Nowadays, I feel like newcomers to rap are held at a lesser accountability when it comes to the content in their lyrics.
Before you close this window – no, this is not an attack on contemporary hip hop’s new wave. No, this does not come from a nostalgic, 90s baby, golden age complex. Shit, I’ll let some Thug, Uzi, and Migos through the AUX every now and then. I might even go as far as to say cats like these exhibit a better hold on melody and flow switches than the rappers I grew up listening to.
Simply put, I can enjoy how rappers of the new guard flow – but the what, not as much. That being said, I value rappers who can strike a balance between the two. My ears especially perk up when these types pop up in my local scene. Kind of like Maeko.
Matt “Maeko” Macomber
“Began rapping in 2012..first real song in 2016.”
Jack Tatum, Kendrick Lamar, Neil Young
I assumed Maeko, 23, had been formally rapping for a long time. He hasn’t. With only one project out to show for it, his flow is palatable for radio, but more importantly, it’s refined. He’s not out to lyrically assault you with multis, flex wealth, or utilize shock value. Rather, there’s a shine in the subtlety. Disguised as the casual every-man, Maeko lets surprises out his sleeve – his debut lush with references to Ralph Waldo Emerson, Elon Musk’s hyperloop, and pomegranate hand soap among other things.
His first (ever) single, “Bloom,” highlights these attributes. A thoughtful contemplation on loneliness, nature, and bicoastal travel, this song provokes thought as strongly as its drums knock. And that’s a lot. Thankfully, he was open to chatting with us about it.
So, there are several themes in “Bloom” that deeply resonated with me on a personal level, which is why I sought you out to really dissect this record and video. To start, what was the process like for you in making this song? Did you hear the beat (shout out to Esbe) and automatically know where to go with it? Or did you sit with it for a period of time to really contemplate your lyrics?
I appreciate that. So as far as Bloom, it started when I was looking through Soundcloud trying to find some exclusive beats. I had no connections at this point, and didn’t plan on selling this project. Just wanted to gain a following. Anyway, I came across Esbe, who made this beat and fell in love with it. I was with my sister, Kelly, turned on the speaker right away. I told her, “this is going to give me a start,” and luckily it did. As far as the writing process, it didn’t take long to write. I had so much on my mind that it sort of just poured out, but it also didn’t feel rushed. That happens sometimes.
Why the title, “Bloom?”
Funny coincidence that the event you asked me to play is called Sonic Bloom. (Author’s note: This is the name of the monthly showcase I host in Cambridge). There are a few coincidences as far as artists I have met and flowers are concerned. My senior year of college, I wanted to put out a tape called Bloom, and this was before I ever heard of Esbe, whose beat tape is named Bloomsday. It fell through, but what I am trying to say is that I have always been fascinated by the way things in nature bloom, including us. Working each day to be the best version of me is my MO in a way. There’s a quote by Ernest Hemingway that I really like that goes “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”
This song ventures to a few places. as a matter of fact, this song starts off with a Ryder reference. You go from Boston to the Bay, specifically the Bay Bridge and Haight/Ashbury, then back to Boston. What were you up to down there in that 3 week period?
This track definitely hops all over the place and represents a pretty turbulent time in my life. I graduated from UMass in May and soon after started my first real job. In mid-summer they sent a big group of us out to San Francisco to train for 3 weeks. It was quite the experience, there is something really special about Northern California.
In verse 3, you mention throwing your scroll to the side? did you scrap your rhymes out there? What is the significance of this line?
I didn’t scrap them, but I definitely threw them to the side for most of the 3 weeks. I was at a point where I was forcing myself to write, which is good for me to an extent, but not when it becomes more of a job to write than a passion. It felt like I needed time to take in everything around me, so I decided not to write during the trip. I just wanted to experience everything with open eyes. In fact, I took the BART into the city a few times with no electronics. The only album verse I wrote out there was the last verse in “Bloom.”
Until I realized the line was “Westin” panic, I mistook it for “western” panic as a double entendre in regard to A, the overindulgent, consumerist culture of America being the western world..hence, the video’s allusion to eastern religion, and B, the west coast. why the panic in the Westin?
This is a fantastic analysis, and really spot on. I was definitely serving up a double entendre with the Westin, Western line. As nice as it was to be with some cool people in California, we were staying at the Millbrae Westin for 3 whole weeks. For me, it was pretty high stress to train all day every day inside the same hotel where I slept, and also to have to be “on” at all times. I can be a pretty introverted person in some ways, so a big 3 week corporate training got to be a lot for me. There was one time instance about half way through the trip where I was hungover and unsure of what I was doing out there, and that’s where the panic set in. If you heard Western, you wouldn’t be wrong either. I think consumerism/corporate culture/etc. is all out of whack for the most part. But that’s a whole other story..
You resolve the song by saying you don’t need to move. Which was a nice line. Kind of like how flowers don’t move. They’re stationary and stay in the ground..and kind of just naturally exist and are beautiful. Do you plan to remain in Boston and build a following here?
To be completely honest, I hadn’t considered the flower metaphor, but that is a very cool way to look at it. I had to think about this one question for a bit. I wasn’t using “move” in a literal sense, but more loosely, I guess. I love music and writing because I don’t have to be something I’m not. I don’t have to deal with the hustle and bustle of every day life.. But to answer the question more directly, I plan to stick around in Boston for a while. I love this city, I hope it continues its growth from a hip-hop perspective.
The last line of the song was an equally powerful punctuation to “Bloom” as it was an open ended one. I thought it was also cool how you mentioned the act of sitting back and writing, a solitary act in itself, to lead into the line. Do you actually feel like you’re “alone in this experience?”
Thanks, man. I was really looking to end the song with a statement. I think we all feel alone in this experience at times. Some of us every single day, and others maybe a just a few moments throughout their lives. I started meditating my Freshman year at UMass and it has helped me to move away from this sentiment. I can’t grasp oneness, but I believe it to be true. I wrote that last line in a time of anxiety where I was feeling unsure of the answer, so I close the song by posing the question a few times.
Ok, now the video. How often do you start your days with Jim Beam and fried eggs?
Not as often as I’d like. Kidding..but it isn’t a regular thing. I don’t really like eggs all that much, but baking muffins or something wouldn’t have looked as cool. I love Jim, but I try to wait until noon if I’m gonna crack it open.
I haven’t gone to the Tibetan temple down in Raynham yet. I’m slowly exploring and settling into Buddhism at the moment, so do you recommend visiting?
I think it is a must see! The Thai people are very kind, compassionate, and open. There was actually a time where I went early in the morning to read at the temple and a group of 20 or so monks invited me to their daily morning meditation/chant. It was a surreal experience. As far as settling into Buddhism, I would highly recommend at least giving it a look.
How was your overall experience in recording the video?
Shooting the video was a blast. My friend Molly at MP Creations did the camera work and my buddy Billy helped out in other areas. The shots in the Party Store were pretty funny.. the employee that was working actually let us go behind the counter and film the balloons getting blown up, which was cool.
Any other fun, final facts about the song or video that you would like to let our readers know?
A fun, but not so fun fact is that the water was 39 degrees in that final ocean scene..Any other ocean-themed videos I do will be shot in the summer.
Be on the lookout for Maeko’s next release, The LeAnn Rhymes Mixtape, arriving “hopefully this Spring.”