16 Songs, 1 Hour, 14 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

One of the most powerful hip-hop debuts this side of Nas’ Illmatic, Mac Mall’s Illegal Business? is an album powerful enough to successfully capture the character of the Bay Area Hip-Hop scene. Though Mac Mall’s controlled drawl and down home portraits of Oakland ghetto life are clearly derived from Too Short’s freewheeling tales of pleasure and excess, Mac Mall’s lyrics are bolstered by his incisive sense of social injustice and his unerring eye for detail. Tunes like “Young N’ Da Game” go beyond mere reportage to offer insights into the cyclical nature of crime in Oakland, while the complex narrative of “Da Bank Heist” combines Slick Rick’s talent for storytelling with KRS-One’s righteous outrage. As if this were not enough, Illegal Business? features some of the most thrilling production ever to come out of the Bay Area. The virtuosic producer Khayree laces things with a series of sprawling, synth drenched beats that offer a baroque counterpoint to the tight, minimal G-Funk being pioneered by Los Angeles producers like Dr. Dre and DJ Quik.

EDITORS’ NOTES

One of the most powerful hip-hop debuts this side of Nas’ Illmatic, Mac Mall’s Illegal Business? is an album powerful enough to successfully capture the character of the Bay Area Hip-Hop scene. Though Mac Mall’s controlled drawl and down home portraits of Oakland ghetto life are clearly derived from Too Short’s freewheeling tales of pleasure and excess, Mac Mall’s lyrics are bolstered by his incisive sense of social injustice and his unerring eye for detail. Tunes like “Young N’ Da Game” go beyond mere reportage to offer insights into the cyclical nature of crime in Oakland, while the complex narrative of “Da Bank Heist” combines Slick Rick’s talent for storytelling with KRS-One’s righteous outrage. As if this were not enough, Illegal Business? features some of the most thrilling production ever to come out of the Bay Area. The virtuosic producer Khayree laces things with a series of sprawling, synth drenched beats that offer a baroque counterpoint to the tight, minimal G-Funk being pioneered by Los Angeles producers like Dr. Dre and DJ Quik.

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4:40
4:45
4:44
4:55
4:44
4:19
5:10
4:42
5:06
4:50
4:36
4:04
5:39
5:15
5:08

About Mac Mall

Along with better-known rappers like E-40 and 2Pac, Mac Mall was one of several who helped put the Cali Bay Area on the map in the mid- to late '90s as a hotspot in the rap game. He collaborated with many of the Bay Area's best producers -- Ant Banks, Khayree, Michael Mosley, and Rick Rock -- and helped define the scene's identity, particularly with his most successful album, Untouchable (1996), which featured perhaps his best-known song, "Get Right." His career simmered out quickly, however. He returned in 1999 after a three-year absence and few listeners seemed to notice. Mall was no longer on a major label and the Bay Area scene was no longer the hotspot it had been a few years earlier. Given his brief moment in the spotlight and his sudden decline, it was perhaps no surprise when Mall changed his style in 2001, incorporating a surprising amount of spirituality on his Immaculate album. ~ Jason Birchmeier

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