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Atlanta's underground rap scene is a breeding ground of talent that creates more trends than anyone would like to admit. A wildly varied scene that is built within the small confines of a few sections of the city has already introduced many artists such as Two-9, Money Makin' Nique, ILOVEMAKONNEN, Raury, and now OG Maco. The only way to describe Maco is to understand his most noticeable trait: energy.
Since breaking through with his Give Em Hell EP with Key!, Maco has ridden the wave of his chaotic single "U Guessed It." The song is simple enough, sporting only a piano melody and sparse drums, but it is kept afloat with what can only be described as primal screams in the vein of a great punk rock front man. We spoke with OG Maco about the reception of "U Guessed It," the landscape of Atlanta's ever-changing rap scene, and his thoughts on his new deal with Quality Control Records. Additionally, we've got the premiere of his new single featuring Migos called "FUCKEMx3" below:
“U Guessed It” has pretty much blown up at this point, and artists like Travi$ Scott are feeling it. How does that make you feel?
That shit crazy, dog. It’s humbling, but at the same time it’s exciting. These the niggas I’m listening to right now. And I’m looking for their shit, but at the same time they are looking at my shit. It’s real cool.
What’s the inspiration behind the song?
My engineer was pissing me off, and I was drunk. He was supposed to make me 10 beats that day or something like that, and I came back and this lazy ass nigga didn’t have no damn beats. So I went in [to record], put on some headphones, and told him, “Play some shit, press record.”
Is that how you make a lot of your songs?
Just about all of them, really.
When I first heard Give Em Hell EP with Key!, it felt really punk rock. Did you grab a lot of inspiration from that genre?
Yeah, I fuck with punk rock heavy. I fuck with what they do. People don’t realize that punk rock culture and people who follow it are like the niggas of white people. They are anarchists, they don’t give a fuck, they are counter-culture. They don’t care about being accepted for shallow shit, they want to be accepted for shit that they actually do.
What does OGG stand for?
“It’s gangsta to be original.” Everyone thinks it’s an acronym, but it’s not. It’s symbolic. You’re a OG, G. Wherever we came from we were an OG of that movement or that field. Like [OGG member] Brylan, people know him from “Fvck Swag,” and throwing big ass parties. That’s what he does. Me? I just do what I do. That’s how we all made it to where we at. Just being us.
With artists and movements like Makonnen and Awful Records, who has inspired you from within Atlanta?
What’s crazy is the people you just mentioned I’ve known for years. I knew Curtis [of Two-9] and [Money Makin] Nique, but they were rapping in the forefront. We all knew we could rap, but we had shit to do. We had bills to pay. I know a lot of them from high school. To see all of that happening now, we called it. But no one was trying to give us that shot, so we were like, "Fuck it. We don’t need anyone to give us a shot, we’ll make our own.”
Unity is probably the strongest trait about Atlanta that doesn’t happen in other cities like New York or other areas.
That shit is fucked up. People are afraid to be united. But they don’t realize that once you unite, that doesn’t mean you lose your identity. It means that everyone’s identity gets stronger because the conscience grows. Everyone knows Awful Records, Two-9, and Money Making Bros., but you can only do that when people unite. It has to be organic.
People may not know that “U Guessed It” also featured [Atlanta rapper] Key!, who has removed himself from the song. Do you want to speak on that?
When the song was made it was just some random shit that happened in my house. It was never originally me and Key! Early on when we were making Give Em Hell, I told him he might want to hop on it because the song is going to go. He was like, “Okay, whatever,” and he got on the song. I shot two different videos [for "U Guessed It"]. When I shot the first video, Key! happened to walk past the video shoot. I called him and told him to come, and he walked past it. So I asked him, “Are you trying to be in it?” and he said, “No, I don’t want to be in your video.” I was like “Cool, it’s whatever.” I wasn’t offended. It’s just Key!. I was like fuck it.
Are you and Key! still cool?
I just seen Key!, man. He was at my video release party, if that answers your question. Key! was at my video release party, and he was hosting it.
That’s the thing with situations like that. If people don’t get a explanation, it gets blown out of proportion.
Niggas have immature moments, or they have moments where they are thinking more emotional than they really are. It’s not the fault of the artist, but people have to get over that shit. At the end of the day we still live regular lives.
You just signed to Quality Control Records a couple of days ago. Do you feel like you signed too early?
No. The thing about it is that everything I’ve ever done I planned it out. [QC CEO] Coach K and QC saw it from the ground level, they could hear it. And you have to respect that. When I looked at it from a technical standpoint, the only other people that came out of nowhere with a completely different sound were [QC artists] Migos. And look at where they are at now.
What do you feel you can bring to QC, which already boasts an impressive lineup with artists like Migos?
Festivals. It’s one more thing they can do now [with me]. If you can pack a building with 30,000 people instantly because of songs they have an attachment to, what happens when you promise them something amazing and they don’t even have to know it? Because the energy is just so fucking raw. I’ve done “U Guessed It” in so many places, and two things happen: People go fucking crazy, or they just stare like I have a gun drawn on them or some shit. The first time it happened, I was like “What the fuck?”
How do you feel about ILOVEMAKONNEN signing with OVO Sound?
Makonnen is amazing. If that's where he feel like he need to be, then that’s where he need to be. I’ve seen him do some amazing shit, so I can only imagine what he’s let Drake hear or see for that move to be on the table. People aren’t looking at it, but he’s the first American artist on [OVO Sound]. He isn’t from Toronto, but he has a sound that is pure enough that Drake feels like it’s on par with what Party and others are doing.
In a way, it's the same type of energy that QC saw in you as well.
When [labels] do shit like this, It’s showing people [something different]. It’s so many fucking wannabe rappers that [complain about not being heard]; but maybe your shit is just trash, or you aren’t working hard enough. We’re showing people that if you work hard and you have good quality then people are going to fuck with you.
What projects do you have coming up?
Cardo is one of my favorite producers of all time. I had a mixtape before Give Em Hell came out called Live Life. I had to find these Cardo beats, and I tried to email him and couldn’t get any beats. I found two beats and made two songs called “Live Life” and another called “Broke or Rich” over these stolen Cardo beats. I never dropped them though, because I took them. Cardo recently hit me up and flooded me with the most amazing beats ever so I’m dropping Live Life 2 with him. And I’m dropping that before my official tape called OG Maco in October.
I’ve been seeing a few tweets from members of OGG about something called “The Blue House.” What is it?
[Laughs] “The Blue House” is the center of all FeFes (fiestas/parties). These parties are legendary. The shit that goes on at these parties…[Pauses] we don’t want to talk about it. Just know know that there are some girls that have become legends in the Blue House. Niggas have become legends in the Blue House too. It’s always fun, and it's never any fuck shit. We get the best DJs to come spin there. I performed “U Guessed It” first at the Blue House before Give Em Hell came out. It’s the OGG frat house. That’s headquarters right there.
Justin Davis is a writer living in Virginia. Follow him on Twitter @OGJOHNNY5.