On the surface, everything seemed fine.
In the Spring of 2018, singer, songwriter, producer, and Strange Main (the pop music division of Strange Music) flagship artist Mackenzie Nicole unveiled her full-length debut album, The Edge, to critical acclaim. Its songs tallied over 1 million Spotify streams, and her videos totaled 8 million-plus views as she played to sold-out crowds on Tech N9ne’s Planet Tour coast-to-coast. Meanwhile, tastemakers such as Billboard professed, “The Edge embraces Mackenzie’s self-professed description as someone whose fearlessness ‘takes everything as far as possible.‘” After nearly a decade of diligently grinding, the year marked a much deserved and significant artistic breakthrough for the then 18-year-old.
All the hard work started paying off in a big way…
However, Mackenzie candidly admits, “That was the worst six months of my life.”
On a deeper level, she suffered a mental breakdown and fell into thoughts of suicide. Through a combination of self-actualization and therapy, she returned stronger than ever before.
Now, she shares this struggle and subsequent victory by way of her second full-length album Mystic.
“I wanted to make this music because it’s a story I needed to tell,” she explains. “I’m not the only person who’s been through this. I’m not the only person who has broken down and felt like the only one in the world. I know that to be true. If I had a piece of art like this to connect with, maybe it would’ve opened my eyes sooner, and I might’ve gotten help sooner. Maybe I can help others avoid making some of the mistakes I did. I’m giving listeners something to hold on to that proves this is not the end of the world. It’s autobiographical.”
Persevering from this turbulence, she dove right into crafting her next musical statement. This time around, she opted to pen every lyric herself, keeping the songwriting in-house for the first time. Once again, she also assumed the role of Co-Executive Producer alongside label co-founder and C.E.O. Travis O’Guin. As a result, the release of her standalone single “Complications” and her sophomore full- length album Mystic represent her unfiltered vision through and through.
“It was time to take the reins. For the first time, I can say, ‘Mackenzie Nicole is an artist.‘ This is my proudest achievement. I’m able to believe that when I say it!” explains Mackenzie
When asked about “Complications,” Mackenzie explains, “This is a palette cleanser between The Edge and Mystic. It introduces one of the main themes of this new era, which is self-destruction. In terms of the lyrics, I make the worst decisions possible. I punish myself constantly. Given a choice between wrong and right, I’ll always choose wrong in the most self-sabotaging way possible. That’s ‘Complications.’ At the same time, there’s an honest sense of humor I’m using to present a heavy concept.”
Speaking of “full creative control,” it drives Mystic. During her downward spiral, the stress reached a boiling point one day. Hoping to clear her head, she drove around her native Kansas City but found herself lost. The road serendipitously brought her to a street with an old psychic shack. Mackenzie parked and decided to go in, but the door happened to be locked.
“Everything malfunctioned,” she recalls. “After I realized the door wouldn’t open, I thought to myself, ‘What would’ve happened to me if I got to go in?’ That’s where the concept was born. I wanted to do a concept album about the stages of mental health. The first chapter is the dark chapter. It’s “The Rabbit Hole”. The second is the transitional chapter “Purgatory”. The final light chapter is “Oxygen”. It’s about how recovery isn’t a two-stop journey. It’s a process.”
The songs on Mystic are reflective, introspective, and thought-provoking as Mackenzie lyrically confronts her demons head-on and makes a powerful statement with her haunting and soaring vocals.
The songs and accompanying videos will detail this process with no holds barred.
“I spent at least twelve years in this mindset,” she admits. “In therapy, I learned how to break my own bad habits and ultimately save myself. That’s the tale of Mystic and what the album means to me.”
It’s also the album she was meant to make all along. Classically trained by belting opera in Italian, Latin, and English, among other languages since six-years-old, she approached pop music with serious chops and a literary lyricism inspired by classic literature a la Wuthering Heights and The Shining. The world first heard this talent’s voice in 2009. At the age of nine, she sang on platinum-certified rap icon Tech N9ne’s 2009 K.O.D. before providing vocals for All 6’s and 7’s  and Something Else —which both crashed the Top 5 of the Billboard Top 200 at #4. Following singles such as “Actin Like You Know” [feat. Tech N9ne] and “Deleted,” she stepped into the spotlight with The Edge.
In the end, Mackenzie emerges with a story that needs to be told.
“This is an important topic,” she leaves off. “I wanted to handle it in an artistic and personal way. If you’ve been in the dark place, you know it’s a little monster always ready to destroy you. I hope people walk away with a greater understanding of themselves and others. Or, maybe even they just think, ‘This is honest art.'”
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