Since his murder in 2004 at the age of 34, Vallejo, Calif., rapper Mac Dre has ascended to icon status. Anyone who visits the Bay is obligated to give him a shout-out, whether it's Drake in "The Motto" or Yo Gotti on "Act Right." He's someone many people people have rarely heard, even if they know his name. Among the few tracks that made any kind of national impact during his lifetime were ["Thizzelle Dance,"] a P-Funk inspired ode to "thizz" (ecstasy); and "Feelin' Myself," one of the best examples of the West Coast movement known as hyphy.
Before his death and subsequent discovery by a generation of Internet-savvy regional rap fans, Mac Dre's main claim to notoriety was his tacit involvement with the Romper Room gang, a crew that pulled off a string of robberies in the early 1990s. (He denied being involved in the crimes.) He may have been one of the Bay Area's earliest street rappers, with a catalog dating back to 1989 and the Young Black Brotha cassette tape. But Mac Dre's music could be highly eccentric, from his use of bizarre slang (at least to outsiders) to dressing up in hilariously funky costumes for the covers of Thizzelle Washington and The Genie of the Lamp. Being a hardcore artist didn't mean he couldn't "get dumb" and have fun.
Mac Dre has benefited (or, depending on your point of view, suffered) from the 2Pac treatment. The company he cofounded before his death, Thizz Entertainment, continues to issue posthumous Dre material, resulting in a mountain of tracks difficult for neophytes to process. This sampler skims the cream of the crop, from the classic West Coast rider music of "Not My Job" to the controversial "Punk Police" track he dropped in response to unyielding law enforcement investigations. If that isn't enough, check out albums like Thizzelle Washington and Ronald Dregon: Dregonomics for a deeper look at this West Coast legend.