Mack 10 is at a crossroads. Since day one, critics have compared his style and based his merits upon a close relationship with Ice Cube. But without Cube, Mack has released a series of an albums, some memorable, others not. But while his peers have faded or fallen, the Inglewood veteran continues to maintain a celebrity profile while working steadily.
With a revamped Hoo-Bangin Records, a new album - Hustlers Handbook, and a lot of attention in the West, 2006 promises plenty. Looking ahead and looking back, Mack reflects on his business relations, the T-Boz rumors, and announces the end of West Side Connection. With or without his brethren, Mack remains a Chicken Hawk in the game grabbing up new fans often.
AllHipHop.com: I recently heard Ms. Jones was gushing all over you on the radio talking about your powerful presence. Does that affect your gangsta, being viewed as a sex symbol?
Mack 10: Oh she was being nice? Thats cool, its good to be too sexy and too gangsta at the same time. Although, I guess for a woman you can ever be too much of either.
AllHipHop.com: Whats going on with Hoo-Bangin records?
Mack 10: Hoo-Bangin records next year will be our 10th year anniversary.
AllHipHop.com: You really brought out an interesting roster in the late 90s. Whats your current roster?
Mack 10: Its myself, I have an artist from Brooklyn called Red Café. He got that song that theyre playing in New York real heavy right now, that Bling Blow song with Fabolous, and West side Connection. But [we re] done - were not doing no more West Side Connection s**t.
AllHipHop.com: Why not?
Mack 10: Because everybodys doing their own thing, ya know.
AllHipHop.com: But everything is still good between everybody?
Mack 10: I mean, I havent spoken to anybody, so I guess its cool. Everybody is just doing their own thing.
AllHipHop.com: There appears to such an unwillingness for West Coast artists to work with each other sometimes, do you agree?
Mack 10: Oh, I completely agree, I comment on that all the time.
AllHipHop.com: Westside Connection are three hustling, highly intelligent, highly creative businessmen. What are the factors that come into play that start to mess up relationships like that?
Mack 10: I dont know, I guess just egos and power. I guess thats probably a few things that could break up groups.
AllHipHop.com: But if you know that, why is it so hard?
Mack 10: You still cant always help it, everybody dont just brush s**t off real easy.
AllHipHop.com: Well Im not talking about everyone else right now Im talking about you, specifically. Someone has to be the bigger person and be humble, is it that hard for you to swallow your pride?
Mack 10: I think thats with any man. Because with me, I aint gotta be all that. But Im gonna remain a man, and I gotta be that. I dont compromise that for no amount of money, no nothing. I dont know how to kiss ass or none of that. I just dont know how to do that.
AllHipHop.com: How do you manage to find a balance?
Mack 10: Because Im a real n***a, Im from these streets for real. A lot of these n***as that rap aint really from the streets. These n***as is entertainers, Im not really an industry n***a, I just know how to rap.
AllHipHop.com: Is it really possible to separate your ties to the streets once you become a rapper?
Mack 10: Naw, you can never erase where you come from. You might not end up there, but you cant erase where youre from, and [Inglewood is] where Im from. Am I going to the hood hangin out and all that? No, Im grown. I have three beautiful kids that love me, so hell naw! But at the same time, people dont really understand that when youre a street n***a, it dont necessarily mean that youre with that bulls**t, you know what I mean just who I am as a person my morals my ethics everything I live by that.
AllHipHop.com: Speaking of the streets, how do you feel about how Games affiliation with Bloods cast a new light on your gang?
Mack 10: Well, me and [DJ] Quik always represented the Red, so its nothing new. I dont think its something he did on purpose. I think it just so happened to be thats what side of the tracks hes from and he just happens to be a new artist with a lot of attention focused on him.
AllHipHop.com: How do you feel about him?
Mack 10: I dont know him, but Im proud of him. Hes a youngster getting his money, at least he should be, and he has a successful album so hes good, but I dont really speak bad on people I dont really know.
AllHipHop.com: Youve been doing this for over a decade like you mentioned, what are some highlights for you of the past ten years with respect to your career?
Mack 10: Im proud that Ive been successful, and I realize that Im blessed and I did it all without compromising my integrity or my manhood. I havent sold out to the industry or to nothing else. Ill never sell my soul to none of that s**t. Im always gonna stand up and be God-fearing and a regular dude. Im never gonna flip the script and become Hollywood like Im not normal no more.
AllHipHop.com: But has it been an easy transition for you?
Mack 10: Yeah, Ive been doing this s**t for over a decade, there has to be some balance.
AllHipHop.com: The Hoo-Bangin artists and your associations have changed over the years. How do you handle the lost friends along the way?
Mack 10: Oh, believe Ive experienced that and that s**t is crazy. But real friends, money could never get involved. If a n***a is really your partner, there shouldnt ever be any amount of money that can f**k that up, not unless a n***a go bad and start stealin from you and s**t, then they never really was your partner anyways.
AllHipHop.com: Some of your former artists have told us that they werent pleased with your business ethics at times. Looking back professionally, what would you change, if you could?
Mack 10: I wouldve kept it all business, and I wouldnt have put my heart into it. I would have made no friendship or nothing like that because friendship is something serious, and that s**t is like when you really consider someone your partner, it aint supposed to be none of that bulls**t.
AllHipHop.com: Is there anyone on the West Coast that youd like to see reconcile?
Mack 10: I dont know, Ive never really thought about it. I guess Snoop and Dre and all the Dogg Pound [dudes].
AllHipHop.com: I think Id like to see all of you guys together.
Mack 10: [prolonged silence, then laughter] I dont have a problem with nobody. I dont do Rap beefs, n***as handle theirs the way they handle theirs, I just dont believe in it.
AllHipHop.com: Does T-Boz listen to and critique your music?
Mack 10: I mean, if I ask her, shell keep it real. Shell tell me whether she likes it or not.
AllHipHop.com: Do you do the same to her?
Mack 10: Oh, believe that.
AllHipHop.com: Im glad to hear you guys are back together, do you mind talking about what happened?
Mack 10: Its like this: I really dont talk about that because Ive been doing music for over ten years, and I feel like if we keep interviewing, we can find other stuff to talk about.
AllHipHop.com: I appreciate that, but you have to understand that you have female fans to that might have found some issue with what went down.
Mack 10: Yeah, just know this: everything gets blown completely out of proportion just because of who we are. And Ill just leave it at that. Im not going to point any fingers and say she did this, or I said that, well just leave it at that.
AllHipHop.com: Okay, but did you hit her?
Mack 10: No, I dont get down like that. And believe me, a n***a, especially a rapper living in the country, accused of hitting his wife is going to jail. Believe it, and you didnt hear anything about me going to jail in Georgia at that. You think a n***a aint goin to jail?