Mackey’s back in town.
After a year living and working in Jacksonville, Kedrick Mack —co–founder of Savannah’s frontier–busting hip hop ensemble Dope Sandwich — has returned with a vengeance.
You might know him by his stage name, Knife.
This week, he drops a new solo album, Blackmale, and sends it up the flagpole with a release party at Elev8ted, and a full–on performance at Screamin’ Mimi’s.
Both events are Friday, Nov. 16.
The 12–track album includes collaborations with T–Money, Miggs, D.C.B., Red Lab, Black Caesar, Smash Adams and other names from our city’s vibrant hip hop community.
Mack, 28, has been writing, creating beats and rapping for 10 years. Blackmale, he says, gestated for a long time while he crafted it to fit his ever–maturing vision.
“This album,” he explains, “was much more me trying to present you ‘All right, I am Knife.’ This is me trying to make a piece of art. Although there’s personal things in it, it’s very much to be taken in the context of what it is, an ode to hip hop.”
His last album, 2000 Yard Stare, was another thing entirely. “I was in a completely different place when I wrote it,” Mack says. “Musically, it’s very technical. Because I was trying to be like ‘Yo – I’m so f---kin’ good at rapping. Check out what I can do.’”
Baltimore–born, Mack is the son of a Department of State embassy employee who moved the family all over the world. He grew up in Liberia, Senegal, Canada, Cameroon, Singapore and other places, but always spent the summer in America.
A lifelong obsession with comic book art brought him to SCAD, where he studied sequential design.
With Basik Lee and several others, Mack began Dope Sandwich, which tapped a nerve and filled a void in Savannah — live hip hop, performed by talented and creative people. They began the Tuesday Hip Hop Night at the Jinx, which, seven years later, is still a major weeknight draw.
“It went from being five emcees, four B–Boys and a couple of people drinking to being jam–packed, wall to wall,” Mack says proudly. “I have pictures from Hip Hop Night in 2006 where it’s just like a ‘Where’s Waldo?’ of everybody who was in town back then. For us, it felt like a big deal.”
Dope Sandwich mix tapes, and subsequently CDs, were a hot commodity. The group ultimately came to include seven people and successfully toured the Southeast.
Life intervened, the way it does, and these days Dope Sandwich —while still very much a brotherly collective — is inactive.
But hip hop can’t be stopped, and the bloodlines flow from person to person.
In 2006, Miggs Son Daddy had just moved here, from Tarrytown, N.Y. Walking the downtown sidewalks one night, he recalls, “I hear live hip hop blaring from Hang Fire. So I just kind of follow my nose, and I walk in to see nothing less than the dopest hip hop show that I could ask for at the time. It was packed. It was a DJ up there, cutting away, two emcees rhyming, everything was dope.
“I was like ‘Yo. What is this?’”
It was Dope Sandwich.
Miggs, who’s a key ingredient in Word of Mouth’s bubbling musical stew, has become a fixture on the Savannah hip hop scene. He’s preparing his own solo album, and he and Knife are in the early stages of creating Hangman, a 175–page graphic novel with an accompanying hip hop soundtrack album. The plan is to form a Hangman band, with Knife and Miggs and emcees, with a turntable, a live drummer and other purely musical elements.
Art, says Mack, is art. “For me, the writing is like when I’m penciling a page. And then the recording is when I’m inking it. Mixing is putting the color on it.”
He’s re–mounting a solo career.
“When I got back from Florida,” Mack explains, “KidSyc@Brandywine were on the scene and they had kind of overtaken that spot. They were doing it on the hip hop end. Because they are a band, they have a different kind of reach than we as Dope Sandwich could’ve had, just being emcees.
“I’m two turntables and a microphone. That’s my show. That’s what I have to offer as an act. What I have to say with the music behind it.”
Kedrick Mack is an artist. “I don’t just sit there and think up words that rhyme,” he says. “I sit down with a piece of music, and I listen to it for days to figure out how it makes me feel. I have a book where I write rhymes. I piece them together, I try to make context out of them, I get personal. I try to make stories out of it.
“It’s a process to build it, to craft something that’s no different than what any other musician does.”
Blackmale pre–release party
Where: Elev8ted, 404 W. Broughton St.
When: 6–9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16
CD Release Show
With Knife, Miggs, RedLab
Where: Screamin’ Mimi’s, 10 Whitaker St.
When: At 11 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16