Image via SaySo The Mac/Instagram

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Steven Louis is gonna do everything he said he would, but he’s gonna find the time first.

It’s impossible to tell the story of contemporary Los Angeles without saluting The Stinc Team. The back-half of the 2010s found many of L.A.’s standard-bearers hard to reach: Kendrick was winning Pulitzers and releasing songs with Bono; YG went fully corporate; radio all but abandoned local artists. The Stinc Team, meanwhile, filled this space and earned devoted fans with the wildest crew slang since Wu Tang. Each new drop was an amphetamine rush: lurching, bouncing and loaded with paranoia, known by the Stincs themselves as “nervous music.” Second verses were sometimes skipped for Wockhardt-steeped shit talk. Home invasions, extendo guns and credit card scams were coded as both surreal and totally hilarious.

Drakeo The Ruler led the way, first as a breakout critical success, then as a folk hero after he became the target of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. His younger brother Ralfy the Plug supplied the drug talk with a smirk, while his foil Ketchy the Great created high voltage through a gravely and claustrophobic flow. And with flowing braids and velvet pimp talk, SaySo The Mac aptly brought the pimp talk like a rightful heir to Suga Free.

The years that passed have been both triumphant and tragic. Each member of the Stinc Team was locked up on bullshit, then regained their freedom. Drakeo played sold-out shows, boosted his streaming numbers and starred in Drake’s OVO collection. Ketchy’s life was stolen in February 2021, and Drakeo was assassinated that December. Ralfy has both carried his brother’s legacy and leveled up as a rapper with millions of views on his own songs. But we haven’t heard as much from SaySo which perversely built up his mystique. Despite facing lesser charges of vandalism and fraud, he was punished with seven-figure bail and aggressive gang enhancements. He also had to fight for his sobriety, which he describes as a generational curse.

Still, real Stincs know, ain’t no such thing as halfway hoes. Who would be audacious enough to not only flip “Shook Ones Part II” into a pandering anthem, but somehow make Prodigy feel a bit tame in subject matter? Perhaps SaySo is the closest thing we’ll get to 2020s Suga Free. The word disrespectful would be doing too much lifting; SaySo’s pimp-strutted punchlines are humiliating. Rattling bass, cool flows that don’t lay neatly between beats, funky street energy that recalls the heights of Tha Dogg Pound. This guy isn’t just going away like that.

To try and really make sense of SaySo The Mac is to atomically wedgie yourself into oblivion. The contradictions aren’t there to be wrestled with nor romanticized. They just are. SaySo is proudly celebrating his sobriety, and also acknowledging that he and the Stinc Team are responsible for popularizing opiates and codeine in Los Angeles. He skated to System of a Down and also knew Sticky Fingaz freestyles by heart. He was unfairly targeted by police raids and prosecutors, literally represented by Christopher Darden in what became West Coast Hip Hop’s biggest trial since Snoop went platinum off acquittal, and he was also very much on the blade. He was a youth model for Stussy, and was also an outcast at school for being biracial. He traversed battlegrounds and ecosystems while hardly leaving Los Angeles County. He intro’d an album that had Drake on it, the same year he tormented himself for not focusing on rap. There’s a lot going on with SaySo The Mac, and it’s time to finally hear it all in his words.

​​(This interview has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.)

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