7. Marcus McCauley
SOUNDS LIKE: Anderson Paak if he went into self-isolation years before it was mandated by the state.
It didn't take Marcus McCauley's career long to gather steam—nor did it take long to stall out.
As a high school junior with a single mixtape to his name, the North Portland-raised rapper, singer and multi-instrumentalist scored the kind of gigs most artists work years to land, opening for Kid Ink and Meek Mill and even going on a short tour with the late Nipsey Hussle.
But then the investor funding his crew took a bath on a badly organized music festival. The comedown was swift.
"Being a kid like that, we were on a high," McCauley says. "We thought we were next. Everything didn't happen the way we wanted it to."
Things may not have gone the way he planned, but in retrospect, it was what he needed. If his trajectory had continued upward, he might have kept on rapping about imaginary hook-ups, and never stopped long enough to figure out what he actually wanted to say.
No One Cares, the 26-year-old's debut album, is the result of the ensuing years of artistic soul-searching, and sounds like it—quietly soulful, it's the product of someone who's clearly spent a good deal of time alone with his thoughts, and who's come to the conclusion that being alone is his preferred way of being.
It's also his preferred way of working. He produced No One Cares entirely on his own, making each beat from scratch, without samples. And other than brief cameos by his Produce Organics crewmates Donte Thomas and Fontaine, he's the lone voice, too. It lends the record a striking level of intimacy—on "Fuck Work," you can practically hear the verses popping into McCauley's head as he walked through the cold to the McMenamins where he used to tend bar.
But being a dedicated introvert doesn't mean McCauley won't ham it up on occasion—see the "Grown" video, where he dons a poofy wig and shiny shirt and lifts dance moves from '90s R&B videos.
No matter what he's doing, McCauley's guiding principle is to always do him. He wants others to follow his example.
"I've had it with the fake shit in the world—the Instagram model behavior," he says. "I strive to tell the truth, and I strive to encourage people to tell the truth about themselves."
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