It’s been a week since Halloween, but Shane Bunting still wears his skeletal face as a sign of where he’s been.
The machine gun-fast MC from B.C. hip hop group Swollen Members, better known as Mad Child, shares every skeleton in his closet on his new solo album, Dope Sick.
It’s his first recording since he’s been well and truly sober.
Mad Child’s comeback has a renewed positivity that has transferred into his music. And no the MC hasn’t gone soft. Just listen to Runaway off Dope Sick, with the refrain “You can run, but you can’t hide.” You can hear his pain and reckoning in all its brutal honesty.
“Dope Sick reflects on who I am and the gamut of what I went though –– through the dark times and the glorious times. I’m just happy to be alive and have beautiful people in my life,” said the MC who is in Vernon Saturday to headline a show at Monashee’s Bar and Grill. “I wrote most of the album during my darkest period, a reclusive time when I was depressed. It was therapeutic.”
Mad Child’s story of those dark times actually takes place in the Okanagan, and appeared more in the news pages than those touting his talents as a word artist.
Hooked on prescription painkillers Oxycontin and Percocet, Mad Child, now 37, almost slipped into the oblivion of drug addiction while holed up in a Kelowna mansion.
Reports of him being affiliated with the Hells Angels in the past also didn’t help, and the repercussions still has him banned from entering the U.S. (True to form, Mad Child turned that experience into a 2011 EP entitled Banned from America.)
“I’m no longer angry about the situation (of being banned). I made my own bed and I have to sleep in it,” he said. “It was up to me to change the bed and my life, and it was my decision not to be that person anymore.”
Mad Child ended up moving from the Okanagan to get a fresh start.
“I couldn’t see it any other way,” he said, about his turning point to recovery. “I remember actually driving to Vernon from Kelowna, my lips were numb and purple. I knew at that moment that I had to quit and change my life. I probably would have died. I was scared at first. When you do opiates and you are not getting high anymore, if you go off, you are going to get sick.”
Mad Child credits both his birth family and his hip hop family for seeing him through his darkest moments.
“I went to my family and we picked a date (when he would go off the drugs). I reminded myself I was living in a trap. I had my mom and my dad by my side. I ended up in hospital the first night. It was 11 days of torture. It was worth it to become myself again, and then speak against what is an epidemic.
“These prescriptions still get out. I don’t think the general public knows what a problem it is. I am living proof.”
Mad Child also gives props to his bandmates from Swollen Members for sticking with him through thick and thin.
The band’s latest studio album, Dagger Mouth, continues to build momentum a year after its release, winning in the Rap/Hip-Hop Recording of the Year category at this year’s Western Canadian Music Awards, and receiving a Juno nomination.
Mad Child is currently writing new material with Prevail and Rob the Viking for Swollen Members’ upcoming studio album titled Beautiful Death Machine, expected to be released in early 2013.
“Hip hop saved my life twice. For four years I put my life on hold, then I put their lives on hold as my head was scattered and I needed to get my grounding,” said Mad Child. “All the positive people I’ve met in my life has always been through hip hop.”
And the positivity continues as Mad Child embarks on his Dope Sick tour. Having just completed a sold-out Canadian tour with Kansas City rap mogul Tech N9ne, Mad Child is being accompanied on his first solo tour with Shadyville DJ Dow Jones and Vancouver hip hop act Ghost.
“This keeps me going,” he said. “Without preaching, I’m trying to lead by example. My story is hopefully helping people with their issues who are listening to my music.”
Immaculate (real name Julian Wolansky) has just put out a new EP entitled Here and After, and is in the works of completing an 11-song concept album with fellow MC Memo, which will exclusively feature music/beats from Finland’s Life and Death Productions.
“It should be available early in the new year,” said Wolansky.
Besides his opening gig for Mad Child, Immaculate will also be performing at a fundraiser at Sneakers Pub in Vernon on Nov. 16, a show in Salmon Arm Nov. 23, Penticton on the 24th, and he’ll be opening for hip hop/Pimp My Ride star Xzibit in Kamloops Nov. 28.
Here and After is now available on iTunes or visit www.immaculatemusic.net for more info.
Mad Child brings his Dope Sick tour to Vernon for a 19-plus event at Monashee’s Bar and Grill on Saturday. Regular tickets are $15, and VIP tickets are $30, includes a meet ‘n greet with Mad Child one hour prior to the show plus an autographed Dope Sick CD. All tickets are available at Monashee’s.