Owen Munro, Contributor Ω
If the set Swollen Members played March 20 at Cactus Jacks Nightclub is any indication, the revitalization has reinvented the group with familiarity and new sounds that are both edgy and energetic. After a long and well-publicized battle with drug addiction, Madchild and the rap triumvirate Swollen Members has been making up for lost time.
Four years after what Madchild refers to as being “normal” [sobriety after a long bout with oxycodone addiction], there has been a noticeable change in presentation that has allowed Swollen Members to pick up where they left in 2006. The 2011 release of Dagger Mouth was a refreshing sign. It proved that they could recapture their fans with imagination, raw beats and the commitment to excellence, something not seen during the 2009 album Armed to the Teeth.
The culture Swollen Members has set out to embrace is one that appeals to both contemporary hip-hop fans and the old regime of Swollen Members fans that have stuck with the group throughout the ride.
It couldn’t be more evident at the show, attended by a varied audience between the ages of 19 to 40. However, the age didn’t matter, everybody had their hands up with a raucous energy. The crowd rocked out to classics such as “Lady Venom,” “Red Dragon,” “Night Vision” and “Grenade Launcher” as Swollen Members played an upbeat set, mingling with the crowd, high-fiving outstretched hands of fans in the front row.
The new album, Beautiful Death Machine, dropped on March 19, and Swollen Members played quite a few songs from it. “Bax War” is an ode to the Battleaxe Warriors fan support movement that Madchild personally worked feverishly on to promote his rise back into the hip-hop game. Beautiful Death Machine is the epitome of Swollen Members; one can identify the roots in production that made Swollen Members so successful in the first place and the lyrics are as hard-hitting as ever.
The Battleaxe movement can be seen as something like a gift back to the fans for the lost time. During his ascension back to popularity, Madchild has really connected with his fans (he’s a religious user of Twitter) and it’s seen during his shows. Swollen Members played to the crowd all night, Prevail at one point even entered the crowd.
Prevail is often the odd man out with the immense popularity of Madchild, but he holds his own on the microphone. His imaginative lyrics flow perfectly from word to word, his style a superlative product that identifies with Rob the Viking’s production characteristics. Nothing embodied that better than when Prevail busted out a wicked one minute freestyle that may have been the highlight of the night.
Swollen Members are currently about to embark on a worldwide tour; the tour will take them to some unique locations, including Russia. It will continue into the summer with the Vans Warped Tour. This will be the third full-fledged tour Madchild has taken on in the past year and a half as he tries to re-establish his image as one of the rawest rappers in the game.