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Sick lines and the stories behind the rhymes: MaulSkull breaks down some of his best lyrics

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"Shadows" from Us and Them by MaulSull of Black Mask:

"Death's inventions could never have kept us separated. I put your ashes in the closet that I decorated, Took all your pictures out the boxes that I let them stay in. Talking to your ghost and watch you walk in like you never faded out. You're here with the rest of my fallen angel dust. You're prob'ly tangled up in a nest of crawling tarantulas."

Here, MaulSkull paints a picture of conflicting emotions: Strength and vulnerability, sorrow and acceptance. It is these complexities that present MaulSkull as human, refreshing in a genre riddled with such superhuman aspirations. Not only does MaulSkull speak with an emotional honesty that should be cherished in hip-hop, he does so in a way that is vivid and interesting, avoiding the downfall of so many "conscious" rappers. Taking a leaf out of the books of Aesop Rock and Atmosphere, MaulSkull imbues his words with mystique, constructing powerful, surreal images without losing touch with reality.

"The song is about...letting a piece of yourself go and opening up for something new and taking the risk of moving on and finding something not near as dark or sad," says MaulSkull. "My grandmother passed away in April, so that had a lot to do with a lot of the things that were going on because, you know, you have all of this stuff that you don't really think about while you're growing up that you have to eventually deal with when you do, like, lose someone... You can only do what you can do and go as far as you can go, but there's always gonna be experiences and memories following you around."

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Noah Hubbell