Andre Louis Hicks (July 5, 1970 – November 1, 2004), better known by his stage name Mac Dre, was a rapper, and the initial founder of Thizz Entertainment, and the now defunct Romp Productions. Mac Dre became an iconic figure in the hip hop scene, of which he has also been credited for creating the “hyphy movement” by Bay Area hip hop artists such as E-40, who also paid respect to Hicks in the 2006 music video for “Tell Me When to Go”, and on the intro to the remix of the same song says, “R.I.P. Mac Dre, Dre you supposed to be on this one baby”. Hicks was an innovator to the rap movement in the Bay Area, which he offered a unique sound dubbed ‘Thizz’.
Hicks began his rap career under the name ‘MC Dre’, however at the age of 15 he would go on to change his name to ‘Mac Dre’, due to the fact ‘MC’ name was more typical of East coast rappers, and that ‘Mac’ was more suited to the West coast rap scene. Mac Dre recorded his first three albums between 1989 and 1991. In 1992, Mac Dre was charged with conspiracy to commit robbery and was sentenced to 5 years in federal prison after he refused the deal the police had offered him, which was informing law enforcement about his partners. Subsequently, Hicks wasn’t released from prison until 1997. At the time Hicks owned the record label, Romp Productions. His many references to “Romper Room” in his songs, bore a similarity the “Romper Room Gang”, a group of robbers who had been victimizing banks and pizza parlors in Vallejo. Following allegations by authorities about his membership in the gang, Hicks was sentenced to a further five years in prison. He again refused a deal offered by law enforcement authorities that would have required him to inform on other gang members.
In prison, Hicks gained some notoriety by recording the lyrics to songs directly over the Fresno County Jail and Lompoc United States Penitentiary inmate telephone. His album Young Black Brotha, was a result of such efforts, all while Hicks was still imprisoned. A later album, Back ‘N Da Hood, was also made up of these prison-recorded songs. Mac Dre Presents: The Rompalation was released in 1996. After his release from prison in 1997, he recorded his second album Stupid Doo Doo Dumb. It was released April 28, 1998. Following those albums, Hicks met with Executive Producer Bernard Gourley and recorded the album Rapper Gone Bad with production help from Tone Capone, Lev Berlak, and Warren G. This started a new beginning for Mac Dre as he began to release albums steadily, building a huge catalog of music recorded at The Grill Studios in Oakland in 2000. Mac Dre’s audience was growing, and mainstream hip-hop stations were beginning to give his music more airtime. Mac relocated to Sacramento, California in 2001, where he founded the label, Thizz Entertainment.
On November 1, 2004, Hicks was a passenger in a vehicle driving on a freeway in Kansas City, Missouri when an unknown assailant began shooting at the vehicle Hicks was occupying. The driver crashed and was able to get to a phone to call 911 but Hicks was pronounced dead at the scene from a bullet wound, there have also been no leads as to who the perpetrator was; and the case currently remains unsolved. He was buried at Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland.