Maniac Jim drags you down to the pitch-black heart of his personal darkness on his berserk, bloodthirsty and brutally honest debut album The Backlash LP — showcasing today on Tinnitist.
An unhinged, uncompromising and unrepentantly frank trip though the Winnipeg rapper’s troubled past, tumultuous existence and violent revenge fantasies, these 14 cathartic cuts catalog a lengthy litany of true-life horrors — brutalities, betrayals, breakups and breakdowns — all set against ominously stark soundscapes and matter-of-factly voiced in a dusty, deadpan delivery. Jim’s grim vibe and tightly restrained approach only serves to make the overall effect exponentially more chilling and powerful, like a home invader who binds and blindfolds you, then leans in close to stage-whisper “Damn rights I’m the devil; what the hell are you gonna do?” in your ear with his hot, nasty breath. It could be a scene from an underground slasher flick; for Maniac Jim — real name James Jensen — it’s all too real.
Born in Alberta, Jensen grew in a world of poverty, abuse and neglect, constantly moving and changing schools. Along the way, he fell in love with hip-hop as a means of escaping his hardscabble world, coming under the spell of artists like 2Pac, Notorious B.I.G., The Wu-Tang Clan, N.W.A, Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg and Eminem. In middle school, he wrote his first song as a poetry project in class. It earned high marks, but he was forced to stop writing music because his parents didn’t appreciate his frank, revealing lyrics.
Eventually, Jensen suffered a breakdown after years of keeping his past bottled up. Ending up in a halfway house for people coping with mental issues, he picked up a pen and returned to songwriting. After releasing the tellingly titled singles Demons Inside and Be Somebody earlier this year, he pulls out all the stops and goes for the throat on the intense and inspired The Backlash LP, which handily makes good on Jim’s promise: “Your head is about to pop like a pimple.”