Mack 10’s Soft White and Westside No-Connection Interview
West Coast icon Mack 10 is back at it again with his 10th solo album Soft White, released last month. The Inglewood, CA born rapper has made a name for himself in the game since 1995 with his solo debut, self-titled Mack 10. Hard-core fans recall the hits “Foe Life” and “Chicken Hawk” from the debut album that made him a staple in hip hop on the West Coast just as it was becoming popular.
Obviously it didn’t stop there, Mack teamed up with fellow Cali gangster rappers Ice Cube and WC to form the popular group Westside Connection. Their debut album Bow Down (1996) went platinum by 1997 selling 1.7 million copies. Songs on the album including “King of the Hill”, “Cross ‘Em Out” and “Hoo Bangin” caused controversy. The songs were all disses to Ice Cube’s foe in the industry, Cypress Hill. These days though, according to the members of Westside Connection and Cypress Hill, the beef’s been squashed for years.
Westside Connection’s last album Terrorist Threats was released in 2003 and created the hit “Gangster Nation.” Despite certified gold Terrorist Threats, the powerhouse group may not see another album. In our interview with Mack we asked about a Westside re-Connection and the future isn’t looking so bright.
Truth is, Mack 10 doesn’t need the group to continue making star studded hit albums year after year. Hoo Bangin’ Records, founded in 1996 by Mack, has put him on the independent track with the ability to take full control of his music. It’s no secret that having a privately owned independent label is the happy alternative to corporate record labels these days.
Chatting with gangster rapper Mack 10:
How are you doing today?
“I’m good. working hard, that’s all.”
What originally influenced you to start rapping in the early nineties?
“I think maybe Run DMC. And then NWA came and it took me over the top. I was just always a rap fan. And I just happened to be pretty good at putting the rhymes together.”
It’s been almost 15 years since the release of your self titled Mack 10 and you’re still in the game. What inspires you to continue putting out records?
“I think you got to just stay relevant and stay in touch with the streets and know what’s going on. I think that’s when you get left behind, when you become not relevant anymore. You just lose touch.
I still go to my community, I still go to the neighborhood. I got family that lives in Inglewood. I just continue being Mack. And me just being myself keeps me current.”
Soft White is perfectly balanced with great collaboration, the likes of Lil Wayne and Rick Ross. But for your next album is there anyone else you’d like to work with?
“I do it as it comes. When I put those guys on my album this time those were just the dudes I wanted to work with at the time. Everybody came with open arms. So I just keep it going as it comes.
I don’t really plan it out ahead of time too much. To me, music is a feeling. When I get a track done or I am working, if I can hear somebody else on a song that I think could compliment, then I will give them a call. I’m not like ‘I just want to do a record with him.’ It comes as a natural feeling.”
What inspires your music? Like you said, is it just a feeling you get and begin writing?
“Kind of. It just depends on how I am feeling that day. And that’s the kind of music that comes out that day. But I am inspired by life. Just any kind of experience can inspire me to make some music. I like making music anyways, so I don’t really need much help to get going. Just life inspires me.”
If you had to choose on your recent album Soft White, what’s your favorite song?
“That’s a tough one. People ask me that question and I really can’t answer it. Because there are only 12 songs on the album, so I put 12 really good songs on the record. I didn’t put 20 songs because I didn’t want no fat on it at all. I wanted to give it to you with no fat on the bones. So I mean, I like them all really.”
Is there a potential Westside Connection reunion in the future, and do you still keep in touch with those artists?
“I haven’t talked to either one of them. I don’t know about any Westside Connection reunion. You know, I haven’t kept in touch with them.”
You were on the forefront of putting the West Coast on the map for rap, how was it seeing the popularity grow?
“It was amazing. It was like a dream come true for me. I’m grateful. And I know I am blessed. Really in the nineties that was amazing. I don’t know if we’ll ever see it like it was then.”
Is your latest album Soft White your most prized project so far?
“Well, I treat them all like prizes. I like them all the same. I want them all to do well and be real profitable. They’re all prizes to me. Soft White is just the latest one.”
How do you feel about the current state of the industry and what you’re hearing on the radio?
“It’s different. It’s different not just for me but for everybody. We got to play with the cards we’re dealt with anyway. It’s a lot different and I know you gotta really prepare now. If you don’t have a game plan you’re going to lose. There’s too many ways to get free music. You know, things we didn’t have to worry about back in the day.”
Does the way the industry has become influence the way you make your music?
“Not really. The way the industry is now, it affects the way you market your music. I don’t think I make different kind of music because the industry is in a different state now. That’s not the case for me. I make the kind of music that I make.”
What advice would you give to those aspiring hip hop and rap artists?
“You can’t ever give up. You got to keep pushing forward. Keep your head down and stick to the grind. Just keep your eye on the prize and focus. It’s just like being a professional athlete, sometimes it’s like the luck of the draw you know what I mean? But you got to stay focused and stay grinding.”
You have your label Hoo Bangin’ Records. Is independent the way to go?
“I never did anything but independent. I have been doing that since the nineties; so for me it’s the way go. I don’t think I could function really on a major. It’s just too much red tape you got to go through on the majors sometimes.”
Recently you signed Glasses Malone to your record label Hoo Bangin’. How do you see that playing out?
“I hope Glasses is a future hall-of-famer. He’s good. You can hear the sincerity in his music and everything. I think it’s a good situation for us both.”
When can we expect the record from Glasses Malone on Hoo Bangin’, sometime next year?
“It may be late this year, November. Yeah, Beach Cruiser.”
How do you want people to see Mack 10?
“I want them to just enjoy my music. Music is entertainment. I want them to enjoy my work really. I try and make a little something for everybody.”
After listening to the new album I definitely felt the versatility. Do you strive to make sure you’re multi-themed?
“You have to make a well rounded project, if you can help it. Yeah, I definitely strive to put together well rounded records.”
Anything else you’d like to say to San Diegans?
“Go get it – Soft White in stores right now! I got Lil Wayne, Birdman, Anthony Hamilton, Rick Ross, J Holiday, A-Kon, Glasses Malone. Go get it, it’s hot.
The next single is “Hood Famous” with me and J Holiday. “Mirror Mirror” was just a leak record I did for the internet. But was added by BET and MTV and it took on a life of its own. The next single is definitely “Hood Famous.”
Mack 10 has released 10 albums including Soft White and sold over 2.4 million albums in his career.
Check out “So Sharp” – Mack 10 ft. Lil Wayne, Jazze Pha and Rick Ross
Mack 10 So Sharp featuring Lil Wayne, Jazze Pha & Rick Ross
Mack 10 – “Soft White” – In Stores Now! | MySpace Video