Four Letter Nerd

Hip-Hop Batman: An Interview with Vancouver Rapper Tom MacDonald

4LN: So the whole reason we’re even talking right now is because you made a badass short-film music video, that is essentially a Batman fan-film. Where did your love of Batman start?
Tom MacDonald: Hell yeah. I’m not exactly sure where it started, to be honest. I’ve loved Batman for as long as I can remember. When I was kid I can remember dressing up as Batman on Halloween EVERY year. When I went to the fair or the street market or a birthday party – if there was a person doing face paint – I got the Batman emblem painted on my face. I had the clothes and the action figures and the video-games and the bed-sheets and all the bullshit. I watched all the cartoons and the movies. I just loved him. My Dad is a big Batman fan as well, so, I guess that’s probably where it started. He passed it down to me. I feel like I’ve got a lot in common with Bruce Wayne, so, that’s probably why it stuck.

4LN: What about hip-hop? When did you first discover hip-hip music?
TM: I’ve been writing poems since I was a child. My Grandfather was a brilliant poet. I think writing was just in my blood. One day I was on the main strip in a small town where I used to live and my Dad gave me five bucks to spend in a pawn shop. The only thing that five dollars would by me was a CD, so, I started digging around in crates. I found 2 Pac’s “All Eyes On Me” album. I had no idea who he was. I had never really heard hip-hop music before. It was a double-disk album and I figured that was probably the best bang for my buck, so, I bought it. I listened to that record for, like, a year straight. 2 Pac and Marilyn Manson. For a year. The poetryI had been writing turned into rock songs, but, I realized I didn’t have the right voice for that genre. Not long after that realization, Eminem’s “Real Slim Shady” hit MTV and I was like “Yo…this guy has blonde hair…I have blonde hair…this guy has blue eyes…I have blue eyes…he looks like me…he sounds like me…I could do that”. I started turning my poems into raps. I bought a computer and a mic and started givin’ ‘er shit.

4LN: Do you remember the exact moment when you realized that you wanted to seriously pursue rapping?
TM: I’ve never done anything in my life half-assed. If I’m going to work – I’m going to work harder than anyone. If Im going to party – Im going to be the last one awake. If I’m going to drive – I’m going to press the pedal against the floor the hardest. It’s just the way I operate. When I had the whole “Eminem realization” that I spoke of (previously) – I was like 14 years old. Strangely enough, I was a professional wrestler at that time. Like, the WWE/WWF stuff. I wrestled professionally across Canada for almost 6 years. When I was 19, I got out of the wrestling business. I don’t know if I fell out of love with it or what the fuck happened, but, something happened. I’d been writing and recording music the entire time I was wrestling, but, I wasn’t releasing it. I guess I kept it to myself because I wasn’t thinking…”Im going to be a rapper”…I was still in my “I’m going to be a pro wrestler” mind-set. When I stopped wrestling I was just sitting on my ass back at the house, twiddling my thumbs and whatever. I just had an epiphany. Like, a real one. I had all this pent up creativity with no outlet…and, you know. I said to myself, “I’m going to do this music shit like no one’s ever done this music shit before.” Best decision I ever made. It’s saved my life on more occasions then I care to remember.

4LN: How did you initially conceive this idea for this short-film? Like, were you just watch The Dark Knight and thought, “I could do that…”?
TM: Haha, no, absolutely not. As big of a fan as I am of Christian Bale’s Batman – I can’t give him credit for inspiring the film. All of my music videos are short-films. I’ve been a cowboy, an old man, a janky fight promoter, a criminal, an astronaut, a soldier with post-traumatic-stress-disorder. I just like to do things that way. I love film. I love characters. I just…love it all. I don’t understand why a rapper would want to be a rapper in a music video, you know? Adding visuals into the equation is a big deal. It’s your fucking chance, man. Its your chance to show people – “Look, I’m not just some bullshit rapper. Im not just some guy that rhymes words a whole bunch. I can do other things”. Anyway, I’d just been playing all these different roles and I was like…what’s next? What do I do? I’ve been living out my fantasies through film for a while…who else do I want to be? WHAT else do I want to be? I was down to my last God damn dollar for videos and I was talking to my Dad about it on the phone one night. I was on my way to a meeting or a party or something and he was said “I think a Batman video would be ultra cool”. It hit me like a fuckin’ punch in the face. I was in Los Angeles at the time and it was going to take place in a dessert and stuff. Long story short, I made it back to Vancouver and put the plan into action in an alternate location. All of a sudden I was fucking Batman, dude. Thanks Pops! Ps. Im still puzzled at why the hell I didn’t think of that first. Sometimes Dad’s have a way of making the seemingly impossible seem attainable. Mine does, anyway. Thank God.
 
4LN: I was really impressed with how the villain was portrayed. To me, he felt like a blend of Two-Face, Penguin, and Victor Zsasz. Am I close, or way off? 
TM: Hahahahahahaha! Man. I actually just laughed out loud at “Penguin”. Why did you get that vibe? Because he’s chubby? Hahaha! Im seriously dying right now. I have to show him this interview. Honestly, though…the villain was just Two Face to me. To me, the whole film is sort-of a steam punk/renegade/alternate-universe Batman thing. Bruce Wayne has long hair and face tattoos and nose rings. Batman doesn’t always make the right decision. Two-Face is a manic-depressive, self-mutilating psychopath. So, ya. The villain is Two Face. Just not how he’s typically portrayed. Hats off to the Victor Zsasz comparison, though. For some reason that never crossed my mind, but, I’m glad you put me on to it. Definitely can see where you’re coming from. ALSO – Shout out to my road dog Brandon Hart for playing a hell of a Two Face and kicking my ass in that needle-ridden alleyway! Love ya bro.
 
4LN: One of the things that fascinated me was that you did all of this yourself. These are your tracks, and you wrote the plot and made all the set pieces, as well as directed the video and acted in it. That seems like quite the labor of love. Why was it so important to you to take on so many roles for this project?
TM: Yeah, man. I did it all myself. Thank you for making note of that. I appreciate it. Ya, it’s an extremely heavy load, but, sometimes when you love something…you just fuckin’ do it! I’ve always been at the helm when it comes to my creative ventures. I just feel more comfortable that way. Have you ever relied on someone that you cared about and had them drop the ball? It sucks. You have to be pissed off at your friend for letting you down. It’s terrible. At least if you take it all on yourself, the success of the project rests solely on your own shoulders. If the project fails – that’s on you. You beat yourself up over it. As shitty as that is…it’s MUCH better than beating your friend up when their efforts fall short. It’s the age old saying, “If you want something done right then do it yourself”.
 
4LN: Finally, what do you have coming up that we should keep our eyes out for?
TM: Lots more videos on the way. Lots more music on the way. This “Batman video” features three songs; “Hourglass”, “Who I Am” and “Bout It”. “Hourglass” is the first single off my next album, coming out this year. “Who I Am” and “Bout It” are two singles off my mix-tape, also coming this year. So, you know. Be on the look-out for my album and the preceding mix-tape. Additionally, I have a ton of already-released stuff that you should probably keep your eye out for. Tons of other videos and music can be found at www.whoismrmac.comwww.facebook.com/TheRealMrMac, www.youtube.com/AllstarTWest and on Instagram/Twitter @TheRealMrMac. Get at me!
 
4LN: This next section is our Lightning Round. Just answer with the first thing that comes to mind…
Who was the best Robin: Dick Grayson, Tim Drake, Jason Todd, Damien Wayne, Stephanie Brown, or Carrie Kelley?
TM: As long as it isn’t Chris O’Donell I’m cool with it.
4LN: Is there any other comic character would you love to make a short-film of?
TM: I can’t cheat on Batman.
 
4LN: The best Arkham video game is…
TM: Arkham Asylum was bad ass.
 
4LN: Who do you think Bruce Waynes favorite rapper would be?
TM: Tom MacDonald.
 
4LN: Last question, who do you think the most underrated Batman villain is and why?
TM: I want to get super deep on you and say that Batman was Batman’s most underrated villain because he sort-of was, wasn’t he? Haha. But, the first thing that came to my mind was Phantasm. She was never given the same respect that Joker or Riddler or Two Face or Mr. Freeze or Penguin or Bane or Croc or Scarecrow got, was she? Maybe because she wasn’t truly evil…she meant well…but it ended up being a massive pain in Batman’s ass a few times. That’s the worst type of person! The ones that mean well do the most damage, sometimes. She was Bruce Wayne’s ex-girlfriend, man! We all have an ex-girlfriend-arch-enemy! That’s the most evil other fucker on the planet! UNDERRATED!!
My thanks to Tom for chatting with me! Make sure to check him out on all his sites he mentioned and jam his music LOUD!

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Stephen Andrew

Stephen has spent most of his life reading comics, watching horror movies, listening to death metal music, and speaking in the third person. His favorite comic book character is The Punisher, and he believes that the Punisher: War Zone movie is criminally underrated. His favorite film of all-time is National Lampoon's Vacation, and his favorite album is Pantera's "The Great Southern Trendkill".

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