by Dan O
More than a few reasonable people would like to edit The Mack out of blaxploitation history along with the pimp rap it spawned. If hip hop is a culture it’s undoubtedly a family as well full of cousins you brag about and uncles you NEVER speak too. Pimp rap is that uncle for a lot of people. For every attempt at serious perspective made by artists like Suga Free and Rappin’ 4-Tay you get another GLC or Too Short. The latter category aren’t good but don’t really know it. The joke is not with them but on them. The Mack continues through hip hop skits to be important for its quotables, but it’s silly. Pimps don’t easily become narrators you care about. They speak in bumper sticker slogans that rhyme the way Bazooka from GI JOE did…painfully. The good ones leave their impression despite the odds. Like Mookie Jones.
On Mookie Jones Mack tape the Houston rapper stacks up rewind-able lines in a high breathy whisper. You have to raise the volume just to hear him sometimes. The proper backdrop is provided through production; Mookie wouldn’t even be heard behind Timbalands spring sound effects and rain forest noises. Cardo and DJ Burn One handle all but one track (which is co-produced by Cardo). Cardo has mastered the horn heavy sleek West Coast emulation you find on “And 1.” Burn one is a minimalist genius who can turn a potentially repetitive song like “DANK” into pure hypnosis with the right one-two bass drop. The smooth richness that flows on every track greatly helps the re-listenablity.
Mack is a strange listening experience because Mookie while breathtakingly good is not consistent. He switches gears. “I Need A Freak” and “Elbow Out the Window” are both very fun songs featuring inspired guest verses(Big Sant on Elbow and Gerald Walker on Freak) but Mookie is cruising, waiting for the necessary space and sound to shift out of neutral.
The Mack rollercoaster begins on track 2. The intro begins with the same Max Julien drop hip hop fans will remember going back through the early 90’s, supplemented with some interesting images; most notably Mookie rapping about being so unmovable that he pushes Hakeem Olajuwon off the block. As a sports line it’s a good brag but “Hate 2 Love Me” begins with an immense chorus that changes your impression of the Mookie Jones mission “When you ain’t suppose to do it, do it better than expected. Look at me you can use my life put it in perspective. There’s a method tied into it how you use it is the message. Can’t you see it…I can be your light…guide and give direction.”
Like Player/Pimp MC’s before him Mookie has a knack for humor(“If I tell you a duck can pull a truck hook it up…and watch that m#%$er move”—Elbow Out the Window). He can work a Goku reference in interesting ways but he doesn’t rely on it. On “Hate 2 Love Me” “And 1” and “A Million Ways” we get to see talent that leaves comparisons futile. On “A Million Ways” he begins his first verse with “Come up out that water like Athos, black ghost, mack dope…” It’s applause worthy as Greek Mythology rap references go.
Believe me he has more than enough sexually depraved imagery (woman chasing his sexual prowess like they need penicillin) but on Mack he takes the time to twist up a doobie for Trayvon and vow to wear his hoodie forever. By the time we hit the Poetry Vision Outro and it’s notably inspirational lines “A goal without a plan is just a wish. A plan without a date is just a dream,” you really believe he believes it. Mookie isn’t weaving nice things into his mean pimping for our listening pleasure. All of it represents him as an artist. Trayvon, Athos, cold wind mixing with the rain, and women in thousands of different forms. He never convinces you that his way of thinking is right but that was never the point. Mack gives the pimp perspective without dumping it in the comedy genre. It stands as a drama with a muddled yet intelligent narrator who fires off words in bunches and weaves them into a story once they reach the air. Maybe the best compliment to Mookie Jones I can give is that this tape isn’t a guilty pleasure at all.
Mack is available for stream or download below: