Bayer Leevince Mack (known professionally as Bayer Mack, born August 26, 1972) is an American record executive, music journalist and documentary filmmaker. He is best known as the publisher of the late-1990s, early-2000s urban entertainment website HOT 104.com, the founder of Block Starz Music and the director of The Czar of Black Hollywood.
Bayer Leevince Mack
August 26, 1972
|Education||Middle Tennessee State University|
|The Czar of Black Hollywood |
In the Hour of Chaos
Profiles of African-American Success
No Lye: An American Beauty Story
|Awards||2015, 2020 Black Reel Awards|
Early years and educationEdit
Bayer Mack was born in Murfreesboro, Tennessee on August 26, 1972. His father, Gary Mack, was an officer of the Black Students Union and a leader of the 1971 sit-in that successfully integrated Murfreesboro Central High School's cheerleading squad. Bayer attended Central Middle School (now Central Magnet School) and Oakland High School. He is an alumnus of Middle Tennessee State University where he majored in Journalism and wrote for the school's editorially independent, student-run newspaper, Sidelines.
During his freshman year at MTSU, in his first column as Sidelines' only African-American writer, Mack called for all "students, black and white," to boycott a popular college hangout called "Patrick's Fun House" after the white owner allegedly directed racial slurs at his black patrons over the PA system.
Bayer wrote that he and "a group of friends" heard about the incident from a Nashville radio station, then drove to the establishment in nearby Antioch to investigate.
The group interviewed the manager, who apologized, but not the owner, Mr. Patrick. They relayed their information live from a telephone booth to radio station WQQK (92-Q), which originated the story, sparking several calls to the station from eyewitnesses.
In a letter to the editor of Sidelines, published on March 11, 1991, a reader who claimed to be "present at the time", remembered hearing Mr. Patrick say, "the only thing I hate worse than fat women is half-raced people." He said the comment was made in a "joking manner" and directed at an intoxicated biracial woman who wanted to start "a racial riot" and not "specifically at African-Americans." The reader asked what Mack and his associates hoped to gain by relaying their "meager information" to WQQK and said the "only possible outcome would be to aggravate the situation."
Mack also conducted a random survey of MTSU students about their openness to interracial dating that was published in Sidelines. He reported that 65% of those surveyed approved of “biracial unions” and noted that most of the approval “came from white female students while most of the opposition stemmed from African-American females.” He added that the results were "in no way an actual account of the entire student body's feelings" and that he felt many students said they approved because they feared "being labeled racist if they disagreed". Mack went on to say that "fear of what another person might say or think is one of the primary reasons there is so much confusion surrounding the issue".
On February 17, 1992, two male students (one African-American the other white) were arrested for public drunkenness during a men's basketball game between MTSU and Tennessee State University. Following a Black History Month ceremony at halftime, while the Student Government Association president (who was black) led the crowd in a "rap cheer", the two juniors "spontaneously" appeared on the floor wearing Afro wigs, bell-bottoms and platform shoes and added a "graphic performance" to the cheer. To many observers, the SGA president appeared to be dancing too. Sidelines ran a front-page story on the arrest of the "demonstrators" with a picture of the inebriated white student grabbing his private parts next to the conservatively dressed, but visibly smiling, black SGA president.
The duo had crashed previous halftime shows with their "hip-thrusting, crotch-grabbing dance routine" and most of the student body knew it was not racially motivated, but given the timing and the fact that TSU was a historically black university, a "few concerned individuals” made calls asking about the “nature” of the halftime program. A faculty member, who asked not to be identified, told Sidelines the incident made them “ashamed and embarrassed” to work at MTSU and the students were threatened with expulsion.
The newspaper's official position was that the students were being "made the scapegoats of the political correctness movement" and "to expel them from school for the purpose of saving the image of the school would be an injustice." MTSU's president, Dr. James E. Walker, who became the state's first African-American to head a predominately white institution of higher education when he took office the year before, issued a public apology on behalf of the university that was reprinted in Sidelines alongside a statement by the SGA president (who vehemently denied he was dancing) and an op-ed by Mack.
Bayer referred to himself as “a person that stands for uplifting of the black race” and said he would be "one of the first people to speak out” if he felt the “spectacle was racially derogatory” (which he did not) and questioned whether blacks sometimes took themselves "too seriously". Mack argued that it was not the job of President Walker, alumni or the campus judiciary court to decide “what is and what is not lewd” and pointed out that, on the same night, an MTSU student was "accosted by three other students" carrying weapons and asked "Which of these seems to be the real criminal act?"
Recording artist and producerEdit
Mack started rapping at age 14 and produced a mixtape at age 16 as leader of a local rap group called the "A-1 Posse". In a 2014 interview with Roanoke's 101.5 FM radio, Mack said, “I thought I was going to be the youngest in charge, but Special Ed beat me to the punch." He spent a semester studying Business with a concentration on entrepreneurship at Nashville State Technical Institute then founded Street Vibes Records using money from a trust fund established by his late father. Mack released a three-track maxi-single, titled "Leave Em Alone", under the stage name "B-MAC" that was regionally distributed by Memphis-based Select-O-Hits, which was also handling product for Suave House Records. In a September 1993 interview with Sidelines, writer Merrill Jackson compared the young rapper to Eazy-E and Too Short, but Mack (who was only 21) described himself as a "burned out black activist" who was "disillusioned with politics". In 1995, he co-founded the gangsta rap group, "The GoodFellaz", and produced an EP called Death Wish that was also released on Street Vibes.
Dot-com boom and bustEdit
Mack relocated to Louisville, Kentucky in the mid-1990s and founded the dot-com company Infinity-Digital in 1998 during a period of extreme growth in the usage and adaptation of the Internet. His website HOT 104.com gained notoriety after a story it published about the shooting death of Tyisha Miller by police officers in Riverside, CA went viral. In 1999, Mack signed a six-figure affiliate contract with the AKA.com Hip-Hop Network created by Loud Records founder Steve Rifkind. In addition to Hip-Hop reviews, chart analysis, entertainment news, MP3 downloads and African-American swimsuit models, Mack routinely published editorials that touched on hot-button issues, like ineffective African-American leadership and sexual violence against women. HOT 104.com also covered several police shootings.
HOT 104.com was an early promoter of urban glamour photography and online platforms, like Chuck "Jigsaw" Creekmur's Tantrum-Mag.com (a forerunner to AllHipHop.com). One of the website's biggest stories was an exclusive interview with singer Farrah Franklin (after her dismissal from Destiny's Child) where Franklin discussed her issues with Beyonce.
When the late George Jackson's Urban Box Office Network (UBO.net) filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November 2000, AKA.com lost its only source of advertising revenue and was no longer able to pay its staff and affiliate websites. For a time, HOT 104.com survived and published interviews with major rap stars like Ludacris, Fabolous, Beanie Sigel, Gangsta Boo, Pastor Troy and Fat Joe. The site also interviewed R&B artists like Avant, Keke Wyatt and Ray J. The last interview was with the rap group Field Mob on November 16, 2002. HOT 104.com's articles are archived at the Wayback Machine.
Mack is noted for chronicling the rise of Southern hip-hop and his interviews with several of the region's major stars as they achieved national prominence, including his 2002 SMOOTH magazine cover story on Trina, his 2004 HipHopDX conversation with T.I. (during the rapper's feud with Lil Flip) and his essays on 8Ball & MJG, Mystikal and Juvenile for MTV Jams and Ozone Magazine's "25 Greatest Southern Artists of All Time" list in 2005.
Mack's interview subjects included Erick Sermon, Remy Ma, Willie D, Boots Riley, The Game, David Banner, Memphis Bleek, Krayzie Bone, Layzie Bone, Styles P, Twista, Gerald LeVert and Al Green. Mack often asked questions to help aspiring artists successfully navigate the music business. In a July 2005 interview with HipHopDX, Young Jeezy told Mack:
"There’s no business to learn. Do you. I really don’t do sh*t. I don’t watch Rap City or anything. Maybe I should, but I’m out grinding. Def Jam ain’t never dealt with a cat they had to catch up with. I be doing sh*t they don’t even know about.”
After seeing a photo of Lil Wayne with guns and marijuana in VIBE magazine, Mack expressed his frustration in a July 12, 2006 interview with Velocity, saying intelligence was "frowned upon in the current hip-hop climate" and that members of the culture had "lost a sense of responsibility to each other." This prompted him to launch a short-lived online magazine, called NUANCE, which included interviews with New Jack City screenwriter Barry Michael Cooper, black conservative author Shelby Steele and Marc Lamont Hill.
Block Starz MusicEdit
Mack became the marketing manager of a German hip-hop website called YoRaps.com in 2008. Later that year, he and the site's owner, Kai Denninger, formed an online record label called Block Starz Music to promote free mixtapes by the independent and unsigned artists featured in YoRaps' “Next 2 Blow” section, like Rasheeda. The label's early association with Wiz Khalifa helped boost the company's profile and attracted other artists. In a 2010 interview with Chicago's 88.9 FM (WIIT) Fusion radio show, Mack said his “ongoing love for the music” and desire to stay connected to the industry prompted him to develop Block Starz Music's regionally themed compilation album series, which introduced new artists like Machine Gun Kelly. The label is noted for developing YouTube stars, like Lega-C.
Mack made his directorial debut in 2014 with the documentary film Oscar Micheaux: The Czar of Black Hollywood. He self-financed the project and released it independently through his production studio, Block Starz Music Television. In an April 2014 interview with The Washington Times, Mack said he was inspired to produce a film about Oscar Micheaux's life because it mirrored his own. The film was nominated for "Best Independent Documentary" at the 2015 Black Reel Awards. Mack is also executive producer of the critically acclaimed web series, Profiles of African-American Success. In 2016, he wrote and directed the Martin Luther King Sr. documentary In the Hour of Chaos, which takes a critical view of liberalism's effect on the black civil rights movement. The film was named runner-up at the San Francisco Black Film Festival and was featured at San Francisco's de Young Museum as part of the Bay Area's "MLK Day of Revelations". In 2019, Mack wrote and directed a documentary film on the rise and decline of the black-owned ethnic beauty industry, called No Lye: An American Beauty Story. The film premiered at the inaugural Visions of the Black Experience event presented by the Sarasota Film Festival at New College of Florida on December 5 and has been called "probably the best film on the history of black hair care." No Lye won "Outstanding Independent Documentary" at the 2020 Black Reel Awards.
Mack is a member of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) and the Foundation for the Advancement of African-Americans in Film (FAAAF) voting academy.
- No Lye: An American Beauty Story (2019)
- In the Hour of Chaos (2016)
- The Czar of Black Hollywood (2014)
- Web Series
- Profiles of African-American Success (2014-)
- "1971 Black Student Union at Murfreesboro Central High". LinkedIn. 2018-02-01. Retrieved 2018-06-19.
- "I don't bury white folk. This story as told to me..." Facebook. 2017-02-17. Retrieved 2018-06-19.
- "Bayer Mack, Oakland High School, Murfreesboro, TN". AllHighSchools.com. 1991-04-08. Retrieved 2018-06-11.
- Mack, Bayer Levince (1991-03-11). "Club owner's remarks distasteful, uncalled for". Sidelines. p. 5. Retrieved 2018-06-14.
- Payeur, Marc (1991-03-14). "Mack wrong in comment". Sidelines. p. 4. Retrieved 2018-06-14.
- Mack, Bayer Levince (1991-04-08). "'Ebony and Ivory' couples not always accepted or approved". Sidelines. p. 5. Retrieved 2018-06-14.
- Gannon, Sam (1992-02-20). "Student demonstrators arrested during game". Sidelines. p. 1. Retrieved 2018-06-15.
- "Half-time incident was wrong...but not racist". Sidelines. 1992-02-24. p. 4. Retrieved 2018-06-15.
- "Dr. James Walker 1st Prexy of Middle Tenn. State". JET. 1991-03-27. p. 38. Retrieved 2018-06-15.
- Mack, Bayer (1992-02-24). "Comments concerning the half-time controversy". Sidelines. p. 5. Retrieved 2018-06-15.
- "Interview w/ Filmmaker Bayer Mack - 101.5 (Roanoke, VA)". Soundcloud. 2014-10-21. Retrieved 2018-06-19.
- "B-Mac (4) – Leave 'Em Alone (Cassette)". Discogs.com. 1993. Retrieved 2018-06-11.
- "Eightball & MJG* – Comin' Out Hard (Vinyl, 12", Promo)". Discogs.com. 1993. Retrieved 2018-06-14.
- Jackson, Merrill (1993-09-27). "B-Mac's rap goes 'beyond political'". Sidelines. p. 13. Retrieved 2018-06-14.
- "The Goodfellaz – Death Wish (CD, Album)". Discogs.com. 2018-05-05. Retrieved 2018-06-11.
- "www.hot104.com >>> Articles >>> The "New" HOT 104.com". Hot104.com. 2000-02-04. Archived from the original on 2000-08-17. Retrieved 2018-06-11.
- Wong, Celine (February 2000). "Site Bite: AKA.com, The Hip Hop Network". VIBE. New York: Miller Publishing Group LLC. Retrieved 2018-06-11.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2001-01-08. Retrieved 2018-11-03.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2002-10-20. Retrieved 2018-11-03.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
- "HOT 104.com Breaking News: Louisville Police Kill Again". Hot104.com. 2000-06-26. Archived from the original on 2000-08-17. Retrieved 2018-06-11.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2000-08-15. Retrieved 2018-11-03.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
- "hot104.com >>> Articles >>> Getting To Know "Nann"'s Trina". Hot104.com. 2000-01-19. Archived from the original on 2000-08-31. Retrieved 2018-06-11.
- "HOTWIRE". Hot104.com. 2000-08-12. Archived from the original on 2000-08-15. Retrieved 2018-06-11.
- "THE DEMISE OF A DOT-COM AND ITS DREAM From wave of the future to financial flop". New York Daily News. 2000-12-18. Retrieved 2018-06-12.
- Kenon, Marci (April 7, 2001). "Hip-Hop's Creative Renaissance". Billboard. New York: Billboard-Hollywood Reporter Media Group. Retrieved 2018-06-12.
- "Isn't That Nice? AKA Blames Adam Kidron and UBO for Its Demise". UrbanExpose.com. 2000-11-10. Archived from the original on 2011-07-23. Retrieved 2018-06-12.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2002-01-18. Retrieved 2018-11-03.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2002-03-28. Retrieved 2018-11-03.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
- "HOT 104 ::: Field Mob Stays Happy". Hot104.com. 2002-12-16. Archived from the original on 2002-11-29. Retrieved 2018-06-11.
- Hot104.com at the Wayback Machine (archived 2002-09-15[Calendar])
- Mack, Bayer L. "Trina: Diamond Princess". SMOOTH. New York: Star Media Inc. Archived from the original on 2004-06-14. Retrieved 2018-06-11.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2004-11-04. Retrieved 2018-11-03.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
- Mack, Bayer (April 2005). "25 Greatest Southern Artists of All Time". OZONE. Orlando, FL: OZONE Magazine, Inc. Retrieved 2018-06-14.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-03-16. Retrieved 2018-11-03.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
- "Bayer Mack, LinkedIn, Experience, Marketing Manager Yo! Raps Magazine". LinkedIn. 2008-10-01. Retrieved 2018-06-19.
- "BlockStarz.tv, Radio Interview with Block Starz Founder, CEO 2010". Soundcloud. 2010-01-01. Retrieved 2018-06-19.
- Wetzstein, Cheryl (2014-04-30). "Black side of silver screen: Filmmaker Oscar Micheaux paved his own path to Hollywood". Washington Times. Retrieved 2014-08-25.
- Wetzstein, Cheryl (2014-04-30). "Love of history spurred rap mogul Bayer L. Mack to make Micheaux documentary". Washington Times. Retrieved 2014-08-25.
- ""In the Hour of Chaos: The Untold Story of Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr.", Film Screening". deyoung.famsf.org. Retrieved 2018-07-04.
- "San Francisco Black Film Festival >> June 15–18, 2017 >> In The Hour Of Chaos". SFBFF.org. Retrieved 2018-06-30.
- "SFF presents Visions of the Black Experience". Sarasota Film Festival. 2019-11-27. Retrieved 2019-12-06.
- "Sarasota Film Festival Presents "Visions of the Black Experience"". Sarasota Post. 2019-11-30. Retrieved 2019-12-06.
- "New College to Host 'Visions of the Black Experience' Film Series". Sarasota Magazine. 2019-12-03. Retrieved 2019-12-06.
- "Visions of the Black Experience brings inaugural, free film festival to Sarasota". Herald Tribune. 2019-12-04. Retrieved 2019-12-06.
- "No Lye, This Is Probably The Best Film On The History Of Black Hair Care". Power 620 WHEN (Syracuse). 2019-12-04. Retrieved 2019-12-06.
- "THE GREAT EIGHT . . . DOLEMITE IS DYNOMITE!". BlackReelAwards.com. 2020-02-07. Retrieved 2020-02-07.
- "Foundation Adds 24 New Members". BlackReelAwards.com. Retrieved 2018-07-04.