Jacob McCallum, better known by his creative moniker of Manic Maniac is arguably one of the underground scenes most unique artist. Having been writing and recording for over four years now, Manic has pushed his sound to the limits, blending poetry and rap with his own explorations of the metaphysical to tread a path that few have ever thought to travel. Passionate about his craft, his work is a rap, accelerated style of contemporary rap, building his songs from his own personal experiences and otherworldly spiritual themes.
Although Manic has just released his latest album, the third in an unfolding saga, we wanted to trace the artist back to his roots, digging deep into his haphazard, explorative world and find where it all began. To do this, we’ve turned back the clock and immersed ourselves in ‘Vision’, the rapid-fire, sixteen-track release that set Manic’s wheels in motion.
With no track making it past the two-minute mark, ’Vision’ is an album of quick cuts and sharp transitions. Built with minimal beats and a rough, freestyle sound, it’s a surprising album of demo quality singles. Opening track ‘Respect’ sets the tone, arriving as a barely audible stream of beats that blend into accidental atmospherics, while Manic’s erratic flow hovers above the flickering caustic melee. Lyrically, the opening track is filled with the same clichéd bravado you would expect from most mainstream rappers, but it’s balanced thankfully by a more personal and relatable side.
Second cut ‘LSD’ fairs a little better as far as quality as is concerned, and Manic step’s up his lyrical game, pushing more inventive and skilled wordplay with his rough, relentless flow. It’s an improvement, but there is still a lack of overall melody in Manic’s voice, leading his lyrics to feel forced and weakening their grasp on your consciousness. As the album rolls on, there are more moments of murky gold hidden away, but it’s constantly under a haze of poor quality recording, meaning you can never build a full picture of Manic’s talent.
A complex mix of highs, lows, soaring wins and terrible losses, ‘Vision’ is a somewhat bewildering mix of amateur sounds and incredibly lo-fi recordings. It’s a heavily contrasted album in every way, with some tracks like ‘Wrath’ and both parts of ‘Lyrics’ offering a glimmer of hope, while ‘Fuck White People’ and it’s kin bring a notable cringe to your soul.
Looking back, ‘Vision’ will hopefully end up like Modest Mouse’s ‘Sad Sappy Sucker’, a divisive album that you can look back to for its historical value, seeing how far the band has come and where it all started.
The first album in the unfolding saga, ‘Vision’ is available now on Spotify and Apple Music, and be sure to look out for Manic’s follow-up albums, ‘Insanity’ and ‘Awakened’, which we’ll be reviewing soon.