The Return of “Return of the Mack”

This piece goes out to my old schoolmate and now Brooklyn girl, Tracy B. Adams, who inspired it with a simple question on her Facebook page: “Why is it that whenever Mark Morrison’s “Return of the Mack” gets played, every man on the floor older than 32 starts dancing extra hard?”

Words: Kenji Jasper
Image: Rameen Gasery

This might seem random to the average Gen-X-er, but I had to admit that when reading it her observation was pretty damn accurate.

The song got mixed reviews in the hood when it dropped in ‘96— still the heyday of true gangstas, players and pimps skittish about their swagger, the song made it into crossover R&B. Two, Morrison was from the UK, had a weird haircut and there weren’t enough girls in the video.

But I have a theory on what’s happened since then; ’96, after all, was a loooong time ago.

As music in young people’s lives tends to serve as their soundtrack to everything, like theme music from moment to moment, we often fail to actually listen to the lyrics. “Return of The Mack” is about a relationship gone bad, that moment when ‘he’ realizes that ‘she’ is no good for him.

As it tends to usually be the other way around, the wounds women give men tend to be deeper, scarring ones. And they don’t happen until we’re truly committed to a real relationship. When we take it on the chin, we go down for the count. But it sometimes takes years to accept just how hurt we were.

We grow up. We learn to be responsible. We get married, have kids and stop being out every night. We forget about the songs of yesteryear that we dismissed. But then they return.

The song was background noise for me until a Halloween party last year at Marvin in DC, when I found myself dancing with an angel (or who was at least dressed that way) leading the charge. The DJ cut into the infamous track. Then I remembered when I last felt Morrison’s pain.

When I looked around, several dudes were following my lead, giving me nods as they threw hands in the air, West Coast gangsta-style. When Morrison sings “You lied to me” with full force, it recalls a number of big money betrayals I had to smash like Bruce Banner angry.

It’s good to remember. That way you don’t forget. The scandalous girls get their just desserts, usually when their biological clocks get to ticking.

Kenji Jasper is a Los Angeles based writer and journalist. Follow him on tumblr, HERE

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