First off, congratulations on the success of Tear Gas, it feels like a long time coming, but the impact your album has had on the industry I guess makes it all worth it.
Yeah, it does man. I just try to stay working hard, even though they were anticipating Tear Gas I still had little projects coming out just to fend them off for a while. I just try to make sure that it’s some quality sounding shit, and it’s always a new fresh sound. Like everything I did, we was doing it for people who be in the struggle, like niggas in the penitentiary, people in the streets, motherfuckers who just need the music to take them away for a minute and help them out for that brief second. I really just try to breathe life into this rap shit and give people a breath of fresh air when they listen to the music, you know what I mean?
I’m a big music fan my damn self, so when I hear some good music I fuckin love it, you know what I mean? So yeah, I need that. And I’m just trying to give people that same feeling I get when I hear good music, you know?
What music did you listen to when you were growing up that made you want to make music yourself?
I grew up listening to what my parents listened to. My mum was a real big reggae tweeker, and she was big into funk, like old school 70s funk music and early 80s music. And all of that shit was an influence because the beats and shit that they used to come with was just so ill man, like shit, they singin’ songs over these beats – so they not even rappin’ over them. But it was still so dope that when rap hit the scene motherfuckers still loved those beats.
Were there any particular artists that stood out?
The list can go on and on as far as the artists that I was listening to in them days, but as far as rap artists I grew up listening to man, that I love, it was like Slick Rick, Special Ed, you know that was doing their thing in the early 90s and shit like that. Those were a couple of pioneers in the rap game who was really doin it, because I came in this shit when it was really real, you know? Like I was really born into this rap shit. That’s really all I knew outside of the fact that my mum and them was listening to reggae and shit back in the day, but I can only really remember the ones that was really ill, like Slick Rick, you know what I mean? Slick Rick was like, that’s all you damn near needed. You wanna be a hip-hop fan? It’s slapping Slick Rick shit on. He just had style, had swag, he was the first one who was doing all the dope shit. And motherfuckin niggas on the street looked up to him.
Now that you mention Slick Rick, I can sort of see similarities in both of your soft but hard raps, where you’re not aggressive on the mic – it’s smooth, but hard.
Thanks, exactly. You know, thanks. He paved the way for us to do whatever we want to do. He came from a whole nother country, entered the United States and destroyed everybody. If you say anything about hip-hop and you don’t mention Slick Rick at least in the top five, you haven’t been around long enough.
And can we talk about Mac Dre? I know he was a big influence as well.
Well yeah, Mac Dre was my boy. You know Mac Dre was a personal friend of mine. To everybody else he was Mac Dre. To me, he was a good friend. We did do music, but we hardly ever did music, we mostly just hung out and went places, and was just living life. He had did a lot of shit in his life, and to be able to come out of those situations and become the person he was, shit, he was like a great influence on us definitely. He will always be missed and shit definitely ain’t the same without him. Without his guidance.
You know, everybody just thought about Thizz and drugs and shit, and a lot of young motherfuckers when they listen to Mac Dre they don’t realise that this dude really been through some shit. I was listening to him way before Thizz. When I was listening to him, it was just straight on some real grimey shit, period. He’s never switched his shit up, but he started making more uptempo tracks and shit that you can just go dumb to. But back in the day, he was just making more like mob shit. Shit that can just make you think, and shit for niggas that’s like really out on these streets, you know what I’m sayin?
Even though he was such a close friend of yours, do you still feel like he was larger than life?
Man, definitely. I mean, at the time, we was ridin’ with him and shit, but he way bigger now that he’s dead. When he died, it actually really showed how big he really was. When he was alive man, I don’t really think nobody really knew. He was just so much of a genuine character; I guess you could call it humble. He was just so humble, you wouldn’t know what the fuck he had up. You wouldn’t know if he was a millionaire, but you knew he had nice shit. And he stayed with dope-ass cars and the best jewellery and the best shit, so you know he had something. But the way he act, he just let you know that it was nothing though. Like you supposed to have this shit, he was a fly dude. He’s definitely one of the greatest just because of the shit that he’s been through.
Like a lot of rappers, they lie about the kind of shit that motherfuckers out here really do, you know what I mean? But out here, everybody has a jail record or penitentiary record, or a long crazy rap sheet, and they really ride around really sick with the shit – but they still got a love for this music shit and still wanna let people feel em. And music is a good thing because it helps you, whatever’s going on, it helps you talk about it and put it in raps and it’s like a relief. Other than somebody who can’t rap, they just dealing with the shit day to day and they never get a chance to talk about it and release it. So being able to talk about those kind of things it helps people like that too. Yeah, that boy Dre man, he was amazing man.
And obviously you’ve inspired people as well. I’ve got a feeling that yourself and Mac Dre inspired people like J. Stalin to come up and work hard and put out a ton of good music. What’s your view on what Stalin’s doing with Livewire right now?
J. Stalin is really like, I’m proud of Stalin man, you know, because I remember when I first met him. We was in the studio. I had never heard of him, but my people knew who he was already. I just hadn’t met him yet. My boy Lev, his producer, Lev Berlak, he just said ‘Hit him off with some shit’. So I put him on. And he was a cool little dude – hella cool. I was like, ‘This is a lil real nigga. Let me just test it out and talk to him real fast before we do anything though’. So I just talked to him for about an hour, we smoked. I had a beat and I popped it on and he loved it, so we ended up doing a song that was on the ‘Jack Artist’ album, the first song on the album ‘Never Blink’.
Shit man, from there he just really just stayed hungry. Stayed aggressive in the studio and he just got a real big, solid fanbase in Oakland. You know Oakland is like a real tough market to grab. It’s hard as fuck to get an Oakland fanbase. You gotta be really with the shit and you definitely gotta be from Oakland. Oakland motherfuckers don’t really fuck with nobody outside of there unless you really with the shit and you really crazy for real. But you know, yeah man, I’m really proud of Stalin. He really stepped it up, he got his own record label Livewire; he got hella artists on his label and they all seem to be doing well, and they all got a name for themselves, so you know I don’t see nothing but bright things for them niggas. It’s looking good for them.
Do you remember the point in your life when you decided to choose music as a path?
I probably always knew I was gonna do it. Probably since I was like six years old or something like that, because it was just so much of an influence, you know what I mean? I had very young parents. And I grew up watching them breakdance and all the shit that was out. Shit, it was just a part of my life. I always knew that I was gonna have something to do with it. And I used to fuck up at school all the time, I didn’t used to like going to school or nothing. I used to like going to school at first, but then I used to fuck up a lot when I really realised that I was going to rap. And I told my mum, ‘I’m wasting my fuckin time in school man’. I probably had to be like 11 years old around this time. And I was like ‘I’m wasting my fuckin time here. We poor. We need to make something happen right now’.
And she was like ‘What you gonna do?’ And at first I wouldn’t tell her what I was going to do because I didn’t want her to feel like I was full of shit or just dreaming, you know what I mean? Because I was really serious about it. So I just rather not say nothing at all and just take the ridicule and all the bullshit that she used to come at me with. And after a while I just took off on it. But it had to be around the time I was 11 when I really just put the mark down like ‘I’m gonna rap, fuck everything else in the world. I’m not getting a job, I’m not doing nothing I’m gonna do this rap shit, I’m gonna dedicate myself to it’. So I had to be around 11 years old when I made that decision.
What was the first track you ever recorded?
Man, I recorded tracks man, like right about now I don’t know, thousands of tracks. When I said I was gonna start rapping, like 12 or 13, I was in the studio like everyday, recording, you know? I had a young nigga who was my nig, my boy Rob-Lo. His parents bought him like a mini like studio, keyboard, just something to record on so we could record our vocals on, so we just probably went through like an A-track and a tape player or something. And motherfuckers at that time were still liking our shit better than the shit they was gonna go buy. And we didn’t have no quality, it wasn’t no high quality shit, it was just sounding good. So from them times we really just practiced up until like 18, 19, and by that time man we already knew how to do shows. Man we knew how to make beats, we really knew what motherfuckers liked, we knew what to talk about. We knew what was young, and we knew we couldn’t talk about no young kids’ bullshit. We had to talk about shit for these grown motherfuckers out here man. You know, we gotta get respect.
So we just started going hard from there man. The first song that I made I can’t really remember, but the first song that I did that had an impact on me and on everybody was called ‘Mack Hand Down’. It was a real song, with a real funky bassline and little crazy chorus. And I kinda remember that song and people kinda liked it. Then after that I did a song called ‘Cause I’m The Mack’. You know being a mack was like Mac Mall was like big at the time, this nigga Mac Mall from Vallejo, Mac Dre was huge. Being a mack was like, a mack is like, he something like a pimp. He’s a mack, he’s a pimp, he sell dope, he do whatever he gotta do to make money. But he a fly nigga and the chicks like him. So it was big to be a mack back in those days. So I had my ‘Mack Hand Down’ song. ‘Cause I’m The Mack’ was really the song that really just opened up doors for me. I ended up getting it on a compilation called ‘All About Cash’ and motherfuckers came and bought the song off me and I was like ‘Fuck I can’t believe this shit’. That was the first song that I did that I can remember that set me apart from all the other rappers that was doing it at the time.[audio:Cause_Im_The_Mack.mp3|titles=Cause I’m The Mack|artists=The Jacka]
Were you rapping under the name The Jacka back then?
No, my name was Ouniy. My nickname, my family real nickname was Ouniy. And I just threw the Mack at the end – Ouniy Mack. But I was just called by my nickname at the time. I didn’t have no rap name. I didn’t get no other nickname until I ended up getting in trouble and going to jail and shit. Around the time I was 18, they started calling me The Jacka. I got the name in jail because the reason why I went at that time was because I was just hitting and robbing hella niggas and shit.
One time, me and my boy, rest in peace, we were going on a little robbing spree. And we did so much shit I fuckin forgot what I was doing. We was going from Pittsburg to Oakland, everywhere just jumpin out on niggas, robbing the shit out of em. So we doing that all damn day and we drive back to Pittsburg and I forget that we had robbed somebody in Pittsburg that day. And the nigga we robbed, he called the police and told a description of the car and all that shit. We was just hella stupid, young and dumb. We get back into town and the police got a description, pulled us over and as soon as they yank us over I hopped out instantly, hit a couple of gates and tried to get away.
They got on me though. They ended up catching me and shit. When they caught me, hella motherfuckers had reported us. Once I got to the police station and they broke it down, man, it was like ‘Six motherfuckers called the police on y’all today’. You know what I mean? ‘They ready to come to court on y’all niggas man’. I’m like ‘Oh my god man’, and we just stuck with that. We young, we had to take that on the chin, you know? Wasn’t really much we could do about it. And me not knowing nothing about the law and shit, by the time I got in jail I was chilling with OG motherfuckers and I told em my rap sheet and they were like ‘Nigga, you robbing niggas and shit nigga, they take that shit seriously out here bruh, you might be going to the pen’.
It was my first adult offence, that was my first time getting in trouble as an adult and I was young and still in high school actually. I just made it seem like I was really trying to graduate and I really wanted to go to school and get my education and shit. So they released me on my own recognisance, it’s called OR. So they released me, but I was still fighting the case from the streets and they ended up giving me like 12 months in county. And I had to go lay it down man, that shit was fucking wack, but that’s where I got the name The Jacka from.
They were like ‘You a jackin-ass nigga man’. Ouniy Macka The Jacka. You know what I mean, Ouniy Macka The Jacka [laughs]. So it went from Ouniy Macka The Jacka to just The Jacka, to The Jack. And when you get a nickname motherfuckers just try to break it down as far as they can get.
Part two of Dopestinterviewforreal With The Jacka, where he talks about his long history and long-awaited reunion with Husalah, his thoughts on Tear Gas and how he got down with the legendary Andre Nickatina, is dropping sooner than you think!
Part two will also include a competition where you can win one of several copies of Tear Gas!! So keep your eyes peeled like some banana clips from Ouniy Macka The Jacka’s rusty pistol.