If you heard one sentence more than one time about Shane Bunting in the last 15 years, there’s a good chance it’s “How is he still alive?” By his own admission, Mad Child is the textbook example of letting fame and fortune be your own undoing. The success of Swollen Members LITERALLYgave this Van City rapper a swollen head, leading him to believe he could consume massive quantities of drugs and alcohol with no consequences physically or financially. His life spiraled out of control to the degree that he decided to go cold turkey in 2009, a decision that was better for his health long run but which caused the already troubled emcee to be on the wrong end of a painful detox. Thankfully when you’re a rapper the best way to vent your frustrations is to write rhymes, and Mad Child has been dropping one EP after another to get the shit out of his system, figuratively and literally.

“I used to mask pain with cocaine and oxys
Now the pain still feel real on Suboxone
Pain is vicostis, very bad posture
Feeling bad really sad in a clown costume
If life is a game I am so losing
Life filled with depression and no movement
We make choices, I hear yours loud and clear
Strange voices, get the fuck out of here
Pretty good pretending that I don’t care
As I battle what I don’t fear
Olympics in Whistler with Adolf Hitler
The devil and his misfits were there for Christmas
The dinner was delicious, smash your dishes
I come back clean more brash and vicious… irrational thoughts
Make myself look ugly, the passion is lost
Try and change my ways, still stashin the Glock
Try and keep love locked, start smashin the box
Fuck everyone, I am never done
Mad Child love God like Reverend Run”

And thus on “Dead Man Walking” from “M.A.D.E.” you hear Shane Bunting’s soul laid bare, stripped of any egotistical drug-addled superstar delusions. It’s ballsy in its honesty and a perfect portrait of what coming out of a self-induced haze really feels like. If Charlie Sheen ever decides to take sobriety seriously too he might write a few poems like these. That’s right – poems. They are given rap beats and on occasion rap hooks are even scratched in, but they definitely speak of personal hell and torment more than your average braggadocious rapper. In fact Mad Child notes the irony of having to BE braggadocious when he really doesn’t feel like it on the album’s dopest track, “Mr. Suicidal”:

“Raise your hands if you’re goin insane
If you feelin so depressed you wanna blow out your brains
And you’ve been to darker places you won’t try to explain
But still you tried to keep it movin then we’re probably the same
I used to get high like trucks on lift kits
Then I woke up and I said ‘Fuck this shit’ (Fuck that!)
I made a promise to myself mad lip shit
And slide through your verse like a Tokyo Drift kid
From being at the doctor’s on pills like please help me
To being on the hospital floor like please kill me
And I ain’t scared of dyin except there’s nothin to inherit
And I owe lots of people money includin my parents
I’m trying signal right but I have mental interference
Cause I got inner demons that are screamin out my lyrics
And I’m new to this new game where kids all talk shit
That’s why I’m writin rhymes that even they can’t fuck with
Let me do a show, let me catch somebody chuckle
I won’t stop until my hands hurt and I got bloody knuckles
Then I’ll take his girl and turn that boy into a cuckold
Intelligent, I ain’t fuckin with them suck hoes”

The chorus is built around a sample of KRS-One saying “when I’m on the mic I like to speak freely,” and there can be little question Mad Child does just that on this six track EP. Now for a word of warning to those who are uninitiated to Mad Child’s flows. Normally he can be found trading bars on a Swollen Members track, where occasionally you might think “that dude sounds a little weird,” but he fits into the overall presentation so nicely you go along with it. As a soloist he sticks out like a sore thumb with no apologies about it. He’s got a nasal tone that puts B-Real to shame, he’s borderline to high-pitched at times, and if he didn’t have more tattoos than a whole biker gang you might get the impression listening to him that he wasn’t hard. None of this is meant as a diss because I ENJOY how different Mad Child is from every other emcee out there. He might sound nerdy at times, but he’s way too hardcore for nerdcore.

With only six tracks to chose from on this release (which may in fact be a prelude to a much more full length album) the highs and lows come quickly (with no pun on his former habits intended). “Kamikaze” and “Rock Bottom” are a plus, while “Little King Kong” is this album’s most significant minus. Shane Bunting is in every respect different from the norm, so it may be that how much you like the “M.A.D.E. EP” depends on how far you deviate from it yourself. While it is at times a challenging listen, it’s rewarding due to Mad Child’s honesty with himself and his audience, and I enjoyed songs like “Mr. Suicidal” enough to listen to them more than once. Many of you reading will too.

Mad Child :: M.A.D.E. EP
7Overall Score