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On This Day in Hip Hop History: Mac Dre

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Mac Dre

Today we celebrate one of the most influential persons in the emergence of Hip Hop’s hyphy movement. Mac Dre was born Andre Louis Hicks on July 5, 1970. Hyphy as a term is similar to crunk in that they both express the peak of exuberant energy. While crunk music has its cultural origins in Memphis, Tennessee, it’s the equal opposite, grew like a weed from souls of black folk in the Bay Area of California. Mac Dre was the poster child for the hyphy movement that began in the ’90s, ultimately going mainstream in the early 2000s. Needless to say that when he was murdered by an unknown assailant in 2004, dancing to hyphy music by the rapper, such as the hit Thizz Dance, became an act of homage by bay area natives, especially due to all he had done for his community.  

A Hip Hop Legacy: Mac Dre

Not surprising for someone hailing from where the first Black Panther Party was established. The rapper, record producer, and all-around hip hop pioneer most certainly was teeming with pro-black principals. Mac Dre was very intentional about trying to hip his community to the aggressive tactics of the police in their area. The authorities began sifting through hip-hop lyrics in order to draw conclusions leading to arrests. Knowing what it was like firsthand to be incarcerated, Mac Dre made his best effort to protect the peers and youth of his community from the same.

On This Day: Mac Dre

Mac Dre was sure to build a label, a studio, and a means of local artistic expression resulting in communal cash flow for artists around him. He did this with the intention of giving his people alternative pathways to success. The football team at my alma mater, The University of Washington, were predominantly African American coming primarily from the Bay Area, Washington State, and Florida. These young men would shift into the energy I had never seen duplicated when a Mac Dre song was played. 

On This Day in Hip Hop History

Mac Dre’s life, contributions, and recent death at the time stirred the funk of excitement, mourning, and hope that was unbridled in the California natives at least until the song ended. The contorted “thizz” faces and group dances were unchoreographed movements of the body orchestrated by the heart. Mac Dre’s music is associated with acts like Yukmouth and Keak Da Sneak, who is credited with having coined the term hyphy. Today we honor his death by celebrating his life and contribution to hip hop. 

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