Mack 10: Reality Music (Q&A Interview)
Hip-hop in 2009 can be compared to professional wrestling, and it is for good reason. It all seems a little too formulated and predictable. Every new rapper wants to follow the same scripted footsteps as those them down to the smallest of details. It's as if someone discovered the secret formula to a quick success and sold the blueprint to anybody with a dollar and a dream.
Dedrick Rolison, or Mack 10 as he is known to hip-hop fans, is something of a rarity in today's hip-hop world, simply because he keeps it real. When you hear the rapper speak during an interview or just simply listen to one of his albums, you get the sense that he means exactly what he is saying and isn't holding anything back. That's one big reason why he has been able to survive in a rap game that has seen too many climate changes to count. When a fan hears a Mack 10 record, there's never that questioning of authenticity that has become the standard practice when discussing today's popular acts. What you see is what you get, hands down without a question about it. The sincerity that you hear from a Mack 10 record is one of the things that have allowed him to grow such a loyal fan base for himself and his independent Hoo-Bangin' Records. With all the question marks going on in today's hip-hop climte, it's as good a time as any for the West Coast legend to come back onto the scene and give fans a sense of reality.
BallerStatus.com: It's been a minute since we got a chance to hear a new studio album from you. Why such the long delay and what have you been doing in your time away?
Mack 10: I just had to really sit back and evaluate the game for a minute. I had to step back and take a good look. Sometimes you got to step away and look and then reevaluate sh** and re-up, you know what I mean? I went through a couple of things on the personal side, like divorce and all kinds of other sh**. Once that was behind me, I was able to focus on music again and move forward. My album is a good record and I'm very happy with it, and I look like I ain't never left, ya dig? So I'm good with it.
BallerStatus.com: How do you feel about how that last studio album was received by the fans and the critics?
Mack 10: I don't know, but I was going through something in my life where that wasn't my best work. But, I got a classic record off of that album and that's the record I call "Testimony". That's a classic, that was the second biggest radio single of my career. I was able to get a classic off of it, but this record right here is a totally different album and it's an album that ... I don't know I just think everybody is going to be pretty impressed with it.
BallerStatus.com: So how long have you been working on the new album Soft White?
Mack 10: I worked on it for awhile because I didn't have no release date or nothing. I just took my time and got it done. September 29th is the date it'll be on the streets. We ready. I'm cocked and loaded, I'm happy. I had a lot of fun on this record. I got some pretty good collabs. I had fun on this one.
BallerStatus.com: Speaking of collabs, what kind of collabs and production do you have coming on this project?
Mack 10: As far as collabs, I got Birdman, Glasses Malone, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, and Anthony Hamilton. I got a record called "Hood Famous" with J. Holiday, and I got a record called "Clack Clack" with Akon and Red Café. I had a lot of fun on this one dog. I brought em out. That's why this one is called Soft White. This one right here is raw and uncut. Soft white dope is raw, so that's what this one is.
BallerStatus.com: So you got the first single on it called "So Sharp", how did you get so many big name people on the same record?
Mack 10: Just a phone call, it wasn't nothing. I been doing this a long time and I I've sold probably five or six million records independent. So I'm alright on my side of the tracks, ya dig what I'm saying? In the indie world, it's like Hoo-Bangin' is as good as it gets in the independent world. The last Westside Connection record was on Hoo-Bangin'. It wasn't nothing but a phone call. Wayne is my folks, Ross is my folks. It was nothing.
BallerStatus.com: Since we're talking about Hoo-Bangin' Records can you explain how Glasses Malone got signed to it for people who don't know?
Mack 10: Well I just heard Glasses' mixtape, White Lightning, and I just told them to find him. I said find this kid right here, I need to holla at him. At the time, Def Jam and everybody else was trying to sign him. Everybody thought he was crazy for signing with me, but he was like "I grew up listening to you and I know the kind of guy you are, I done seen you in action out here and for the west coast I think Hoo-Bangin' is as good as it gets. I'm from Watts, I need to be on the west." I said "Right on", and that's what it is ya dig? We clicked and I did a deal with him.
BallerStatus.com: So you've been linked with Cash Money for awhile now, how did that joint venture on Glasses' new project come along?
Mack 10: It wasn't nothing, but a phone call. It wasn't nothing really. Baby hollered, I hollered at him and we worked it out. It's like "Let's make this kid bigger than just on this side, let me get some of that south too with him, let's make this a Hoo-Bangin', Cash Money venture." Plus it's hip-hop news like that its' something to talk about, so it worked like that. I think it was a good fit for Glasses.
BallerStatus.com: What type of long term expectations do you have for him as an artist?
Mack 10: Glasses is going to be a hall of famer one day, as long as he keeps doing this because he can make any type of music. It's easy for him, it's a real talent. I done seen him write raps on his sidekick and sh**, it comes easy to him. He's going to be around as long as he wants to be around because he really gots it. I done seen a lot of dudes come and go, but G got some substance to him. He really got something about him. He gots it.
BallerStatus.com: You've been in the game a long time, what motivates you to still put out music?
Mack 10: I'm just competitive and it's still fun to me and I'm still one of the best. When it gets to the point where I'm not one of the best anymore -- when I'm trying to do it everybody knows that I'm doing it, and when I ain't around -- you can tell I ain't around. When I'm trying to do this, I don't ever have a problem getting my position because I'm pretty good at making records. When I get to the point where I can't do it, like that then I'll hang it up. I don't want to be one of these dudes that's around doing this sh** and I don't need to be doing it no more. It's still fun to me right now.
BallerStatus.com: What do you think of veteran rappers? Do feel like their aging gracefully or do you think some of them are hurting their legacies by staying around?
Mack 10: Nah, hell nah, not for everybody. A lot of these dudes is clowns now, but I'm a street n**** for real, so I'm always gonna be relevant or stay current or looking current. I ain't walking around with khakis on or none of that sh**, I'm really from the streets homie. I ain't going to be looking like I'm in a time capsule like some of these other dudes and a lot of these dudes need to sit down because it ain't the '90s no more. A lot of them hate on the young rappers and I don't really understand that sh** because I love the new west -- all the youngsters that's doing it, I love that sh**. When you really from the streets, that's how you keep your hood alive, you got to put new n****s on. It's open doors with me for all the youngsters that's why they f*** with me because I ain't no hater. I'm really from the streets.
BallerStatus.com: California seems like it's really been lacking a strong presence of prominent artists on the national scene. How do feel about that whole situation?
Mack 10: I agree with you 100 percent and I feel like some of us that have had the opportunity to represent it, misrepresented it. That ain't what Cali is like and that ain't a proper representation of a west coast n**** really. We playas too out here. We like to have fun and we got money and all that sh** too. It ain't all just jokes and goofy sh**. That was one of the reasons that made me really want to get back up really and step all the way back in it with both feet because to me wasn't nobody really representing this the right way. There wasn't nobody really showing LA culture for real how we do it. I ain't seen no Harleys in no videos or nothing and that's the biggest craze out here since lowriders. They just don't put it down like that ain't what the streets is really like out here, ain't nobody really showed it the right way. If you want to really see what the streets is like out here, tune in to anything on Hoo-Bangin' because we gonna keep it 100.
BallerStatus.com: So what's some of the newer artists that are getting your attention?
Mack 10: I like the dudes like Nipsey Hussle, Jay Rock, 211, the boys out of Watts by Nixon Gardens. Glasses, Problem, and all the young homies that are doing their thing. I even respect the little jerk dudes, the New Boyz. I respect that sh** because I'm a hustler and that sh** is working. If you can beat on a drum and sell a million records then you'd be a fool not to keep beating on it. I respect everybody's craft. Everybody ain't gonna sound the same, so I respect everybody's hustle.
BallerStatus.com: You've been involved in some real classic beefs. It seems like recently beefs are used more as a gimmick to sell records. What's your take on all of that?
Mack 10: That sh** ain't really real no more like it used to be. I try to stay away from that really. Now I'm gonna express myself, but I ain't really looking for no more record beef or all that sh**. I ain't gonna do no beefing on a record, I just ain't looking for that.
BallerStatus.com: Michael Jackson recently passed and a lot of artist have come out and expressed how he inspired them or motivated them. What are some of your inspirations as far as your music goes?
Mack 10: I remember when my first album came out, Michael Jackson was no. 1 and mine was no. 2. So I thought I would have had a no. 1 record back then, but you got to respect Mike as being Mike and take the back seat to him anytime. To me, Michael Jackson shouldn't be called the King of Pop, he should be called the King of Music because you can't name a bigger R&B singer either. Whatever he did, he was the biggest and there will never be anyone to compare to him. He was the greatest ever and there will never be nobody close. All of us should just be thankful that we got the chance to even experience him.
BallerStatus.com: Back to the Cash Money topic. What's your first memory of Lil Wayne and what's your thought on the type of success that he's having now?
Mack 10: I was one of the first to tell Baby and Slim years ago, like way before Wayne's success right now. I said "Bet the house on him." If you ask Baby I think he'll tell you that I said "Bet the house on Wayne, he got it. Just let him be him and do him." That's what he did and the rest is history. Wayne is a special talent, period, and I knew it. This success is not new, Wayne been going platinum since he was fourteen. Everybody looks at Wayne like all this new success, but it ain't new. He's been going platinum for 10 years now, but it seems like people forgot about that. That's what makes him even better because usually people don't get better the longer their careers go. They don't get bigger 10 years later, but that's what this kid did and that's just phenomenal really.
BallerStatus.com: What type of vibe are we going to get from the new album, Soft White, when they listen to it?
Mack 10: This record is gonna show a side to me that maybe I've never showed on records before. I did a couple of records on this album that I ain't never did these kinds of records before, but I think it's a good thing. I think people are going to be really impressed with this one because it's very current. It's some right now kind of sh**. Its not no old 1990s gangsta rap kind of sh**. It's right now. I think that's important, you gotta turn and keep up.
BallerStatus.com: So you've done acting in the past, is that something that you're pursuing currently?
Mack 10: I just did a feature film with Charles Dutton and Meagan Goode called "The Obama Effect." It'll be out pretty soon, they just had a screening. I had a lot of fun. I got a chance to really act in there, like I played a square dude.
BallerStatus.com: What was that like Mack 10 playing a square dude?
Mack 10: Sh***, I was just acting. I'm a hustler. I can be anything I need to be. It was easy, but I just had fun this is all fun to me.
BallerStatus.com: What would you say are the differences and the similarities between acting and rapping?
Mack 10: Acting is more scripted, rapping ain't really scripted. It ain't supposed to be at least. It kind of like you just go wherever the music takes sometimes.
BallerStatus.com: Now that you're older and further into your career, is it easier for you to be more vulnerable and personable on your work?
Mack 10: I've always had that about me. I think that's what made Mack 10, Mack 10. You could hear how sincere I was in my music -- you could hear if I was passionate about something, you could tell because it came across like that. I don't know if it's different now. I just try to stick to the script and make good music, period.
BallerStatus.com: You said earlier the 2005 album was done during a difficult time, is it difficult for you to keep your personal life separate from your music while you're making it?
Mack 10: It's hard sometimes because as a celebrity your personal life can become public. You just got to try and do it the best you can and keep family sh** separate, but at times it gets to be difficult.
BallerStatus.com: what would you say has been your greatest achievement in your career so far?
Mack 10: I think maybe Westside Connection being gold for seven years and coming back and going platinum. You know, that was a pretty big statement to sleep for seven years and come back and sell a million records on one single on Hoo-Bangin'.
BallerStatus.com: Are fans ever going to see another Westside Connection album?
Mack 10: I don't know. I haven't talked to those guys in awhile, so I don't really know. I just been concentrating on Mack 10 and getting Glasses ready.
BallerStatus.com: You got Soft White coming out and you got Glasses' project, what else do you have lined up for people in the near future?
Mack 10: I got collab record with me and Glasses together. It's called Mack and Malone. The group is Mack and Malone, the album is called Money Music. I got another Mack 10 album coming out next year called 2010. So those projects are basically done already, so we're just gonna be knocking them down and putting them out as they come.