BY ANGIE VALENTE
A VERY distinctive yet polite and quiet voice greets me at the other end of the phone. Shane Bunting a.k.a. Madchild is more than happy to chat about his return to Thunder Bay at Crocks tonight with Brooklyn, New York rapper Necro. “It’s my pleasure. We’ve had some amazing shows and packed houses in Thunder Bay.
The energy’s pumping and the fans are supportive. The staff and owner are great. We’re looking forward to coming back.”
Three and a half years ago Madchild made the move from Vancouver, B.C., to Los Angeles, Calif. While he describes L.A. as one of the centres of the universe for music, art and culture and an amazing place to live, his roots are not forgotten.
“I’m proud to be Canadian, I love Canada,” says the Juno Award winning rapper while on tour. “It’s not easy getting up and going somewhere new and carving a new life, but L.A. is starting to feel like home.
I’m appreciative of it. I’m proud to be from Vancouver, it’s beautiful. I’m always going to represent Canada.”
Most will recognize Madchild as a member of successful Canadian hip hop group Swollen Members, who just returned from a tour of Australia.
For the past five years the heavily tattooed rhyme spitter has been standing on his own two feet, having released four solo albums.
The latest, entitled The Darkest Hour, was produced by Evidence and features guest appearances by Alchemist, Domo Genesis, Fashawn, Krondon, A$ton Matthews and Illmaculate.
Each solo record chronicles the strength in Madchild‘s delivery, flow and talent as a writer.
On his progression as a lyricist, “This is another chapter in the book, a catalogue of music. I’m now in an incredibly positive and healthy mind state as well as lifestyle. I’m writing the craziest stuff I’ve ever written. I’m breathing fire. I’m on fire. The fire is in my belly, and I’m ready to tear people’s faces off (in a good way).
I’m full of energy and excitement and I’m coming back out swinging again, and proud of it.”
Translating well at shows, the high energy beats give Madchild something to sink his teeth into, lending itself to an interactive live experience for devoted fans in attendance who sing and chant along.
At a recent tour stop at Rockpile in Toronto, I witnessed first-hand Madchild‘s work ethic and dedication to his craft and to his fans; completing interviews plus a fan meet and greet, after the show and after a full day of driving. Though he and Dj Dow Jones were tired and road weary, the fans come first, “I’m happy to tour hitting people over the head and continually putting out new music.
There’s been a lot of touring. It’s been a reflective time and a lot has been accomplished.”
Lyrically, Madchild humbly admits that his main strengths are his word play and his combinations. “It’s more like a fun hobby for me. I’m lucky to get to do what I love.”
Another ambitious goal potentially on the horizon, is penning a book. “It’s something I feel like I should do. I’ve had a very interesting life, filled with a lot of ups and downs. I think it’s something that Canadians would want to read.”
Madchild is a self-proclaimed open book and speaks freely about his colourful past, including his struggles with personal demons. He continues to give back to his community, speaking at high schools and youth groups about the effects of gang violence and drug addiction.
“It’s something I’d like to do more of. I’d eventually like to tour across Canada and speak to the youth. Right now I’m focused on catching another wave with my music.
One of my goals is to let people know that they can have fun, enjoy life and be cool without having to partake in a lot of stuff.
Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of happy endings. I can speak from experience. I have a lot fans who seem to absorb it. It resonates. I’m still kind of a kid myself.”
Angie Valente is a freelance journalist based in Thunder Bay.