An enigmatic and intriguing new artist, Jacob McCallum, A.K.A. Manic Maniac has been writing, recording, and refining his rap sounds for over four years now, pushing his direct and sometimes erratic flow into the public consciousness with passion and unflinching confidence. Rising from the underground scene, his moniker has become synonyms with heavy raps featuring heavy spiritual themes, blending fantasy and reality together into short, sharp bursts of contemporary hip-hop.
With the recent release of his third album, ‘Awakened’, we decided it was worth looking back at where Manic has come from, tracing his rise through the release of his rough-cut trilogy. His first album, the aptly titled ‘Vision’ was released back in 2018, arriving as a shaky, demo-quality release that shone with a murky luminescent glow. It was a landmark release that is growing in historical value, becoming the platform through which Manic launched his second full-length album, ‘Insanity’.
An album that showcases Manic’s growth as an artist, ‘Insanity’ is his transition from hopefully amateur to focused talent, pushing his limits and ripping through twenty tracks in just twenty-one minutes. More experimental in nature than its predecessor, ‘Insanity’ sees Manic expanding his reach, bringing more diversity to his sound and flow. It’s a released where he drops the relentless, spitfire style to bring a more nuanced and relatable sound to the fore, pushing his lyrics with greater care and more developed understanding of the rap game.
Musically, there is still a lingering failure in quality, with the recording akin to that of a 90’s answering machine, but ‘Insanity’ does still manage to bring more highlights than low points. Opening numbers ‘Arrival of a Rival’ and ‘Obliteration’ play with using silence as a weapon, building a more intricate and calculated sound, while tracks like ‘Snowflake’ and ‘Next Level’ will have you cursing the brevity of the tracks. It’s never clear whether the transient nature and unfinished sound of the tracks is a stylistic choice or a recording necessity, but it constantly rings as a double-edged sword. Songs like ‘Mermaid’ hit hard and relentlessly, building an unassailable sound that you can’t help but love, and yet at forty-five seconds in length, the track is gone and forgotten before you can really get behind it, leaving an open end that you never recover from.
It’s a constant issue with Manic’s sound, one of several that have made the leap from ‘Vision’ to ‘Insanity’, but at the same time, you can’t help but find enjoyment in the sandpaper sounds. Far more diverse and expansive than his debut, ‘Insanity’ is a bold step forward that leaves you furiously trying to imagine just how good Manic could be if he got into a proper studio.
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