“Listen Look & Learn: The Rebirth” is one of MacDevious and M.A.$.H.M.O.D.E. Entertainment’s latest mixtape releases. The Visalia local appears to be one of the more active studio rappers in the area; the tape is a compilation of over 40 tracks, featuring over 20 other collaborating artists.
Not only is MacDevious active in the studio, he is also extremely diverse. Although most of the mixtape sounded either Bay-influenced or some form of old school hip-hop, he made it very obvious he is not reluctant to touch on other variations of the vast genre of rap. Just to name a few, some other vibes I felt on the tape include: club banger, dark/horrorcore, trap/commercial, gangsta rap, West Coast alternative, pop, electronic, R&B, and even alternative rock. Given the extensive length of the album, it was refreshing to hear MacDevious touch bases on different styles.
I enjoyed the West Coast, dark, hip-hop, and R&B vibes more than the other tracks. In comparison to every other rapper in the local underground, it seemed like his style and flow were more distinct in these songs. It is important for an emcee’s personality and uniqueness to show in their music, and I feel he accomplished that best in those particular areas.
When listening to the other songs, the message became very repetitive–partly because of the mixtape’s length, but also because the compilation revolved around the same subjects. Over 40 tracks about money, women, respect, etc. can take a toll on the average listener’s patience. I would definitely suggest making the mixtape shorter, including only those tracks felt the most confident with. It might have even been a good idea to release two separate mixtapes at two different times. I have nothing against long mixtapes, but the average listener will only listen to about a minute and a half of each song before skipping onto the next. Of course friends or family will likely listen to the entire thing, but when it comes to building a larger fan base, it’s important to keep those people’s attention span in mind.
Aside from that, I felt MacDevious does a great job with the song structure. The hooks are very catchy, which is probably the most important thing when you want a song to resonate with an audience. The verses are also written very well. The subject matter was repetitive, but not dumbed down at all. Lyrically, MacDevious stands out from many other locals that sound like Dr. Suess was their biggest inspiration.
With that said, I think some of the collaborations killed the nice foundation MacDevious worked hard to build. A few of the other rappers suited the vibe perfectly, while others just sounded like a train wreck. One of the things I do not understand is why solid rappers want to collaborate with other rappers that are just not on their level. This mixtape represents MacDevious, his craft, and his hard work. Why offer a free ride to other rappers that are not grinding as hard? I liked the R&B singers featured in the hook of a few songs. That too, makes it easier for the audience to remember the hook.
Harmonic and melodic hooks are nice in any style of rap, but here, the producer could have done better with the auto-tune in some areas. In addition to that, it seems like the mixtape was not mixed very carefully. In some songs, the adlibs are too loud and make the vocals sound sloppy. In other songs, the vocals are much lower than the instrumental, which is the opposite route you want to go in rap/hip-hop. It also seems like the different artists featured on the mixtape were using different microphones or mixed their vocals down differently. Some verses sound clearer than others, and some sound muffled or flat.
Overall, “Listen Look & Learn: The Rebirth” is a solid mixtape that showcases MacDevious and his ability to adapt to different areas of today’s hip-hop. His lyrical potential makes him stand out from many other locals who keep their rhyme schemes simple and dumbed down. In the future, I would like to hear MacDevious put out a shorter, predominantly solo mixtape that is mixed and mastered a little more carefully. He has all the ingredients needed to put together a great mixtape. It’s just time to focus on what elements (or people) he could do without and what elements he could add more of.