make a name off of a tragedy, which I always make sure [I'm not doing]. If I want to write a song about a current social issue I always have to echo it off of somebody."
That sense of conscious responsibility is also delivered at a neck-breaking speed, a part of Mac Lethal's sound that's made him such a fan favorite in the Midwest. Hailing from the same holy ground as the speed king Tech N9ne himself, it's no surprise that Mac's technical ability is as well-articulated and defined.
His wordplay and messages, often dished out over his own homemade beats, don't fit into one geographic niche. Like other Midwest titans, his location's lack of a sound is the sound itself.
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"We have no real allegiance to a region, so we just pull from different regions, man," he says. "There's no one in Kansas City who's like 'Nah, I don't listen to East Coast rap,' but there are people in California who don't listen to East Coast rap. That's why we have such a crazy, weird group of people that do nutty, fast, lyrical rap."
Whatever Mac Lethal does, and how he does it, will have people talking. Whether it's about breaching the ethnographical divide within his family or by simply slipping in a few timely lines into one of his rapid-fire digital raps, Mac Lethal finds success and solidarity on his own terms.
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"I think that my whole life I've always been kind of a blunt, very honest, openly critical person of other people and other things with the full knowledge that it applies to me and will come back full circle to me," he says.
"I've always been the type of person that felt like the only way we can get better and progress is we have an open dialogue on things."
Mac Lethal is scheduled to play Club Red on Sunday, Sept. 8 in Tempe.
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