True Story by Mac J
Although Sacramento’s Mac J is speaking about his personal experiences throughout True Story, the album still served as a not so subtle universal reminder of the several deaths that continue to escalate among young artists within the Hip Hop realm. If you personally have grieved anyone or anything then you’re aware of the array of emotions and thoughts that can become plaguing or catalyzing. True Story represents what it means to express those grievances and more closely how to mourn those losses when they are your blood and/or chosen family. Despite the pain and confusion Mac J exemplifies what it simply looks like to keep going. How do we keep going? How do we celebrate and honor lives lost? While many have various ways of how they do or do not keep going — Mac J not only expresses his sentiments through lyrics and production but firstly through album art. Noticeably, there is Mac J in the middle of a cut out heart, red flag on head. Within the heart there are yellow flowers (often signifying friendship) and two people inside the heart with Mac J; on the left there is Bris, Mr. Tricky Dance Moves and on the right the late Young Slo-Be. Both, two very important figures in the new wave/era of rap coming out of Northern California, more specifically Sacramento and Stockton. Mac J's perceived perseverance through True Story and his 2021 release, Trickymode are inspirational while simultaneously recognizing the difficulty of “inspiration” when the basis of it is coming from loss and grieving. It takes a lot of courage and heart to be able to put out a vulnerable body of work that still allows space for play and high energy invoking songs. It’s a beacon of light in a time that may seem grim or ill-lit.
When they took my lil bro they took the breath of me I had a meeting with my Soul to see what’s left of me The same ones that never listen want to lecture me Once I cut you off — don’t give a fuck about you texting me - Mac J, Angels
“Angels” is one of those tracks where Mac J does really well at painting his current predicament. He keeps sayin’ he’s not feelin’ anything and that he’s trying to fix his heart. It doesn’t seem like it needs fixing but more so understanding the process of grieving, the phases and time that takes the acknowledge and know where to go from there. I’m still thuggin’ around this bitch because I got angels with me. He’s sittin’ you down to tell a story on this one with clever and personal lyrics. I can tell that they don’t want me to focus / even if I’m last picked, bitch I’m chosen. “Alicia Bleys” featuring Philthy Rich & AO Meally — alliances, not shaking hands with no enemies. This is one that could’ve been made for the radio that highlights the vicious side of emotions and also how to handle self moving forward with his alliances. “Gawd Did” — personal stand out track due to the soulful/gospel influenced production but the flow and lyrics represent a revival within Mac J. Where he’s got the bear off his back, came above water and here to deliver the fire of the narratives that tried to drown him and take him down.
I can tell you what I know, play with fire and got burnt - it’s a blessing and a curse Bitch, I had to step it up I wasn’t hard enough I had to take my backbone and go and charge it up You know I took my own plate because they was starvin’ us I can’t meet you at no finish line because you didn’t start with us - Mac J, Gawd Did
“Her Son Stoopin” featuring EBK Young Joc is largely about creating his own money and business… but also battling with emotions and how to feel; fuck what niggas sayin’, fuck what they heard / I’m havin’ trouble, bitch, I’m tryna get my heart to work / I don’t have no feelings, bitch I’m numb to it / buy a glock I’m tryna find a drum to it / ayy, tell ‘em pay attention, this that thug music / tell your mom you beefin’ with the gang like her son stupid. It’s an airing out of thoughts and questioning of emotion that come with circumstances while talkin’ his shit. Braggadocio raps from the Soul. “Inside” is catchy from jump because of the use of “Through The Wire” by Rod Wave alone delivers the energy of the song; so much pain built up deep inside, I try to control it / but the anger built up deep inside, leave me to exploding. Speaks on the deceptions of said “friends” or those that try to get a little too close… callin’ you “bro,” “fam,” “sis” when they have ulterior motives. “Feisty” featuring Bris is about the comradery of those within his circle. Their morals and what they live by when pressure is applied in any avenue. Get the money and protect the brotherhood over chasing women. Catchy hook and a verse on demon time delivered by Bris — this is very much about the street life and the lives lost that go with it whether the deaths are coming from your circle or you’re squeezing the trigger. “Love/Hate” addressing the balancing of loving the street, hating the street, how people love him then hate him — all around encompassing the fickleness of people and how things can change from minute to minute. How do you stay focused? They love you when you down bad but hate you when you on your feet. True Story in entirety tells one story by recounting many smaller moments and because of this every song holds importance to the narrative. On the track, “Loafa Bread” Mac J is conveying even deeper how he feels about his little brother’s death. Ayy, I think these niggas scared / I think they killed my bro over a piece of bread. There’s a lot of questions he’s askin’ and at moments it seems like survivor’s guilt. Eventually, some of the lyrical content makes it clear who and what he's addressing.
How you drop the rock? How you let them niggas score — you could’ve blocked the shot How you seen the whole play from the parking lot? You got envy in your eyes, you want my brother’s spot -Mac J, Loafa Bread
The final track track that really added to the narrative while also allowing a deeper glimpse into Mac J’s mind is, “Mirror Match,” in full the track shows the intuitiveness of the artist, where my feelings at? / it’s like I’m fighting with myself, this a mirror match. That's a historical battle in terms of chosen ones who are carrying the torch for their various lineages and missions; a mental and physical battle.
True Story is a thoroughly impressive album from Mac J considering circumstances and content used to make it. And don’t get it twisted either — while many of these songs have topics of grieving and emotions the production is still gonna make you move your feet, shake your shoulders and try to figure out how the hell the producers sampled that and disguised it so well. This is a real timestamp in Mac J’s catalogue. The talent, energy and perseverance is all there… very much looking forward to what else he decides to do and use his artistry for.
RELEASED: September 16, 2022