by Jake Espinoza
(Ed’s Note: This article originally ran in February, but we thought we’d repost it in celebration of Kenny Mack’s New Album release. Click Here to download. Kenny is currently serving time for the charges discussed below. Read and share. Thanks.)
Kenny Mack is a bad man.
He is Portland’s Black tattooed Don Draper. He is Samuel L. Jackson in the middle of, “I’m a mushroom cloud laying mother fucker, mother fucker.”
I define this type of bad by asking myself two questions.
1. Do I morally object to a lot of the decisions he makes? Yes.
2. Do I want to hang out with him? Yes.
With songs titled “I Fuck With Strippers (Slutstep Remix)” and “Face in My Lap”, it is obvious that Kenny Mack is not worried about your dad inviting him over to watch The Super Bowl. If Kenny Mack even watched the Super Bowl it’s probably because he was getting a tattoo on that Sunday and the chair happened to be facing the TV.
‘I ain’t playing a role/ strippers on my jeans cuz my pockets low.’
The Portland born Jefferson High School Graduate has been making music since he was in the seventh grade. This is also about the same time he started getting into trouble with the law. His first arrest was at the age of 14 for stealing jeans.
“It was a trip because the person I helped actually helped the police get me.” He continued, “I really wasn’t much of a thief. I mean I got caught stealing cars a couple of times in my life but that really wasn’t my thing. I knew that wasn’t my racket.”
Although this bad boy image is cool and definitely highlighted obsessively throughout American pop-culture, it is not in any way positive to be glorified. For Kenny Mack, the theft charges were followed by a string of drug charges.
“Basically after I got out of high school I was hustling full time and doing music. Basically doing whatever I wanted to do. I didn’t really fuck with 9-to-5 stuff.”
He also worked on multiple music projects before 2003, linking up with Cool Nutz and starting his own label, M Records.
“We were in LA a lot, fucking with Bosko. We were recording at the same studio (E-40) was at.” He continued, “We started basically just picking up the game.”
His first release on his own label was My Heat Reigns Supreme.
“That was one of my first big hits that the whole city was fucking with. Not too long after that I was getting ready to put out my new record, Killas and Dillas, and I had some legal issues.” He explained, “I had to go underground for 20 months or something. So I couldn’t really even be Kenny Mack. The record was done but I couldn’t really even be myself.”
This legal “issue” was an attempted murder charge that ended up being reduced to a weapons charge. He was sentenced to 48 months in a state facility in 2003. Killas and Dillas ended up not getting released until just prior to his release in 2007.
After returning home Kenny Mack got to work. He stayed busy with his record label, clothing company, PRODUKT OF MY ENVIORMENT CLOTHING, working as a model, and had his own article in Portland’s Exotic Magazine for a year.
“It was a monthly magazine. I had my own page, it was called Tha Truth by Kenny Mack.” He explained, “I could write about whatever, from pissing on chicks, to politics, to paper, to protection, just whatever.”
He also got involved with his community, contributing in multiple different fundraisers.
“A lot of younger minorities really lack programs. A lot of times opportunities won’t be available and that can be the reason people can make certain choices.” He said, “I want to offer opportunities and show people we can take care of each other. If you have something you should give. That was my outlook on things and why I did the clothing drive. It ended up going real well. We got national exposure off of it.”
He also spent time talking to the youth about the value on capitalizing on opportunities.
“Guard your time,” he said while speaking at a local Boys and Girls Club. “I know everyone in this room knows someone, either a family member or a friend or someone close to them (who is locked up). These people who are locked up aren’t getting their time back. You have the whole world ahead of ya’ll. Nothing but opportunity.”
It is unfortunate irony that he ended up getting caught up on another gun charge just two months after giving this speech.
Voted as artist of the year at the West Coast Hip Hop Awards in 2009, he released the Streets Ain’t Safe in 2010. On August 7th, 2010 he caught himself in a tough situation that has forced him to put his plans on hold.
“I went somewhere to pay my respect to someone who had passed away years before, I went to go pay my respects and the police just surrounded the building.”
Kenny Mack says he never was in possession of a gun on the night in question but plead guilty to charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm after federal prosecutors got involved, threatening him with a 15-year sentence.
“I was facing 12-15 months, and when the federal government got in they put me in a situation where they had me facing 15 years.” He continued, “It’s just an example of the injustice that goes on. They figure that if they tell someone that their facing 15 years of course their going to take a plea for anything besides that. Anyone would consider taking a plea when federal prosecutors are threatening taking the next 15 years of their life, even an innocent person.”
He is currently finishing an album with Mikey Vegas called The Money Rules and a solo album titled Take Me to Your Leader. Both are set for release before summer.
Kenny Mack and Mikey Vegas will be performing at Upfront in Portland. This Friday, February 25th. Doors are at 9pm.