BY DEVON STRANG
Born and raised in Glace Bay, Malcolm “Mista Mack” Macleod began writing his own songs in the 1990’s before joining friends Initial, KNZ and Marc Cee in 2000 to start the hip hop group Infamous Prophets. In 2006, Initial of the Prophets started INI Records and recruited Mack as his first artist. After many live performances, recordings, and collaborations with other artists from across Canada, Mack is now receiving wider industry acclaim with a nomination for Rap / Hip-Hop Single Track Recording of the Year at the upcoming East Coast Music Awards for his song “Gone With the Breeze”.
Currently living in Fort McMurray where he’s been working off and on for the past seven years, Mack still considers Cape Breton home base. Citing musical influences as far ranging as Tupac, Mos Def, Nofx and The Beatles, Mista Mack emphasizes the effect growing up in Cape Breton has had on his music:
“Cape Breton is the number one influence on my music, well Glace Bay. If Glace Bay had a voice and was a person and a rapper that would be myself. I have been raised with strong roots and am very proud of were I came from.“
Like many a rapper who’s picked up a microphone over the past thirty years, Mack sees the art form as a positive creative activity for other local young people who may be without an outlet:
“I make music for my friends, family, and the younger people of these communities. Hopefully I can reach them and let them know that there are more possibilities in life than working at call centers or moving out west, which I myself have done, but I focus on what I love doing first and foremost and that’s making music.”
Mista Mack sees the ECMA nod as a reward for eight years of hard work: “It might be a cliche thing to say, but if you work hard and put time and effort into what you want out of life it can happen. There was a time in my life where I was either headed for jail or maybe even to the grave because of the lifestyle I was leading, probably the exact same life a lot of kids are living today. But I made a choice and I stayed focused and did what I had to do and now I am one step closer to a dream. I have been nominated for an ECMA. It might not be cool in some circles, but to me, a kid that was raised on the streets of Glace Bay, that is a huge accomplishement and I am very proud of myself.”
Motivated to submit to the ECMA by the desire to have more ears hear his music, Mack also sees the nomination as something that will distinguish him as a serious artist: “There comes a time when you have to choose to continue music as a hobby and make music that is fulfilling to yourself or choose to make it your career, which involves bringing it to the masses. ECMA will be a weekend when I will be, in a sense, reborn as a brand new artist and graduate from the amateur rapper to a professional entertainer and producer.”
Mack is honored to be nominated with the other artists especially Classified and collaborator Mischif who is also nominated in the same category: “Classified has been a big influence on my career as a rapper – seeing someone doing and accomplishing what he has is inspiring to me. I actually recorded a song six years ago at his house. Mischif, that’s my brother right there. There’s no competition between me and him in my eyes. If he wins I’m good.”
“Gone With the Breeze” is actually a track on Mischif’s self-titled record that was released in October. Mischif is featured on the track and included the song on his album in part so that Mack would be eligible to submit it to ECMA. Despite being a prolific producer, Mack wasn’t going to be able to have an album released in time to meet the deadline: “I’m a perfectionist and to me a lot of those songs represented the artist that I was. I have grown a lot as an artist since those tracks were recorded and for those to be released wouldn’t define the artist I am now.”
“I honestly don’t care if I win or not, it’s just a humbling experience to be considered for the award. I’m just using this oppurtunity to network and try to start a solid career foundation – of course if I win I’ll be ecstatic. I have been watching ECMA’s since I was a kid, I’ve been waiting a long time for this.”
Mista Mack will officially launch his music production / promotion imprint ImMACKulate Music during ECMA weekend and is currently waiting on confirming performances, but people will be able to get access to Mista Mack’s music during the weekend. He will be distributing a dropcard that’ll have a link and code for fans to download his new material. “I will also have limited edition imMACKulate Music t shirts for sale that will be almost like the I heart NY type t shirts only it will say ‘1 heart CB’ which translates to “One Love Cape Breton”.