A couple weeks ago, MADlines released her latest project MAD Habits – aÂ Mixtape inspired by the late Nina Simone. I first saw MADlines perform as part of her duo Canary Sing. I was beyond impressed, and that feeling continues with this solo project of hers.
MADlines (Maddy) was born and raised in Seattle and spent her formative years in both Capital Hill and the Central District. Â In 2006, she joined the dynamic Hip Hop duo Canary Sing and spent the next five years performing at virtually every venue and festival in Seattle. She’s lead workshops in South Africa, published her poetry in The Black Scholar and in 2010, moved to Oakland to attend Mills College.Â Â Since moving to Oakland, MADlines has collaborated with local artists, facilitated workshops throughout the Bay Area, released a Mixtape, and graduated with her Master’s of Fine Arts degree in Poetry.
MAD Habits showcases Maddy’s musical and lyrical talent. Female artists/emcees who easily stand their ground among a male-dominated music scene, showcase their depth, which gives the listener an exhilarating experience. No matter if you’re from Seattle or Oakland; you will enjoy this musical ode. This time, the only word this project leaves me with is, dope – really dope.
I got a chance to ask MADlines a few questions about the project:
April Swaine: This project is inspired by Nina Simone; can you tell us a littleÂ about how that inspiration drove you?
MADlines: Nina Simone is one of my favorite artists because her music captures some of the most common, yet complex of human emotions like love, heartbreak, struggle and madness.Â Â I think I was most inspired by the madness aspect.Â Â My emcee name,Â MADlines, has three meanings: MadÂ crazy, madÂ angry and madÂ abundance.Â Â I’m obviously not saying that being mentally insane is a good thing; what I’m saying is that those who push the envelope (in music and in life) are going to be labeled as crazy.Â Â If you are a creative individual, chances are you’ve been told you’re strange, weird or off the wall. So I’m kind of celebrating all that isâ€”to pay homage to TLCâ€”crazy, sexy and cool.
AS: ‘Ms. Understood’ is such a powerful song, what drew you to use aÂ song that has been covered by many artists and bands?
ML: Nina Simone’s songs speak to just about everyone, but when I first heard â€˜Misunderstood’ it immediately madeÂ me feel connected to the struggles faced by womankind.Â Â I’d heard the song sampled by Hip Hop artists like Common and Lil’ Wayne, but never by a woman.Â Â TheÂ Â thing about sampling is that you are given a lot of power and can completely flip the meaning of a song.Â Â For example, Kanye flips the original meaning of Ray Charles’ song â€˜I Got A Woman’ to â€˜Gold Digger.’Â Â So I wanted to take the song back to the black woman who sang it, especially when I say â€œsome prefer to see me close to breaking, I just relish in their crazy making.â€Â I want to represent myself, having been misunderstood trying to become Ms. Understood.Â Â It’s also the song where I shout out lots of other Nina Simone songs.Â Â For example, when I say â€œyou could call me Saffroniaâ€ that comes from â€˜Four Women,’ but you got to have listened to a lot of Nina Simone’s music to catch the references.
AS: Your project is witty and deep, yet I can see myself happily drivingÂ in the sun listening – do you actively make music that is consciousÂ but fun and relaxing to listen to?
ML: Driving in the sun, that’s wassup! Growing up in Seattle, I used to think that that rumor that it rains a lot was BS, but then I moved to Cali andâ€¦LOL.Â But for real though, Seattle shaped me to be the â€˜witty’ emcee I am today.Â Â I am blessed to have grown up around a lot of artists that were and are skilled, thoughtful, smooth and just plainÂ filthy.Â Â But those who know me know that I am also a very light hearted, silly, sassy lady so I guess when you put those two together you get a particular sound and lyrical style.Â One last thing, and for the recordâ€¦I don’t really associate with the term conscious.Â Â I think that it’s limiting since some â€˜mainstream’ artists write songs with positive social messages while some â€˜conscious’ artists have out-of-pocket lyrics.Â Â Artists are human beings that have lives and their work shifts depending on what they are inspired by.Â In Jamaica, where my father’s family lives and where I’ve been musically inspired, there is a similar polarization between Dancehall and conscious Reggae, but many artists are making music that exists somewhere in the middle.Â Â I like the Jamaican term ‘Culture Music.’Â I think I make Culture Music to uplift my culture! I write about what I see and experience and, unfortunately I see a lot of problems.Â Â Anybody can see them too if they really pay attention.Â Â I see a lot of beauty too.Â Â I’ve actually been writing love songs lately, so that’s what folks can expect from future releases.
Thanks Maddy! You can download MAD habits here. Enjoy.