Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: Mac Dre Details Police Role In His 5 Year Prison Sentence: March 1996 Rare Radio Interview from Lompoc

Posted by Billyjam, October 21, 2015 02:15am | Post a Comment

I just unearthed and uploaded a rare 1996 Mac Dre interview from Lompoc Federal Penitentiary that I conducted with the late great iconic Bay Area rap figure over the phone 19 years ago. In the interview, that was for both magazine and radio stories at the time, Mac Dre opens up about how he got a five-year sentence and how the police had a vendetta against him. The interview was done a full four years after he initially got arrested and incarcerated, and it was a little over four months from when he would finally be released (seven and half months early for good behavior) from prison on August 2, 1996.

On the topic of dealing with the police, Mac Dre, speaking from first hand experience, advised, "stay out of their way" because they present a "no win situation" in that "you can't win cos they'll send you up in here for nothin.'"

As for how he got the five year sentence? "March 26th, 1992, one of my homeboys called me up and asked me if I wanted to ride to Fresno with them," he recalled adding that it was coincidence because just two weeks prior to this he had gone to Fresno to perform in a concert with Ice Cube, WC and The Maad Circle, Big Daddy Kaneand others. While there he had met some girls that he would go back to visit upon this follow up trip with his friends. Fast forward to the drive home on the freeway from Fresno to Vallejo when the car Mac Dre and his friends were in was surrounded and pulled over by a collective of law enforcement departments. "We got pulled over by the FBI, Fresno police [and] Vallejo police, and they took us in and charged me with conspiracy to rob a bank," recalled the artist born Andre Hicks who would be 45 years-old if he were still alive today. Born on July 5, 1970, in Oakland (but raised in the North Bay town of Vallejo in the infamous Crest Side so often referenced in his music), Mac Dre was shot and killed in 2004 in Kansas City.

"They said that while I was at the motel room, my friends went to case a bank out, that they went to rob a bank but that they changed their mind when they saw a television car in the parking lot," said Hicks referring back to a local Fresno TV News van that was likely were monitoring the police radio since the cops with the FBI had been trying to crack the so-called Romper Room gang, who were carrying out bank and pizza parlor robberies, for some time. The cops told Mac Dre that they'd let him go if he gave up information on his friends. "I told them I didn't know anything. So since I didn't tell, they charged me with conspiracy," recalled Hicks over the phone from the federal penitentiary.

Note that there was no bank robbery conducted that day by anyone and that the rapper was not even with his friends at the time nor near the location of the alleged potential bank heist. But that did not stop the feds and local police from pinning a case on Hicks and sentencing him to five years - the first part of which he served in Fresno County Jail from where he recorded an album over the phone. He also recorded music over the phone from Lompoc. At the time of this interview (March 20, 1996), Hicks had served almost exactly four years and was supposed to be released early any day at the time for good behavior. In fact, in the days leading up to this interview his hometown newspaper had erroneously run a story that he was already out of prison. Controversially, the newspaper piece even included negative quotes from a member of the Vallejo Police Dept. who had been name checked in the Mac Dre song "Punk Police." Mac Dre would finally be released about four and a half months after this interview on August 2nd, 1996 to begin the second and final chapter of his illustrious rap career. Rest in peace Mac Dre. 

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