A consistently good rap artist, Madchild of Vancouver’s Swollen Members has had a lengthy, luminous history of work before his solo career popped off, but he still manages to keep his ‘single life’ rich and prosperous, with hardcore creative rhymes, untamable energy and in what is already his third solo LP Silver Tongue Devil, refreshingly useful words of wisdom. For an artist like Madchild (whose core agenda has not changed much) to mix his raw side with compassion and the fruits of maturity is a step in the right direction. Truthfully, he’s done it before in bits and pieces, but here he is more forward with his advice in their respective songs.
Still back on the wagon after kicking his opioid painkiller addiction, Madchild only briefly mentions that period of his life in “Untold Story.” From then on, it’s pretty much back to business for the seasoned Canadian emcee as he spits more mean, crazy lyrics with a sadistic bent strictly not giving a f*ck like he’s typically not supposed to. While some of Madchild’s verses and beats courtesy of C-Lance, Rob The Viking, Aspect and others seem to run repetitive with his earlier projects, he has once again put good effort into his rhyme-writing, and his topics luckily make the cut. Possibly the only bone of contention is Madchild’s pestering habit of rapping about himself too much, whether he’s poking fun at his weaknesses or bragging about his dreamlike superhuman strength. Just be cognizant of how often he says “I” and you’ll get the point.
Found in three songs (perhaps not nearly enough songs), the juiciest parts of Silver Tongue Devil are arguably the socially conscious ones. In “Everytime,” Madchild does away with the flawed part of his psyche with guest Ceekay Jones over contemporary rock guitar and an airy background. Fittingly, “Mental” featuring Battle Axe’s Demrick dredges up Madchild’s classic proclivity of subjecting his content to the demons of psychological illness, and this appropriately sets the stage for the very next cut “Painful Skies,” Madchild’s dedication to growing up, getting smart and becoming a good person. A little farther down the list, “Electricity” offers more useful advice and the last glimpse of Madchild at his maturest on the album.
Besides its sagely moments, Silver Tongue Devil is largely a revisitation record for Madchild. His incessantly testy style of real raw rhymes set to production similar to Jedi Mind Tricks’ and other ‘big top beats’ will no doubt alienate listeners scouting for the next big game-changing thing out of Madchild, but in all fairness, the album is somewhat better than expected. On the whole, it’s best to approach the album by focusing on the wordplay first and then the rest second, except when Madchild is rapping about something everlasting or deeply meaningful. Silver Tongue Devil is mostly solid but struggles to diversify, reinvent or innovate its creator’s evolution as an artist in profound ways.