While the Cash Money Millionaires were looking for a "Project Chick," they made a Westside connection when they signed veteran rapper Mack 10 to a contract.
The Inglewood, California, artist's first album for the New Orleans imprint will be Bang or Ball, which is scheduled for a September release. The follow-up to 2000's The Paper Route will feature guest appearances from the Hot Boys and Ice Cube as well as production from both Mannie Fresh and Dr. Dre.
"I always was a fan first," said Bryan "Baby" Williams, Cash Money's co-CEO and one-half of the Big Tymers. "When [Mack 10] called me and told me that he was about to be a free agent, I'm always about strengthening my family and I liked the G about him, so I thought it would be perfect for him to come over here and f--- with us.
"Mack has style and flavor, and he kicks the type of sh-- that I like to hear about. He speaks the street language."
A member of the Westside Connection with Ice Cube and WC champions of the West Coast Mack 10 said that he needed to move on from Hollywood-based Priority Records, which had released each of his four collections as well as the Westside Connection's album, 1996's Bow Down. (Mack 10 still has his Hoo-Bangin' Records, which is distributed by Priority; he is in the process of working out a new deal for the company that will likely leave some of Hoo-Bangin's acts on Priority and move the rest elsewhere.)
Like many artists, Mack 10 felt as though his record company wasn't giving him the promotional push needed in order to keep moving his career forward something he feels Cash Money, which has enjoyed platinum success with Juvenile, Lil' Wayne, B.G., the Hot Boys and Big Tymers, will be able to provide.
"We had been talking about [signing with Cash Money] even before I was out of my deal at Priority," said Mack 10, who is in New Orleans recording his album. "They had been getting at me for like two years, like, 'How many more records you got?' I kept saying, 'This is the last one.' Instead of me renegotiating, they came to the table and made it where I wouldn't even want to look anywhere else. They gave me them NBA, Kevin Garnett figures.
"Money wasn't an issue, because I was always straight financially," he continued. "But it gets to the point where a brother in the NBA wants a championship ring. It got to that point. I just needed to win."
One way that Cash Money feels that Mack 10 can win is by combining the revved-up sounds of the South with the gangsterfied sounds of the West. With Dr. Dre producing some of Bang or Ball, the album will be the first modern-era Cash Money Records release that was not entirely produced by Mannie Fresh. Baby feels that having those two producers helm the album will only make it stronger.
"I know Mack's from the West Coast, and they've got a unique sound of their own," he said. "Not to say that Fresh can't do that, but I think it will be nothing but right by me being a boss player to get a boss player like Dre, because I made a boss move by getting Mack. Let's just do it all boss. Dre is a good f---in' producer, and it won't do nothing but help. Dre and Mannie Fresh, that's two of the top in the business."
Mack 10 was also inspired to name his album Bang or Ball because of two business options he feels many of his fans are faced with.
"There's two choices a brother has in the ghetto," Mack 10 said. "They can either bang, gangbang, thug it, or you can ball, get money. When I say ball, I don't mean that they've got to sell dope. They could either bang or be a successful brother. If you're a doctor and you've got 20 cars and three mansions, you're balling. I don't care what occupation you've got."
Part of Mack 10's résumé also includes his marriage to T-Boz, whom he wed last fall. Now that Cash Money is home, will he be asking the TLC member to appear on his album, as she did on The Paper Route?
"I haven't made my mind up," he said. "If I need a fly hook, I can always call her in there."
For now, at least, Mack 10 is focusing on his first Cash Money album and what he feels is his first chance at becoming a bona fide hip-hop star.
"Since Cash Money existed on a nationwide level, they've never released an album that went less than [gold or] platinum," Mack 10 said. "That says it all. Anything that Cash Money and Universal gets behind, you're going to have a fair shot.
"People are going to lend me an ear now," he continued. "Cats are waiting to hate, waiting to hear the album and have it not as hot as they think it should be. So I'm going to give it to them. I'm damn sure going to give it to them. I'm trying to put the best record that I've ever put together together now, because I haven't ever had a shot like this."