Review Summary: I'm gonna catch this dream before I die. Bitch.
It’s only been a year and a half since I threw on “The Original 11:11 Sessions,” was overpowered by one of the most profoundly devastating songs in history ("Absolutely Nowhere"), and had my first taste of what would be a quasi-obsession with Mac Lethal, so maybe I am not qualified enough to say that the old Mac is gone. The last we heard from him was “North Korean BBQ,” a moribund masterpiece that defines the overused word “catharsis” and would have been the most brilliantly depressing hip-hop album I had ever heard if I hadn’t already been graced with his true magnum opus (“Original 11:11”). The fact that was only 8 months ago, paired with the new album, “Irish Goodbye” is perplexing in the slightest and mind-blowing in the exaggerated. Through an avalanche of mix tapes, EPs, albums, and now YouTube videos, the “real” Mac Lethal was a three-headed monster reveling in snarky commentary, anger towards pop culture establishments, and most importantly, a brilliant, vexing self-awareness that made it impossible to mask what seemed to be an overpowering depression. What we can safely say is with the exception of a few upbeat jams masked by staggering social-commentary laced sarcasm; we’ve never seen a HAPPY Mac Lethal.
Whether it’s the fact his pancake rap has about 20 million YouTube views, his “fastest rapper” videos got him some major label attention, or he now has quadruple the amount of Facebook friends as the same time last year, Mac seems to be finally enjoying himself, and not at the expense of someone else ("Lookin Bro," "Calm Down Baby," etc). “Irish Goodbye” shares some similarities with his only major label release “11:11” in the sense it has a more upbeat atmosphere, but this actually sounds like sincere, true happiness rather than tongue-in-cheek rants against religion, Tool, and beer pounding anthems. Songs like “Aviator,” “Woooooo!!!!,” and “Happy To Be Living” are far from his greatest works and are the ones alot of his stalwart old-school fans who never want him to get rich will hate, but they do share an infectious catchiness and positivity that will probably reel in a lot of first time listeners. “Irish Goodbye” is a more mature album in many ways (the beats are bigger, the hooks are more paramount, and the subject matter often references dealing with your problems rather than drowning in them), but the aspect that hurls itself at the listener is the mantra of a man who has come full-circle.
The proof is evidenced in the sense the most foreboding song (“Quarter Life”) is probably the worst on the album and the downtrodden subject matter almost feels forced (ironic as Mac’s personal devastation has always been an open book and felt more free-flowing than Kurt Cobain when he was pretty much announcing to everyone he was going to kill himself). Songs like “Old Rasputin” and “Jake + Olive” take depressing subject matter and transcribe an atmosphere almost child-like in their joy and border on elation. “Royals Cap” is the personification of Mac Lethal everyman, a nostalgic ride about everything Kansas City that resembles a transcription of him and one of his buddies talking about their childhoods in a bar (it’s the song I would make if I was a rapper, only I would talk about Kirby Puckett and Kent Hrbek instead of George Brett and Tom Gordon). “Morimoto” has an infectious Asian-style beat (almost a slower version of Deltron’s “Mastermind”), and revels in the very familiar notion of overcoming obstacles and attaining self-actualization, something Mac had been grasping at for years but now is finally realizing the payoff. Although it’s somewhat fitting that the albums greatest song (“The Parlour,” arguably one of his 10 greatest cuts) is the most old-school Mac in the sense it revels in vindictive fire, it’s strangely out of place in the scope of the album, kind of like “Backward” was on “11:11”
An Irish goodbye is when you just take off without telling anybody and you don’t come back. It’s possible this might be Mac’s last album unless he is just f*cking with his fans (a likely possibility), but it’s that underlying aspect of finalization existing in the concept that cements the notion the old Mac is gone and probably isn’t coming back. Mac chose the hard way by tirelessly repping himself, and after slogging through ten years of constant obstacles and pulling a sh*tload of bootstraps, he has now reached the stage where his mantra will be unfairly polarizing. A lot of people are going to call him a sell-out, and the more benevolent ones are going to be happy for him. The over-riding atmosphere of “Irish Goodbye” is Mac saying “it took me 30 years to figure it out, but this is who I am.” If this is how Mac is going out, it’s a fitting epitaph, because he’s finally made it. Not just as a rapper, but as a human being overcoming the trials of life. Musically, Mac was better when he was cleaning out his shotgun with his cocaine on the coffee table, but in the greater scope it’s hard not to be happy for him to have ARRIVED.