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Since co-founding the hip hop record label and collective Dope Sandwich in the mid-2000s, Kedrick Mack, aka Dope KNIfe, has been a key figure in Savannah’s hip-hop scene.
With old-school beats, incendiary lyrics, and unmatched live freestyle performances, Mack has slowly, but surely developed a solid foundation from which to develop as an artist and someday capture the large fanbase that he richly deserves.
Coming out of a hyper-creative COVID lockdown, Mack is ready to let people know that Dope KNIfe is still here, and still has a lot to say. Mack intends to release a steady drip of singles and EPs, and perform more frequent shows, every month for the foreseeable future until he is ready to release his next album masterpiece. To kick off the more consistent release schedule, Mack is debuting his new single, “So 912,” at Service Brewing Company with a launch party and performance, featuring guest Basik Lee.
“It’s a rap version of territorial pissing,” Mack said of the new song. “Savannah is still where Dope KNife raps at...It’s the first thing I’ve really done since the old Dope Sandwich days that has a Savannah vibe, or a Savannah-centic tone to it.”
“So 912” will be available on streaming platforms on Friday, and on Bandcamp as part of a three-song EP.
“I think I have a strong reputation as a live act, and that’s cool because that takes years to the point where people who have seen me know it’s good and they tell their friends about it. Now I want to focus on pushing songs and getting people to know songs I’m working on and associate me with a song they like.”
“So 912,” which features a vocal hook by Vermont hip-hop group, Linguistic Civilians, is a departure from Mack’s other songs which usually toss lit matches on the gasoline of politics and social issues. Mack had recorded a track about Savannah politics years ago called “C-Port State of Mind Freestyle” that called out very specific local politicians and issues. A deep dive into the internet may turn up the track for those that want to hear it.
“I was getting into Savannah politics and social economic struggles in Savannah,” said Mack. “It was pretty heavy. ‘So 912’ is 1000% not that. It’s just a fun rap song that has a catchy hook and a hometown vibe to it.”
Part of the reason Mack is ramping up his release schedule is because for the past year and a half he has been focused on producing and co-hosting “Waiting on Reparations,” a podcast available on iHeart Radio and other services. Mack’s co-host is Mariah Parker (aka Lingua Franca) who serves as Athens-Clarke County Commissioner. The two rappers discuss politics of the day and how it relates to hip hop.
“One regret I have about it is we originally wanted it to be a music podcast,” said Mack. “It was going to be a music show, but since I rap about political stuff and Maria is an elected politician, then it has that political slant to it. Given the nature of when we launched, politics just took up the majority of the content of the show, and the music is kind of a feature on it. But, also the fact that all of the stuff we talk about is coming from two people who very much self-identify as hip hop heads and rappers, so when you hear someone talk about, ‘Oh, I’m in a city council meeting at twelve in the morning and we’re talking about redistricting,’ you’re hearing about two MCs and what their interpretation of these topics are.”
Mack also produced a TED talk about how hip hop can be used in education. All of this extra work may have slowed down his output as a rapper, but it hasn’t kept him from making music.
“A lot of this stuff is new to me and it had been taking me out of being as productive creatively as I like to be,” said Mack. “At this point, I’m producing and co-hosting the show every week, so I have to keep up with it. And we rap every episode, most of the time I rap twice, so I need to write two new verses for the show every week. I make all the background music and beats. A lot of that stuff was pulling me away from really focusing on diving into an album the way I like to.”
Mack’s honest approach to his music can be heard in every fiery verse and boom-bap beat. Although he occasionally experiments with other types of music like trap, he doesn’t like to chase trends and generally sticks to his solid, old school style.
“You want to do this (expletive) in a way that you can sleep good at night, and that at least is what I’m trying to do,” said Mack. “Obviously, I feel that my ‘fanbase’ isn’t at the level that I really, really want it to be, and all I can do is keep working and chipping away at that, but as long as I’m not going out of the box and doing any wild, stupid [expletive], as long as the different things I’m doing get more exposure and I get heard more, as long as I can sleep at I night and I’m not feel like I’m being corny or selling out, then I’m all for it.”
IF YOU GO
What: Dope KNife- So 912 Release Party
When: Saturday at 8 p.m.
Where: Service Brewing Company, 574 Indian Street
Waiting on Reparations podcast https://www.iheart.com/podcast/1119-waiting-on-reparations-63426570/
This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: Dope KNife releases new Savannah hip-hop single, So 912