Mack 10 [click to read] has been a force on the left coast since his introduction to the Rap world. With potent songs like “Foe Life,” “Westside Slaughterhouse” and the feel-good vibes of “Backyard Boogie,” Mack 10 made a name for himself in the genre but a strong imprint was also left when he linked up with fellow California natives WC [click to read] and Ice Cube [click to read] for the initiation of the Westside Connection. After dropping several projects to mixed reviews with his group and otherwise, the veteran from Inglewood, California has decided to pitch Soft White to his fans, an album that serves as a return to Rap after about four years of time out of the mainstream spotlight.
After taking some time out, it’s disheartening to hear three tracks go by before we actually get a solo cut from The Chicken Hawk. Worth the wait, “Mirror Mirror” is a strong introspective portrayal of a man who is focused on resilience, one that is also intent on sharing his side of a public divorce with TLC’s T-Boz. While he can still speak on the issues centered on drugs and gangs (“Street Shit” featuring Glasses Malone [click to read] and “Clack Clack” featuring Akon and Red Cafe), Mack creates the album’s gem with the thoughtful “It’s Your Life.” Backed by Anthony Hamilton’s [click to read] vocals, the “song is for the young boys and girls,” a contradiction to his street dedications that makes sense with lines like, “It’s easy to do wrong and hard to be spiritual/But I did it and made it out. Thank God for that miracle.” Later, he sends a word to friends behind bars with “Dedication (To the Pen),” a track sure to ring heartfelt for those who send letters to the incarcerated, with advice like “Do the right thing when you get out.” With plenty of guests, Mack’s message becomes somewhat muddled at times, especially at the start of the album. Still, Anthony Hamilton, Glasses Malone, Lil Wayne [click to read] and Akon [click to read] make strong appearances.
The album’s instrumentation, as might be expected, is driven by a mix of California-themed bounce and Southern-inspired flavor. Though not always successful, this gives the album some diversity in sound that does nothing but help the project flow smoothly. Fredwreck’s gloomy keys on “Mirror Mirror” provide an atmosphere needed for the piece while the organs that hit throughout the chorus supply an added layer of darkness to the instrumental. “Hood Famous” is an upbeat change of pace that helps transition to Mike City’s Dr. Dre impersonation on “Street Shit,” a beat that feels forged but sounds clean. The flutes on “Tonight” and its melodic sound bring the slowed down Southern vibe but many of the tracks fail to give Mack the potent backdrop needed. DJ Green Lantern [click to read] gives an uninspired rendition of a beat we’ve heard before from him and Young Tie’s “Pushin’” goes by forgotten, much like “So Sharp.”
While Mack 10 can still write a good song (check “Mirror Mirror” or “It’s Your Life”), Soft White isn’t nearly as organized or focused as it should have been. From the track order to the flooding of guests, it starts off sounding like a compilation. Beat wise, a clean sound goes by unnoticed due to skip-worthy tracks, some easily forgotten. Lyrically, it’s solid though not always substantial. In the end, Soft White takes a cue from its title, an effort that is not as strong as it could have been but those who fiend for the left coast sound will still enjoy the product.