Hey guys! If anyone's familiar with this, I'm trying to do a hip hop album review series! This time, I take a look at Mack 10's debut album in 1995, which was creatively named Mack 10. Enjoy the review!
Dedrick D'mon Rolison, better known as Mack 10, is a partially mainstream, partially underground rapper coming straight out of Inglewood. Mack 10 is best known for being one of Ice Cube's best known weed carries in the 1990s, being one of the 3 amigos that were known as the Westside Connection, who released a classic fucking
album known as Bow Down
in 1996. However, in 2007, a payment dispute meant that the group disbanded; to this day, Mack 10 and Ice Cube still haven't made up, as far as I know. Mack 10 still runs an indie rap label known as Hoo-Bangin Records.
In the 1990s, Ice Cube really wanted the world to know about that West Coast gangsta shit. Fed up with the amount of press that the East Coast had begun receiving (after they kept dropping classic after classic, The Infamous
by Mobb Deep is still the shit in 2015), Ice Cube helped his merry weed carrier Mack 10 get a deal in Priority; Mack 10 had previously appeared on the remix to the track "What Can I Do" on the Bootlegs & B-Sides compilation; apparently, Priority were impressed. Given that hip hop (both east and west) was at its absolute fucking height, Priority had money signs all over their eyes; they knew the peeps at least on the West would absolutely eat this up. Mack 10 did not disappoint, peaking at #33 on the charts, and going gold. To this day, it's regarded as one of the finer West Coast albums. But does it hold up?
Let's find out.
1. Micky D's Lick (Intro)
I'll admit; this made me laugh; this otherwise mostly banal intro actually involves our protagonist Mack 10 robbing a McDonald's which is being manned by Ice Cube. The entire skit is hilarious, and it even reminded me of one of the first San Andreas missions where Ryder decides to rob a pizza store. Wonder if the inspiration came from here. (N/A)
2. Foe Life (feat. Ice Cube)
Ice Cube is only featured at the very beginning, mocking Boogie Down Productions, because why not. Ice Cube nonetheless drops a really dope beat, which is distinctly and unapologetically West Coast. This song is actually quite amusing, Mack 10 even mentions his poverty (buy my single!; coming from Ingle); it's mostly a braggadocio where Mack 10 brags about how amazing of a gangster is. Even with the dark West Coast gangster theme, Mack 10 actually keeps things very light-hearted. It's corny, but even back then, that's how it was perceived, and it still holds up. (B)
3. Wanted Dead
Ice Cube is again featured behind the boards, where he drops an absolutely hot beat, even though it samples Zapp's "More Bounce to the Ounce" (probably made most famous by Biggie's "Going Back 2 Cali", but the sample craze first started by MC Breed's "Ain't No Future in Your Frontin'"). Mack 10 actually spits a very entertaining and engaging track, where it's implied that he's wanted for a murder in various states, and the cops are pissed enough to employ a shoot-to-kill tactic. Mack 10 speeds through the Cali interstates, evading the 5-0, even firing at the police near the end of the song. The police radio adds even more vividness to the song, and the country guitar adds a touch that makes the song feel even more complete. Overall, I really loved this track; the West Coast wasn't known for story telling tracks, but this is one of them, and a solid one. (A-)
4. On Them Thangs (feat. The Mary Jane Girls)
Another pretty obvious sample is used here (this one being Mary Jane by Rick James; the Mary Jane girls perform the hook); however, the instrumental sounds pretty solid, and gives off a very laid-back vibe that is more ghetto than Hardcore Pawn. The lyrics are more of the same sort of braggadocio that you would expect from a gangsta rap album, although Mack 10's sense of humor and light-heartedness once again shines through, which perfectly blend with this happy sounding instrumental. The soulish hook makes this sound really complete. Overall, this was a very enjoyable track. (A)
5. Pigeon Coup
6. Chicken Hawk
I wonder if the title of this track was intended as a subtle shot at the various politicians that constantly support war and having never served in one themselves, given that Vietnam and the Gulf War were all still recent memories. This time, Mack 10 attempts to harden his image even more, making himself sound like perhaps the most cheesiest and confused serial killer on the planet. While he attempts to sound like a hardcore sociopathic ice-cold gangster killer, Mack 10 sounds a bit out of place, and probably sounds better with his usual sense of humor; Ice Cube's hook makes these even more cheesy, and the bridge between the 2nd and 3rd verse re-enforce the satirical tone. Ice Cube's instrumental again is fire, giving a very laidback sound, reminding me of a cloudy day in the hood. (B-)
7. Here Comes The G
I like the instrumental here enough; it sounds like a track that would've been used for an introspective track, even going as far as to use a piano jazz sample, and it would've been well timed here. However, Mack 10 wastes this unfortunately, and it's mostly more shit-talking as we've had in the previous tracks. The hook isn't great, and the content really just doesn't fit with the instrumental, although Mack 10 gives a shout out to those homies that have passed away. Actually, reading in between the lines, the song is rather introspective, but in a "I came from dirt and now I'm rich" way; still, this could've been better. The instrumental saves it here, since it is the tits
8. West Side Slaughterhouse (Feat. Ice Cube & WC)
We're hit with an absolute fucking banger
with the next track, which adds some well-timed energy to the album. The song is a diss towards Common (who released "I Used To Love H.E.R.", which contained some lines which may/may not have dissed the West; Common would strike back with "The Bitch In Yoo") and basically any rapper that wasn't with the West in general. Overall, all of our performers here spit absolute fucking fire
; for once, Mack 10 actually sounds likes someone you wouldn't want to fuck with, but Ice Cube and (especially) WC truly take the cake. Madness 4 Real's instrumental just fucking bangs
, even 20 years later, as it sounds fucking cold
. The music video for this song was pretty awesome as well. This song also signaled the beginning of Westside Connection, who would drop some pretty fucking classic records (Gangsta Nation, anyone?) (A+)
9. Niggas Dog Scrapping (Skit)
10. Armed and Dangerous
The honeymoon couldn't last forever, could it? After tracks that we were given which were at the very least, above average (which would be 6; that's actually quite impressive, especially for a gangsta rap album), we are hit with the first shitstain of the album, and my god, is it awful
. The song here can be best described as a buffalo taking a diarrhea dump in your ear. AVGN reference aside, the instrumental here is a fucking hot mess, self-produced by Mack 10 himself, and my god, he shouldn't have been allowed near the boards. The lyrics suck, and Mack 10 actually sounds pretty young. This was probably a track off an old demo tape that Mack 10 had made perhaps around 1992-94, and was added as filler. Overall, this sucks. (F)
11. H.O.E.K. (Feat. K-Dee)
You knew this one was coming. Mack 10 now decides to show how much of a ladies man he is. However, this is pretty bad. Simply put, Mack 10 isn't a player. He's a cartoonish and funny gangster. The instrumental is blah, and isn't really going to get any plays, is it? (D)
12. 10 Million Ways
Suddenly, we're hit with something that's pretty different. Actually, this track sounds like a hybrid between East and West, which is the first sign of experimentation on here. It actually sounds a bit like something that would have come from Biggie's Ready To Die
, but polished a bit and given a slight West Coast touch. Mack 10 sounds quite comfortable over this beat, and gives us perhaps the first serious track of the hour, rapping about how drug dealing, robbery, and other petty crimes can affect a man's psyche, and the rest of the community. Ice Cube's hook doesn't really fit with this song well at all, but I found this quite enjoyable. (A-)
Another ladies track which just sounds awkward as fuck. Next. (D-)
14. Mack 10's the Name
As G-funk as the instrumental is here, I don't really thin it fits well on the scope of the album. Sure, if MC Ren, Da Lench Mob or Paris had used this in a politically charged street anthem rapping about the awfulness of the police and government, this would've banged. However, Mack 10 lets this one go to waste, and instead raps about how great of a gangster he is. Not a really good track. (D)
FINAL WORD: Mack 10 (the album) is admittedly your bogstandard 1990s West Coast rap album, with your typical funk-heavy sample beats, muscle cars and hookers. However, all that aside, I found this to be pretty enjoyable. When the beats bang, they fucking bang. Mack 10 manages to be at times an above average lyricist, although his words won't win a Pulitzer. To detract from the album, the end of the album really fucking suffers, with only 1 decent track to be found after Westside Slaughterhouse. Even then though, I found the album to hold up strongly even after 20 years. It's a good album.
FINAL RATING: 3.5/5 Stars (B-)
Best Tracks: Wanted Dead, On Them Thangs, Westside Slaughterhouse, 10 Million Ways
Worst Tracks: H.O.E.K., Mozi-Wozi, Armed and Dangerous
Buy or Burn: It's not the best album in the world, but you could do a lot worse. If you can find this cheap, I highly suggest you buy this album. However, given that you're an internet, and Mack 10 is mostly forgotten, this isn't a very strong possibility.
Questions? Comments? Feel free to mouth off