Mack 10, the debut album from the world’s best worst rapper Mack 10, is 20 years old this year. One of the things we’ll be doing here at Triv is revisiting old(er) albums and seeing how they stack up in today’s hip hop climate.
Twenty years is a long time. A lot can change in 20 years. The world in 2015 looks drastically different than the world did in 1995. Cellphones weren’t nearly as ubiquitous as they are now. “Thot” and “ratchet” weren’t yet introduced into the lexicon. And hip hop still had an edge. Not that hip hop in 2015 isn’t edgy (it’s not), but it was far more edgy before it went completely pop.
So 20 years ago, we were introduced to a young rapper named Mack 10. Mack 10 came to us, via Ice Cube, in the summer of 1994 on Cube’s Bootlegs & B-Sides EP. The following summer we were treated to Mack 10 full album.
Twenty years later “Foe Life” still works, in fact I’d rather listen to this track more than about 85% of the new music coming out of hip hop today. “Foe Life” takes us on a journey through Mack 10’s life. We find out pretty much all we ever really need to know about Mack 10 from this first track. He robs, steals, shoots, kills, gets bit by a dog, drives an Impala, goes to court, begs for mercy, threatens his Parole Officer, and saves the city from a “son of a bitch on the roof/yermed up in his birthday suit.” In less than 4 minutes Mack 10 does a lot. The song, doesn’t seem too braggadocious and the ridiculous base line keeps your head bobbing throughout the whole track. To be fair, it’s not incredibly difficult to make me want to listen to an “Aquaboogie” sampled song.
“On Them Thangs” takes a Rick James sample and flips it. Instead of rapping about weed to the most recognizable weed song ever, Mack 10 produces a track that’s difficult to appreciate if you don’t come from the left coast. An entire song about Dayton wire wheels? Yes. We’ll take it.
There are some excellent tracks on this album. “Here Comes The G” is just the perfect mixture of hood and smooth. I’ve always had a thing for Patrice Rushen, so no surprise that I love this track. For those of you thinking that I just like this album because DJ Crazy Toons made tracks with songs I already love I’d just like to say: so what?
That’s part of what makes a song great, not just the rap, but the ability to touch a part of the listener and tap into emotion. I’ve always been a fan of rappers like Mack 10 who have the wherewithal to talk about some grimy shit, but do it over the smoothest of beats. Once I checked the production credits I realized something, the best tracks on this album are heavily sampled. “Mozi Wozi” is probably my favorite
Perhaps the most influential song on this album is “Westside Slaughterhouse.” It’s not the best song lyrically or musically. Its importance lies in the message being preached by Ice Cube, WC and Mack 10. This was the first time we really saw that Westside Connection was a real thing. Also, this is the song that started the Ice Cube-Common Sense beef. Overall, though, the song isn’t that good. That seems to be the case with about 1/3 of the tracks on Mack 10.
“Armed & Dangerous,” “H-O-E-K,” and “10 Million Ways” might as well be the same song. Same concept, same content, same outcome. They are boring. Perhaps if they weren’t all back to back they wouldn’t hit the same way. After 12 minutes of being told that Mack 10 is the hardest nigga on earth it gets tiring. We get it, you’re tough and have tough friends that do tough guy things. Is there a new way to say this? No? Ok.
Overall, Mack 10 is still a great album. If it came out today, I have no idea what it would do. Mack 10 can rap, in the sense that he can rhyme words with other words in a pretty seamless fashion. But Mack 10 has never been one to give you witty wordplay, or spit a hot 16 that makes you rewind because you need to decipher his words. What you will get are solid verses about stealing towels from hotel rooms, khaki suits, low riders, rims, and all of the other awesome shit that made the 90s wonderful.