I think they know what this is! Another year, another Jack History Month – it’s been 4 years since we lost the Jacka, but we aren’t going to stop keeping his name lit anytime soon. This year, make sure you stay tuned to our Instagram, Twitter & Facebook for Jacka music, interviews & more every weekday, and we’ll also be live streaming some special edition Jacka video mixtapes every week this month on our main YouTube channel! Plus, we’ve been interviewing a few folks that knew the Jack, so keep an eye on our Thizzler TV channel for some drops there this month too.
Jacka was born Dominic Newton, but changed his name to Shaheed Akbar when he converted to Islam. He got the nickname the Jacka from inmates when he was convicted of grand theft in Contra Costa County – before that he went by Ouiny Mac. At age 12 he recorded his first song with Rob-Lo, and later he was a founding member of the group the Mob Figaz (The Jacka, Husalah, AP9, Fed-X & Rydah J Klyde).
C-Bo discovered the Mob Figaz in 1997. In fact, they weren’t even the Mob Figaz at the time, they were just a group of friends making music. They showed up to audition for AWOL Records at The Underdog in Pittsburg, a local record shop, and they ripped it. Although C-Bo was incarcerated, he got word that he needed to see them. The day he was released from jail, he came to Pittsburg to meet the Mob Figaz and they recorded “Ride Til We Die”. Husalah came up with the name and C-Bo signed them on the spot. They released the album C-Bo’s Mob Figaz in 1999, which reached #63 on Billboard’s Top R&B Albums chart.
After the Mob Figaz album, Jacka dropped his first solo album The Jacka in 2001. According to him, over $300,000 of street money went into the production and promotion of the album, enabling him to record at The Hit Factory in New York and travel the country promoting it. That eventually led to one of his best known songs, Barney (More Crime) getting placed in 2004 on New York rapper Cormega’s Legal Hustle compilation, which gave him a new level of exposure with hip-hop heads & fans, especially on the East Coast.
This new momentum led to The Jacka and the Mob Figaz almost being recruited by Mac Dre to sign to Thizz Ent in 2004. The plan was to sign the Figaz and transform them into national stars. But those hopes disappeared when Mac Dre was unexpectedly and tragically gunned down November 1st, 2004 in Kansas City.
The Jacka launched his own label in 2005 called The Artist Records. Jacka’s classic album The Jack Artist was the new label’s first album release, which didn’t have a major budget like his debut album, but musically is considered one of his best projects. He believed in giving up and coming artists opportunities, so he signed Joe Blow, Dubb 20, Street Knowledge, AOne and producer Rob-Lo.
Even though Hyphy was the dominant movement at the time, The Jacka never took that route. He stuck to the gritty, street poetry that defined his sound for years to come, and fans gravitated to him because of it. He spoke to the struggle of the hustle, with all of the ups and downs, and Islam was a frequent topic as well. He paved the way for rappers like J. Stalin and Mozzy, just to name a few, and his influence spread in the underground from Northern California to New York, and even the UK & France.
Before he was taken from us on February 2nd, 2015, in a random shooting at 94th & Macarthur in East Oakland (now known as 94th & Jack), he was poised for a strong surge back into the national spotlight, after falling back for a few years after 2009’s highly acclaimed Tear Gas. He had recently released his long awaited collab project Highway Robbery with Philadelphia rapper Freeway; he dropped a street album with DJ Child called What Happened To The World; and he was gearing up to release his first official solo album since 2009 with Murder Weapon. But unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be.
So now, we wait patiently for new Jacka music to come out. There’s no question that there are hundreds of unheard songs, just waiting to be released by his family. Hopefully, we get to hear them soon. Either way, we’ll see it thru and keep his legacy strong in the Bay Area and beyond.
What Jacka songs will you be slapping for Jack History Month? How has his music impacted your life? Drop a comment and let us know.