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FEATURE: Mack 10, Loose Ends

Mack 10′s never been one to take days off. First bursting onto the scene with his 1995 self-titled debut, the West Coast rapper released 10 albums— including two with Westside Connection— in 10 years.

Mack had it all: money, gold and platinum albums and one of the baddest chicks in the game wearing his chain, TLC singer Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins. But things suddenly came to halt halfway through the new millennium. Watkins filed for divorce in 2004 and Mack and his longtime partner-in-rhyme, Ice Cube, grew apart. In addition, Mack’s last solo LP, 2005′s The Hustler’s Handbook, hit stores to little fanfare.

Back after a four-year hiatus, Mack Dime is re-energized and ready to reclaim his spot with two new albums: Soft White, scheduled to hit stores September 15th and 2000-1-0, slated for a 2010 release. XXL caught up with Mack to discuss his return to rap prominence, dealing with the internet as a street artist, the West Coast generational gap and the status of his relationship with Ice Cube. It’s been four years since your last album. What have you been doing since?

Mack 10: Just regrouping. Like, I went through a couple things on the personal side of my life to where I just had to step back away from the game and everything, and just kind of gather myself and just regroup, so that I could compete at the level that I know I’m capable of competing at. So I just stepped away for a minute to handle some things. I had a divorce and all kind of other shit I went through, so you know I just had to handle that for a minute and now all that’s behind me so I’m focused 100 percent and this is one of my best records.

XXL: You’re also coming out with an album in 2010. Coming off a four-year break what changed for you to come back with back-to-back projects?

Mack 10: Because that’s me. That’s how I am. When I’m getting down, I’m competing at the highest level. And when I walked away from the game, I didn’t walk away cause I got wack or cause I didn’t sell no records. When I walked away I was on top. So you know that’s just me. My work ethic is big. I got a good work ethic. When I’m doing it, I’m doing it.

XXL: You’ve always been more of a street artist, so what do you make of the game making a shift to the Internet in recent years?

Mack 10: It’s cool. You know I ain’t got no problem with it because it didn’t just change for me, it changed for everybody. So if that’s where the game is going, you just gotta figure out a way to make it happen cause we can only play with the cards we dealt. So shit, if the internet is big now—it used to be where you’d have to get up and go to the record store to buy the record. Now you ain’t even gotta leave home to buy it. So just make it good enough so somebody wanna buy it? You get what I’m saying? So shit, I’m good with it either way.

XXL: Minus Glasses Malone I noticed that you don’t have any West Coast artists on your album—

Mack 10: I’m just tryna make music, man. Everybody’s money look the same to me, you dig? So I’m just trying to make a good record. I ain’t caught up in that shit like y’all better make a West Coast record. I’m tryna make a good rap record.

XXL: Just sticking to the West Coast, we recently interviewed Crooked I and he said he felt the West Coast OGs didn’t preserve things for the next generation so they were like fatherless kids. What are your thoughts on that?

Mack 10: He probably right to a certain extent for some of em’, but that don’t apply to me. Glasses Malone is one of the most reputable kids that represent the New West. He damn near like a spokesperson and he signed to me. I’ll support the New West 100 percent cause I’m a real nigga. Period. In the streets and everything. That’s how you keep your hood alive. You gotta keep puttin’ the youngsters on and if you don’t the hood is gon die out. So the same way with this West Coast hip-hop, I mean it just can’t be me, Snoop, and Dr. Dre and whoever else. I mean you gotta keep putting these youngsters on to keep it going. And the young guys don’t threaten me one bit as far as my position or nothing cause I made a mark in this and I’m comfortable with what I’ve done in the game. I’m one of the only guys as far as my opinion that really reach out to the youngsters and I always got open arms for em’. Ask any of the dudes that represent the New West who they fuck with and they prolly gon tell you, me.

XXL: There’s a newer crop of MCs out West with Nipsey Hussle, Jay Rock, Blu, Fashawn, Pac Div, UNI. Have you paid attention to that new movement? Like the younger kids?

Mack 10: All of them is a part of the New West. That’s who I’m speaking of, all of them. I fuck with all of em’. I wish all of them the best. I’m for that new shit. I like it like that. My records sound current. I’m a street nigga so I’m always gon be current so it don’t really matter to me what—how it change. As long as I wanna be in the game, I’ma be current. So like I’m all with it. I think the new guys should get a shot at this.

XXL: I remember there were reports that you and Cube weren’t cool anymore. What’s the status of you guys’ relationship now?

Mack 10: I haven’t spoke with him. That’s all I can really say. I talk to anybody, but shit I ain’t—we haven’t communicated or nothing so that’s been about four or five years, so shit, I don’t really know what’s happening. I’m just doing me. I got a album dropping September 29. I got the hottest artists in the game on my record and I got a great album and that’s all I’ve really been focused on.—Carl Chery

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