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Mac Dre

Mac Dre
Background information
Birth nameAndre Louis Hicks
Born(1970-07-05)July 5, 1970
Oakland, California, U.S.
OriginVallejo, California, U.S.
DiedNovember 1, 2004(2004-11-01) (aged 34)
Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.
  • Rapper
  • songwriter
  • record producer
DiscographyMac Dre discography
Years active1989–2004

Andre Louis Hicks (July 5, 1970 – November 1, 2004), known by his stage name Mac Dre, was an American rapper from Vallejo, California.[1] He was an instrumental figure in the emergence of hyphy, a cultural movement in the Bay Area hip hop scene that emerged in the early 2000s.[2] Hicks is considered one of the movement's key pioneers that fueled its popularity into mainstream, releasing songs with fast-paced rhymes and basslines that inspired a new style of dance.[2] As the founder of the independent record label Thizz Entertainment, Hicks recorded dozens of albums and gave aspiring rappers an outlet to release albums locally.[3]

On November 1, 2004, Hicks was killed by an unknown assailant after a performance in Kansas City, Missouri,[4] a case that remains unsolved.[5]

Early life and career

Andre Louis Hicks was born in Oakland, California on July 5, 1970, to Allen Hicks and Wanda Salvatto. They then lived in Marin and later moved to the East Vallejo area. He would often frequent and claim the Country Club Crest neighborhood, known locally as The Crest, despite never actually living there himself. In 1989, the outgoing Hicks made waves with a cassette tape featuring the single, "Too Hard for the F—in' Radio" while still a student at Vallejo's Hogan High School. In 2013 National Public Radio (NPR) noted his sound as being "fast and confident" further writing that "he built upon the bouncy bass that had its roots in the funk era."[6] When asked about his childhood, Hicks stated that "Situations came out for the better most of them, I went through the little trials and the shit that I went through."[7][better source needed] Hicks first adopted the stage name MC Dre in 1984, but altered it to Mac Dre the following year because he considered that the name sounded "too East Coast-ish".[8][better source needed] Hicks recorded his first three extended play (EP) recordings as Mac Dre between 1988 and 1992.[9]


The city of Vallejo began experiencing a surge in bank robberies in the early 90s.[10] Vallejo police began focusing on the Crest neighborhood as a source of the crime. Hicks was vocal about the actions he saw being taken by the police and incorporated their aggressive surveillance of residents into his music. Hicks claimed he was rapping about attempts to "wake up the neighbors."[11] As gangster rap music consistently grew in popularity, law enforcement officials began examining the lyrics of local rappers to utilize as evidence in criminal matters.[12]

On March 26, 1992, at age 21, Hicks was invited by friends on a road trip to Fresno. Hicks had performed in that city two weeks prior and decided to go on the trip so that he could re-visit a woman he knew there. While driving back to Vallejo, the car was surrounded by FBI agents and Fresno and Vallejo police officers. The police said that while Hicks was at a motel, his friends were allegedly casing a bank but had changed their mind when they saw a local Fresno TV News van in the bank's parking lot.[13] When questioned by the police, Hicks said that he didn't leave the hotel, therefore did not know anything. The police subsequently charged him with conspiracy to commit robbery, although Hicks was not with his friends at the time.[14]

After he refused a plea deal for the conspiracy charge, he was tried, convicted, and sentenced to five years in federal prison.[15] The conviction hinged on a gun linked to the bank robberies found in his apartment months before his arrest, and a recording where he was heard to say "Shoot out the surveillance cameras".[16] The trial was listed among Complex Magazine's 30 Biggest Criminal Trials in Rap History.[17] At the time of his conviction, Hicks owned the record label Romp Productions.[9] Hicks was released a year early from prison for good behavior on August 2, 1996, after serving four years.[9] It was during his time in prison that Hicks developed a "better appreciation for freedom, life, fun"[18] as well as coordinating to release a compilation record on his newly formed Label.[19]

Post-prison career

After his release from Lompoc Prison,[20] Mac Dre and longtime collaborator Coolio Da' Unda Dogg (Troy Reddick) recorded tracks to pitch to major record labels. One song was sent to representatives of fellow Bay Area rapper Too Short for an upcoming compilation, Nationwide: Independence Day, but was not selected.[citation needed]

Mac Dre moved to the Arden-Arcade area of Sacramento in 1998 in attempt to distance himself from Vallejo law enforcement. There, he founded his independent label Thizz Entertainment, which is currently managed by his mother Wanda Salvatto.[18] In the early 2000s, Dre's change in sound became influential in the hyphy movement.[18]

Atlanta rapper and producer Lil Jon, with Salvatto's blessing, incorporated Dre's vocals into his 2019 single "Ain't No Tellin".[21]


After Hicks and other Thizz Entertainment members had performed a show in Kansas City, Missouri on October 31, 2004, an unidentified gunman shot at the group's van as it traveled on U.S. Route 71 in the early morning hours of November 1. The van's driver crashed and called 911, but Hicks was pronounced dead at the scene from a bullet wound to the neck.[22] Local rapper Anthony "Fat Tone" Watkins was alleged to have been responsible for the murder, but no evidence ever surfaced, and Watkins himself was shot dead the following year.[23]

Hicks' funeral took place on November 9, 2004, at the Mt. Calvary Baptist Church.[24] He was given a public open-casket viewing, and then buried at the Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland.


Studio albums

Posthumous studio albums

Collaboration albums

  • Supa Sig Tapes with Little Bruce (1990)
  • Turf Buccaneers with Cutthoat Committee (2001)
  • Money iz Motive with Cutthoat Committee (2005)
  • Da U.S. Open with Mac Mall (2005)
  • A Tale of Two Andres with Andre Nickatina (2008)

See also


  1. ^ sfbg. "San Francisco Bay Guardian – News". Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved March 9, 2015.
  2. ^ a b "An Oral History of Hyphy". Complex. Retrieved February 8, 2019.
  3. ^ Van Nguyen, Dean (June 2, 2014). "Vallejo rapper Mac Dre pioneered the hyphy movement". WaxPoetics. Wax Poetics, Inc. Retrieved March 17, 2018. But no one touched the Bay area like Vallejo's Mac Dre. Responsible for recording dozens of records, unearthing new local talent, building a rap empire, and pioneering a whole new homegrown counterculture, Mac Dreezy changed the landscape of the Bay Area forever and earned legendary status among Bay Area locals.
  4. ^ "Rapper Mac Dre Killed In Kansas City". Billboard. Retrieved February 8, 2019.
  5. ^ Gray, Madison (September 13, 2011). "Top 10 Unsolved Hip-Hop Murders". Time. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved February 8, 2019.
  6. ^ Harmanci, Reyhan; Walter, Shoshana (September 9, 2013). "Federal Drug Case Ensnares The Home of Hyphy". NPR. National Public Radio. Retrieved June 28, 2019.
  7. ^ 530NorCal (June 22, 2008). "Mac Dre – Ghetto Celebrities Pt. 2". Youtube. Archived from the original on December 13, 2021. Retrieved April 16, 2013.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  8. ^ 530NorCal2 (June 21, 2008). "Mac Dre – Ghetto Celebrities Pt. 1". youtube. Archived from the original on December 13, 2021. Retrieved April 16, 2013.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  9. ^ a b c "Mac Dre – Biography (BIO)". Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. Retrieved March 12, 2016.
  10. ^ Woodstra, Chris; Bush, John; Erlewine, Stephen Thomas (2008). Old School Rap and Hip-hop. Hal Leonard Corporation. ISBN 978-0-87930-916-9.
  11. ^ Malone, Christopher; Martinez, George Jr. (November 20, 2014). The Organic Globalizer: Hip Hop, Political Development, and Movement Culture. Bloomsbury Publishing USA. ISBN 978-1-62892-003-1.
  12. ^ Harmanci, Reyhan; Walter, Shoshana (September 9, 2013). "Federal Drug Case Ensnares The Home Of Hyphy". NPR. National Public Radio. Retrieved June 28, 2019.
  13. ^ Billy, Jam. "Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: Mac Dre Details Police Role In His 5 Year Prison Sentence: March 1996 Rare Radio Interview from Lompoc". Retrieved June 21, 2019.
  14. ^ Billy, Jam. "Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: Mac Dre Details Police Role In His 5 Year Prison Sentence: March 1996 Rare Radio Interview from Lompoc". Retrieved June 21, 2019.
  15. ^ Simmonds, Jeremy (2008). The Encyclopedia of Dead Rock Stars: Heroin, Handguns, and Ham Sandwiches. Chicago Review Press. ISBN 978-1-55652-754-8.
  16. ^ "Did Mac Dre Really Go to Prison Because of His Lyrics?". KQED. June 29, 2023. Retrieved July 22, 2023.
  17. ^ Drake, David; Insanul, Ahmed. "The 30 Biggest Criminal Trials in Rap History". Complex. Complex Magazine. Retrieved June 21, 2019.
  18. ^ a b c Horowitz, Steven. "An Oral History of Hyphy". Complex. Complex Magazine. Retrieved June 21, 2019.
  19. ^ "The Final Classic Interview – Mac Dre (RIP)". STRIVIN'. September 20, 2005. Retrieved November 14, 2023.
  20. ^ Jost, Matt (January 11, 2005). "Mac Dre :: Rapper Gone Bad".
  21. ^ Shifferaw, Abel. "Lil Jon Shares New Track "Ain't No Tellin'" Featuring Mac Dre". Complex. Complex Magazine. Retrieved June 21, 2019.
  22. ^ Bulwa, Demian (June 24, 2011). "Rapper Mac Dre slain in Kansas City". SFGate. Retrieved December 2, 2011.
  23. ^ Gray, Madison (September 13, 2011). "Top 10 Unsolved Hip-Hop Murders – TIME". Time. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved February 27, 2021.
  24. ^ admin (November 6, 2004). "Andre Hicks Obituary – Death Notice and Service Information". Retrieved February 27, 2021.
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