Calling Out of Context 6: Return of the Mack

Posted on 03.09.2012

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What’s a Mack, and where is he returning from?

I’ve heard Mark Morrison’s “Trippin'” plenty of times, and I personally find it to be about as lyrically deep as the Backstreet Boys’ “Backstreet’s Back.” Back from where?, you ask, you were never gone to be making a comeback in the first place… right?

Right. The same goes for Mr. Mark Morrison (born in Germany, btw), who had released earlier tracks outside of the US but did not gain notoriety stateside until his third single, Return of the Mack (1996). So technically, he could just be returning with single number three, if we don’t read too much further into anything else.

But since I like to be thorough, I’ve done more digging.

A Mack is defined as ‘a person who is smooth, slick, the Best of the Best, a Pimp, a Ladies Man, the guy who runs everything a.k.a. the Boss. A Mack is a person who is always flirting and hitting on girls… [and is] almost always successful at it, too’ (Thank you, Urbandictionary).

But, where is this mack returning from, you ask? Shockingly enough, dude appears to be returning from jail. Mark recorded his first single WHILE HE WAS IN JAIL in 1995, serving time for something that went down in a nightclub.

And there’s more: in ’97 he was convicted of attempting to bring a stun gun onto a plane, and after serving another 3 months in jail for that, he was incarcerated for a year for paying a lookalike to perform his community service.

We could just walk away saying that he’s just returning after doing time. That sounds logical enough. But then there are the lyrics:

…Baby now I got the flow, cause I knew it from the start
Baby when you broke my heart that I had to come again
And show you that I’m real

You lied to me
All those times I said that I loved you
You lied to me
Yes I tried, yes I tried
You lied to me
Although you know I’d die for you
You lied to me
Yes I cried, yes I cried

So I’m back up in the game, running things to keep my swing
Lettin’ all the people know that I’m back to run the show
‘Cause what they didn’t know was wrong
And all the nasty things you’ve done
So baby, listen carefully while I sing my comeback song…

If we take these at face value, the song is absolutely directed at someone of the female persuasion; and it would appear that Mr. Morrison has suffered some lady trouble. My bet is that he got hurt rulll bad, stayed home for a decent amount of time and cried about it. Then he woke up one day under a pile of empty Ben & Jerry’s containers, pizza boxes and week-old socks with Sliding Doors or The Notebook (or whatever was popular in ’95-’96) playing on repeat on his giant TV and realized he needed to pull himself together and get back out there. Because living well is the best revenge. Or something.

Or maybe it was a mix of both options along the lines of “Testify” by Common? Maybe his girl hurt him by testifying against him, he sat in jail writing a song about his comeback and then recorded it for release later on?

So… Mark either got hurt pretty badly or just got stuck in jail, and is now back on top of his pimp game running things as he was before. Consider the Mack returned.

The irony of all of this is that when this song, his only US single, finally reached #2 on the US charts (kept from #1 by Hanson’s “MMMBop”… not joking), Mark Morrison was serving three months of jail time for the stun-gun incident.

I’m pretty certain that the jail time, coupled with his other releases (titled Let’s Get Down, Trippin’, Horny and Moan and Groan) did not help his success in the industry, although he did win an award for Best R&B Act from MOBO.

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Posted in: music