About 4-5 years ago the Bay Area's Mac Dre who's stomping' grounds is V-Town [Vallejo] was the talk of the town. His albums like California Livin' , Young Black Brotha and What's Really Going On? were heard from practically every boom box, every car, and every night club.

Just when it appeared that Dre was about to take it to the next level he found himself deeply embroiled in some major controversy. Around the time Mac Dre was hittin' it big, Vallejo was experiencing a rash a bank robberies. The FBI and police officials had linked the crimes to V-Town's notorious Romper Room Gang. This particular crew seemed to literally toy with police as they robbed bank after bank but left no proof for the police... Adding fuel to this fire was Mac Dre who boldly gave written shout outs to the Romper Room Family on the back of his 'What's Really Going On' ep. He also had Romp Productions etched on the back of his ep. In addition Dre dropped a song called Punk Police which added to the taunting. Here Dre addressed the issue of the Vallejo bank robberies and even called out then Vallejo Police chief by name.. Needless to say some undue attention was directed toward Mac Dre as a result.

This is where the controversy began. According to Mac Dre, the Romp was a not just a loosely knit Vallejo based clique, it was also a slang term used by many in the 'V'. Mac Dre defended his song 'Punk Police' by noting that seemingly all young Black men in Vallejo were suspected criminals according to police. As an artist he felt he had a right to express himself and in this case The Romper Room bank robberies was what everyone was speaking on.. Dre merely offered his perspective.

The Vallejo Police department remained unconvinced as they shifted their attention to Dre and his associates. It was their understanding that the Romper Room Gang resided within Dre's Crest Side neighborhood. Hence even if he wasn't directly involved, they believed that he knew some of the members. His record Punk Police seemed to imply this. The police also weren't buying his story about the usage of the name Romp on the back of his lp. The Vallejo police department and FBI referred to the bank robbers as The Romper Room Gang. On the back of the lp Dre gives shout outs to the Romp Family.

Dre was finally arrested and charged with bank robbery around '91 when the FBI spotted him riding in a vehicle with one of the suspected gang members. From this point the story gets really complicated and I won't go into it too much..but to make a long story short.. Mac Dre was apparently spotted riding in a car with the suspected gang member in the Bay Area. He wasn't arrested until after he was trailed 3 hours and 300 miles later in Fresno.. There was a lot of speculation that Dre was set up and perhaps railroaded in retaliation to him publicly ridiculing the Vallejo PD. Law enforcement officials insist they got their man.

The Mac Dre controversy didn't end there. While Mac Dre sat in a Fresno prison awaiting trial he called into KMEL Radio's very popular anti-gang program...Street Soldiers. Here he ran down his version of the story and also made it known that the police had gotten a 'witness' to lie against him. If memory serves me correctly Dre may have even named this person. The next day KMEL Radio was visited by The FBI who literally put the fear of God in the management and staff. Station officials were accused of trying to mess up the case as well as endangering the life of their key witness due to the fact that Dre named him. In addition the FBI informed the station management that Dre's live interview was completely unauthorized. The result was no more live interviews from prison from Mac Dre..but his name and legacy was not forgotten.

His partner and producer Khayree formed a Vallejo based record label called Young Black Brotha which was named after Dre's first lp. He even recorded a ep which featured Dre rappin' to beats over a prison phone. The ultimate tribute came when Khayree released an lp from another Crest side rapper who adapted the Mac surname... His name is Mac Mall. Folks may be familiar with Mall from his recent song and video for the song 'Get Right' on Relativity records.

Mac Dre was released from Fresno prison two weeks ago and since then he has completed another album and has found himself involved in yet another controversy. Last week some of Vallejo homies decided to hold a home coming picnic for Dre. Seemingly the entire Bay Area showed up for the festivities. Among the 500 + guests were Vallejo's finest who claimed that they had received reports about folks drag racing.. Rocks and bottles were thrown at the police and some sort of riot broke out resulting in major news coverage for the event. Apparently the entire park was torn up.. But then again the news tends to exaggerate.

I haven't had a chance to holler at Mac Dre since he's been out but you can bet one thing, if he can pick up the pace from where he left off.. this Young Black Brotha named Mac Dre is about to segment himself as yet another major player from Vallejo who goes on to bask in the hip hop spotlight.

written by Davey D
August 11 1996