On this day, June 20, in hip-hop history…
1995: A then twenty-four year old protégé of recent N.W.A. member and west coast gangster rap pioneer, Ice Cube, a young and menacing Mack 10 embraced the guidance of his established and respected mentor and released his inaugural contribution to the ever so blossoming criminally charged, trunk clattering, gangster funk-boogie insurgence that was rapidly being cultivated throughout the entirety of the west coast in the early to mid-90′s.
Hailing from Inglewood, California, and exhibiting an individuality that portrayed both an unlawful and dangerous existence, Mack 10′s self-titled debut was full of reassurance that the unforgiving ways attached to his moniker were surely not just attributes of a stage name, but was in fact a way of life for the budding emcee. The album itself, sitting at 48 minutes and carrying fourteen tracks in total, is an intrusive audible depiction of what life in the specific streets of Los Angeles, that Mack is all too familiar with, fully entailed.
With the production being dispersed between Ice Cube, Mack 10 himself, and a handful of other West Coast colleagues (Madness 4 Real, 88 X Unit, Crazy Toones, and Dr. Jam), the essence of the album was strongly influenced by the excessive bass, heavily funk sampled, and leisurely soothing grooves that had already been conceived with the inception of the g-funk era a half-decade earlier. Sampling an array of funk legends in Earth Wind and Fire, James Brown, Rick James, and Parliament, Mack used the familiar backdrop of production to assess all facets of life as a gangster. The lyrical content stretches from the inevitable darker sides of that livelihood, in murder, robbery, and drugs, to the contrarily glorified aspects of souped up Chevys and Cadillacs, and revolving doors of women. While the lyrics littered throughout were simple, straightforward and blunt, it is that exact approach which gained Mack his appeal within the already prosperous genre.
Eventually flourishing the following year as a member of Westside Connection, and going on to release nine solo albums in total, Mack 10′s debut album is what set the tone for his place in the history books of rap, and will forever be considered an essential album to the staying power of the West Coast gangster rap movement. -Michael Blair