Photo Credit: Cedric Colyer

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Atlanta buzzmaker OG Maco took over the summer with his energetic anthem “U Guessed It.” The Break alum has grown into a must-see act at festivals lately, mainly for how the crowd reacts when the beat to “U Guessed It” drops. Recently, the Quality Control signee—also home to Migos and Rich The Kid—is supplying his fans with more crunk-inspired hits on his latest mixtape, Live Life 2, which contains noteworthy songs like “Priceless” and “Unleash The Kraken.”

XXL sat down with Maco to speak on the explosion of his viral song “U Guessed It,” the term New Atlanta and what it means to him, the creation of Live Life 2, jealously in the rap game and much more. —Eric Diep

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XXL: Your song “U Guessed It” spawned a bunch of vines. Does it feel like you started a movement?
OG Maco: I’m happy that it unified people moreso than any kind of movement or personal shit. Everybody with it, so no matter where you come from, what background you been in, what you originally thought, you was saying it. At this point everybody found a way to relate to [it] or whatever. That, I’m happy about.

There’s a pattern of new artists having a hot song and garnering a big buzz. Do you feel people’s attention spans are shorter now?
No, people’s music is just trash. Lucky, Dej [Loaf] and Makonnen aren’t like that. Makonnen got a whole bunch of hits. I be fucking with Makonnen shit for a minute. It’s the same way with my shit. Today, Live Life 2 dropped. Everybody is tweeting me today and tweeting Live Life songs. The first one. “Man, that shit is amazing. Whoever thought Maco was just ‘U Guessed It,’ y’all are playing.” That’s nothing, so they hyped for the next time. If you do it correctly, that’s what happens.

We don’t control Vine or social media or the game changers. Namely, “U Guessed It” or the Kardashians. We don’t control none of that. We do control when that content gets out. If they ever had an opportunity to think, “This guy might be a one-hit wonder.” Like, we never gave them that opportunity, so anybody who took that route was just good. You make it real easy to separate your supporters and your haters from people in the world. You just learn not to care about—they don’t really have a real opinion. They just want to say something.

Do you let that get to your head? People who pat you on the back or the people who doubt you?
I don’t care about the pats on the back or the fuck you's. We just so far from all of this. I knew it was coming one day. The team I got around me, they don’t really want me focusing on that shit anyway. Even if they did, they know I wouldn’t. We really just focusing on the real win. I’ll let them have the marketing and getting it, I just come with the real.

Tell me about Live Life 2. When did those Cardo sessions happen?
It wasn’t really any sessions. I mean Live Life, the very first time, Cardo was already one of my favorite producers of all time. When I made Live Life, I was just trying whatever I could to find a Cardo beat. And Cardo beats are amazingly hard to find on the Internet. It’s kind of like the Alchemist; you just can’t find his shit. I got really, really lucky and just happened to find two that I heard nobody use. I dug a good three, four months before I finally found these Cardo beats. I put 'em on my tape and by this point, people go back and listen. Live Life is fuckin’ amazing.

But it always kind of... A little piece of me was a little angry [that] I had to steal a beat from Cardo. So when I got with [manager] Coach K and [Quality Control], that was one of the first things I told him, “You gotta hit Cardo up. I made this tape with Cardo and you gotta hit Cardo up.” And before he could even hit Cardo, I happened to hit Cardo myself. Just jumpin’ the gun, and he hit me back. He like “Yo!” He found it really ironic when I sent him the songs from Live Life. He’s like, “Damn, bro. You made these three and a half, two years ago?” I was like, “Yeah.” He just sent me a flood of beats. And I locked myself in the studio and they came back two and a half days later. And Live Life 2 was done. They weren’t really like sessions, it was just 48 hours.

Why do you like Cardo’s beats?
Cardo puts you in a place where you can choose to be hype or you can choose to be mellow. But no matter what it is, Cardo creates a real landscape for you to do what you want to do. Metro [Boomin] is one of the few people [like] that too. But let’s say you are dealing with someone like Zaytoven. Zaytoven is an amazing producer, but when you get a Zaytoven beat, you know what you're going for. When you get a Cardo beat, you have no idea what you're about to create. But you just know whatever it is, it’s about to be crazy because that’s just the mode you put him in. And then you go from there. When I heard his beats from the get-go, even just the distinction between the Cardo beats you hear with Wiz and the record you put with Jeezy. Most people don’t even recognize that’s a Cardo beat. It’s so different. But a lot of the aesthetics are the same when you get down to it. That’s why I fuck with Cardo beats.

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What are the themes you're talking about on Live Life 2?
Live Life 2 is really an expansion of Live Life. Really an expansion of me as an artist. A lot of people got “U Guessed It” and “U Guessed It” isn’t me as an artist, it's me as a person. That’s really me just talking to you as a person moreso than an artist. Live Life 2 places you where I really am. I’m not just gonna stunt on you. I’m not just gonna talk about a million Maseratis. I gotta talk about actual real life things.

There’s another song on there called “Priceless.” And the song is really about all this stuff everybody thinks it takes money to obtain. You can have all the money in the world and not live the life I’m livin’. It took a lot for me to get here. And the stuff I did, people remember. I got a certain respect level. You can’t pay for respect. You can pay for attention, but you can’t pay for respect. You got things like that.

You got the struggle in there too 'cause a lot people hear “U Guessed It” and think, “Oh, he popped up from Vine.” Or he popped up from this. A lot people still haven’t went back and listened to Live Life. You got records on Live Life 2 like “Broke Or Rich” that tell you. I’m just rapping on the floor. Literally, I was rapping on the floor, rapping. That was it. It wasn’t no big studio. I was making all of this shit in my living room. I had just bought a new couch, I ain’t want nobody sitting on it. So we sat on the floor. It’s stuff like that. You get to know me as a person.

You align yourself with producers and you produce yourself. Do you like producing or rapping more?
I got a whole project where I produced it. I made that long before now. I’ll probably revise that stuff. Honestly, when I’m producing, I love it more than rapping. But I’m just such a lazy fuck when it come to producing. The things they have to do to get me to produce a whole [project], just sit there and do it, I’d probably need like 30 bitches. Eight bundles of weed. But what you get would be amazing. I love doing it. I really do. I love composing music, but I think I love rapping more.

How would you describe your sound?
I make film scores. Without doubt. My beats don’t really sound like beats. They don’t really sound like production. They movements. You know how they got movements in a symphony? You might hear one part of my beats and that section might never come back again. You might get this really epic, really driven part and you never hear it again. I never really care about bringing it back, about the sequence when I’m producing. I care about making emotions out of the sound. That’s another reason why I couldn’t produce 'cause a lot of [people] couldn’t rap on my beats. Really only I can.

Atlanta is known for the strip club anthems, but guys like you and Rome Fortune are making more conscious and more thought-out songs. Where does that come from?
We just don’t give a fuck. I grew up not giving a fuck. Even though I listen to all the good trap music, all the hip-hop, and the rapping, I listen to pop, K-Pop. If you know what the fuck that is. I listen to some real classical music. I listen to some hard rock, some soft rock. It never really mattered. So when it came time for me to make my music—I’m a big, big film buff. When I went to school, I went to school for film. So when I heard people like Hans Zimmer, like going crazy. You go from the films to doing a whole Call Of Duty game. You just see the transition. Like, “Damn, you can really do whatever the fuck.” You want it. I just imagine playing 2K and the soundtrack is something I did, even if it's not the words. Like, I made that. You get that emotion so when you turn on the game, you got that from me. I care about that. I don’t really care about if some person A or B in the slums give a fuck if it don’t sound like a trap record.

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What are your thoughts in being apart of the New Atlanta movement? Do you want to be associated with it? Is it played out?
It depends on what New Atlanta you talking about. When you talking about the New Atlanta, that’s a collection of my friends. I’m cool with that one. But I’m not cool with it sometimes 'cause there’s a lot of fuck shit that goes on. People accept it because they know person X or person B. I don’t give a fuck about it. If you do some fuck nigga shit, you do some fuck shit. I didn’t grow up with them from six to eight. Or 12. I grew up with them 17 or 18. I was already damn near a full ass grown man when I met everybody. So a lot of shit that they get away with, that shit is lame as fuck. That part, I don’t really like associating with.

But then you go to the other New Altanta that Migos is leading. You don’t really have that issue because people going off respect and your work. Fuck the friendly ties. If you ain’t working, no one gives a fuck. And I respect that one from that one. Somehow I managed to put myself at the top next to both of them. I’m right there with my bros and the Migos and I’m right there with my bros, with Curtis [Williams] and Two-9 and them. I’m sitting in a good place. I’m also sitting in a place where everybody knows I don’t give a fuck, so nobody can’t come really fuck with me in a bad way.

Is there a sense of jealousy in the rap game for people like you who are buzzing?
Mine is way different because the only reason why it even took me this long to have this conversation with you is because I got all the jealousy way before that. When Live Life dropped, I already had money. My friends are all broke. They make some damn good music, but they broke as fuck. The thing then is, “Yeah, bro. You are getting money. You are doing a little rapping but no one gives a fuck.” No one gives a fuck. You are just a little rapper somewhere. And they got label meetings and shows and they go out of state and come back. Meanwhile, I go out of state and come back, go get some money. Nobody knows who the fuck I am. Then when it comes time for me to do this, it’s harder to bring that jealously to my front door. Because one, you heard it all the way back then. And now other people are hearing it, and they going just as crazy as I knew they should have. And you hear my new shit that I knew I was making when I told you about the old shit. Now you hear it and you can’t say shit about it either. People are really jealous of me, but it's hard for them to do it.



Are you planning on re-releasing any of your material?
I’m not re-releasing [his joint EP with Key!] Give Em Hell. That’s all dead. Some of the songs from there are definitely gonna get reimagined. There [are] songs on Give Em Hell that’s completely my song, kind of how “U Guessed It” was. And I got a nigga on there that I don’t want on there, so I’m gonna go ahead and redo them because the fans really want the songs. They got this real personal connection—just like I do. Like a real personal connection and they want to see them visualized as bad as I do. But, I won’t sacrifice my self-respect for a fucking video. I’m gonna take Key! off all the songs that he need to be off of. I don’t give a fuck if Key! get mad at me. The fuck I care about that for? [Laughs] For real.

Everybody that ask that question, all I do is ask him, tell him to give me my “Give Em Hell” verse. That song’s way harder with me on it. And that’s just the truth. Fuck the shade. That shit was way harder with me on it. My ad-libs are still on there. Everybody be peeping game and asking me all these questions, but nobody ask me questions like, “How the fuck is your ad-libs on there, but we don’t see no feature credit for you?” Just like “Prophets For Profit,” the first song on Give Em Hell. That’s me on the intro, but there’s no credit. It was my song, it was made on my birthday. Happy birthday Mac. That’s just a part of what I learn and I definitely got more clarity about that fanboy ass shit. You got real artists, and then you got people who are driven by fandom. If you are a real artist and you are coming with it, it’s a couple little nuggets. I got hits, man. I don’t give a fuck.

Related: Listen to OG Maco’s Live Life 2 EP
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