Mack Maine, is always moving. When I first meet him standing amid the ruins of the Young Money stage set he will not be still; he's too busy and that's a good thing -- too busy crafting clever rhymes, to "build his brand." Maine's Doofus cum Cyrano de Bergerac verse at the end of this summer's stalwart hate it or love it record "(I Wish I could F*ck) Every Girl in the World" has made sure that even if you don't know the man's name you know his punchline: "In about three years, holla at me Miley Cyrus." But get up on this cat now, with an impressive array of mixtapes, and his mind right, it will be nothing for Mack Maine to turn the corner from Doofus to Dark Horse. Watch. We caught up with the president of Young Money Entertainment last night backstage at Fiddler's Green during KS-107.5's Back to School Jam and asked him about working with Lil Wayne and getting his start as a battle rapper. Read the full interview after the jump.
Westword (Shawn White): A lot of folks will think this is your introduction to the world, but it's not. You've been grinding it out with Wayne on tour for how many years now?
Mack Maine: Pssht... lemme see, it's been like since '04 , it's '09 goin' on 0-10 now, so, like, five and half years.
WW: So you're from New Orleans, but have you always been down with Cash Money?
MM: I have, yeah. I was born into it, before I even knew how to rap. I was like eleven years old, just hangin' round. I wasn't rappin', but I always been family. I look at Baby and Slim [Cash Money Co-Founders] like Uncles and Wayne is my brother.
WW: You are signed to Young Money, correct?
MM: Yeah it's: Young Money/Cash Money/Universal -- that's how my paper work: Young Money/Cash Money/Universal
WW: Alright, so Wayne's got a nice lil' reputation for bringing cats up in the game. You are a little bit different from the other cats that are signed on the label. What I mean by that is you are very lyrical. As I remember you were on like an MTV battle or something weren't you?
MM: [voice drops] Yeah, I started out as a battle rapper.
WW: So you still don't feel like you're a battle MC, or you're still a battle MC at heart, or what's up?
MM: Nah. I don't really do that no more; it don't pay the bills, dawg. I can still do it; it's like fingers, hard to lose ... like limbs! It's still that, but that's not what I do, you know? I make songs. I still can freestyle. I play around with that, and I'm on the business side too. I get my President on, and I get my exec on around here.
WW: So you've got your own label?
MM: Yeah I do! I got Kush Entertainment; that's for DVDs. We got like three DVDs out right now, and I started Soothe Ya Soul Music and that's my label.
WW: That's straight hip hop?
MM: That's NOT all hip hop. Nah. It's like...TALENT. All around talent. Even on Young Money all the artists, sing, rap -- they are multi-talented. So it's not just about hip hop.
WW: So let's take it back for a second, when Katrina went down, where was you?
MM: I left New Orleans the night before Katrina, so I was in Houston. I was actually at Wayne's spot, and I thought I was just like leaving for two days. Usually, I stay for Hurricane warnings, and what happens is the lights go out, and I'd be sitting in the dark can't do nothin. So, I went to Houston. Everybody from New Orleans usually go out there to party. So I left everything. I just really brought two days of clothes. Left money, left pets, left a house, left a truck, left a car, left a lot of stuff so ... all materialistic stuff. None of my people died, so I been able to bounce back from that about ten times. Never really have gone back to New Orleans being the same. We thought it was gonna be one of them tropical storms passing, [the hurricane] would turn-off and we catch the light rains or heavy rain or whatever...
WW: I bring that up because a lot of people have moved on, but they were not from New Orleans, you feel me?
MM: Honestly, it still affects me. My whole family is split up. If I wanna see my dad, I go to New Orleans. If I want to see my mom, I go to Atlanta. If I wanna see my sister, I got to go to L.A. A lot of my friends, you know, they moved, too. So I'm still affected by it, because I don't go to New Orleans that much any more...
WW: And that's still home right?
MM: [long pause followed by a deep sigh] Do I live there?
WW: In your heart? Is that home in your heart?
MM: Yeah, it's always home. I always tell my homies, like, 'I miss home.' There ain't no place like New Orleans. I miss seeing familiar faces, I miss seeing streets I know, just being able to get around without using navigation! [laughs] You know what I'm sayin'? The longer you stay away, you find out a lot of your homies died. Homies got to reach out to you through texts, when you used to could just drive over there and play a few video games. So, there's a lot of people I ain't seen in years ... ever since [Katrina] a lot of stuff done happened. It's just crazy. It will never be the same. They said it was worse than 9/11, so you know that's a real tragedy.
WW: Alright, let's switch gears and talk about some good stuff. "Every Girl" is a big deal. It's a number one record, been number one for a minute on different charts. Young Money the group is looking like it could take over the game. Is there really a Young Money album?
MM: Yes! and it's coming out soon. We shooting another video this month on the twenty-fifth.
WW: So I come from the old school with mine, so I'm lookin' at "Every Girl," that's what we used to call a "posse cut." So on a posse cut, whoever comes in on the last leg, that's supposed to be the strongest man, that's supposed to be the man that brings it home. On this record that happens to be you. Tell me how you came at your verse...
MM: [laughing] Aight ... I remember it like yesterday. I was playing! I really was joking. I didn't even know if I was gonna put that verse on there. I wasn't gonna be on the song at first, so that wasn't pre-meditated for me to be last. My mind is kind of different, I'm kinda left field sometimes. So I noticed that we was saying you wanna "love," I guess we could say: "love every girl in the world," but nobody named which girls. So in trying to be different, I was like: "I really like Sanaa Lathan, I really like Megan Goode, I like Angelina Jolie and me and D.Woods [of Danity Kane] cool." I'm looking at it like the only way I could get on this song is if I come different, and show some humor. People know me as serious, they think I'm just the roughest bully around here, but that ain't really what I do. I'm a boss, so when it's time to get serious, I get serious. But I really like to have fun and see people laugh."
Download the "Bitch I'm Mack Maine" mixtape.