Have you heard Mac Mall go off about competition on his tape with DJ Fresh? It was a vintage “Sucker MC’s” moment:
“Fire to that fake shit you clowns came with
I say it’s wack, you say I’m hatin’
Fuck it – I hate it
I hate your fairy father and the punk slut he laid with
I hate ’em both for fuckin’ and the bitch nigga they created
I wish that hoe swallowed or you woulda been aborted
and we wouldn’t have to listen to that weak shit you recorded”
Agreed, it’s not the ultimate damning verdict we’d all have to yield to, and some might scoff at the vulgarity, but it packs the kind of punch you’re not likely to get from contemporary rappers. It’s the raw beef I expect a veteran MC like Mac Mall to bring to the table. Alas, to entertain expectations regarding rap music is a sure way to set yourself up for disappointment. “The Rebellion Against All There Is,” his last rendezvous with Khayree, the producer of his famed 1993 debut “Illegal Business?” was an unfocused effort, certainly not the first in Mall’s discography. Two years later the duo’s ‘rebellion’ has died down, and instead it’s back to the punning of Mac Mall titles such as “Immaculate,” “Mallennium,” “Mac to the Future” and “The Macuscripts.”
But while the Vallejo rapper has been magnificent and/or malicious at various points in his career, real highlights are few and far between on “MACnifacence & MALLiciousness.” On the emotional level, however, Mall got his groove back. But first the groove of the beat takes center stage with “We Don’t Turn Down,” equipped by Khayree with a repetitive Chipmunk chant and decidedly more beats per minute than your average contemporary club jam. You can feel the intent to stay up-to-date and remain original at the same time. A few tracks later “Millionaire” even makes advances towards the mainstream market with a male singer lending the song a distinct pop touch. If Mac Mall was your average simplistic rhymer, he might have a shot on national radio, but his characterization of the golddigger type is too detailed and nuanced. While “Millionaire” at least partially sympathizes with the women, they take all the flack in “Backwards,” essentially a divorce drama that is not only overloaded with the typical misogyny but also rendered realistic by the rapper’s undeniable storytelling abilities.
Matter of fact, “Mac’s Routine” pays homage to a specific genre of storyteller rap, the laconic a-day-in-the-life account where drama and banalities are equally part of the daily routine. Going for an early ’90s vibe, Khayree lays down a funky guitar loop and Mac Mall sets off and never looks back until the day is done. Like the brilliant ’80s throwback “Freebase” from “Return of the Mac,” “Mac’s Routine” is proof of Mall’s intimate familiarity with the artform. Speaking of familiarity, “Drug of Choice” is a disturbingly reckless song that sees Mall ignoring his own cautionary undertones:
“They say that every hit of E take 12 days offa your life
Well if so, then yo, I’m dyin’ tonight
Suckers sayin’ that they high as a kite
Mac Mall is high as satellites
Loaded, waitin’ on the mothership flight
My bitch say that she gon’ bounce if I don’t stop gettin’ high
But I like dope, so fuck that hoe, I told that bitch bye-bye
Cause I’d rather do shrooms and touch the moon
or maybe microdots or acid and watch cartoons
Like a mad scientist I experiment
Mama didn’t raise no quitter, I forever get lit
That’s right, braincells was made to burn
That’s why I hit the roper hard like Tommy Hearns
Had a cool homeboy who flipped out on sherm
Real nigga turned cannibal – but I still ain’t learned”
For valid reasons the name Big Lurch is omitted, just like adversaries remain anonymous, but if anybody wants to pick apart tracks 8-11, there’s room for interpretation. Especially “Like Nino” (featuring a “We got infiltrated like Nino at the Carter” Biggie quote) and “F Ya Life” leave no doubt that Mall has a few scores to settle.
Khayree has always been an outspokenly positive and spiritual man, so his continued involvement in Mac Mall projects is a bit puzzling. Either way they have an evident working chemistry, the producer focusing on basic tracks with a specific angle, the most surprising one perhaps being “Bonita Chica” bursting with Latin temper (including uncredited guest singer and rapper). Reggae-tinged rhythms are a specialty of his, and “It’s All on Me” and “Backwards” fit the bill.
The latest in a long line of Mac Mall projects easily blends into the crowd. It’s not the return to form that “Return of the Mac” promised (so much for “I give ’em that Illegal Business cause fools lack realness / and the Bay deserve better, so cuddy came to kill it”), but with his signature voice enveloping both harsh words and a touching ode to his grandparents (the closing “Joyful Song”) over beats provided by the most trusted producer of his career, Mac Mall doesn’t dissapoint his most loyal fans. The rest won’t have the interesting incentive that “The Rebellion Against All There Is” held.