Photo by Joe Calderon
Magna Carda’s laid-back vibe masks a rapidly evolving Austin group. Megz Kelli and Dougie Do met at St. Edward’s, releasing a couple of bedroom-produced mixtapes. But there was “it” factor from the very beginning. Kelli’s rapid-fire, rhythmically-complex rhymes are perfectly suited for Do’s crate-digging jazz/soul sound. With references to Van Gogh, Chuck Close, and a challenge to Jay Z’s “99 Problems,” it’s obvious that Magna Carda aren’t content to stay just an Austin phenomenon.
In the live setting, they’re also pushing their own boundaries. Kelli and Do added a versatile band to their performances–as we saw at both MapJam and the X Games this year–and they helped kick off Weird City, Austin’s very first hip-hop festival. Now comes Like It Is, Magna Carda’s second release of the year, buoyed by “Game Like Jimmy.” It’s a characteristically low-key production, but Kelli still swaggers, proclaiming that she’s a leader not a follower. We couldn’t agree more.