AL Mac – Lead Singer of TROOP
SKII: Today I’m Interviewing Al Mac. The infamous lead singer of TROOP.
SKII: Do you also write the songs that you sing?
Al: Yes, I’ve written them.
SKII: Do you have a significant other?
Al: No, I’m single.
SKII: So, are you waiting for the right one?
Al: No, I stopped waiting, because woman aren’t the same. Today, woman want to be the man of the house. They don’t cook, clean, or stand by their man anymore. So, if she comes around she’ll come around.
SKII: What schools have you been to?
Al: Oh, I’ve been to plenty of schools. Blair, John Muir H.S., then DHS. I wasn’t bad I was just going through the growing pains. I had a father who was strict, but now that I have a kid of my own I see that he was just being protective. I was just trying to find myself and by looking at everyone else and judging myself by other kids, and what they were doing. So, I started to do what they were doing and got into a bit of a situation while trying to find solutions to fix my education. That’s why I went to so many schools.
SKII: How did you meet your group/bandmates TROOP?
Al: When I left home my goal was to be an artist, a solo artist. My friend, Steve happened to know a female that I knew and we used to sing together. I liked her, so I hung with her; she was cool. She knew that most of the time I was at Sawnsworth Park playing basketball and one day she brought Steve there. I wasn’t interested in being in a group but I knew that this was my destiny. So, he asked me to sing; I did and he liked it, and started to tell me how I was going to be perfect, but I’d still have to sing for Rodney’s mother, because she was managing the group [at the time] and when I sang for her she agreed that I was perfect for the group, too. That’s when the group was called, “Five at a Time”. I was also the last member to join. We started to think of new names. I came up with the name and the meaning myself!
SKII: What’s the meaning?
Al: The Respect of Other People
Al: It was the original cast that was doing that. Steve and I weren’t a part of that, because we weren’t the original. Rodney’s mom was always pushing them to compete in contests and things like that, but it had gotten to the point where his mom was telling them that they’d need real singers, to join the group. So, that’s when Steve and I joined the group and then TROOP was born.
SKII: So tell me about one of your first songs that came out “Mamacita”.
Al: Number One Record! A lot of people don’t know, that it’s a lot going on while trying to make a hit record. I first heard “Mamacita”, written by Gerald Lavert and Mark Gordon from the group Lavert. So, we’d met with them and heard the song, but I was a little concerned because I didn’t think cats from the hood would like the song. However, after the money, and time that was spent on the song – it climbed up the charts to number one!
SKII: So that song actually cost one hundred thousand dollars to make the video?
Al: Yes, it did. Well, at least that’s what we were being told.
SKII: “That’s My Attitude”, what was that about?
(FYI: My son, Chris Mathis aka SHAKE, was the house choreographer for Uptown Records/MCA –whose roster included: GUY with Teddy Riley and the Hall bros., Bobby Brown, New Edition, Al B. Sure!, and more…) He choreo’d “That’s My Attitude” for Troop and another one, or two! Please delete.)
Al: See we had an album called “That’s My Attitude” also, a track to cover it that Teddy Riley wrote and produced.
SKII: So tell me a little about that…
Al: We came up with that song because Bobby Brown had just come out with, “My Prerogative” written by, Aaron Hall (lead singer of GUY). I loved My Prerogative and everyone in Troop did, as well. So, when we caught up with Teddy and told him we want something to match that sound, he came up with “That’s My Attitude”.
SKII: You did, “All I Do is Think of You” a cover of the Jackson Five song?
Al: Yeah, the Jacksons did that first. The idea came from John John to do that record, as well. Personally, I don’t like touching other people’s songs, especially records that belong to Michael. I feel it displays arrogance. Nonetheless, it became number one! It was a good song, but that was their song first. A lot of people didn’t know that first it was the Jackson Five’s song. Gratefully, that song opened doors for us.
SKII: So your solo album, “Hibernation”, tell me more about that.
Al: I was an underground artist for a while. I had plenty of albums, but “Hibernation” is what people remember. I’m still making money from it. Today, people are still loving the materials from that album. I put that album out because Troop wasn’t doing anything at the time, so I did “Sent for Me”. That was the real number two album, to be put out. “Sent for me” was actually right after “Hibernation”. I’d just put songs together and decided that I was going to put this album out as well.
SKII: Troop took a break? Why?
Al: We were becoming more independent with our individual projects. Steve started to work with another production company and I was doing my solo albums. We just slowly stopped working with management…it wasn’t really a separation.
SKII: Was it ghost writing or were you all getting recognized for your writing abilities?
Al: Steve got signed to this production called, the “Underdogs”. He’s worked with a lot of the greats who’re coming out now. I was more about my individual work, putting out my solo albums and making myself known as such. I worked with Heather Hodder, “Above the Law”, and Snoop – so I was doing that underground street thing. I liked it, because I’m edgy. So I was doing edgy stuff a lot of time, when rap was introducing itself to R&B. A lot of rap songs had that R&B hook to it and I was doing a lot of that.
SKII: Recently I read that you all did that song “For the Love of Money” acapella and that Queen Latifah was on the track, as well?
Al: Yes, and yes she was. Being a part of, “New Jack City” was phenomenal! Something that I can’t even describe. At the time we were working with the top people in the game, so it was amazing to be in that with them. Feels great to say that I was a part of that!
SKII: What’s your motivation?
Al: To do what you love and keep doing it. Never stop.
SKII: So, in your opinion what has changed in the industry?
Al: I remembered how back in the days fans had to buy tickets in order to get to see the artists. Now, today fans have access to the artists’ Face Book accounts, or other social media means where they can write directly to the artist! If that artist doesn’t respond, they’ve lost that fan. So, it’s very different and very intense, now.
SKII: You all have been on a lot of shows. How was that experience for you, and did you go on anything solo, as Al Mac?
Al: Those shows are the gateways to opening up yourself to the world. Nowadays, I’ve been in the studio, so I’m just now stepping-out. I plan on doing the Wendy Williams Show and others, as well! I’m planning on my first show being aired in D.C. ASAP with AL B. SURE!, Klymaxx, and a few others. A lot of people will ask why now? My answer will be, “I was waiting for the right people and right money. There’s always a time for everything and patience is the key…”
SKII: Tell me something about the film, “It Don’t Make Sense to Me”
Al: At the time, I was promoting on Face Book and a colleague of mine named, Stone Packston had in-boxed me about how he had tracks for me to listen to. I decided to have him send it to me, because sometimes it’s not about what you can do it’s about what others can do, as well. So he sent me four tracks and I listened to them, but this one particular track stood out to me more than any of the others. I decided to do it and named it “It Don’t Make Sense to Me”. Now, I don’t know if it was named that already, because all I know is that was the name I gave it. Sometimes, I pull from my past, I just grab things from my history. Like how you’ll love someone so much that you start to neglect yourself and it didn’t make any sense to me – so, that’s where that came from.
SKII: I know you have one child, a daughter, how old is she?
Al: Yes, and she’s twenty-four! She’s in college and doing what she wants to do. I’m proud of her.
SKII: What’s next for you?
Al: I want to get into some TV. I’ll look into, “The Voice” and look into hosting; those will be perfect for me. I have something to give. I can help someone, because I’m older to the point where I can tap into emotions and issues in someone else’s life. I want to do movies! Look at Tom Cruise and LL COOL J’s careers, it’s amazing and just blows me away! Or, Ice Cube doing his thing! Knowing myself as who I am I want to spread my wings and expand more into the industry.
SKII: Have you ever thought about a reality TV show?
Al: It depends on what type of format. I don’t want to do the type of reality show where it shows my every movement or seeing how fast I’d walk out of my house, every day. I want to do a show where I would actually help people with their family issues, or with a family member’s reunion, or paying a tuition, or by helping a mother, as I travel the world. Basically, that’s how I’d want to do it.
SKII: What would you tell a younger you?
Al: Great question. I would tell him to stay humble and that there’s nothing wrong with speaking up for yourself, and nothing wrong with seeing a contract, being smart about your business. Know what a manager is supposed to do and that of everyone around you. Don’t take things too seriously, and keep God first! Stop listening to hearsay and to remain positive. Troop wasn’t my source. God is my Source! So keep God first and be patient. Enjoy the places you go to, or are at; and continue to save a lot of memories as you must treat people the way you want to be treated. Also, save money.