Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Patrick Stolley
A wish of Mac Lethal's is to speed through the next 13 years of his life (though this could be an overstatement as he's having a good enough time to not want to do that) so that he can get to the age of 42, when his grumpiness can finally be written off as typical old man syndrome. He takes his irascibility seriously and finds no fault in his agitations, finds no wrongdoing or malice in taking so many different stands against so many different provocations and people. It easily makes for the most entertaining and yes, intellectual hip-hop experience that's out there in the crumbling world right now. For anyone who is at all giddy for the return of Eminem this week, please just take a hike. Don't buy the junk. You will be unsatisfied as those are just empty calories, all sugar and no foundation. His is a silly act, an affectation for the sole purpose of bank accounts and propping up a character which is base and has gotten duller and duller as the years have gone on, this after already not being all that interesting to begin with. It's a regret to have even mentioned Marshall Mathers here, but what's done is done. Mac Lethal is a humorous and insightful man who knows his personal limitations and can pinpoint the personal and societal limitations of others from a mile away, doing so with honesty, not a slanderous burn. He's completely true to himself and in a most novel approach, brutally true to his listeners, who are treated to diatribes about every subject under the sun - getting a good dose of food chatter, disgruntled onlooker, drinking dialogue and a pessimistic outlook that still bears a resemblance to that of a carefree romantic, who would choose every day of the week and twice on Sunday to not have to be so damned disappointed with the people at-large. He plants within his lyrics the kinds of pearls of wisdom that just don't happen in rap all that often, caught up as the genre seems to be in establishing machismo, trampiness and the kind of sex appeal and drunkenness that can't possibly be real/wanted/sustainable. It's all a bit of phony vamping, that other stuff. Where Mac Lethal differs considerably is in an approach that makes the guy - a stubby, balding, reader and all-around good guy from Kansas City, Missouri - totally endearing and not despicable and ugly in his language. It's a sophisticated take on trying to make the most of what he's got and what he's dealt, never kidding himself about what does or doesn't trip his trigger. There's no posturing or sparring going on, just writing his own reality and not so much creating a new land of characters, but one that has a considerable amount of reflective quality, all of the believable normality that one could ask for. He's a guy who's anti-mall and pro-eating Cap'n Crunch cereal for dinner. He's happily single for life because - for better health reasons and a preference for having the whole bed to himself - doesn't want to cause a divorce. He raps that some people say that the classics never go out of style and then says, "All of us go out of style too," and it's a strong piece of observance that could be his fundamental reasoning for being so truthful and non-egotistical: there are no guarantees and there are many trapdoors. He goes on to say, "I'd rather beat a dead horse than throw a saddle on it and ride it," and his mantra is solidified, where the rotten apple pie might be the tastiest thing on the menu, where the rotten horse meat is what's for dinner, but also where there an endless capacity for stirring up the bees and having some good fun with the stressed out dicks of the world and their self-important, misguided partners.