22. Mac Mall
From: Vallejo, CA
Signature Song: Mac Mall "Sic Wit Tis" (1993)
Vallejo rapper Mac Mall is one of hip-hop's most underrated talents because his star burned brightest in its earliest stages. His debut album, Illegal Business, was released on Khayree Shaheed's Young Black Brotha label. (Khayree was also the album's producer, and was responsible for much of the production on Mac Dre, Ray Luv and Young Lay's LPs, as well as doing most of the beats on Vanilla Ice's debut LP.) Mac Mall had other friends in high places; his single My "Ghetto Theme," a hard-hitting narrative about the tragic realities of gang life, received a Tupac Shakur-directed video. "Sic Wit Tis" fell more in line with the album's overall sound, its squealing production a perfect framework for Mac Mall's fluent rap style.
The album moved 200,000 units independently, leading to a deal with Relativity Records. The label released his sophomore record, Untouchable in 1996; it reached No. 6 on the R&B/Hip-Hop charts and No. 35 on the Billboard 200. This would be Mac Mall's biggest moment, both commercially and critically. He continued recording into the 2000s, but despite two of the most promising records in West Coast rap history, never achieved the level of success many expected.