China Mac has had it tough. Two things have always been a constant in his life – hip-hop and trouble. Sent to a group home at eight years old and writing his first rhyme whilst sat on the bunk bed of a juvenile detention centre, its a wonder that the Chinese-American, Brooklyn born rapper ever made it out of the system. In 2003, after serving three years for gang crime, Mac (formerly known as G-Kay), he released his first mixtape, and while his stock was rising from that, trouble followed him and in 2004, he was sentenced to 11 years.
That period inside opened his eyes. He says “While in prison, one incident of police brutality caused me to lose my front tooth, and I was condemned to serve two years in solitary confinement. I also witnessed many brothers die by the hands of unscrupulous prison guards, many who were close to me. For years I bit my tongue and tortured myself by not voicing my opinion on these matters because I was focused on returning to my family. Upon my return I see no difference in the treatment and dealings with police officers and civilians. The same feeling that haunted me for the decade I spent inside of prison is the same feeling that I get when I walk pass a police officer. Freedom has no place for oppression. Making this song and releasing it is a testament to my freedom.”
To that end, he’s recently released a new track ‘Buck a Cop’, where he drops Mike Will’s beat from Chief Keef’s ‘Dead Broke’. Its full of anger, Macs gruff delivery unforgiving and confrontational. Check out the Aaron Perkins Jr directed video for the track here
We spoke to him to find out more.
I am a man who has fell time and time again, and yet refuses to stay down. I am a product of my struggle, and a story that needs to be heard.
I make music that incites the rebellious desire to challenge our own fears.
The records that got me into music/hip-hop were KRS-One’s “The Bridge Is Over”, Kool G Rap’s “Ill Street Blues”, Nas’s Illmatic, Kriss Kross’ “Jump”, and Mobb Deep’s The Infamous. These records taught me about the world, gave me strength when I didn’t think I had it, and gave me a way to survive in a crazy place.
The best hip-hop record of all time is China Mac, “Buck A Cop”.
I started rhyming when I was in a group home. I was about eight years old, and was completely out of my element. I was the only Asian person in the entire facility, and I needed to find a way to fit in. I needed something to bridge the gap between my ethnicity and the rest of the children’s and hip-hop was my answer. I started off reciting the popular rap songs at that time, and then began writing my own. Hip-hop in many ways was with me through every turn and hurdle in my life after that.
The things that influence my rhymes are my experiences, my joys, my ups, my downs, and my determination to do better for myself and my family.
My first battle was in 2003. I went to a underground Hip-Hop party with a friend of mine to pass out CDs. I was fresh off a three-year prison bid and was not familiar at all with the underground hip-hop scene at that time. After passing out all of the CDs that I had, I walked towards the exit so that I could get more CDs from the car. Before I could reach the exit, I was stopped by a guy who was with a few others in a corner of the club. He asked me if I wanted to buy a CD, and being extremely cocky and arrogant, I brushed him off and continued to walk towards the exit. My action rubbed this said MC the wrong way and he said some thing to the effect of Chinese people not knowing real hip-hop. To that, I turned around and asked him what he said in a very aggressive manner. He then repeated himself, but this time he left out the Chinese statement. I just looked at him, and then asked him if he rapped, and as soon as he said yes I began attacking him with my raps that I had already prepared for any verbal confrontation. While this was happening, Jeru The Damaja was on stage, but once the people had seen what was going on with me and the said MC, they stopped watching him and surrounded us. I had no idea who this rapper was, but everyone else seemed to know him. Come to find out, the guy was a fledging legend. We traded words for about five rounds, both of us killing it, but because I was the unknown kid holding my own with a local legend, many people were cheering for me. After the battle, we shook hands and we traded information. Since then, Immortal Technique has become a dear friend to me.
Since then I have just recently been released from prison, and “Buck A Cop” is my first reintroduction back into the game.
I work by I may be the person that still uses pen and paper when I write my music. I use the phone, but only after I have finished the lyrics on paper. I write very messy, sometimes using 2-3 different sheets of paper at one time. I don’t like anyone around me when I am creating, because I guess I spent so much time writing music in prison. Also, my best lyrics are written while I am just in my boxers. I’m just saying.
My new record is “Buck A Cop”
Lyrically, its about.. this song is more feeling and emotion than lyrics. I just tapped into the experiences that I have had with unscrupulous and corrupt officers of the law. The brutality that has been going on has really been out of control, and I wanted to bring out the sentiments of the hood.
The messages in my rhymes are always true to myself.
In the future I want to all that I am destined to be. Nothing more, nothing less.
I’d love to work with Anyone dope.