Mack 10: Original Gangster
After being introduced to the world via the sinister remix to Cubes Injection cut What Can I Do? from the Lench Mob leaders late 1994 remix and rarities release, Bootlegs & B-Sides, and following a subsequent solo song on the Friday soundtrack (Take A Hit), Mack dropped his self-titled full-length debut in the summer of 95. The album went gold and announced the birth of the Westside Connection (and beginning of a surprisingly venomous war of words with Common) super-group with comrades Cube and WC on the bullish west coast battlecry Westside Slaughterhouse. The trios platinum pro-west masterpiece Bow Down followed a year later, released just a month after Tupacs murder to a still stunned, and still very fractured from coastal conflict, Hip Hop nation.
In arguably the worst year in Hip Hop history, 1997, while the Hip Hop community remained relatively shell shocked following the murders of both Pac and Biggie, Mack 10 managed amidst the uncertain times to continue his personal win streak with Based on A True Story. While somewhat less impressive than his thorough debut, the more laidback album yet and still netted him another gold-selling solo release. Mack would continue his consistent, release-a-year schedule for three more years with Priority Records, cranking out the introduction in 1998 of his own Hoo-Bangin label imprint with the west-meets-east-meets-south offering The Recipe (which secured Mack his third, and final according to the RIAA, gold plaque), 99s soundtrack to his hood flick co-starring new east coast ally Fat Joe, Thicker Than Water, and 2000s business-as-usual solo effort The Paper Route.
Venturing out from his Priority, and west coast, home base in the new millennium to surprisingly sign with southern powerhouse Cash Money in 2001 for one underrated solo outing, Bang Or Ball, only to return to his westside roots for his next solo (which was actually more of a coastal compilation), 2003s Ghetto, Gutter & Gangsta, and then two years later switch gears completely with 2005s experimental-sounding Hustlas Handbook, left the left coast vet with a confused, and steadily diminishing audience for his tales from the hood.
But now the more mature O.G. in the game has returned to reclaim his spot alongside a crop of new west talent. The remarkably calm, cool and collected 37-year-old father and savvy entrepreneur recently spoke with HipHopDX about his first solo album in four years, Soft White (due September 29th via Hoo Bangin/Fontana/Universal). The aspiring actor also addressed rumored tensions between he and Ice Cube (the two havent worked together since Westside Connections long-delayed sophomore outing, 2003s gold-certified Terrorist Threats), as well as a report unaddressed for five years - that Mack used to smack his chick up.
HipHopDX: I remember speaking to you for a XXL piece on artists-turned-A&Rs almost three years ago, and you were telling me about Soft White then. So what took so long to finally get this album out to the people?
Mack 10: Well, really I stepped away from it cause I had a couple of more issues that I had to deal with, you know on a personal level. But, I got all that behind me, and [now Im] able to move forward with everything. And Im happy. I couldnt be happier.
DX: I noticed for this project youre runnin Hoo-Bangin through Fontana/Universal, so are you not pushin your label through the label you were A&Rn for, Melee Entertainment, anymore?
Mack 10: Melee is always family cause thats Bryan - thats [Priority Records and Melee Entertainment founder] Bryan Turner. But Melee is more into the films right now I just did a movie with Charles Dutton [click to read], Meagan Good and a couple more actors. Its called The Obama Effect. Its a feature film and I actually played a square in the movie, a working-class like square dude with a suit and tie. [Laughs] I was gettin my act on for real. Im having fun. They finished it already so it should be [released] pretty soon. Im gettin ready to shoot a movie called Scratch, and Ima shoot that through Hoo-Bangin Films like I did Thicker Than Water But its all love [with Melee]. Its still one big family. Its just Hoo-Bangin [the music side] is goin through Fontana, but Im glad about that. Thats directly through Universals independent [distribution].
DX: What happened with the situation you had with Akon? Werent you trying to do something with Konvict Muzik a couple years back?
Mack 10: Nahthat was a rumor. I aint never like even talk to [Akon] [click to read] about no label shit or nothing, or being one of his artists or nothing like that. That was really a rumor. And I dont even know how that started?
DX: Well I think it was in relation to Red Caf [who signed to Konvict in 07].
Mack 10: Oh maybe so Thats all love though. Kon, he the homie.
DX: You still mess with Caf?
Mack 10: Yeah, Red [Cafe] is always gon be a Hoo-Banger. It dont matter what label he on. Thats my little homie, for real.
DX: Yall plan on doing anything for like his Bad Boy debut or anything like that?
Mack 10: Oh yeah, we gonna do something. I got him on this album. Me, him and Akon as a matter of fact got a record together on [Soft White]. [Its called] Clack, Clack.
DX: And speaking of rumors, there was a rumor at one point that you re-signed to Cash Money. And on your new album you have both Birdman and Lil Wayne featured. So you know I gotta ask you about the connection to CMR, why you basically stopped messing with them after your one solo album on the label?
Mack 10: Nah, it was never about not messin wit em. It wasnt never no bad blood or nothing like that. I did a situation with em for one album. And one album [Bang Or Ball] [click to read] was done and that was it. But thats like family, dog. They always just a phone call away. That aint nothing. Them is my homies. As a matter of fact, [Lil] Wayne [click to read] and Rick Ross [click to read] is on my new single, So Sharp." But yeah, it aint never no problems with [Cash Money Records]. Thats all love.
DX: Now some may disagree with me, but Bang Or Ball was one of the best albums released on Cash Money during the Mannie Fresh era. So, I know its ancient history now, but why do you think that album didnt become the commercial success that it should have?
Mack 10: Well it went gold.
DX: Oh it did go gold?
Mack 10: Yeah, so shit it was okay [commercially]. But I know what you saying [about the overall reception to the album], and that was a good album. That was a real good album. I think everybody was hyped-up to work together. I was glad to work with Mannie [Fresh]. He was glad to work with me. And shit it was a beautiful situation But, I think it was probably a little harder for people to digest back then because I was so west coast. Like, so west coast and represented it so hard to where anything outside of that almost seemed foreign. Thats probably what it was, but that was a great album.
DX: Well I noticed [though] after Bang Or Ball, you went back to that more traditional west coast gangsta funk sound for Ghetto, Gutter & Gangsta. But then on Hustlas Handbook, you kinda seemed to be experimenting a little bit again, at that time with a mainly darker sound there was even a crunk-type record on there, Im A Star. So if you had to compare the sound of Soft White to one of your last three solo albums, which one would you say it sounds closest to?
Mack 10: None of em. Soft White sound like straight 2009. Like, when you hear So Sharp [click to listen], my single, that aint nothing like a record that you probably even woulda thought I would do. But Soft White dont sound like none of that. Soft White sound like right now.
DX: Yeah So Sharp has def got like a southern vibe thanks to Jazze Phas track
Mack 10: [Interrupts] Nah, thats Don Vito. Don Vito did the beat. Jazze [Pha] [click to read] just did the hook.
DX: Oh okay. But its def got that southern flavor
Mack 10: [Interrupts] Yeah, Don Vito [is] from Atlanta.
DX: Is it more down south Mack 10 on this album?
Mack 10: Nah, its just music. Its good music. My next single, Fingazz produced it, and hes a dude from out here [in L.A.]. My next single is a song called Hood Famous with me and J. Holiday [click to read]. And then I got a record called Its Yo Life with me and Anthony Hamilton [click to read]. Like, Im just having fun, man. Im named this album Soft White cause its raw and uncut. Its really me. Im just having fun. But this record dont sound like no other Mack 10 record really. It sounds like right now.
DX: The other new joint I heard from the album in addition to So Sharp, Street Shit with Glasses Malone and Butch Cassidy, is definitely more westside got that darker shit that was on Hustlas Handbook but you know I gotta ask since you spit in that song and dont believe my ex, it wasnt me with the drama
Mack 10: [Interrupts] Yeah thats real. Dont believe my ex, it wasnt me with the drama. Yeah, thats real. Shit I mean, cmon man, like women do things, especially when they mad. And like [when] you going through a divorce dont nobody play fair, I guess. But, thats a bunch of bullshit about me [threatening to kill T-Boz]. Whatever was in the media about me beating on her and all that kind of shit, cmon man, what I look like whoopin on Tionne? Its like, how do you be black, from L.A., and live in Georgia in the country and whoop your wife ass and you dont get put in jail? Where is the police report? Where is the pictures? It aint nothing because thats a bunch of bullshit. Thats straight a bunch of bullshit. But its all good. Im past it As a matter of fact, its like a joke to my friends and family people that really know me. Thats how far from the truth it is. But you know, the media feed on that kind of shit, man. You could just say anything, and if its negative the media sometimes will take it and run with it. And I guess they tried to take that and run with it. But I didnt even address it, cause Im a child of God, man. I dont believe in that kind of shit. I sold too many records to talk about anything else.
DX: I was surprised you brought it up [in the song], cause it just dont seem in your character to even like
Mack 10: Well really I brought it up cause Im just tired of the question. And I aint mad at you for asking the question. I expect that. And the reason people keep asking is becauseI guess cause I never addressed it. Even when it was really hot out there on the circuit, and everybody was talking about that shit, I didnt never get on TV or radio one time and address that shit. Man, I was going through a divorce at home. And like, Im a real dude. I aint the kinda dude thats gon put my at-home business in the streets like that. But if you go put my at-home business in the streets, at least keep it real. Like, I aint got time to be whoopin on nobody, man. Thats too much work. Shit, I get another broad. I aint got time to do that.
DX: Well lets move off that and get back to the albumWho all handled the production for Soft White?
Mack 10: [DJ] Green Lantern [click to read]. He did the record with me and Akon and Red Caf. Dow Jones [from] Tha Bizness [click to read]. He did a couple of records for me. E.P., Ervin Pope. He did a couple. He did a couple for [The] Game [click to read] too. Mike City, FingazzI hope I aint forgetting nobody. I had a lot of different people producing on this record. And a lot of these guys I never worked with [before]. Because I didnt want this record to sound like nothing else.
DX: How did Glasses Malone end up down with Hoo-Bangin?
Mack 10: Well you know Glasses [Malone] [click to read] is the truth, man. Hes authentic. And when I heard his music, I was real interested. I was like, Who is this kid? Where is he? Somebody find em for me, cause this little nigga got it! So Glasses is gon be in this business as long as he wanna be in it. It aint gon be no one-hit wonder or no none of that. This dude is here to stay.
DX: And whyd you decide to take his album to Cash Money to be distributed instead of putting it out yourself through Fontana?
Mack 10: Well what I wanted to do was broaden his horizon like right off the top. I wanted to make it bigger Hip Hop news, and just a bigger situation for him because he was that good. He deserved that. Not saying that we couldnt have did it just on Hoo-Bangin, like by myself, but when I signed him and did a deal with Baby [click to read] it made everybody look, because it was Hoo-Bangin doing something with Cash Money again. Im a businessman. It was good marketing. It just made sense.
DX: Is it true that youre doing a whole album with G. Malone?
Mack 10: Yeah. He got a solo [album] coming out a week or two before mine, or a week after mine. And then we got an album coming together [as] Mack & Malone. Its the Mack & Malone project and its called Money Music.
DX: And you gon try to do that through Cash Money?
Mack 10: Nah thats all [Hoo-Bangin].
DX: You think thats 09 or you think thats next year?
Mack 10: Thatll be early next year probably for the Mack & Malone. And I got another solo record coming next year too called Two Thousand One-O.
DX: Now since I brought up Glasses, I just wanna ask you for your thoughts on this new west era of emcees. What does Mack One-O think about Jay Rock, Nipsey Hussle, etc?
Mack 10: I love them niggas! I love all the new west. All the little homies, I love them, for real. Im a different kind of dude than most guys in my position. See, Im a real nigga, man, so I believe in puttin new dudes on cause thats the kind of shit that keep your hood alive, that keep it going. Wont nothing stay going if you dont keep puttin new shit on. You gotta keep puttin new niggas on, man. Them dudes dont threaten me at all as far as like Im worried about fighting for my position or whatever cause Im in this to stay, dog. Like I been doing this so long Im cemented in this And any way that I can assist the young homies, Im always there. Its always open arms and my door always stay open for em I love the new west movement. Dont nobody wanna hear about no shit that was in the 90s. Its 2009. Im a real player so I keep it moving. Aint nobody walking around this muthafucka in khaki suits or none of that homie.
DX: Well you know we still got questions though about that era, and I gotta ask you about the west coast super-group from the Pac era When you spoke to HipHopDX last in 2005 [click to read] you said in regards to Cube and WC, my relationship with those guys is cool. Four years since you said that are the three heads of Westside Connection still cool with each other?
Mack 10: WellI havent talked to em. But as far as I know, I dont think its no real problem. I think everybody just grew up and everybody is handlin they business and doin them. And like I always say when people ask me this, I dont think nobody missin no meals. So thats the most important thing. So I wish them the best, but I havent spoke with em.
DX: What was your reaction last year when you heard the rumor that Cube was planning on having The Game replace you in the group [click to read]?
Mack 10: I smiled about it and wondered who was gonna cut my check. [Laughs] I was like, I wonder who gon cut my check? Cause Westside Connection [click to read] is on Hoo-Bangin. [Terrorist Threats] was [released] on Hoo-Bangin, so who was gon cut my check was all I was wondering. It didnt really matter. I mean, cause I dont got nothing against Game. I like Game. Im a fan of Game. So I laughed about it to be honest with you. I laughed and the first thing I said [was], Shit, I wonder who gon cut my check?
DX: SoCube runs into you today, its just nothing or?
Mack 10: What you think its gon be a big ol fight or something? Nah, I dont think like that. We grown, dog. If he run into me, he gon say whats up and Ima say whats up. I cant see it being no different. I aint looking for him, and I dont think he looking for me.
DX: The third head of the group, WC, told DubCNN last year about you [click to read], nobody could get me to say something negative or bad about him. Hes always been solid and 100 with me, so I dont have no problems whatsoever with him. I wish him all the success in the world
Mack 10: Thats what [WC] [click to read] said? Well shit, thats good. I wish him the same, honestly.
DX: So man, no third Westside Connection album ever, ever never ever?
Mack 10: I dont know, man. You gotta ask Cube and Dub what they doin. I been so busy with this Hoo-Bangin shit, man, and moving forward, I havent had a chance to think about it. Im in the fast lane right now, dog. Im in the fast lane and Im speedin. So I aint really got a chance to like slow down and think about that shit right now. I gotta get to a pit stop or something and think about it. But like right now, Im speedin.