It's been three years since Swollen Members rapper Madchild was allowed to set foot in the U.S. due to his alleged affiliation with the Hell's Angels, but the Canadian-born rhymer is back with a vengeance, performing to a sold out crowd at L.A.'s famed music venue the Viper Room with La Coka Nostra rapper Slaine.
Madchild once admitted to spending over $3 million on drugs and partying. Now that he's clean, the tatted-up MC has reset his sights on making music, and with one of the most loyal fan bases in hip hop, he's using his life experiences to ensure that others learn from his tribulations.
In an exclusive interview after the show, Mad spoke to BET.com about how hip hop saved his life, the re-launch of Battle Axe Records and how his addictive personality has fueled his newfound work ethic.
You've always been very open when it comes to your music. When talking about losing $3 million and having to start from scratch, is it hard to be that personal?
At this point in my life I'm comfortable in my own skin, and what happens in life is what happens in life, and I think the best thing creatively and when I do interviews is just to be completely honest. Some things are humbling, some things I'm proud of, some things are learning lessons in life, but what I found is I talk about the great times in my life and the success that I've had as well as the trials and tribulations, it really, really connects with the fans (which I call family) who, at every show will come up and share that they've gotten on a better path with their own addiction or stopped certain substance abuses or are on the way to bettering their lives.
When you got clean was it harder to make the caliber of music you made when you were into drugs?
It was the opposite. Hip hop literally saved my life because it gave me something to really focus back into, be positive, be happy and become addicted to. I'm an extreme person so I either go all the way left or all the way in the right direction. Now with my path is on the right direction. When you're an addict you typically deal with excess, so your work ethic more than likely is full time when you go the other way and I love what I do, so my hustle is stronger than ever. Plus, getting on that focused track, I feel like I'm the best I've ever been. I don't feel like I'm getting older, I'm getting better. It's about reinventing and getting as good as you can at your craft.
You recently released Lawnmower Man, and you're on your first U.S. headlining tour in d**n near four years. Have you already started working on your next album?
My next record's basically done. I could put it out right now, but we're gonna pull back the reigns a little bit — just because I just put out two records in a row — and really build the Battle Axe Warriors movement, which is our family. We're re-opening Battle Axe Records with my new partners and it's just an exciting time. I also got Swollen Members to focus on as well as a new project I'm most excited about that I'll announce soon. I'm gonna hold off for a second on my next (solo) record but I'ma keep putting videos out and keep putting songs out. That's what I love about the Internet. It's that you can make a song and put it out, connect with all your fans that are paying attention and get feedback that night. Or do a song, go shoot a video and put it out. I like to see the gradual build as we're going. It's been a great dynamic to add to the business.
With Battle Axe Warriors, there's a social component to it too, right?
Yeah, Battle Axe Warriors is not a moneymaking concept. It's a vision that I've had, a journey that I wanna see come to fruition where we create a worldwide family where everyone can network within our own system and it be a private, safe, positive environment where kids can be a part of something without having the devil behind the curtain, like a gang where it's like, "Go sell drugs now." No! You're part of our family, nothing is expected from you, but you're gonna get out of it what you put into it. There's a business side to this but everything that comes in goes back into making the family greater, 'cause at the end of the day, that's what it's all about.