A world-wide performer hailing from Long Beach California before moving to the South East side of Hawaii on the island of Pahoa, Matt Maddox is making his long anticipated return to hip-hop with the prodigious release Righteous Fury.
Already highly appraised across the international hip-hop media, the album follows his 2010 debut album Asylum Artistry and aims to give supporters a personal insight into the man behind the microphone. The release aspires to address the obstacles he has overcome in life through a hellfire of lyrical artillery with a number of enticing collaborations. We spoke with Maddox about his background, the creational processes in writing Righteous Fury, the perspectives and intentions behind the release and what the future has in store for him.
Give us a little background on what first inspired you to become a hip hop artist, where you started performing and how you first put together the international crew Guerilla War Tactix.
Matt Maddox: I was first inspired to make Hip Hop music at a very young age. I was in maybe third grade. I remember hearing my older brother (an AMAZING emcee by the way, who goes by La Dog) bumping some shit in his room. I think it was Kriss Kross, but it didn't matter. I hadn't heard anything like it before and knew I could, and wanted to do it. It was artists from Public Enemy, to NWA, to Wu Tang that really made me decide, ok this IS what I'm a do. Guerrilla War Tactix was actually started by myself and Cruz DurrtyJada getting the same beat from the same producer on accident. He heard my verse I forget how, but immediately hit me up bigging me up and wanting to build. The rest is history.
What influenced the decision to put a special focus on an international element from such an early stage, by comparison to the usual process of building that aspect over time?
Matt Maddox: Music is universal. I don't exclude anything or box myself in based on what other cats do. I thought it would be real dope to have an international team not only to be original as fuck, but to also help spread the name on different continents that much faster and directly.
Understandably, you sing high praises for the internet for its ability to connect and utilise the hip-hop community into a wider global fan base. Do you think it works better than traditional promotional methods i.e. posters, promotion cards, busking, handing out mixtapes in the streets etc? Do you still use any of these methods yourself?
Matt Maddox: I do use these methods more or less. Less these days, but I've definitely started there. I believe the era were in now is just a growing digital age, and people's attention span is shrinking. Most folks are on that instant gratification tip heavy now, and a lot of mufuckas are lazy as shit too, honestly. They want AND EXPECT results at the click of a mouse or swipe of a finger. I don't know if it works better, but it helps in having demographic audiences already designated in some ways to ease your direction of marketing material.
How long had you been working on the album Righteous Fury, in which places were the majority of the lyrics written and what personal perceptions and themes inspired you to write the lyrical content from the beginning until the end?
Matt Maddox: I've been taking my time. After I dropped Asylum Artistry I wanted to jump right into RF, but life started to throw some curves and things got delayed. There were times I was convinced myself that I was done, and I'd literally stop altogether for months at a time, several times. I wrote a lot of it on the road on tour, and revised and edited a lot at home and traveling. I wanted it to be a more in depth personal record and let the listener in on some of my head space and feelings. I felt a lot of my previous catalogue had lacked that personal touch, and I as a fan love music I can relate too. I was inspired to open up and be a bit vulnerable to judgement of character and my thoughts.
In a sentence how would you describe the album, and in another sentence how would you describe its intent?
Matt Maddox: This album is very real, and much more in depth and personal, while also having improved all around from songwriting to production. Its intent is to display my feelings more intimately, and to let the audience in on my life, as well as make people step back like "Damn"!
The track "No Country For The Old Men" unashamedly blasts mainstream hip-hop. Were there specific artists or representations within mainstream media which inspired the writing of it?
Matt Maddox: Definitely. The corporate side of this industry is crazy. I grew up with this living the music I was listening to, and it just seems so fraudulent these days. I give everyone they props on accomplishments, but I can't fuck with everyone's music. I think Kanye's fucking gone off the deep end losing his mind aside from being a faggot in my eyes. These Trinidad James types, Young Money, and too many to list don't have any type of appeal, or even relativity to what Hip Hop is in my opinion. Soulja Boys n all these clowns give this music and culture a bad name.
As an indication for readers, if you had to compare the sound of Righteous Fury with a selection of other albums, which ones would you choose and why? Were any albums an inspiration during the writing process?
Matt Maddox: No albums were inspiration so to speak, expect what I grew up on and wanting to give back to that. I'm a 90's head and I wanted to give back to that. I don't even know what to compare it to. Just raw, lyrical, edgy shit.
How do you feel the new album differs from your earliest mixtapes in terms of your growth and progression as an artist, and do you think you still maintain much of the aspirations and ideologies that created your earlier work? If so, what would they be?
Matt Maddox: I've never done any mixtapes and won't ever, not my thing. I prefer original production and writing songs. It differs from my earlier works, and archived records never released or heard, by evolving on all fronts. Beats, quality of recording and equipment, songwriting and style. I still maintain the same ideologies and beliefs and have never changed who I am, I always wanted to give back, as it's given me so much. I want to preserve the real life aspect, the struggles, impact, and the relationship we have with our own.
What lasting effect and thoughts do you hope is on your listeners mind after listening to the album?
Matt Maddox: I hope that they can appreciate where I come from, and honestly I want the listeners to be blown away. I want it to be like the first time seeing me LIVE! Always the same story. I get weird looks. I get doubtful stares and whispers, all around doubt, until I hit the mic. Always get approached afterwards by people just shocked and not expecting the level of skill, talent or intensity that I bring.
You’ve already received incredible receptions for Righteous Fury, and as an artist that must be the ultimate gratification. But what do you aim for now besides from a reception to achieve in your career before 2014 ends?
Matt Maddox: Thank you, from the few who've heard it as it's still not available until Feb 25th, it has been. I'd like to make it full time and continue to build, travel, and grow with it. I wanna be getting some of this money in my pocket too. I wanna see the name and following grow.
What tours have you got planned in 2014? Will you be taking any artists who feature on the album on the road with you and are there plans for you appear on the tour bill of others?
Matt Maddox: I'll be on a few 2014 tours as for now. Starting with an East Coast run on Feb 20th with a few of the artists on this record. I usually tour alone and have been talking with promoters in Europe (again), Japan, Canada and Australia so far.
Have you got any future collaborations lined up you could let us know about?
Matt Maddox: Nothing set in stone yet.
Being from the UK, my attention is usually given to homegrown artists. Which new emerging artists from the States do you think we should definitely get to know about?
Matt Maddox: Check my crew the Dead Rabbits. The BAXWAR movement. A lot of affiliates of these as well. I work with, respect, and am a fan of several artists, but too many to mention.
We know life for an independent artist is very different from that signed to a Major label. Describe a typical week in the life of Matt Maddox.
Matt Maddox: A typical week is basically working on the various levels of this music, some side work, and fatherly responsibilities. Write some rhymes, emails, interviews, shows, and being the best father I can be for my daughter.
Where can people connect with you online, and have you any shout outs you'd want to give?
Shout out to my family and extended family. Shout out to my manager and brother, Matt Charette, and my labels Redphone Records and Seven13 Music. My crew of Vikings the Dead Rabbits!! BAXWAR fam and the fans especially. Nothing like authentic fans with no ulterior motives, just wanting your music and to support making it possible.
Peace y'all, thanks for having me.
By: Ethan Everton
Matt Maddox – Righteous Fury
Release Date: 25th February 2014
Label: Red Phone Records / Seven 13 Music
There's an international pre-order link for the album on iTunes: http://georiot.co/3ILt