In 1995, Mack 10 Made An Introduction Built To Last Foe Life (Video)
Throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, Priority Records’ distribution delivered some of the finest Hip-Hop and Gangsta Rap albums to the masses, even if fans might not have realized it. Bryan Turner’s company, which historically found its first pivotal success backing the California Raisins claymation act, would go on to service releases by N.W.A., Geto Boys, Ice Cube, EPMD, Tha Dogg Pound, Nice & Smooth, Brotha Lynch Hung, San Quinn, WC & The Maad Circle, 415, O.G. Style, Tim Smooth, and a host of others. Ruthless, Rap-A-Lot, Death Row, Fresh/Sleeping Bag and Black Market Records all used the distributor which reportedly lacked the corporate pressures of censorship facing Warner Bros. and other majors.
As a label, Priority became home to Ice Cube after breaking with N.W.A. and Ruthless, as Straight Outta Compton portrayed during one gruff negotiation meeting. While Cube already had cache coming off of 1988’s N.W.A. breakthrough, the imprint wanted to compete with some of the same labels it distributed. They signed West Coast talent, including Ras Kass, Snoop Dogg acquaintance Lil 1/2 Dead, and Mack 10.
Mack 10, born Dedrick Rolison, was from Inglewood, California. In the same part of town as The Forum, where the Lakers and Kings played, Mack 10 hoped to help put the section on the Rap map. Priority’s flagship artist, Ice Cube was diversifying his roster. While Cube had worked with Yo-Yo, Da Lench Mob, and Del The Funkee Homosapien in the early ’90s, it was time for another bite of the apple. Mack, who soon brandished his Blood ties, joined DJ Quik and O.F.T.B. at a time when Crips from across Los Angeles, Compton, and Long Beach were booming in The Source and Rap Pages. In time, he would form a group with one such established MC in WC.
In 1994, Mack 10 started popping up alongside Cube. He provided background vocals and video support on Bootlegs & B-Sides‘ “What Can I Do,” a new track on a Top 20-charting compilation. This followed a spot on Da Lench Mob’s “Cut Throats.”
By mid-1995, Priority rolled out the red-carpet for Mack 10’s eponymous debut. Ahead of the June album, Priority released “Foe Life,” an Ice Cube-assisted single. That same spring, Cube and DJ Pooh’s Friday had released, making its rounds. Mack was on the soundtrack, alongside Dr. Dre, Scarface, 2 Live Crew, and a Cube title track that shouted him out in the lyrics.
“Foe Life” showed Mack cruising through the ‘Wood in his custom Cadillac coupe lowrider, which would become part of his LP artwork. Like King T had done, Mack showed his love of car culture, especially hittin’ switches. “Nutty as ‘Michael Myers,’” the video shows the rapper spoofing the Menace II Society opening, knocking off a rim shop, and fighting his case before a judge. Listen closely, and the treatment brings all of the song’s lyrics to a cinematic presentation. After breaking from the courtroom on foot, Mack jumps from the roof of the city building. Just like he would do as a rapper, the man lands on his feet. The same year that Harrison Ford’s Fugitive took movie theater audiences by storm, the music video is a carefree caricature of an artist who wanted to inject some humor into Gangsta Rap.
Notably, Cube appears in the video for just a little longer than his “Let Me Ride” cameo, playing Mack’s getaway driver at one heist. On the LP, Cube provided a Boogie Down Productions-inspired intro and some ad-libs, but it’s “The Chickenhawk’s” party. “I’m the General and you’s a stowaway / ‘Bout to buck you down with this throw away / With no serial number it’s the summer / Where ni**as die, it’s hotter than July / You better stay low fo’ you get a halo / Plus wings and a gown when I come around / So take 10 paces / And try to guess the color of my shoelaces,” closes the menacing MC.
Just after summer’s end, Mack 10 was certified gold. The LP also contained “Westside Slaughterhouse” (embedded below), a song by Mack, Cube, and WC that would heat up the beef with Common at the time, describing what happened since the Chicagoan “Used To Love H.E.R.” and “she” moved out West. The track would be followed by another posse cut, “West Up!” on Dub’s 1995 LP, Curb Servin‘. These tracks would ultimately lead to the formation of Westside Connection, and a bond that lasted more than a decade into the mid-2000s.
Mack 10 is presently preparing to release The Redprint, his first solo album in a decade. In a recent interview with Soren Baker, he explained that fans of Mack 10 should be pleased with the sound and direction of this effort.
#BonusBeat: Mack 10, Ice Cube, and WC’s (Westside Connection) “Westside Slaughterhouse”: