MacArthur Maze "BLVCK SATURDAY" Album review by Elijah Morgan
MacArthur Maze is a collective of Bay Area rappers, singers and musicians who cut their vocals in the studio's of producers DJ D Sharp and Kev Choice. The 10 person team has released several singles and visuals leading up to their debut with much promise. They have finally released their debut album as a group titled ‘Blvck Saturday’.
About a week ago I was heading for Amoeba on Haight St. when a flood of tourists rushed my way and passed me as a loud screech and smoke filled the street. The sidewalk is lined by people recording the action either to mock or complain. I found myself in the middle of a sideshow.
A weird feeling washed over me as I was reminded of cookouts my dad took me to as a kid. He and his friends would grill and talk about what they were thinking of for a new throw-up or how the Giant’s were doing (probably not well). Down the hill when the street widended up they would drag their cars in circles hanging out the side blasting 11/5. All the while me and the only other kid there sat on the sidelines and scribbled in our dad’s black book.
While I wasn’t personally around during the days of Mac Dre running around in 4x ProClub airbrushed tees and can’t claim nostalgia for that era. There’s a very obvious change in the Bay being sort of void of its own identity which of course isn't true but sometimes you can’t help but feel pessimistic. When people come into your home trash it and steal all your family heirlooms suck the identity out of it then complain how much your house sucks then of course you’d feel a way. What I’m trying to communicate is listening to ‘Blvck Saturday’ instilled a sort of hope in me for the future of the Bay scene.
MacArthur Maze is a rap collective made up of 6 MC’s Blvck Achilles, Champ Green, D.Bledsoe, Jane Handcock, Ian Kelly, and Roux Shankle all hailing from the Bay. This is the first full-length project they've done together and it is theproduct of years of hard work. So much care and love was poured over, with each cut being backed by this grand soul sound.None of this would be possible without the albums's sole producer DJ D Sharp.DJ D Sharp’s distinctive and soulfully textured production sets the stage for the rest of the album. Mixing old-school-inspired production with a more new-age sound culminates in a really distinct sound.
No track overstayed its welcome everything felt extremely concise and well thought out. With only an 11-track run and the longest cut just falling short of 4 minutes, you’re never left feeling like a song is dragging on but wanting more. This album feels like a victory lap, with Barbra Mason in the background as Champ Green, D.Bledsoe, Ian Kelly, and Roux Shankle run through the city on ‘First Friday’. On ‘Panther Bruce Lee’ Green, D.Bledsoe, and Ian toss the mic back and forth effortlessly exchanging bars and demonstrating great control of the mic. In this brief 33 minutes, they were able to introduce us to every member and allow all of them a moment to shine.
Miss Mula is another stand-out track for me it feels very reminiscent of Lil Waynes’ ‘Mona Lisa’. A cut about money and seduction with a fun hook over one of the darker of beats we’ve heard so far. What made this wasIan Kelly’sdelivery and of courseGreen’sandD.Bledsoe. Followed immediately by the title track ‘Blvck Saturday’ which would have to be one of my favorites. I love this track it’s sort of weird and off putting like something off ‘Some rap songs’. Melancholy and brooding while they kill it lyrically no punches pulled fromGreen,Achilles, orD.Bledsoe. Finally, I couldn’t close off this review without highlighting the electric vocal performance fromJane Handcockon the closing track ‘Thank You Have A Nice Day’. Now this is a victory lap everyone slapping each other backs as they boast quick wit and punchy one-liners over a soulful beat and pay homage shouting out Oakland.
Coming from such a hot spot for music where so many greats before them came and put their stamp on Hip Hop, artists like E-40, Mac Dre, Too $hort, and Souls of Mischief. Among all the noise MacArthur Maze has been able to carve out its own lane with a distinct sound that constantly builds upon itself. I adore this album I loved listening to it. They’ve paid homage and taken a look at the hyphy movement taken it apart rearranged it and flipped it around. It’s taking pride in its roots without letting those roots constrict them in what they can do. An amazing debut album ‘Blvck Saturday’ shows immense promise for the group's future and the future of Bay Area Hip Hop.